China vowed Wednesday to maintain property market restrictions and "prudent" monetary policies after a major meeting to set the nation's economic course in 2012, at a time of global uncertainty.
China's leaders also agreed to "guarantee steady growth" and keep the yuan "basically stable" at the close of the annual Central Economic Work Meeting, chaired by President Hu Jintao, the official Xinhua news agency said.
The annual closed-door meeting in Beijing -- the last before a once-in-a-decade leadership transition begins next year -- was held against a backdrop of turmoil in China's biggest export markets of Europe and the United States.
Analysts said the statement was a strong sign Beijing will move cautiously to ease tight credit restrictions put in place in the past two years to curb surging prices and property costs.
Chinese leaders are anxious to prevent a sharp slowdown in the world's second largest economy but at the same time they want to avoid reigniting inflation, which has the potential to trigger social unrest.
The export-dependent country has seen demand for its products shrink in recent months as consumers from Paris to New York cut back on spending due to an increasingly bleak economic outlook.
Given the "severe and complicated" global outlook, the main theme for the next 12 months will be "making progress while maintaining stability", Xinhua said, citing a statement issued after the three-day meeting finished.
"China will ensure that macroeconomic regulation policies and overall consumer prices remain basically stable and will guarantee the steady growth of the economy and maintain social stability," it said.
Beijing will also "unswervingly maintain its regulation policies on the property market next year to make housing prices return to a reasonable level", and stick to a "prudent monetary policy and proactive fiscal policy".
Policymakers also vowed to keep a "basically stable" yuan exchange rate, which could put further downward pressure on the currency as investors bet against a strong appreciation next year.
The yuan has been under the biggest selling pressure since the 2008 global financial crisis as slowing domestic growth and overseas woes fuel demand for the US dollar.
Royal Bank of Scotland economist Li Cui said she expected the government to use a combination of tax cuts, infrastructure spending and reductions in the amount of money banks must keep in reserve to keep the economy growing.
Investors reacted negatively to the statement, with the Shanghai Composite Index closing down 0.89 percent, or 20.06 points, at 2,228.53.
The announcement comes after a series of key data last week showed the Chinese economy lost steam in November.
Consumer prices rose at their weakest pace in more than a year and industrial output growth hit its lowest level in more than two years, according to official data.
Manufacturing activity also contracted in November for the first time in 33 months, fuelling concerns the economy is at risk of a hard landing.
Late last month Beijing cut the amount of money banks must hold in reserve for the first time in three years to spur lending and counter turmoil in Europe and the United States that threatens to derail the economy.
China's economy is expected to grow 9.2 percent in 2011 and 8.9 percent next year, which would be the slowest pace in more than a decade, a state-run think tank said last week.
Source: AFP Asian Edition