HONG KONG: Asian markets edged up Friday despite China reporting its economy grew at its slowest pace for more than three years, as investors expressed relief the figures were in line with expectations.
Official data showed expansion slowed to 7.6 percent in the second quarter, but the figures were cheered by some traders who thought they would encourage the government to take fresh moves to stimulate growth.
Hong Kong was up 0.28 percent, Tokyo rose 0.14 percent percent, while Sydney put on 0.63 percent and Seoul was up 0.67 percent. Shanghai was flat, edging down 0.03 percent.
Markets had slumped Thursday as nervousness mounted ahead of the release of the figures from China, a key engine of growth for the faltering global economy at a time Europe and the US are in economic peril.
But there was relief after the data was released, with investors cautiously returning to the market after the previous day's heavy sell-off.
"The fact the numbers are not as bad as people had feared gives the market a boost," Francis Lun, managing director at Lyncean Securities in Hong Kong, told Dow Jones Newswires.
"Also, the government is expected to further introduce monetary policies (such as a cut in banks' reserve requirements)," he said.
China has since December made three three such cuts, reducing the amount of money banks must hold in reserve, in the hope of injecting more money into the economy.
And the government has cut interest rates twice since the beginning of June.
The data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed that second-quarter expansion pulled down growth for the world's second-largest economy to 7.8 percent for the first half of the year.
The 7.6 percent second quarter growth was the slowest since 6.6 percent in the first quarter of 2009 when China and the rest of the world were struggling to emerge from the financial crisis.
The government's full-year growth target is 7.5 percent.