Chinese trying to reassure investors amid slowdown
BEIJING — China reported that economic growth sank to a postglobal crisis low as finance officials launched a media blitz Friday to shore up confidence in its sagging stock market.
Growth in the quarter that ended in September slipped to 6.5 percent over a year earlier from the previous quarter’s 6.7 percent, official data showed. Itwas the slowest rate since early 2009.
Theworld’s second-largest economy already was cooling before a tariff war between Beijing and President Donald Trump erupted.
Beijing tightened controls on lending last year to rein in a debt boom. That has weighed on housing sales and consumer spending. Car buyers are steering clear of dealerships.
Credit controls and trade tensions are “taking a bite out of economic momentum,” said Bill Adams of PNC Financial Services Group in a report.
The impact of Trump’s penalty tariffs of up to 25 percent on Chinese goods in a dispute over Beijing’s technology policy has been limited. But with the rest of their $12 trillion-a-year economy slowing, the communist leadership has reversed course and ordered banks to lend.
“Downward pressure has increased,” said Mao Shengyong, a government spokesman.
Officials led by China’s economic czar, Vice Premier LiuHe, tried Friday to reassure investors about a stock market that has sagged 30 percent since January.
The decline is “creating good investment opportunities,” Liu said in comments carried by the official Xinhua News Agency, newspapers and websites.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended the day up 2.6 percent.
The government also said insurers will be allowed to create products to help stabilize the market by reducing “liquidity risk.” That refers to fears lenders that accepted stock as collateral for loans might sell, flooding the market and driving a new price collapse.
Retail sales, factory output and investment in factories and equipment all weakened in the latest quarter.
The conflict with Washington has prompted Chinese leaders to step up a marathon effort to encourage self-sustaining growth driven by domestic consumption and reduce reliance on exports and investment. Beijing has cut tariffs, promised to lift curbs on foreign ownership of auto producers and taken other steps to rev up growth.
But leaders have refused to scrap plans such as “Made in China 2025,” which calls for state-led creation of Chinese champions in robotics and other technologies.
The U.S., Europe and other trading partners say those violate Beijing’s market-opening commitments. But Chinese leaders see themas a path to prosperity and global influence.
Washington has raised tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods and Trump says he might extend penalties to almost all imports from China. Beijing responded with its own tariff hikes on $110 billion of American imports. But it is running out of goods for retaliation due to their lopsided trade balance.
China’s economy showed signs of slipping even before a trade war withWashington.