Asia-Pacific News

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Analysts spent the start of their week running a fine-tooth comb through the official growth figures out from China. And, one thought was very much at the top of their minds.

"The continued stability of the official (Chinese) GDP (gross domestic product) figures will further cement concerns over their credibility," Julian Evans-Pritchard, a China economist at Capital Economics, said in a note on Monday.

Official figures released Monday showed that the world's second-largest economy expanded by 6.9 percent in the July-September quarter, slowing from a 7 percent increase in the previous quarter. The figure was better than market expectations for 6.8 percent but still at its slowest pace since the global financial crisis.

That the GDP figure appeared to be conveniently in the middle ground raised more than a few eyebrows.

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"To me, 6.9 percent merely says Chinese authorities dare not claim 7.0 percent, as they were planning," Patrick Chovanec, chief strategist at Silvercrest Asset Management, said on the social media site Twitter.

Chovanec questioned whether it was a "genuine number" and said that China's National Bureau of Statistics had given little explanation of why it had overshot market expectations.

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Spread-betting firms in the City of London on Monday morning were also incredulous at the government's figure. Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a note that the number did seem "surprisingly good" given how weak some of the more recent individual data components have been.

Angus Nicholson, a market analyst at IG, meanwhile, said that China's headline real GDP number had "unfortunately" done very little for increasing investors' trust in the Chinese authorities.

"It's hard to be overly optimistic about the headline number, especially given the range of other data released today," he said in a research note after the release on Monday.

An employee works on an assembly line producing Mercedes-Benz cars in Beijing, August 31, 2015.
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After double-digit GDP growth for the last decade, investors and officials are now coming to terms with slowing growth. A raft of data has disappointed in recent months as the country's leaders focus the economy on being more consumption-led and more domestically orientated.

Official figures are usually critiqued harshly by global investors and are under closer scrutiny this quarter after growth concerns and a yuan devaluation roiled global markets in August and September.

Capital Economics' Evans-Pritchard explained that the numbers have become a poor gauge of the performance of China's economy.

An investor observes stock market at a stock exchange hall in Jiujiang, China.
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"Flaws with how the GDP deflator is calculated, along with political pressure to meet growth targets that have become increasingly at risk, have meant that official growth rates have not slowed nearly as quickly as most third party measures of growth in recent years," he said.

However, Capital Economics remains one of the more bullish investment houses on China's economy and it believes that growth was "broadly stable" between the second and third quarters of 2015.

Asian markets were mixed and trading in a relatively tight range after the data. European markets were expected to edge lower at the session open.