China’s factory output will slow slightly in 2012 to 12-13%, down from an expected 14% growth rate in 2011, according to a senior Chinese official, Reuters reported. “The industrial production growth rate will show some moderation next year, judging from the domestic and external environment,” said Huang Libin, an official with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. However, state media later reported that Huang expected factory output to grow 14% in 2011. Economists say that the official forecast for 2012 factory output would equate to GDP growth of 8-9%, enough to avoid a feared hard landing. However, the 2011 growth rate may be as low as 11%, as indicated by HSBC’s Purchasing Manager’s Index released earlier this week, which signalled that factory output was shrinking. Export manufacturers are particularly hard pressed to grow, due to flagging demand from US and European markets.