China's annual economic growth is expected to ease to about 9 percent in the first quarter while consumer inflation is projected at 5 percent, according to a government think tank report published in the official Chinese Securities Journal on Thursday.

The economy grew 9.8 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, while annual consumer inflation eased to 4.6 percent in December from a 28-month high of 5.1 percent hit the month before, according to data published last week.

The State Information Center said in the report that China faces higher inflation risks this year from rising food price expectations, a real estate market that is getting harder to control and an investment rush by local governments.

The country's top economic planning agency has said price pressures will stay high in the first quarter due to imported inflation.

The People's Bank of China will pay more attention to stabilizing inflation, and will use various monetary tools to control liquidity, the Shanghai Securities News quoted the central bank's vice governor, Ma Delun, as saying.

China has officially raised banks' required reserves seven times since the start of last year, with its most recent increase taking effect last week.

But it has increased interest rates only twice during that time and some analysts warn that more forceful moves are needed.