ADJUSTMENT may be the key word describing China's economic performance in December, with rising retail sales but moderating growth in industrial output and investment, analysts said before the release of data later this month.
Inflation may continue a trend of mild rebound, staying at 2.2 percent due to higher food prices at the year end.
"The performance is likely to be mixed," said Lu Zhengwei, chief economist at Industrial Bank Co Ltd. "Industrial production and fixed-asset investment may slow down a bit from the strong growth since September, and but retail sales will rise."
Lu still projected China's gross domestic product will expand 7.9 percent from a year earlier in the fourth quarter of last year, up from 7.4 percent in the previous quarter, the slowest in three and a half years.
The National Bureau of Statistics is scheduled to release the first batch of data, including Consumer Price Index and Producer Price Index, this Friday. Other data for December and the fourth quarter of 2012 will be unveiled at a press conference in Beijing next Friday.
Lu expected CPI, the main gauge of inflation, to rise 2.2 percent in December, up from November's 2 percent, and winding up the whole year at 2.6 percent.
Retail sales may climb 15.3 percent in December, from 14.9 percent in November, Lu said. But industrial growth is likely to moderate to 9.9 percent from 10.1 percent because of holiday shopping at the year end, and fixed-asset investment may also retreat from 20.7 percent to 19.8 percent.
Li Maoyu, an analyst at Changjiang Securities Co, said last month's relatively weaker performance won't prompt any policy moves.
"A mild slowdown is natural at the year end when everybody was busy with celebration for the New Year. It does not mean China is losing growth momentum," Li said. "Instead, it is an adjustment, preparing China for further growth in 2013."