From his Manhattan office, Steven Englander looks to commentary from policy makers and executives in Sydney, not Beijing, for the best take on China's economy.

"They get a direct, immediate view of China demand for highly cyclical products and have an incentive to give it a close read, so if they are sensing an extended slowdown I would take their views seriously," said Englander, 58, head of Group of 10 currency strategy at Citigroup Inc. "It may be better to have an accurate view of a limited but important segment of Chinese demand than an uncertain view of aggregate demand."

Doubts over the accuracy of Chinese data focus attention on readings and statements more than 3,500 miles south of Beijing, to Australia, China's biggest iron-ore supplier. The Reserve Bank of Australia said Aug. 9 China's growth isn't likely to "pick up much, if at all, in coming quarters," while Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has flagged the danger of a Chinese credit crunch in a re-election pitch based on economic management.

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