, CHINA, Oct 21 – China’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded in the third quarter at its slowest pace since the depths of the global financial crisis, official data showed Tuesday, but analysts said the world’s second-largest economy may have bottomed out.
The 7.3 percent year-on-year increase in July-September was lower than the 7.5 percent expansion in the previous three months, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, and the slowest since the 6.6 percent in the first quarter of 2009.
However, it exceeded the median forecast of 7.2 percent in an AFP survey of 17 economists.
China’s economy – a key driver of global growth – is suffering from a deflating property bubble, a crackdown on corruption and weak demand from Europe, prompting authorities to introduce monetary easing measures.
While the headline figure will likely add to concerns about the world economy, officials were quick to put a largely positive spin on it.
The economy showed “good momentum of stable growth” in the first three quarters, said NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyun, with “progress made and quality improved”.
But he acknowledged the third-quarter slowdown was partly due to “unexpectedly greater pains brought by the structural reform” which included “still pronounced overcapacity in traditional industries” and a correction in the property market this year.
“The internal and external environment is still complicated and the economic development still faces many challenges,” he said.
The NBS said GDP expanded 7.4 percent in January-September, and Sheng said growth had remained in a “reasonable range” as, among other factors, job creation was stable.
China’s official 2014 growth target is about 7.5 percent in March, the same as last year, though officials including Premier Li Keqiang have openly stated it could come in lower.
The analysts polled by AFP forecast growth of 7.3 percent this year, unchanged from the previous estimate three months ago but slower than actual growth of 7.7 percent in 2013.
“The momentum of the economy bottoming out and stabilising is now relatively clear,” Ma Xiaoping, a Beijing-based economist for British bank HSBC, told AFP. “Currently there’s no risk of an accelerated slowdown,” she added.