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China's SME development index rebounds

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BEIJING, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- An index measuring the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in China rebounded in the fourth quarter of 2012, the first increase in eight quarters, an industry association said Monday.

The SME development index rose 3.3 points to 90.8, the China Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (CASME) said in a statement.

The index remained at a low level and was expected to continue to stabilize, but a strong recovery was hard to realize, the CASME said.

In breakdown, the sub-index for industrial firms climbed 1.6 points to 88.1, ending a dropping streak since the second quarter of 2010.

The real estate sub-index surged 10.5 points to 101.3, the only sector with an index above 100, which demarcates expansion from contraction.

The country's property market has shown signs of warming after the government cautiously eased the monetary policy last year to counter the economic downshift.

The recovery trend is evident in China's economy, but companies still face a difficult business environment and are particularly troubled by overcapacity, the CASME said.

Higher costs, especially labor costs, have exerted great pressure on SMEs, it said.

China's economic growth quickened to 7.9 percent year on year in the fourth quarter of 2012, ending a seven-quarter slowdown that was caused by weak external demand and cooling property investment.

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