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Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 05:24 GMT 06:24 UK
China's growth 'to slow slightly'
Chinese steel worker
China's economic growth is red-hot
China's red-hot economic growth will slow gradually this year, according to the Chinese central bank.

The People's Bank of China predicts that the nation's economy will expand by 9.2% in the first quarter of 2006, falling to 8.7% in the fourth.

Yet despite the expected dip, it remains breakneck economic growth, which - to put it in context - dwarfs the UK's 1.8% expansion across 2005.

China's economic boom is being led by a surge in exports.

Controlled inflation

At the same time, Beijing is putting more efforts into increasing domestic consumer demand.

A growing middle class has developed in the main eastern cities, but the challenge for the Chinese government is to expand this new wealth across more of the vast country.

The central bank said consumers would pay around 2% more for goods and services in 2006 than they did last year, when prices rose 1.8%.

"In general, our country's GDP growth will gradually trend lower in future but will still maintain a high level," the central bank said.

"We also see no major fluctuations for consumer prices in future."

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