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Asia: Markets in retreat as China growth slows further


[HONG KONG] Asian markets slipped on Monday as data showed China's economy growing at its weakest pace in nearly three decades, hit by the US trade war, while investors debate the depth of an expected Federal Reserve interest rate cut.

The world's number-two economy expanded 6.2 per cent in April-June, the worst reading since the early 1990s but in line with forecasts and within the government's target range.

The reading highlights the negative impact the US tariffs stand-off is having on China as leaders also try to recalibrate the growth model from exports and state investment to one driven by consumer spending.

"While GDP touched a 27-year low in Q2, the on-consensus print does lessen market fears that China's economy is headed for a hard landing," said Stephen Innes at Vanguard Markets.

Observers also pointed out that the weakness raised the chances of further monetary easing measures from the central People's Bank of China, while investors were also tracking the progress of trade talks between Washington and Beijing.

"While the PBoC has already delivered stimulus this year, markets are awaiting a bazooka of (bank reserve ratio) cuts and additional measures, which will probably come if trade talks collapse," said Oanda senior market analyst Edward Moya.

"If talks steadily progress, we will still probably see the PBoC deliver fresh stimulus following the Fed's highly anticipated rate cut at the end of the month."

In early trade Hong Kong was down 0.2 per cent and Shanghai slipped 0.3 per cent, while Sydney shed 0.5 per cent.

Singapore was off 0.2 per cent, Seoul dropped 0.1 per cent and Wellington fell 0.4 per cent but Taipei edged up 0.1 per cent, Manila surged one percent and Jakarta jumped 0.7 per cent. Tokyo was closed for a holiday.

The drops came despite a record-breaking close for all three main indexes in New York on Friday.

The dollar was slightly lower against most high-yielding, riskier currencies on bets the Fed will cut borrowing costs at the end of the month, though there is speculation about how far it will go.

While bank boss Jerome Powell's congressional testimony last week flagged a reduction, data indicating inflation remains reasonably healthy has kept investors guessing.

Bitcoin plunged almost US$2,000 to US$10,000 after Donald Trump last week expressed his mistrust of cryptocurrencies, saying it was "not money" and warning that those wishing to join the trade would have to abide by banking regulations.