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HK Economy on Track to Reach 7.5 Percent Full-year Growth

Hong Kong's economy is on track to reach the forecast 7.5 percent growth for the full year, government economist Kwok Kwok-chuen said on Friday at a press briefing.

Hong Kong's economic upturn continued well into the third quarter, as GDP grew 7.2 percent in real terms over a year earlier, he said.

Kwok described a slowdown in the fourth quarter as "inevitable and healthy".

However, he noted that fourth-quarter growth will still be good, adding that while a slowdown is expected in the second half of the year, the whole-year forecast remains at 7.5 percent.

"We're confident we can reach that," he said.

The economist also cautioned against looking at the 12.1 percent growth figure for the second quarter too much. It was, he said, an exceptional figure owing to the previous year's quarter -during which SARS devastated the economy.

He noted that in the years leading up to the handover in 1997, when Hong Kong was booming, property prices were rising fast and the stock market was climbing, the average annual growth rate was in the range of 5 percent to 5.5 percent.

"For a mature market, a growth rate of 5 percent is very strong," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency November 27, 2004)

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