China's top think tank raises 2013 growth forecast to 8.4 percent: report

SHANGHAI Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:41pm EST

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China's top think tank has lifted its economic growth forecast for 2013 to 8.4 percent from 8.2 percent, with faster expansion seen in the first half of the year, the official China Securities Journal reported on Tuesday.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) predicts growth will ease slightly in the third quarter before picking up again in the October-December period, the report said.

The academy also raised its annual inflation forecast for this year to around 3.5 percent from its previous forecast of 3 percent in December, according to the newspaper.

The HSBC Flash Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) last week showed growth in the country's factory sector accelerated to a two-year high in January, as manufacturers received more local and foreign orders.

The PMI, the earliest preview of China's economic health in 2013, is the latest indication that the world's second-largest economy is steadily recovering from a near two-year cool-down. The economy grew 7.8 percent last year, its slowest annual pace of expansion in 13 years.

A Reuters poll this week showed analysts predict China's annual economic growth would rebound a shade to 8.1 percent this year.

(Reporting by Kazunori Takada; Editing by Eric Meijer)