Japan Sees Wider Global Slowdown as China Growth Cools

Japan Sees More ‘Widespread’ Global Slowdown With China Cooling
The Japanese national flag flies atop the Bank of Japan headquarters in Tokyo. The government said it expects the Bank of Japan to continue powerful monetary easing until the exit from deflation is ensured, today’s report showed. Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg

China’s economic outlook was cut by Japan, its biggest Asian trading partner, as the Shanghai Composite Index fell to its lowest level in three years on concern about faltering domestic demand and export growth.

“The slowdown in the global economy is becoming more widespread,” the Cabinet Office said in a monthly report released in Tokyo today. Song Guoqing, an academic member of a monetary policy committee, said July 21 that China’s expansion may be 7.4 percent, the least since the first quarter 2009.

Japan’s increased pessimism echoes that of the International Monetary Fund, which lowered 2013 global growth forecasts this month on Europe’s debt crisis and slower expansions in emerging markets from China to India. Chinese stocks fell today to the lowest since March 2009 as weakness in corporate profits threatens to add to the drags on growth from property-market curbs and limited export demand.

“The consensus is that China’s economic growth rate will be close to 8 percent in coming months, but I personally am more pessimistic because there are problems on the export side,” Song said at a forum in Beijing.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1 percent as 1:57 p.m. local time. Jiangxi Copper Co. and China Shenhua Energy Co. led a decline among commodity producers. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index tumbled 1.7 percent after German Vice Chancellor Philipp Roesler said yesterday that he’s very skeptical that Greece, a recipient of EFSF bailout money, can be rescued.

“We face the probability of a slowdown in the short term” in China, said Takahiro Sekido, a Japan strategist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in Tokyo and former Bank of Japan official.

Yen Haven

Europe’s woes have bolstered the yen’s appeal as a haven for investors, causing the currency to appreciate more than 5 percent against the dollar since mid-March and rise to a 11-year high against the euro. Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi reiterated today that authorities are ready to take “decisive” action on speculative and volatile movements in foreign-exchange markets. The yen traded at 78.10 against the dollar in Tokyo and the common currency touched 94.56 yen.

Japan’s government said that the expansion in China is “slowing a bit,” lowering its evaluation of Japan’s largest trading partner for a third month while leaving its assessment of its own economy unchanged.

Elsewhere in Asia, Taiwan’s jobless rate unexpectedly fell in June, and the government may say today industrial production rebounded last month, according to a Bloomberg News survey of economists. Australian wholesale price inflation accelerated in the last quarter for the first time in more than a year, while Hong Kong and Singapore will release consumer price data for June.

Falling Confidence

The European Commission may say consumer confidence in the euro area fell in July in an initial estimate of the data, a separate survey showed. In the U.S., the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago will release its gauge of national economic activity for June.

China's economy ``is still on a downtrend and that means corporate earnings could be worse-than-expected,” said Wu Kan, a Shanghai-based fund manager at Dazhong Insurance Co., which oversees $285 million. “The government is slow to respond to the economic slowdown and the market is disappointed at the magnitude of pro-growth measures.”

Song’s forecast of a seventh straight quarterly slowdown in growth would match the streak during the global financial crisis, albeit not as deep. He spoke at a forum held by Peking University’s China Center for Economic Research where he is a professor specializing in China’s economy and inflation.

‘Severe’ Market

A survey by the center of 22 domestic and foreign banks and institutions had a median forecast for third-quarter expansion of 7.8 percent, with Song’s estimate the second lowest. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has warned that his nation is yet to secure the economic momentum needed for a recovery and the situation in the job market may become more “severe.”

Song, who studied economics at the University of Chicago from 1991 to 1995, was appointed one of three academic advisers to the central bank in March when the two-year term of his predecessor ended.

“Sharp fluctuations” in financial markets stemming from global uncertainty could hurt Japan’s growth prospects, the Japanese government said.

The government reiterated that the economy is “on the way to recovery at a moderate pace” in part because of rebuilding projects. Still, turmoil in Europe has boosted haven demand for the yen that could hurt exports, it said.

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