By Nick Edwards
BEIJING (Reuters) - China's industrial output growth may be faster in the final three months of 2012 compared to the third quarter, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said on Thursday.
"The industry sector performance has shown signs of stabilization and we can see an even clearer growing trend from the month-on-month figures in the third quarter," Zhu Hongren, the spokesman and chief engineer of the Ministry, told a news conference.
"Therefore, we expect that industrial output growth in the fourth quarter would be faster than that in Q3, which will help the country to achieve its annual economic growth target of 7.5 percent," he added.
Zhu's comments were more upbeat than the cautious language used in a written statement distributed ahead of the news conference, highlighting that the recovery trend was not yet stable.
"The stabilization trend of China's industrial sector is not yet solid and we are still facing many challenges and difficulties to realize stable growth," the Ministry's earlier statement said.
China's industrial output in September grew 9.2 percent, picking up from a rise of 8.9 percent in August, but despite signs of a gentle improvement in the factory sector, annual industrial output growth of 10 percent in the first nine months of 2012 is still below the Ministry's 11 percent target.
China's overall economic growth accelerated to 2.2 percent quarter-on-quarter in Q3 from an upwardly revised 2.0 percent rate in Q2, data showed last week, reinforcing views of analysts that a recovery is beginning to take hold even while annual growth heads for its slowest year since 1999.
(Reporting by Aileen Wang and Nick Edwards; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)