Xinhua corrects China Finance minister's growth target comment

BEIJING Sat Jul 13, 2013 6:48am EDT

Chinese Minister of Finance Lou Jiwei smiles before the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors family photo during 2013 Spring Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Chinese Minister of Finance Lou Jiwei smiles before the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors family photo during 2013 Spring Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, April 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

BEIJING (Reuters) - The official Xinhua News Agency corrected on Saturday a dispatch that quoted the finance minister as saying growth could be 7 percent this year, in an apparent attempt to defuse market worries on a more severe slowdown.

Xinhua's corrected story clarified that Minister Lou Jiwei, speaking in Washington, said: "There is no doubt that China can achieve this year's growth target of 7.5 percent".

That amounted to repeating the official target set in March for the world's second largest economy when the new government took office.

Xinhua's original report quoted Lou as saying: "There is no doubt that China can achieve the growth target, though the seven-percent goal should not be considered as the bottom line". The corrected story was issued in English and dated on Thursday from Washington.

The Finance Ministry's press office was not available for comment.

Analysts had interpreted the original report as a signal that the government may be willing to tolerate economic growth in the second half of the year significantly below 7 percent.

Markets showed muted reaction to the reported remarks on Friday. Some analysts suggested it was unlikely he was calling into question the official growth target of 7.5 percent set four months ago at the annual National People's Congress (NPC), or parliament.

China is due to report GDP for the latest April-June quarter on Monday.

Economists polled by Reuters expect April-June GDP data to show the economy grew 7.5 percent from a year earlier, down from an annual pace of 7.7 percent in the first quarter. That marks a far cry from the double-digit growth common in the past three decades.

Chinese authorities, worried about over-investment and strong growth in informal lending, have indicated they are prepared to tolerate slower economic growth rates as they drive through structural reforms.

(Reporting by Chen Aizhu and Ding Qi; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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