Chinese economy expands 4.9% in third quarter

China’s economy expanded 4.9 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter as the country continues its rapid recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

The expansion in gross domestic product missed expectations but is still well ahead of a 3.2 per cent increase in the second quarter and represents a sharp turnround from a historic decline at the start of the year.

The recovery in the world’s second-largest economy has been stoked by a state-backed industrial boom at a time when global growth remains under severe pressure.

China has also benefited from its containment of the pandemic, with new recorded cases remaining low over recent months as other big economies continue to grapple with new waves of infections.

The latest GDP data means the country’s rate of growth is moving towards the 6 per cent rate China recorded in the third quarter last year, before the pandemic.

The IMF expects global growth to be negative this year, and the worst since the Great Depression in the 1930s. Economists have warned that Europe may be headed towards a double-dip recession, as the region battles a second wave of infections.

Industrial production added 6.9 per cent in September year-on-year — the best level this year. The sector has generated huge appetite for commodities in China, which in September imported more goods than in any month on record.

Exports in China have risen for each of the past four months, adding 10 per cent last month — their fastest increase in 2020.

Fixed asset investment grew by 0.8 per cent in the first three quarters. Retail sales, which have remained a weak spot in the Chinese recovery and only edged into growth territory in August, added 3.3 per cent in September.

While stock and property markets have boomed through the recovery, consumers have remained cautious given uncertainty over the longer-term impact of the pandemic. The unemployment rate was 5.4 per cent.

The country’s strong economic performance has helped boost international demand for its assets, with the renminbi rallying by 3.8 per cent this year. Global investors last week flocked to buy a dollar-denominated government bond.

China’s CSI 300 of Shanghai- and Shenzhen-listed shares pared some of their early gains to trade 0.8 per cent higher immediately following the GDP release.

China’s onshore-traded renminbi was little changed at 6.6962 per dollar, near an 18-month high.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index and futures for Wall Street’s S&P 500 were 1.3 and 0.7 per cent higher, respectively, partly on hopes of a fiscal stimulus package in the US. 

Additional reporting by Daniel Shane in Hong Kong

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