BEIJING: Three key indicators released by China on Wednesday all came in below market expectations, the latest poor statistics for the world’s second-largest economy.
Industrial production—which measures output at factories, workshops and mines in the country—rose 6.0 percent year-on-year in July, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.
It slowed from a 6.8 percent increase in June and was far below the median forecast for a 6.6 percent rise from 40 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, undershooting even the most bearish of their estimates.
Economists said the figures pointed to further weakening in the Chinese economy and expected more policy loosening.
The central People’s Bank of China cut the value of the yuan against the dollar for a second consecutive day Wednesday, moves which should make Chinese goods cheaper overseas, giving exports a potential boost.
“China July activity data came much weaker than we expected, indicating the growth momentum is losing steam again after a gentle rebound in Q2,” Nomura economist Zhao Yang said in a reaction note.
Retail sales, a key indicator of consumer spending, rose 10.5 percent in July from a year earlier, the NBS said, just below a 10.6 percent forecast in the poll.
Fixed asset investment, a measure of government spending on infrastructure, expanded 11.2 percent on-year in the January-July period, the NBS said—also below an 11.5 percent median estimate, and the lowest since December 2000.
ANZ economists Liu Ligang and Louis Lam warned that economic growth could fall to below 6.5 percent in the third quarter if conditions do not improve in the coming months.
“Thus we expect that more easing policies will be launched,” they wrote in a note, predicting one more interest rate cut in the third quarter and a reduction in the amount of cash banks must keep in reserve, or the reserve requirement ratio (RRR).
Authorities have already reduced benchmark interest rates four times since November and have also lowered the RRR three times in a bid to stimulate the stalling economy.
The data came as China’s economy has continued to slow in 2015 after growing last year at 7.4 percent, its weakest pace in nearly a quarter of a century.
Growth in gross domestic product has decelerated further this year, expanding 7.0 percent in each of the first two quarters.
China’s authorities are trying to engineer a controlled slowdown as they seek to transform the country’s growth model to one driven by consumer spending, as opposed to heavy infrastructure investment.