BEIJING (AP) -- China's government tried Monday to reassure companies and its public about the economy's health, saying growth is stabilizing after a lengthy decline and should hit the official target of 7.5% for the year.
The announcement by the chief spokesman for the Cabinet's statistics agency was part of official efforts to defuse unease about the country's deepest slump since the 2008 global crisis.
"There are growing signs of stabilization and also of further growth," said the spokesman, Sheng Laiyun, at a news briefing. "We are confident we can hit our full-year growth target."
Sheng gave no updated data but cited previously released figures that showed industrial production and other parts of the economy improved in July.
Economic growth fell to 7.5% in the three months ending in June after declining steadily for 10 straight quarters. Sheng said it was the longest such slowdown since China's market-style reforms began three decades ago.
The International Monetary Fund and private sector analysts have cut this year's growth forecasts for China, though to a still healthy level of close to 8%. Some analysts say growth could dip below 7% in coming quarters.
The slowdown was largely due to government efforts to reduce reliance on trade and investment that drove the past decade's boom and nurture more self-sustaining growth based on domestic consumption.
Still, the downturn has been deeper than forecast, due to unexpectedly weak global demand for Chinese goods. That raised concern about higher unemployment, which could fuel political tensions, but the government says the economy is still generating new jobs.
Sheng also downplayed concern about debts owed by local governments that borrowed heavily over the past decade, in part to pay for building projects under Beijing's stimulus in response to the 2008 crisis. Some analysts worry the economy could suffer if local governments default, hurting the state-owned banking industry.
An audit last year found local governments ran up debts of 10.7 trillion yuan ($1.6 trillion) over the preceding decade, equal to about one-quarter of China's annual economic output.
Sheng said some local governments have paid down their debts while others are rolling out plans to manage them.
"We are monitoring the situation carefully and right now the issue is under control," he said.
Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
More from The Motley Fool
Scared of a Crash? It's Still Cheap to Protect Yourself
Use a simple strategy to reduce your risk.
The Safest Way to Buy Sirius XM Stock May Not Be the Best Way
Sirius XM stock comes in two flavors, and Deutsch Bank likes 'em both.
Ask a Fool: What Do I Need to Know if I Sold Stocks in 2017?
Your tax implications depend on the type of brokerage account you use, how long you owned the stock, and if you had losses to offset any gains.