China November output, investment data shows further weakness, more stimulus eyed

By Reuters

Dec 12, 2014 02:53 AM EST

China's economy showed further signs of fatigue in November, with factory growth slowing more than expected and investment expansion hovering near a 13-year low, putting pressure on policymakers to unveil stronger stimulus measures.

A deluge of weak data this week has reinforced the view that annual economic growth may weaken further from 7.3 percent in the third quarter - already the lowest since the great financial crisis and further straining the fragile global economy.

A surprise interest rate cut by China's central bank last month signaled policymakers' growing concern that the world's second-largest economy may be at risk of a sharper slowdown that could fuel job losses and debt defaults.

"The data bodes ill for GDP growth in the fourth quarter, which is bound to slow further," said Dariusz Kowalczyk, senior economist at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong.

"It will put pressure on policymakers to ease monetary stance again and we expect an RRR cut still in December," he said, referring to a reduction in banks' required reserve ratios (RRR) which would, in theory, encourage more lending.

Factory output rose 7.2 percent in November from a year earlier, slowing from October's 7.7 percent, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday.

The reading missed analysts' forecasts of 7.5 percent and marked the second lowest expansion since the depths of the global crisis in December 2008.

The closure of many factories in northern China early in November to reduce air pollution as Asia-Pacific leaders met in Beijing was no doubt partly to blame for the weaker-than-expected output. But recent surveys have also shown slackening growth in export orders while a cooling housing market is weighing on domestic demand for products from concrete to steel.

Fixed-asset investment, an important driver of growth, grew 15.8 percent in the first 11 months from the same year-ago period, in line with market expectations but slowing from a 15.9 percent rise in the first 10 months and hovering near a 13-year low.

Other data showed growth in real estate investment slowed to 11.9 percent in the first 11 months of 2014 from 12.4 percent in the January-October period.

Highlighting overall economic sluggishness, power generation rose a scant 0.6 percent from a year earlier, the third straight month of deceleration.

Consumption was the only bright spot, with retail sales growth quickening slightly to 11.7 percent from 11.5 percent in October, which was the slowest pace since early 2006.

The authorities will try to sustain a reasonable pace of growth in 2015 even though the economy faces relatively big downward pressure, top leaders said after the annual Central Economic Work Conference on Thursday.

The property downturn is expected to last well into next year due to a massive inventory of unsold homes, though further price declines could ease if authorities can persuade risk-averse banks to lower mortgage rates.

Data earlier this week China's trade performance faltered in November while consumer inflation hit a five-year low, stoking expectations that Beijing may move more aggressively to head off the risk of deflation.

Analysts expect the central bank to cut interest rates further and lower banks' reserve requirement ratios. The government also could accept a wider 2015 budget deficit to spur spending.

"We're ready for an RRR cut at any point. We think there will be 100 basis points of cuts over the next couple of quarters," said Tim Condon, head of research Asia at ING in Singapore, though he sees no further interest rate cuts.

Full-year growth is on track to undershoot the government's 7.5 percent target and mark the weakest expansion in 24 years.

Economists who advise the government have recommended that China lower its economic growth target to around 7 percent in 2015. 

© 2024 VCPOST, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

Join the Conversation

Real Time Analytics