China’s economic growth slowed to 6.9 percent in the third quarter, authorities in the world’s second-largest economy said Monday, as global markets worry about its prospects.

The figure released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) was the worst for more than six years, although it was marginally above the median forecast in a poll of analysts by AFP.

As the world’s biggest trader in goods and a giant market in itself, China is a key driver of the global economy, and stock exchanges around the world have been pummelled in recent weeks by concerns over its future.

Photo: AFP/Kazuhiro Nogi.

Monday’s figure is the first official confirmation of investors’ fears over GDP since a Chinese stock market slump over the summer followed by a surprise currency devaluation in August.

An NBS spokesman described the decline as a “slight slowdown” but said the economy was still running within a “proper range”.

The spokesman said in a statement that “internal and external conditions are complicated”, acknowledging that “downward pressure for economic development still exists”.

China’s GDP expanded 7.3 percent last year, the slowest pace since 1990, and at 7.0 percent in each of the first two quarters of this year.

Beijing has set a target of “around seven percent” for growth this year.

Industrial production, which measures output at factories, workshops and mines, rose 5.7 percent year-on-year in September, the NBS said, a sharp drop on the 6.1 percent increase recorded in August.

Retail sales, a key indicator of consumer spending, increased 10.9 percent in September, marginally ahead of expansion the previous month.

Fixed asset investment, a measure of government spending on infrastructure, expanded 10.3 percent on-year in the January-September period.

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