China's rapid growth slows further

Beijing's attempts to slow down economic growth to safer levels seems to be working. Growth cooled to 9.6 percent last quarter compared to 10.3 percent the same quarter last year.

Sean Yong/Reuters
A worker walks past shipping containers at the Longtan port in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, Wednesday. China's growth ebbed in the third quarter and inflation edged just a touch higher, showing that the economy was strong but far from overheating and suggesting that an interest rate rise this week may be enough for now.

China's rapid expansion slowed in the latest quarter as Beijing cooled a credit boom and tried to steer growth to a more sustainable level, possibly reducing its contribution to a global recovery.

The world's second-largest economy grew 9.6 percent in the quarter ending in September over a year ago, data showed Thursday. That was down from the previous quarter's 10.3 percent but still by far the highest of any major economy.

The government said the slowdown was in line with its efforts to moderate growth.

"The national economy kept moving toward the expected direction of macroeconomic control," the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement.

The slowdown is denting Chinese demand for oil, iron ore, factory machinery and other imports. That might hurt the United States, Europe and other economies that are looking to relatively robust China to power global growth.

China rebounded quickly from the global crisis on a flood of stimulus spending and bank lending. But Chinese leaders worry that growth overshot safe levels.

Chinese leaders say they want steady, balanced growth rather than sheer speed and are throttling back their expansion to a more manageable level. This year's official growth target is 8 percent and the World Bank is forecasting 9.5 percent.

The slowdown was driven in part by a government clampdown on bank lending aimed at cooling surging housing costs and stock speculation. Before this week's rate hike, regulators already had tightened controls on mortgage lending and other credit.

Beijing triggered a fall in global markets this week with a surprise rate hike that analysts said was prompted by a surge in September bank lending and inflation that has climbed above the government's 3 percent annual target.

Analysts say more rate hikes are possible in coming months as Beijing tries to restore normal economic conditions.

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