Despite the better-than-expected end to the year, it is still the sixth successive year that the economy has slowed and the lowest annual GDP growth recorded in 26 years.
But the transition is proving hard, with the crucial manufacturing sector struggling in the face of sluggish global demand for Chinese products and excess industrial capacity left over from the boom of the past two decades. The government targeted 6.5-7.0%.
Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted full-year investment growth of 8.3 percent, unchanged from the pace in the first 11 months of the year.
Mr. Ning attributed the uptick in the measure of inequality a year ago to slower growth in farmers' income.
China's economy accelerated for the first time in two years in the final quarter of 2016, cementing an economic stabilisation that's giving leaders a buffer as they transition to neutral policy and prepare for potential trade tensions with Donald Trump.
"The domestic and external conditions are still complicated and severe, and the foundation for a stabilised but progressing economy should be further consolidated.", it said.
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Guo Lei, senior macroeconomy analyst with GF Securities, wrote in a research note: "The cooling property market will put pressure on the industry sector starting from the second quarter of this year". Overall, China's "investment momentum will likely ease as the People's Bank of China tightens the monetary policy stance gradually", she added. But there were warnings that those factors would wane in 2017.
He told the Reuters news agency: "The key risk to the Chinese economy in 2017 and 2018 is the possibility that faster than expected United States interest rate increases could intensify Chinese capital outflows and increase stresses on China's financial system". He has also accused it of manipulating its currency.
The bureau also said that industrial production gained 6.0% on year in December, missing forecasts for 6.1% and down from 6.2% in November. And retail spending is growing at the fastest annual rate in a year.
The good news is the rebalancing is progressing nicely - in fact consumption continues to account for nearly two thirds of growth in 2016.
A long-running bad debt problem still had to be addressed, with warnings from the IMF to the Bank of International Settlements that failure to do so could fan a serious financial crisis.
Supported by government spending and a real estate boom, the world's second-largest economy expanded by 6.8% over a year earlier in the three months ending in December, up from the previous quarter's 6.7%, government data showed Friday.