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China's President Xi Jinping. Photo: KHAM / AFP / Getty Images)

China's economy has been booming for decades but, after steady declines since 2010, the rate of year-on-year growth actually ticked back up in 2017, to 6.9% from 6.7% in 2016, per Reuters.

Why it matters: The increase beat expectations, and came as China was "also engineering a significant slowdown in credit growth, after years in which economists have warned about risks building from years of aggressive credit stimulus," per the FT, which anticipates China will have a difficult time keeping up that pace in 2018.

Fixed asset-investment growth was weak last year, but exports grew faster than they had in 4 years, making up for that drop. Private sector investment rose last year as well.

And yet there remain a few wild cards:

  • Growth might slow this year since pollution policies might hurt industry, the government is trying to limit credit, and firms will face higher costs when borrowing, per Reuters.
  • Trade with the U.S. — Trump has been weighing tariffs on steel and aluminum, and just yesterday Trump told Reuters the U.S. would be adding a “fine” over China’s intellectual property theft. The U.S. trade deficit with China grew last year.
  • The reliability of China’s economic data is uncertain since local government officials in China are assessed based on their local economies’ performance. As the NYT’s Keith Brasher writes, “Officials in far-flung regions are admitting their numbers are wrong. And outside experts crunching the data have come up with different — and usually weaker — results.”

Go deeper

2 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

4 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.