China under mounting pressure to ease policy as economy stumbles
By Koh Gui Qing
BEIJING (Reuters) - China is under growing pressure to further stimulate its economy after disappointing data over the weekend showed another heavy fall in factory-gate prices and a surprise slump in exports.
Producer prices in July hit their lowest point since late 2009, during the aftermath of the global financial crisis, and have been sliding continuously for more than three years.
Exports tumbled 8.3 percent in the same month, their biggest fall in four months, as weaker global demand for Chinese goods and a strong yuan policy hurt manufacturers.
"Policy focus is definitely the (producer) deflation at this stage," said Zhou Hao, economist at Commerzbank AG in Singapore.
He said China's central bank would likely need to further cut interest rates again, having already cut four times since November in the most aggressive easing in nearly seven years.
The gloom may only deepen in the coming week with a raft of economic data forecast to show renewed weakness in factories, investment and domestic spending.
The world's second-largest economy is officially targeted to grow at 7 percent this year, still strong by global standards, but some economists believe it is growing at a much slower pace.
Economists expect the central bank to cut rates by another 25 basis points this year, and further reduce the amount of deposits banks must hold as reserves by another 100 basis points, according to a Reuters poll last month. Continued...