China foreign direct investment down 7.3%

AAP

Foreign direct investment in China declined in January, official data shows, extending a downward trend after falling on an annual basis in 2012 for the first time in three years.

FDI, which excludes financial sectors, fell 7.3 per cent from the year before to $US9.27 billion ($A9 billion), the commerce ministry announced. It was also down from December's $US11.7 billion.

The comparison with January 2012 is affected by seasonal factors as China's annual Lunar New Year holiday fell in that month but came in February this year.

But as there were more business days in January 2013 the year-on-year decline underscores the weakness.

China takes a week off during the annual holiday, the country's biggest, as hundreds of millions of people travel to their hometowns for celebrations.

Commerce ministry spokesman Shen Danyang acknowledged the decline was "not small", but stressed that the number of foreign companies newly investing in China rose 34.3 per cent to 1883 during the month.

The ministry announced last month that FDI in China declined for the first time in three years in 2012 amid economic turmoil in developed markets and a prolonged slowdown at home.

But China's economy has been showing renewed vigour since late last year, with GDP growth accelerating in the final three months of 2012 to 7.9 per cent, snapping seven straight quarters of weakening expansion.

The world's second-largest economy grew at its slowest pace in 13 years in 2012, expanding 7.8 per cent from the year before.

The ministry also said on Wednesday Chinese direct investment overseas maintained its upward trend in January, increasing 12.3 per cent to $US4.91 billion from the same month the year before.

Chinese direct investment overseas surged almost 30 per cent in 2012 from the previous year as firms increasingly look to expand abroad.

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