Why China picture may improve in Q4: Goldman strategist

Goldman's Moe on China

Market watchers lamented weak Chinese import data Tuesday, but China's prospects may yet improve in the fourth quarter, said Timothy Moe, chief Asia-Pacific equity strategist at Goldman Sachs.

Moe sees better economic data bolstering Chinese stocks in the final months of 2015. A meeting to cement China's next five-year plan in November also may yield stimulus measures that could boost the country's growth prospects as well, he said.

Goldman believes China's economy is growing at a pace of 5.5 to 6 percent based on alternate measures of GDP. China's official growth target is 7 percent, and many economists believe it is significantly lower.

"Our official number is 6.8 percent, so we think they will get close to that, although the actual number will probably be somewhat light of that," he told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Tuesday.

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Concerns about a commodity rout and financial conditions will not be put to bed should Chinese leaders announce stimulus spending at their meeting next month, Moe said. But that spending would be helpful for growth overall so long as it is earmarked for productive projects, he added.

Investment in infrastructure throughout Asia will absorb China's overcapacity in steel, chemicals, aluminum and copper, as well as expand China's influence and enhance its trade access, Moe said. "There are a variety of ways in which China wins from this."

That is relevant to international investors because it mitigates the risk of a slowdown in China, the world's No. 2 economy, which in turn reduces concerns about access to money in the current credit cycle, Moe explained.

News of that stimulus may help markets rally both in China and throughout Asia, as will better economic data, Moe said.

"We think the data will improve on a sequential basis. We've started to see some of that with the PMI numbers we saw on Oct. 1. Export numbers might generally be a little better today, but we still need a richer data set as we go into November to improve things," he said.

China's exports fell less than expected in September, with monthly figures showing recovery, but a sharper fall in imports left economists divided over whether the country's ailing trade sector is showing signs of turning around.

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Moe said while the trade data are clearly weak, it is not as bad as it looks on the surface. He noted that imports were not adjusted to reflect the collapse in oil prices, and thus, may not give an accurate sense of underlying demand in the Chinese economy.

To be sure, Goldman sees a number of strategic headwinds heading into 2016, including weak exports, intensifying competition, shortfalls in policy efficacy and the impact of low commodity prices.