IT is too early to judge the effectiveness of China's current moves to tighten the economy, economists have warned. The warning followed recent press reports citing Chinese officials as saying that the country was already feeling the effects of the government's austerity measures. Officials had also released economic figures which seemed to suggest progress in the drive to cool the overheated economy. ''We're starting to see some positive signs, but it is too early to say whether the measures will turn out the expected effects,'' said Benjamin Chan Sau-san, head of economic research at the Bank of East Asia. So far, the positive signs included a brake on the yuan's fall and a rise in savings with four specialised banks last month, he said. ''But these are just piecemeal figures which do not give a whole account of the economy, and they are also mostly up to only July or the first half,'' he said. ''What we also need to know is whether construction development has slowed down, whether inflation has fallen, and whether the balance of payment has improved.'' Mr Chan said figures for this month and next should also be looked at to decide if the austerity measures were effective. Optimism has already developed, with some analysts forecasting a soft landing for the economy, but Mr Chan advised against over-confidence. ''We can't tell whether there is a soft landing yet, even though the positive signs raise the probability of one taking place,'' he said. He predicted that if there was no evidence of growth slowing by the end of the year, further economic tightening would follow. Baptist College economics lecturer Tsang Shu-ki said: ''I'm not surprised there are signs to suggest the measures have taken effect. But as to whether they will hold is a question.'' He said the scale and complexity of the country's economy made it more difficult to put right than in the late 1980s when the last economic clampdown took place. ''For instance, there are 190,000 non-bank financial institutions now, compared with a few thousand in the late 1980s. ''There're problems with many of their loans. To control them now will be a much more complicated process than a few years ago.'' Mr Tsang warned that if Beijing hailed the success of the austerity programme too soon it would be sending the wrong signals to provincial and municipal governments.