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China Leading Index Rises at Slower Pace, Conference Board Says

A leading index for China’s economy rose at a slower pace in September, damping signs of a growth rebound in the world’s second-biggest economy.

The gauge increased 0.3 percent from August to 241.2, the Conference Board, a New York-based research group, said in a statement today, citing a preliminary reading. That compared with a 1.7 percent gain in the previous month.

Today’s report may increase the urgency for leaders to roll out more pro-growth policies ahead of a Communist Party congress set to begin Nov. 8, part of a once-a-decade power handover. China’s manufacturing may contract for a 12th straight month in October, according to data released yesterday by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics.

“The near-term outlook continues to be uncertain,” Andrew Polk, an economist with the Conference Board in Beijing, said in the statement today. The gauge’s “very modest pickup in September, due in large part to a heavy drag from real estate, points to an economy that is unlikely to pick up rapidly in the near term,” he said.

Increased government spending on infrastructure should continue in the coming months and help support industries and manufacturing, “even as real estate activity remains weak,” Polk said.

China’s gross domestic product growth decelerated for a seventh quarter to 7.4 percent in the July-September period from a year earlier, while industrial production and investment figures in September showed signs of a pickup. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the economy will keep showing “positive changes,” according to a report last week by the official Xinhua News Agency.

First published in May 2010, the Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index has successfully captured turning points in China’s economic cycles if plotted back to 1986, according to the group.

The index’s components, which include loans, a gauge of raw-material supplies, export orders, consumer expectations and floor space started, use data from the central bank and the National Bureau of Statistics.

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