China stock market
China stock marketReuters

Shares in China extended losses in early trade on Friday as the country recorded its slowest quarterly growth rate since 2009, despite statements from senior regulators pledging support for private firms and companies facing liquidity problems.

The Shanghai Composite index was down 0.4 percent in early trade after touching near four-year lows on Thursday. The blue-chip CSI300 index was 0.2 percent lower.

In a move to shore up investor sentiment ahead, the governor of the People's Bank of China said on Friday that China's current equity valuations are not in line with sound economic fundamentals, and that the bank will roll out targeted measures to help ease firms' financing problems and encourage commercial banks to boost lending to private firms.

In a statement on its website on Friday morning, China's securities regulator quoted its chief as saying it would encourage funds to help resolve liquidity difficulties at listed companies caused by stock pledging, and speed up approval for mergers and acquisitions as part of efforts to boost market confidence.

Liu Shiyu, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) also said the regulator will support the issuance of high-yield bonds and other debt products by small and medium-sized companies.

The comments from regulators came ahead of the release of China's GDP figures, which showed the economy grew 6.5 percent year-on-year in the third quarter, its weakest pace since the first quarter of 2009, amid a worsening trade war with the United States.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index was down 0.8 percent and the Hong Kong China Enterprises Index lost 0.6 percent.

China's yuan inched up against the US dollar on Friday but was still set for a weekly loss.

Prior to market opening on Friday, the People's Bank of China set the midpoint rate at 6.9387 per dollar, 112 pips or 0.16 percent weaker than the previous fix 6.9275.

Friday's official guidance rate, the lowest level since Jan.4, 2017, was still fixed firmer than market expectations.

Recent rapid losses in the yuan has prompted increasing speculation whether the yuan would breach the psychologically critical 7 per dollar any time soon, given the local currency is facing double whammy of depreciation pressure amid rising Sino-US trade tensions and signs of slowing economy.

The yuan opened at 6.9391 per dollar and was changing hands at 6.9371 as of 0419 GMT, 16 pips firmer than the previous late session close.