Chinese GDP grows 7.4% in Q3


China's economy slowed for a seventh straight quarter between July and September but despite missing government targets for the first time since the depths of the global financial crisis other data released today pointed to a mild year-end rebound.

GDP grew 7.4 per cent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, in line with forecasts.

Industrial production, retail sales and investment data were all slightly ahead of forecasts, however, and quarter-on-quarter GDP growth was strong, suggesting the worst may be over and China’s economy will pick up in the final quarter.

It all added up to annual economic growth of 7.7 per cent in the first nine months of the year, setting China up to beat or exceed the government's official 2012 target of 7.5 per cent.

"We have 7.7 per cent growth in September, which laid a solid foundation for achieving the full-year growth target. So we are confident that we can achieve 7.5 per cent full-year growth or above," NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyun told a news conference.

Riskier assets reacted positively, with Asian shares outside Japan rising to a 7-month high, while the Australian dollar, sensitive to Chinese demand for industrial commodities, touched its highest point in two weeks.

While GDP growth at 7.4 per cent would be cause for joy in recession-stalked developed economies, it represents a sharp slowdown for China, where GDP grew 9.2 per cent in 2011 and has averaged an annual rate around 10 per cent for three decades.

Fixed-asset investment rose 20.5 per cent year-on-year in the first nine months but was still down on the figure of some 25 per cent seen for most of last year.

Consumption also quickened, with retail sales in September expanding by 14.2 per cent year-on-year, ahead of the 13.2 per cent forecast, which would have been unchanged from August.

Growth in factory output came in at 9.2 per cent, slightly ahead of both the 9.0 per cent forecast and August's 8.9 per cent.

Real estate investment, which affects 40 other business sectors from cement and steel to furniture, was an area of uncertainty for economists. It rose 15.4 per cent in the first nine months of 2012 from a year earlier, slowing from an annual increase of 15.6 per cent in January-August.


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