CHINA’S gross domestic product expanded 7.5 percent in the April-June quarter, official data showed Monday, a second consecutive slowdown in growth as worries mount over the health of the world’s number two economy.
The GDP figure matched the median forecast in a survey of 10 economists by Agence France Presse. Growth in the first six months of the year came in at 7.6 percent, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.
China’s economic performance in the first half was “generally stable” and within expectations, an NBS spokesman said in a statement. “However we are still faced with grim and complicated economic situations,” he added.
Growth in the first three months of the year was 7.7 percent, a decrease from the 7.9 percent recorded in the last quarter of 2012.
Results so far this year have proved disappointing after last year’s 7.8 percent annual performance, itself the worst in 13 years.
“As of now, China’s GDP has been staying under eight percent for five straight quarters, a clear sign of distress,” economist Ren Xianfang of IHS Global Insight said.
“The rather sharp growth deceleration and the recent financial market turmoil indicate that risks have been building on both the financial and real goods sector,” she added.
Adding to uncertainty over the outlook are growing worries about China’s financial system, which was rocked last month when the interest rates banks charge each other surged to record highs.
“The liquidity crunch has exposed the extreme vulnerability of the financial system linked with excessive leveraging through shadow banking; while the GDP data indicate the economy is facing the risk of slowing to a stalling speed,” Ren added.
China’s leaders have proclaimed a long-term goal of rebalancing the economy, and since coming to power as Communist Party chief in November and then state president in March, Xi Jinping has placed less emphasis on the traditional growth drivers of exports and investment, and more on consumer spending.
“The figure is in line with market expectations,” Lu Ting, Hong Kong-based economist with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told AFP.
“But the government may need to relax on the policy front if it wants to maintain its full-year economic growth target of 7.5 percent,” he added.
“We don’t expect any major stimulus policies, but the government may relax on the fiscal policy side to support the development of some industries.”
Markets welcomed the news, with the Shanghai Composite Index up 0.81 percent in the morning.
Also Monday, the NBS announced that industrial production in June rose 8.9 percent year-on-year and 9.3 percent for the first six months of 2013.
Meanwhile fixed asset investment, a key measure of government spending on infrastructure, increased 20.1 percent during the first half year-on-year.
And retail sales rose 13.3 percent year-on-year in June and 12.7 percent during the first half.