China’s economic growth continues to cool with the latest figures showing it is on track to expand at its weakest pace in 24 years.
In October factory output rose 7.7 percent, not as low as August’s 6.9 percent but still below forecasts.
The last time it was near that low was at the height of the global financial crisis.
November’s reading could be weaker still, as many factories in northern China shut early in the month to reduce air pollution as Asia-Pacific leaders met in Beijing.
Fixed-asset investment, which is an important driver of growth, grew 15.9 percent in the first 10 months of the year compared to the same period a year earlier.
That was the weakest pace since December 2001.
Stimulus moves uncertain
Despite the soft economic performance China’s leaders remain reluctant to use full-blown stimulus measures, such as cutting interest rates.
Growth in real estate investment, which affects about 40 other industries in China, cooled to 12.4 percent in the first 10 months of 2014 from a year earlier.
October retail sales growth eased to 11.5 percent, the slowest pace since early 2006.
An anti-corruption drive spearheaded by President Xi Jinping has hit sales of luxury goods and expensive dining and also cooled the enthusiasm among local governments for the launching of new investment projects.
“Activity indicators weakened moderately, suggesting the downward trend in GDP growth has not been arrested yet. I would expect growth to be lower in the fourth quarter than in the third quarter,” said Shuang Ding, an economist at Citigroup in Hong Kong.
He said industrial production of 7.7 percent roughly corresponded to economic growth of 7.1 percent.
Many economists believe Beijing will only take more forceful action, such as cutting interest rates, if there is a risk of a sharper slowdown.
A massive stimulus programme during the global financial crisis left a legacy of inflationary pressures and heavy debt.