China's economy grew at its slowest pace in more than five years in the third quarter, official statistics showed Tuesday, but the data still topped estimates.
Gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the July-September quarter came in at 7.3 percent from the year-ago period, beating a Reuters forecast for a 7.2 percent expansion and after the 7.5 percent growth in the second quarter.
This is the slowest reading since the first quarter of 2009, when China's growth rate slumped to 6.6 percent amid the depths of the global financial crisis.
Still, markets chose to focus on the better-than-expected print. The Shanghai Composite erased earlier losses to enter positive territory and the Australian dollar gained 0.3 percent against the greenback, the best level since Thursday's high of $0.8830.
In comments following the data release, Sheng Laiyun, spokesman of the National Bureau of Statistics, said the economic slowdown was due to structural reforms in the nation, a sagging housing market and higher comparison figures from a year ago, but noted that growth stayed in a "reasonable range."
The GDP data had been closely watched for hints on whether policymakers will unleash further stimulus to buoy an economy struggling with a slump in its key property sector, a slowdown in credit growth and subpar inflation.