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China's economy to grow 7 pct in Q1: think tank

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BEIJING, March 2 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese economy is expected to grow 7 percent in the first quarter of 2015, according to an estimate released by the State Information Center, a government think tank, on Monday.

A steady slowdown is expected for the Chinese economy, with investment growth in the property and manufacturing sectors continuing to slow.

The first quarter is likely to see investment in fixed assets grow around 14.3 percent and real estate around 7 percent, according to the estimate.

Growth in consumption is estimated to be basically stable against the backdrop of rising incomes and declining retail goods prices.

Export growth is accelerating thanks to the global economic recovery and the strategic "Belt and Road" initiatives to boost China's outbound investment and foreign trade.

However, import demand has lowered due to a weakening domestic market.

The State Information Center forecast that first quarter exports will grow around 5 percent, while imports will decline 10 percent.

Several economic indicators at the beginning of the year, including manufacturing and trade data, all suggested continued weakness in China's economy, which grew 7.4 percent in 2014, the weakest annual expansion in 24 years.

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