China posts a rare flurry of disappointing data -- including its slowest growth in investment in nearly 18 years. As David Pollard reports, it suggests the world's second-largest economy is finally starting to lose some momentum as borrowing costs rise.
For China, many economists listen to the official announcements .... (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINA'S NATIONAL BUREAU OF STATISTICS SPOKESWOMAN, LIU AIHUA, SAYING: "I believe our economic fundamentals didn't show any big changes in August." And then look at the numbers themselves .... August industrial output grew at its weakest pace in nine months. Retail sales at their slowest in six months. Fixed-asset investment showing its smallest increase in 18 years. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR FX STRATEGIST, RABOBANK, JANE FOLEY, SAYING: "This concerns the retail sector. It concerns asset investment and also concerns production. So the consensus is building that after perhaps a better than expected first half of the year for Chinese growth, we are now moving into a slower period." But urban areas, officials say, saw nearly 10 million new jobs created in the year to August. And most forecasts see growth exceeding the official 6.5 per cent target in 2017. Property demand also snapped back. Though that in itself may cause further concern - as China strives to reduce a mountain of debt. SOUNDBITE (English) SENIOR FX STRATEGIST, RABOBANK, JANE FOLEY, SAYING: "It is necessary for the Chinese authorities to clamp down. Now there has been certain actions this year to clamp down on the build-up of credit and in some areas. But it's still very very strong." And for now, markets are taking their cue from the numbers, not the officials. World stocks slipping off their record highs after the data - traders nervous about what it could mean for the global outlook.