China's Q3 growth hits a 6-year low of 7.3%; may miss annual target

21 Oct 2014


China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7.3 per cent in the third quarter (July-September 2014), its slowest pace since the global financial crisis, raising concerns the world's second-largest economy is not aiding global growth.

China's economy had grown at 7.5 per cent in the second quarter, and at the current pace of growth, China looks set to miss the annual official growth target for the first time in 15 years.

Third quarter data added to concerns that growth will fall below the official 2014 target of 7.5 per cent, which would be the first miss since 1999.

The slowdown marked by a slumping property market affected manufacturing and investment, necessitating further support measures by Beijing to avert a sharper slowdown.

Premier Li Keqiang has been speaking of reshaping economy and de-linking growth from exports over a time, so that the economy is driven more by domestic consumption and less by exports and investment.

Li has indicated that maintaining employment to ward off social unrest is a policy priority.

"Although economic growth has slowed in the third quarter, our employment and inflation situation are generally stable, which means the economy is still operating in a reasonable range," Sheng Laiyun, spokesperson of the statistics bureau, said.

Other data showed China's factory output rose 8.0 per cent in September from a year earlier, beating expectations and marking a recovery from August's six-year low of 6.9 per cent.

The pick-up in factory output and government confidence that the labour market remains stable were offset by further slowing in the property sector.

Investments in fixed assets, an important driver of the economy, was weaker than expected, as were retail sales.

That followed data last week which showed inflation cooled to a near five-year low, highlighting sluggish domestic demand and a lack of pricing power for firms.

The statistics bureau downplayed that risk, saying there was no danger that consumer prices would fall in coming months.

While the Chinese authorities have been providing aid to more vulnerable sectors of the economy, they have avoided massive stimulus measures so far as the country is still struggling with a mountain of debt, the hangover from 4 trillion yuan ($650 billion) stimulus rolled out during 2008-09 global crisis.


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