China’s economy expanded by 7.3 percent in September, down from 7.5 percent in the previous quarter, according to GDP data released Monday evening. Although the figure was slightly better than earlier estimates of 7.2 percent, it still reflects China’s weakest rate of growth in a five-year period and falls short of its 7.5 percent growth target, exacerbating fears of a continued slowdown of the world’s second-largest economy -- and the effect of that slowdown on the rest of the globe.
According to the newly released data, industrial output also grew by 8 percent, up from 6.9 percent in September. Retail sales, meanwhile, grew by 11.6 percent, down slightly from 11.7 percent last month.
China’s growth rate for the quarter was the slowest the country has seen since the first quarter of 2009, when GDP expanded by 6.6 percent. Overall, Chinese GDP growth has decelerated since 2012, and analysts at the Conference Board, a business-research group, predict that annual growth will fall to an average rate of 5.5 percent between 2015 and 2019 and 3.9 percent between 2020 and 20205. State intervention in the economy and cooling real estate and infrastructure markets have both contributed to the slowdown, the research group told the Wall Street Journal.
Analysts expect that China will try to combat the slowing growth by further easing credit and lowering interest rates. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said previously the government would tolerate slower growth as long as the job market retained stability while Beijing was hammering out reform measures. Chinese officials are convening this week for the Communist Party’s fourth plenum meeting, where they are taking on several legal and political reforms.
China’s economic data comes a week before the U.S. releases its third-quarter GDP figures, and analysts expect those numbers to indicate whether a global slowdown in economic growth may undercut the United States economy.