China's economy has slowed for the seventh consecutive quarter to hit its lowest output in three years. However, key indicators suggest that the world's second biggest economy appears set for a rebound later this year.
Economic activity in China expanded by 7.4 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2012, according to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics NBS on Thursday. That was slightly lower than the government's target of 7.5 percent,
The figure constituted the seventh straight quarterly decline in growth, NBS said, and came after stronger economic expansion of 8.1 percent in the first quarter of 2012 and 7.6 percent in the second quarter.
On Wednesday, Chinese state media quoted Premier Wen Jiabao as saying the economy had started to stabilize, but had still presented the government with considerable difficulty in the last quarter.
Nevertheless, industrial production, retail sales and investment data in the months of July through September were all better than predicted by economists. In addition, growth rebounded in September, suggesting the Chinese economy will pick up in the final quarter.
"We have 7.7 percent growth in September, which laid a solid foundation for achieving the full-year growth target," NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyun told a news conference Thursday.
China's economy, which grew at an annual average of 10 percent in the past decade, has slowed since early last year on the back of sagging demand from crisis-hit Europe and the United States. Beijing has tried to support growth by cutting interest rates twice and by a major economic stimulus program.
uhe/ipj (AFP, Reuters, dpa)