China's Growth Slows: What You Need to Know

The big macro can cause big moves in the market. What does today's headline macro news mean for your portfolio?

What's happening: China's economy rang up 9.1% year-over-year growth in the third quarter. That was below the 9.3% that economists were expecting and down from the 9.5% registered in the second quarter. It's also the slowest growth rate the country has seen in the past two years.

In plain English, please: When it comes to growth in China, it's hardly all about China. As one of the largest and fastest-growing economies in the world, China is a key contributor to the recovery hopes of developed regions like the U.S. and Europe. A slowdown in China could mean a slowdown in the demand for imports and hamper global economic growth.

But let's be serious here: 9.1% is still a blazing fast growth rate, particularly for a country the size of China. And, in fact, there could be some benefits to moderation in China's growth rate. Somewhat slower growth could help combat inflation pressures in the country and potentially let commodity prices ease a bit. The latter might not be great news for commodity producers, but it could be a relief for global consumers.

Stocks to watch: Obviously, issues over China's growth rate are key for Chinese companies such as China Mobile (NYS: CHL) and China Life Insurance (NYS: LFC) . It could also be meaningful for U.S.-based companies such as Yum! Brands (NYS: YUM) that do a significant amount of business in China. And, as I noted, it could also have implications for commodities producers, from energy companies such as ExxonMobil (NYS: XOM) , to mining giants such as BHP Billiton (NYS: BHP) and Rio Tinto (NYS: RIO) .

Investors focused on the long term may want to hold off before making too much of China's third-quarter "slowdown." Again, it's still a very significant growth rate, and the country is seriously outshining most (perhaps all) of the other major world economies. On the other hand, investors shouldn't get too complacent, since there are some concerns that the country's growth has gotten ahead of itself and there is a "hard landing" on the horizon.

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