China Slowdown Risk Rising: Conference Board

A Chinese leading indicator fell, fueling concern that the world’s second-biggest economy faces a deeper slowdown as Europe’s debt crisis hits exports and home sales slide.

The index declined 0.1 percent to 160.1 in October, The Conference Board said in a statement today, citing a preliminary reading. The gauge captures prospects for the next six months, the New York-based research organization says. In September, it rose 0.4 percent.

China’s top officials have been meeting in Beijing this week to map out economic priorities for next year. The Politburo pledged last week to fine-tune policies as needed and seek stable and “relatively fast” growth. The central bank has already cut banks’ reserve ratios for the first time since 2008 to spur lending as growth in industrial output weakens.

“The risk of a more substantive slowdown in China’s economic growth than anticipated so far is rising,” Andrew Polk, an economist at The Conference Board, said in the statement. “Targeted loosening of credit markets” should give some help to companies “but the pass through from previous policy tightening measures will continue to act as a brake on the economy,” he said.

China’s expansion slowed to 9.1 percent in the third quarter, the least in two years, after the government raised interest rates, tightened credit and expanded property-market curbs. Housing transactions declined in 27 out of 35 cities during the week of Dec. 5-11, according to Soufun Holdings Ltd., the operator of the nation’s biggest real-estate website.

The leading index’s components include loans, raw-material supplies, export orders, consumer expectations, and floor space started, from data released by the central bank and the statistics bureau. First published in May 2010, the gauge has successfully signaled turning points in China’s economic cycle if plotted back to 1986, The Conference Board says.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Li Yanping in Beijing at yli16@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Panckhurst at ppanckhurst@bloomberg.net

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