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Shanghai's economy expands at slower rate

Shanghai's gross domestic product expanded 8.4 percent year on year in the second quarter, slower than the first three months' 8.5 percent and 2010's 9.9 percent, the Shanghai Statistics Bureau said yesterday.

The slowdown reflected "pains" when Shanghai revved up its economic restructuring against a backdrop of tightening monetary policies, higher prices and slower-than-expected global recovery, said Cai Xuchu, the bureau's chief economist.

In the first six months, the city's GDP was 916.4 billion yuan (US$142 billion), and the 8.4 percent rise was lower than China's 9.6 percent for the first half. Inland Chinese regions such as Sichuan and Shanxi did even better, maintaining double-digit gains.

"Shanghai's growth is easing," Cai said. "But it is a result of active economic restructuring. Also, there is no notable fluctuation between the first-quarter growth rate and that in the second quarter. So the city's performance is pretty stable."

The services sector became a leading driver of the city's economy. In the first six months, services jumped 8.8 percent from a year earlier to 529.9 billion yuan, while manufacturing rose 8 percent to 382.5 billion yuan and the agricultural sector added 7.3 percent to 4 billion yuan.

"Despite the economic moderation, the Shanghai government will still treat calming prices as a top priority, and the government will accelerate the program of affordable housing to make life easier for ordinary people," Cai said.

Shanghai's consumer price index, the main gauge of inflation, rose 5 percent from a year earlier in the first half. In June alone, it climbed 5.9 percent, a two-year high.

"Shanghai's inflation is still driven by sizzling food costs, but there is a trend that non-food sectors such as the price of clothing and services are also rising fast," Cai said.

Food prices in the city rocketed 10.4 percent in the first six months compared to a year earlier, leading consumer prices to a two-year high. But inflation was still lower than China's 6.4 percent in June.

Shanghai's fixed-asset investment dropped 5.8 percent from a year earlier to 197.5 billion yuan in the first six months. But investment in property development rose 9.4 percent annually to 92.4 billion yuan.

Retail sales in Shanghai jumped 19.9 percent year on year to 2.1 trillion yuan in the first six months while sales of vehicles and housing-related expenditure weakened.

Industrial production growth also slowed to 9.7 percent in the first six months, 2.9 percentage points lower than that in the first quarter.

High-technology manufacturing output rose 17 percent thanks to a restructuring economy, the bureau said.