Even with the moderation, the labor market and wage growth were little changed from the previous quarter, according to the China Beige Book survey, published by New York-based CBB International.
The report adds to signs that Premier Li Keqiang may face difficulties reaching an expansion target of 7.5 percent this year without stimulus. The State Council, or cabinet, said this week it will speed up construction projects and other measures to support the economy after data showed moderating growth in industrial production and investment.
“The pace of Chinese economic expansion has plainly slowed,” Leland Miller, president of survey publisher CBB International, said in a statement with Craig Charney, director of research and polling. “A weaker retail performance is the principal driver of the aggregate trend.”
The Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.4 percent yesterday to its lowest level since January and Chinese stocks listed in Hong Kong entered a bear market as the yuan weakened and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. cut its forecast for the nation’s economic growth. China’s CSI 300 Index dropped to the lowest level in five years.
The report, modeled on the U.S. Federal Reserve’s Beige Book business survey, is based on responses from about 2,300 executives and 160 bankers from Feb. 10 to March 3, and 27 in-depth interviews conducted from March 10 to March 14.