A significant and positive development for the whole Asian region was the release of economic data from China late last week.
It showed, as expected, that the Goliath to the north experienced its seventh consecutive dip in quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) growth, but some of the numbers that came out were in fact positive.
China reported that its third-quarter GDP grew by 7.4%
China, which has been the engine of growth for the entire Asean region, reported that its third-quarter GDP grew by 7.4% year-on-year, the slowest pace since the first quarter of 2009, but the figures were in line with what the market was expecting.
The third-quarter figure brings the nine-month GDP number to 7.7%, down from 7.8% in the same period of 2011 but above the government’s revised expectations of 7.5% growth for the full year.
In almost any other economy, 7.4% growth would be considered commendable
but not for China, which expanded by 9.2% in 2011 and more than 10% annually for the three decades prior to that. As economists like to point out, China’s sheer size dictates that it has to grow at 6-8% a year just to stand still.
But amid all the negative numbers there were certain figures that brought cause for optimism across Asia. They included industrial production, retail sales and investment data, which were all slightly ahead of forecasts.
All this suggests the worst may be over and the world’s second largest economy may start to rebound during the fourth quarter, which usually is the seasonally high growth period.
Apart from this there is evidence of improvement coming from a wide range of segments in the economy including transport, commodities, exports, the property market, credit data, and restocking by manufacturing companies.
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