China growth hits slowest pace in Q3

Finance | Reuters 19 Oct 2021


China's economy hit its slowest pace of growth in a year at 4.9 percent in the third quarter, hurt by power shortages, supply chain bottlenecks, and major wobbles in the property market and raising pressure on policymakers to do more to prop up the faltering recovery.

A Reuters poll of analysts had expected GDP to rise 5.2 percent in the third quarter.

The world's second-largest economy is facing several major challenges, including the China Evergrande (3333) debt crisis, ongoing supply chain delays, and a critical electricity crunch, which sent factory output to its weakest since early 2020, when heavy Covid-19 curbs were in place.

People's Bank of China governor Yi Gang had earlier said that the recovery remains intact even though growth momentum has "moderated somewhat." He forecast the economy would expand about 8 percent this year.

However, analysts at Barclays cut their fourth-quarter forecast by 1.2 percentage points to 3.5 percent on the disappointing data.

"In response to the ugly growth numbers we expect in coming months, we think policymakers will take more steps to shore up growth, including ensuring ample liquidity in the interbank market, accelerating infrastructure development and relaxing some aspects of overall credit and real estate policies," said Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics.

Meanwhile, China's coking coal and coke futures jumped about 9 percent yesterday to record highs, as supply remains tight even though Beijing has ramped up efforts to boost output.

Coke futures hit their daily trading limit, up 9 percent at 4,344 yuan (HK$5,255) per tonne.

China's coal production stood at 334.1 million tonnes in September, compared with 335.24 million tonnes in August and down 0.9 percent on an annual basis, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

"The tight supply of coal and electricity is phased and the impact on the economy is controllable," said Fu Linghui, spokesperson of the National Bureau of Statistics.

This came as oil prices hit multi-year highs yesterday buoyed by recovering demand and high natural gas and coal prices encouraging users to switch to fuel oil and diesel for power generation.

Brent crude oil futures once hit a session high of US$86.04 (HK$671) a barrel, the highest price since October 2018.

United States West Texas Intermediate crude futures once reached a session high of US$83.73 a barrel, the highest since October 2014.

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