BEIJING, Oct. 18 (UPI) -- China Thursday reported its economic growth slowed further in the third quarter, expanding 7.4 percent year-on-year, its seventh straight quarterly slowdown.
The National Bureau of Statistics reported the June-September gross domestic product growth for the world's second largest economy after the United States was slower than the 7.6 percent expansion in the second quarter and 8.1 percent in the first.
The official Xinhua News Agency reported the latest quarterly numbers were in line with economists' forecast of between 7.4 and 7.5 percent.
NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyun, noting the average of 7.7 percent GDP growth in the first three quarters, told reporters the economy is generally stable.
"Compared with the first half, we have seen some improvements in the third quarter," he said, adding the economy has been stabilizing, especially since September, because of a rebound in trade and other positive major economic indicators including a 14.2 percent improvement in retail sales year-on-year, 20.5 percent increase in fixed asset investment, and 10 percent growth in industrial value-added output. Exports grew nearly 10 percent in September year-on-year.
The retail sales improvement is important as China seeks to boost domestic demand to reduce its reliance on exports which are slowing because of the euro zone debt crisis and the slowdown in the United States.
On the trade front, the report said the government has quickened the process of export tax rebates for enterprises and approved a raft of investment projects to shore up growth. China's central bank has twice cut the reserve requirement ratio for banks and lowered benchmark interest rates this year.
"The data is mostly above consensus and confirms that growth is picking up and that China is not at risk of hard landing," analyst Dariusz Kowalczyk at Credit Agricole in Hong Kong said in a note to clients, The New York Times reported. "Clearly, concerns over continued slowdown can now be put to rest."
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