China's economic growth slowed in third quarter — AFP survey

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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BEIJING, China (AFP) — China's economic growth likely eased in the third quarter but is on course to beat the Government's annual forecast, analysts say, providing a boon for the Communist Party as it prepares to hand Xi Jinping a second term as president.

While the expected 6.8 per cent rate in July-September is well off the breakneck figures enjoyed 10 years ago and weaker than the previous two quarters, it suggests the key driver of global expansion is stabilising after years of slowing.

The estimate in a survey of analysts by AFP follows a series of positive indicators, including increased domestic consumption, improving exports thanks to a pick-up in the global economy, and rising inflation.

“The Government has tacitly allowed a mild pick-up in credit growth to perk up activity ahead of the all-important congress,” said Alaistair Chan, an economist at Moody's.

“The housing market is cooling at an orderly pace but activity there remains buoyant.”

However, an ever-expanding debt mountain continues to unnerve China-watchers and has already led two agencies to downgrade the country's sovereign rating.

Total debt as a per cent of gross domestic product has grown more than 10 per cent per year on average since the 2008 financial crisis, according to International Monetary Fund estimates, and the head of the central People's Bank of China Zhou Xiaochuan warned the country “needs to de-leverage”.

Earlier this year, the Bank for International Settlements — dubbed the central bank of central banks — warned China's banking sector could be facing an imminent debt crisis, fuelling fresh fears of a blowout that could hit the global financial system.

There also are lingering worries of a possible trade war with the US following President Donald Trump's protectionist rhetoric and accusations that Beijing is undermining US jobs.




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