Asian shares were mostly lower on Monday after China reported its economy grew at a meager 4.9% annual pace in July-September.People pass by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday, Oct. 18, 2021.
The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.4% to 3,559.96 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong declined 0.4% to 25,246.38.
Chinese growth is under pressure from government controls meant to curb energy use and reduce financial risks from reliance on debt-fueled property developments. Manufacturing also has been hampered by shortages of processor chips and other components due to the pandemic.
Compared with the previous quarter, the way other major economies are measured, output in the July-September period barely grew, expanding by just 0.2%. That was down from the April-June period’s 1.2% and one of the weakest quarters of the past decade.
The 4.9% annual pace of growth was slighly below forecasts and compared with a 7.9% expansion in the April-June quarter, which was exaggerated by the downturn in 2020.
“The growth outlook has weakened due to the various headwinds,” Tommy Wu and Louis Kuijs of Oxford Economics said in a report. They forecast that growth would “slow significantly” in the current quarter.
Power shortages might persists, while other disruptions to manufacturing supply chains will likely ease. Weakness in the real estate sector, with major developer China Evergrande Group struggling to meet its debt obligations, would also slow activity, they said.A woman walks by an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday, Oct. 18, 2021.
Other regional shares also fell. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index edged 0.2% lower, to 29,013.29. Shares also slipped in Taiwan and Singapore, while in Seoul, the Kospi was flat, at 3,014.44. The S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney rose 0.2% to 7,377.70. India’s benchmark rose 0.8% to 61,771.40. On Friday, Wall Street added to its recent gains, with the benchmark S&P 500 posting its best week since July. The S&P 500 rose 0.7%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.1% and the Nasdaq composite gained 0.5%.
Positive company earnings dovetailed with a report showing people spent much more at U.S. retailers in September than analysts had expected. Sales at stores, restaurants and other retail establishments rose 0.7% from August instead of falling, as economists forecast.
The S&P 500 is back within 1.5% of its all-time high after a shaky few weeks as worries about stubbornly high inflation, reduced support for markets from the Federal Reserve and a slowing economy knocked stock prices around. The stronger-than-expected reports on the economy also help calm chatter about “stagflation,” or a stagnating economy coupled with high inflation.