BEIJING, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- China's macroeconomic control policy is on track for moderation or tightening, and the possibility of another round of fiscal stimulus is rather low, according to economists.
China's third-quarter and September economic activity data, released on Friday, are broadly in line with expectations. The rebound in the third quarter was mainly driven by an increase in domestic demand, according to the Langrun Forecast published Sunday by the National School of Development (NSD) at Peking University.
Facing a complicated economic situation, the State Council has introduced various measures, such as streamlining administration and delegating powers to lower levels, to facilitate trade and investment and free interest rates, while preventing expansion of deficits and loosening or tightening of the money supply, said a statement released after a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang on Friday.
China will have no difficulty achieving its annual GDP growth target of 7.5 percent, but its economy is likely to continue slowing down in the long run, according to the Langrun Forecast.
The forecast predicted that the country's GDP will rise 7.5 percent from the previous year in the fourth quarter, with the consumer price index (CPI) up 3.1 percent.
"If CPI stays above 3 percent, there will be inflation pressure, and the government is likely to tighten its monetary policy," said Song Guoqing, a member of China's central bank's monetary policy committee.
The central bank corrected its "imprudent" handling of interbank markets in June, which led to a money shortage among Chinese banks, with a bit of expansionary credit policy in the third quarter, said Lu Ting, chief China economist with Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Lu added that the bank is now ready to return to a "prudent" stance.
While the central bank noted in an Oct. 16 statement that recent macroeconomic data suggested growth had been stabilized, it also raised concerns that the credit growth was "relatively fast" and reiterated its "prudent" monetary stance.
China's new yuan-denominated lending in the first three quarters of this year reached 7.28 trillion yuan (1.18 trillion U.S. dollars), an increase of 557 billion yuan from a year earlier, according to the central bank.
The new lending increase was the second-highest in the country's history, trailing only that of the same period in 2009, when lending stood at 8.67 trillion yuan. The central bank said new yuan loans in September stood at 787 billion yuan, 164.4 billion yuan more than a year ago.
"We believe the PBOC will slightly shift its monetary policy from a moderate expansion in 3Q to a neutral stance with no further easing and no tightening," Lu said in a research note.
"Some Wall Street economists may call for tightening, but we think that's premature. Our view is based on the recovery in the third quarter of 2013, CPI inflation (3.1-percent year on year increase in September, but still below the official cap at 3.5 percent), rising home prices, and the need for maintaining stability around the Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee in November," he wrote in the note.
More specifically, China will prevent further quickening of credit growth, will choose not to further expand its mini fiscal stimulus, and is likely to tone down its pro-growth rhetoric. However, it's not likely the Chinese government will noticeably slow credit growth and cut fiscal spending in the near term, according to Lu.
Qu Hongbin, chief China economist with HSBC, said China is on track for a gradual recovery as the fine-tuning policy measures introduced around mid-year have lifted domestic demand. Improvement domestically, especially steady investment growth, has offset the sluggish external demand indicated by stagnant exports growth.
The pace of recovery is likely to be a modest one. The slightly softer sequential growth for September investment and industrial production implies that growth momentum is unlikely to accelerate in the near term. This, combined with the unfavorable base effect, suggests that fourth-quarter growth is likely to moderate compared with the previous year, Qu said.
"We expect Beijing to maintain the policy status quo in order to protect growth recovery, which in turn should create a favorable backdrop for speeding up structural reforms in order to boost long-term growth prospects," he said.
As to the outlook of China's economy, experts predicted that GDP growth may slow down in the fourth quarter. One great impediment is overcapacity. Layoffs and bad loans may arise as a result.
"Overcapacity far outstrips domestic demand. It's time to tap into emerging markets," said Zhou Qiren, a professor with NSD.
Compared with developed countries, countries in the Middle East and Africa have more room for improvement in credit, commerce and public service systems. Investment in such areas as industrial zones and power grid construction in those regions can create huge demand for the export of domestic products, according to Zhou.