While November’s data are expected to show signs of resilience in the Chinese economy, much of the rebound won't be sustainable if China’s top leadership can’t successfully implement the bold economic and social reforms it unveiled last month and unleash fresh growth drivers for the world's second-largest economy.
The final HSBC/Markit Purchasing Managers' Index stood at 50.8 in November, down a touch from October's 50.9 but up from a preliminary reading of 50.4. The encouraging result echoes an upbeat showing from the official PMI, which clung to an 18-month high of 51.4 in November.
The breakdown by company size though on the official index shows a widening gap in performance between small companies, which have continued to deteriorate, and state-owned companies in heavy industry.
“The fact that the rebound is so imbalanced is a further reason to think it is probably on its last legs,” Capital Economics’ Mark Williams wrote in a note.
“The health of heavy industry is closely linked to official moves over the summer to speed up infrastructure projects and other investment,” Williams added. “As policymakers now move to slow the growth of credit, this source of demand is likely to fade in strength.”
A Reuters poll showed China’s annual economic growth this year could slow to 7.6 percent -- the weakest in 14 years -- but ahead of the government's target of 7.5 percent.
Barclays believes the need to reduce overcapacity, control local government debt and further regulate the shadow-banking business, in combination with the central bank’s concerns on rapid credit growth amid capital inflows and the desire to control inflation, point to tighter liquidity, higher interest rates and slower growth going forward.
China's top policymakers will set key economic targets for 2014 at the annual Central Economic Work Conference, which is expected to be held later this month.
“We expect the government to cut its 2014 growth target to 7 percent at the Central Economic Working Conference to be held in the next week or two,” Zhiwei Zhang, chief economist of Nomura Securities, wrote in a note.
November Data Release Preview
Saturday (8 p.m. ET) – Bank Lending: In November, economists expect new loans could rebound to 600 billion yuan ($98.5 billion) from 506 billion yuan in October, with the year-over-year growth of outstanding loans to remain unchanged at 14.2 percent.
“Loan supply could recover a bit helped by a rebound in deposits due to the constraints of the 75 percent loan-to-deposit ratio, but we do not expect a big jump because interbank liquidity remained tight and loan demand usually softens towards the year end,” Lu Ting, Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist, said in a note.
Saturday (9 p.m. ET) – Trade Balance: Export growth in November is likely to accelerate to 6.3 percent year-over-year from 5.6 percent in October. Export to the U.S. is likely to remain resilient as the effect of October's U.S. federal government shutdown fades. Meanwhile, import growth could edge down to 5.8 percent in November from 7.6 percent in October and trade surplus could narrow to $23.7 billion from $31.1 billion.
Sunday (8:30 p.m. ET) – Consumer Price Index and Producer Price Index: CPI inflation likely remained at 3.2 percent year-over-year in November. “CPI inflation could be quite close to 3.5 percent for the rest of 2013, triggering market concerns about policy tightening,” Lu said.
With weakened commodity prices and the 2 percent month-on-month drop in domestic fuel prices, PPI inflation probably fell by 0.1 percent month-on-month and 1.5 percent year-over-year in November.
Tuesday (12:30 a.m. ET) – Industrial Production, Fixed-Asset Investments and Retail Sales: Industrial production in November likely increased by 10 percent, after growing by 10.3 percent in October.
Headline FAI growth (nominal and year-to-date) could edge down to 20 percent year-over-year in November from 20.1 percent in October. On a monthly basis, economists expect the yearly growth to slow down to 19.1 percent in November from 19.4 percent in October.
According to Lu, the deceleration in FAI growth is likely to come from weaker real estate FAI growth as tier-one and tier-two cities continue to roll out tightening measures trying to rein in property prices. Railway FAI, however, is expected to increase to achieve the recently raised 2013 target FAI of 690 billion yuan. This will slow down the decrease in infrastructure FAI growth. Manufacturing FAI will also remain relatively robust.
Meanwhile, growth in retail sales probably ticked up to 13.4 percent in November from 13.3 percent in October.