China's economic growth could slow to 7.1 per cent in 2015 from an expected 7.4 per cent this year, held back by a sagging property sector, the People's Bank of China said in a new research report. Stronger global demand could boost exports, but not by enough to counteract the impact from weakening property investment, according to the report published on the central bank's website pbc.gov.cn China's exports are likely to grow 6.9 per cent in 2015, quickening from this year's 6.1 per cent rise, while import growth is seen accelerating to 5.1 per cent in 2015 from this year's 1.9 per cent, it said. The report warned that the Federal Reserve's expected move to raise interest rates some time next year could hit emerging-market economies. Fixed-asset investment growth may slow to 12.8 per cent in 2015 from this year's 15.5 per cent, while retail sales growth may quicken to 12.2 per cent from 12 per cent, it said. Consumer inflation may hold largely steady in 2015 at 2.2 per cent, it said. China's economic growth weakened to 7.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2014, and November's soft factory and investment figures suggest full-year growth will miss Beijing's 7.5 per cent target and mark the weakest expansion in 24 years. Economists who advise the government have recommended that China lower its growth target to around 7 per cent in 2015. The argument for a lower growth target is to allow the government to focus effort on structural reforms that will improve the long-term sustainability of economic growth, rather than being forced to continually adjust policy settings to hit a short-term objective. China's employment situation is likely to hold up well next year due to faster expansion of the services sector, despite slower economic growth, the report added.