China’s economy slowed faster than expected in the first quarter of 2012, increasing speculation that the government may further ease monetary and fiscal policy, Bloomberg reported. GDP figures released Friday showed the economy grew by 8.1% year-on-year in the quarter, down from 8.9% in the fourth quarter of last year and below analyst expectations of 8.4%. The figure represented the slowest rate of growth in nearly three years, potentially providing space for the government to loosen the fiscal and monetary spigots. Separately, the World Bank lowered its forecast of China’s 2012 growth to 8.2% for the full year 2012, saying that an upturn might not come until the third quarter. “There is the potential for growth to be bumping along the bottom for longer,” said Ardo Hansson, the bank’s chief economist for China.