China’s factory output grew at the weakest pace in nearly six years in August while growth in other key sectors also cooled, raising fears the world’s second-largest economy may be at risk of a sharp slowdown unless Beijing takes fresh stimulus measures.
The output data, combined with weaker readings in retail sales, investment and imports, pointed to a further loss of momentum as the cooling housing market increasingly drags on other sectors from cement to steel and saps consumer confidence. Industrial output rose 6.9 percent in August from a year earlier – the lowest since 2008 when the economy was buffeted by the global financial crisis – compared with expectations for 8.8 percent and slowing sharply from 9.0 percent in July.
“The August data may point to a hard landing. The extent of the growth slowdown in the third quarter won’t be small,” said Xu Gao, chief economist at Everbright Securities in Beijing. “The chances of cutting interest rates and bank reserve requirements have increased. I think they are more likely to cut interest rates.”