China Cargo Containers, Dec. 7, 2014
Trucks loaded with cargo containers are seen at the Ningbo Zhoushan Port in Zhejiang province of China Dec. 7, 2014. Reuters/Stringer

(Reuters) -- China’s trade will grow 3.5 percent in 2014, implying the country will fall short of a current 7.5 percent official growth target, according to a report on the Ministry of Commerce’s website that was subsequently revised to remove the numbers. The initial version of the report published Saturday, quoting Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng, was replaced with a new version that had identical wording but with all the numbers and percentages removed.

The Commerce Ministry did not answer calls requesting comment on the reason for the change.

China’s trade figures have repeatedly fallen short of expectations in the second half of this year, providing more evidence the world’s No. 2 economy may be facing a sharp slowdown.

Foreign direct investment will amount to $120 billion for the year, the earlier version of Ministry of Commerce report said, in line with official forecasts. The earlier version of the report also said outward nonfinancial investment from China could also come in around the same level.

That would mark the first time outward flows have pulled even with inward investment flows in China, and would imply a major surge in outward investment in December given that the current accumulated level stands slightly below $90 billion.

The earlier version of the report also predicted that retail sales growth would come in at 12 percent for 2014, in line with the current average growth rate.

In a separate report, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences predicted that real-estate prices in Chinese cities would continue to slide in 2015, with third- and fourth-tier cities hit hardest. But it said the market would have a soft landing as local governments take action to provide further policy support to the market.

(Reporting by Pete Sweeney and William Zhang. Editing by Jane Merriman)