UPDATE 1-China Dec power output up 7.6 pct on yr -stats bureau
BEIJING Jan 18 (Reuters) - China's December electricity output grew 7.6 percent from a year earlier, hitting 432.7 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh), the fastest rate of growth since February, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday.
The figure brought full-year output to 4.817 trillion kWh, up 4.6 percent on the year. The growth rate fell from 12 percent in 2011, with big power consuming sectors hit by China's economic slowdown, particularly in the first half of the year.
Analysts said the improvement in December was partly a result of unusually cold weather, as well as relatively low coal prices, and December also saw a rapid depletion of port coal inventories.
The State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) said on Thursday that power consumption growth in the fourth quarter reached 7.45 percent, up from 3.9 percent in the third quarter and 4.3 percent in the second.
Power consumption in China, the world's top energy user, is expected to grow more than 9 percent this year, quicker than the 5.5 percent in 2012, SERC said. (Reporting by Chen Aizhu and David Stanway; Editing by Joseph Radford)
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