BHP expects China's growth to ease modestly over short term

Oct 19 (Reuters) – BHP Billiton expects Chinese economic growth to "ease modestly" over the short term, Chief Executive Andrew Mackenzie told the miner's annual general meeting on Thursday.

"As we watch the outcomes of the Chinese Party Congress with interest, we expect growth in China to ease modestly over the short-term, as monetary policy tightens and housing and automotive markets soften," Mackenzie said.

Uncertainty over China’s demand for imported ore as its steel industry undergoes structural change and speculative trading in contracts has seen prices this year swing between $53 and $95 a tonne.

"Over the long term, we believe fiscal policy and infrastructure investment will be conducive to growth, especially with the Belt and Road Initiative and rich in opportunity for natural resources," Mackenzie said.

On Wednesday, BHP reported a 4 percent drop in quarterly iron ore output following a June fire at its Mount Whaleback mine in Australia, but said it still expects to hit its annual production target.

(Reporting by Justin George Varghese in Bengaluru and Barbara Lewis in London; editing by Jason Neely).