China central bank chief Zhou off key Communist committee

BEIJING Wed Nov 14, 2012 5:19am EST

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China's central bank governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, is likely a step nearer retirement on Wednesday after his name was left out of a key policymaking group of the ruling Communist Party.

Zhou's name was a notable absence from the list of 205 members of the party's Central Committee, membership of which is a condition of holding a cabinet-ranked job such as central bank chief.

Market speculation about Zhou's tenure at the People's Bank of China intensified at the weekend when he was asked about the issue at a news conference.

Zhou turns 65 - the mandatory retirement age for a Chinese cabinet minister, although there are cases where people have stayed in post beyond it - in January. He has been central bank chief since December 2002.

(Reporting by Beijing bureau; Editing by Nick Edwards)