China economic growth slowest since global financial crash


BEIJING-China's economic expansion slowed to its weakest pace since the financial crisis, as top financial regulators launched an extraordinary coordinated effort to calm jittery investors.

The rate is down from 6.8 percent and 6.7 percent in the first and second quarters, respectively, but in line with a growth target of roughly 6.5 percent for the year set by China's economic policymakers.

Beijing has already been increasing policy support in the last few months to prop up growth.

Separate data on Friday showed China's factory output growth weakened to 5.8 percent in September from a year earlier, while fixed-asset investment expanded at a slightly faster-than-expected 5.4 percent in the first nine months of the year.

The timing of the rare intervention by the heads of the central bank, securities commission and banking regulator - in interviews with Chinese media - comes amid a bruising stock downturn and were released ahead of data showing slowing economic growth.

The gloomy export picture has reinforced the need for Beijing to rely on its legion of consumers to grow its economy.

However, some now warn growth could slow even more dramatically next year. A different narrative is emerging this year, one of a slowing economy that is forcing Beijing to make some hard choices.

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Washington has hit roughly half of Chinese imports while Beijing has taken aim at most United States imports.

Although exports have always been a staple of China's economy, USA tariffs targeting machinery, electronics, cars and appliances have decreased foreign investment in these sectors.

China's economic growth sank to its lowest level since the global financial crisis in the latest quarter, adding to challenges for its communist leaders as they fight a tariff battle with Washington.

The conflict has more directly hit confidence in China.

The measures have also affected financial confidence, as Shanghai's stock market has fallen by about a quarter in 2018, and the yuan has declined by about 9 percent against the United States dollar.

"If the market becomes a bit panicked. that can dampen investment, investment and trade are closely linked so this can be a vicious cycle", said Lian Weicheng, an economist at the International Monetary Fund.

Plans for trade talks to end the dispute have stalled, putting further pressure on the Chinese economy.