China's Economy Grows 9%

China's economy, the biggest contributor to global growth, expanded at the slowest pace in five years as the financial crisis cut demand for exports., 10/20/2008 5:49:57 AM

Gross domestic product rose 9 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said in Beijing today.

The fifth quarter of slowing growth may exacerbate declines this year in iron ore, copper and oil prices and undermine demand for exports within Asia, where economies are already contracting. The cabinet announced yesterday increased infrastructure spending and tax cuts for exporters and the central bank may be poised to cut interest rates for the third time this year.

Inflation cooled to 4.6 percent in September, the slowest pace since June 2007, on easing commodity prices.

China's expansion was the weakest since the severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, epidemic slashed growth in the second quarter of 2003.

The contribution of trade to growth halved to 1.2 percentage points in the first nine months from a year earlier.

Industrial production rose 11.4 percent in September, the slowest pace in more than six years excluding seasonal distortions, on weaker export orders and factory closures to clear the air for the Olympic Games.

Growth in urban fixed-asset investment accelerated to 27.6 percent in the first nine months from a year earlier, today's data showed, from 27.4 percent through August. Railway and earthquake reconstruction spending may help to sustain that pace.

Retail sales rose 23.2 percent in September, close to the fastest pace in at least nine years. Producer prices rose 9.1 percent last month, down from a 10.1 percent gain in August.

Urban disposable incomes for the first nine months rose 14.7 percent to 11,865 yuan ($1,737) from a year earlier. Rural cash incomes climbed 19.6 percent to 3,971 yuan. Those numbers were boosted by inflation.

The State Council yesterday cited slower growth in fiscal revenue and company profits and ``volatility and sluggishness'' in stocks as effects of the global crisis. The CSI 300 has fallen 65 percent this year.

Besides the darkening outlook for exports, weakness in the property market is a threat to the world's fourth-biggest economy.

Home sales by volume plunged 55.5 percent and 38.5 percent in Beijing and Shanghai in the first eight months from a year earlier, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The State Council said that it would increase the supply of low-cost housing and reduce property transaction fees.

A fiscal surplus and a world record $1.9 trillion of currency reserves allow the government to step up spending. The International Monetary Fund estimated this month that China's economy may expand 9.3 percent next year compared with growth of 0.1 percent in the U.S., 0.2 percent in the euro area, and 0.5 percent in Japan.

Easing inflation cleared the way for two interest-rate reductions in a month, the latest on Oct. 8, when the U.S. Federal Reserve and five other central banks also made cuts in an emergency bid to thaw credit markets.