China's economy has managed a curiously singular feat for any country: Growing a steady rate of 6.7 percent for the third quarter in a row.
"It's definitely unusual in an international context," noted Julian Evans-Pritchard, a China economist at Capital Economics on Wednesday. "There are almost no countries that have such stable GDP growth rates."
The GDP trifecta is the first since at least 1992 when Reuters began compiling data.
"It suggests quite significant smoothing of the data behind the scenes. Even by Chinese standards, this is quite rare," Evans-Pritchard said.
China's economic data routinely face market scepticism over accuracy, so it's not terribly surprising that the release Wednesday of gross domestic product (GDP) data showing the third quarter's economic growth kept an even keel for a third quarter – in line with forecasts and smack in the middle of the government's 6.5-7.0 percent target range – would also spur scrutiny.
Evans-Pritchard noted that the steady reports likely reflected that growth this year has stabilized somewhat in the world's second-largest economy.
He noted that the slowdown earlier this year likely wasn't fully reflected in the official figures.
"There's incentive for the statistics bureau to take advantage of [the underlying recovery] to bring the official figures closer in line with reality," he said. "It's a question of reversing the previous distortions."
In a note on Wednesday, Evans-Pritchard lowered his forecast for official GDP growth for this year to 6.7 percent from 6.8 percent.