Economists and pundits now officially expect the world’s second-largest economy to grow less than 7%.
Third-quarter gross domestic product is now forecast to grow 6.8%, down from 7% in the second quarter, according to a Reuters poll of 50 economists. The highest forecast in the poll was 7.2% and the lowest was 6.4%. So, it could end up higher. If not, it would be the first time that GDP growth fell below 7% since the financial crisis.
And although China has already cut benchmark interest rates five times since November, many experts expect another rate cut before the year’s end. This is something Asia Unhedged has been calling for all year.
China has officially set its GDP growth target at “around 7%” for all of 2015 — its lowest in 11 years.
Some investors fear current growth levels are actually weaker than the official numbers. On the flip side, some economists buck that view and believe consumption and service-sector growth are being underestimated by the government.
The poll comes on the heels of economic reports. On Wednesday, the government said that consumer inflation cooled more than expected in September and producer prices extended their slide to a 43rd straight month.
In addition, weak commodity prices and soft domestic demand sent Chinese imports plunging 20% year over year in September, the 11th straight month drop. This far exceeded the predicted decline of 15% and the 13.8% drop in August.
One small bright spot, China’s exports fell just 3.7% in September. It was both less than the 6.3% decline expected in a Reuter’s poll of economists, and the 5.5% drop the previous month.