Asia stocks rise as China growth slows as expected

By ALEX KENNEDY | July 13, 2012 | 10:43 AM EDT

A man walks past an electronic stock indicator showing the Tokyo stock prices, in Tokyo Thursday, July 12, 2012. Japan's Nikkei 225 index was down 1.4 percent to 8,720.01 as Asian stock markets fell Thursday amid speculation that China, the region's economic engine, may announce gross domestic product slowed in the second quarter. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

SINGAPORE (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly higher Friday after China said its economy grew in the second quarter at its slowest pace since 2009, numbers in line with analyst expectations.

China's gross domestic product expanded 7.6 percent in the April to June period from the same period a year earlier, down from 8.1 percent growth in the first quarter. China also reported that retail sales and factory output growth slowed in June.

Equities in Asia had mostly fallen the previous few days amid speculation that China's growth may have slowed more than the consensus 7.6 percent forecast. Some analysts say expected interest rate cuts and fiscal stimulus spending by China should spur lending, investment and stronger economic growth in the second half of the year.

"All this should be positive for GDP growth in the next few quarters," said Mark Williams, chief Asian economist with Capital Economics. "Much of the impact of stronger lending over the next few months will be felt in 2013."

Williams said he expects China's economy to grow 8 percent this year and next.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index was down 0.1 percent to 8,715.79 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.2 percent at 19,068.54.

South Korea's Kospi gained 0.5 percent to 1,794.67. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.6 percent to 4,090.70 and China's Shanghai Composite slid 0.1 percent to 2,182.82.

Other analysts expect Chinese growth to continue to slow as consumer demand fails to keep up with industrial production capacity. China's GDP will likely average about 6 percent growth a year during the next five to 10 years, said Anil Gupta, a professor at the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland.

"The days of 8 percent GDP growth in China are over," said Gupta, who is a visiting professor at the INSEAD business school in Singapore. "There is massive overcapacity in a lot of industries such as cement, steel and autos because the government kept providing cheap capital and everybody assumed that the 8 plus percent growth rate will go on forever."

On Thursday, the Dow Jones industrial average closed down 0.3 percent at 12,573.27. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.5 percent at 1,334.76. The Nasdaq composite was down 0.8 percent at 2,866.19.

Benchmark oil for August delivery was down 12 cents at $85.96 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude rose 27 cents to settle at $86.08 on Thursday in New York.

In currencies, the euro was little changed at $1.2200 from $1.2195 late Thursday in New York. The dollar was steady at 79.34 yen from 79.31 yen.