Scary Chinese growth numbers may be turning around

Sales women laugh as they wait for customers at the entrance of a shop in Beijing on January 13, 2013. Economic growth figures released this morning show that China's economy is growing again.

Economic growth figures released today show that China's GDP growth was up to 7.9 percent during the final three months of 2012.

That would be an earth-shattering number in the U.S. -- economists say U.S. GDP growth will be about 1 percent. But in China, it falls short of the double-digit growth numbers that were the norm in recent years.

"Ultimately,"says Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial. "I think this is a good development."

Just a few years ago, says Low, growth in China was anywhere from 10 to 12 percent. But last year, construction in China ground to a halt as China's GDP slowed to an overall 7.8 percent -- the lowest growth China has seen since 1999.

In the context of those numbers, last quarter's bump reveals that GDP is on the way up again. That's good news for China, says Low, because "there are hundreds-of-thousands of people graduating college in China every year, and they need to get re-absorbed into the work force."

And as China transitions to more of a domestic, consumer-based economy, Low says American commodity prices are likely to stabilize as China's commodity purchases slow.

About the author

Mark Garrison is a reporter and substitute host for Marketplace, based in New York.

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