China November Economic Data Preview: Recovery Under way

  @moranzhang on December 07 2012 7:08 AM
  • China Print Factory 2012 2
    Villagers work at a printing factory of the Nanjie Cun Group in Nanjie village of Luohe city. Reuters
  • Beijing, China
    Beijing, China Reuters
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The Chinese economy has shown positive changes since September, raising hopes that the world’s second-largest economy may have firmly turned the corner on its longest downward cycle since the global financial crisis.

Economic data for November is expected to provide additional confirmation that the Chinese economy is on a modest recovery path -- although rising inflation may be a concern for policymakers.

“We believe the positive signs in the September-October data are likely to be sustained in the coming quarters, barring any sharp external shocks,” writes Jian Chang, China economist at Barclays.

While China’s export growth may have pulled back in November from October, suggesting there is no quick turnaround in external demand, annual growth in factory output, investment and retail sales should show some healthy gains, according to a Reuters poll.

Consumption and investment have been the most important drivers of China's economic growth this year as exports falter.

China's annual economic growth slipped to 7.4 percent in the third quarter, slowing for seven quarters in a row and leaving the economy on course for its weakest showing since 1999.

Analysts expect Beijing’s pro-growth measures rolled out over recent months, including two interest rate cuts this year, reductions in bank reserve requirements and faster approvals for infrastructure projects, to give China’s near-term economic growth a solid boost.

Two purchasing managers' index surveys released earlier this week has already shown signs of revival, with China’s official PMI rising to the highest level in seven months in November and the HSBC PMI -- a competing index that is more heavily weighted to smaller, private-sector companies – rising above the break-even threshold for the first time in 13 months.

In the Politburo meeting on Tuesday, China's new leaders made their first official assessment of the economy and set the policy tone for the coming year, ahead of the upcoming Central Economic Work Conference.

HSBC China Economist Sun Junwei believes Beijing will likely stick with the 2012 GDP growth target of 7.5 percent when they chart a course for 2013 in mid-December.

“This reflects a desire to maintain policy continuity after the leadership transition and is in line with the medium-term target of quadrupling GDP and per capita GDP between 2010 and 2020,” Sun said.

Beijing had maintained a target for economic growth of 8 percent for eight years before cutting it in 2012 to 7.5 percent.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a top government think tank, projected Wednesday in its "blue book" report on China's economy that the country’s gross domestic product growth may quicken to 8.2 percent in 2013 from an expected 7.7 percent this year.

The think-tank also forecast China's inflation would rise to 3 percent next year, with export growth at 10 percent and imports up 13.7 percent during the coming year.

November Data Outlook

Dec. 9 - Consumer Price Index & Producer Price Index: Consumer price inflation fell in October, mainly due to a sharp fall in vegetable prices. That has since been reversed. By contrast, pork prices have been broadly stable but they were falling at this time last year. As a result, food price inflation looks likely to have picked up in November.

According to a Reuters poll, China's annual consumer inflation may have picked up to 2.1 percent in November, the highest in five months, from 1.7 percent in October.

Meanwhile, economists expect producer prices to fall 2 percent from a year earlier, compared to a fall of 2.8 percent in October.

Dec. 9 - Industrial Production: Economists expect growth in China’s factory output to show another uptick in November, to 9.8 percent from a year earlier, the strongest pace in eight months and accelerating from the annual pace of 9.6 percent in October.

Dec. 9 - Fixed-Asset Investment: Driven by infrastructure investment, annual growth in fixed-asset investment may have accelerated slightly to 20.8 percent in the first 11 months from 20.7 percent in the January-October period.

Dec. 9 - Retail Sales: The continued strength of China’s labor market has enabled real growth of retail sales to remain resilient over the past year. Annual growth in retail sales is seen picking up to 14.6 percent in November, following four consecutive months of improvement.

Dec. 10 – Trade: China's export growth may have moderated to 9 percent from a year earlier in November, slowing from a rise of 11.6 percent in October. Meanwhile, import growth is expected to ease to 2 percent last month from October’s 2.4 percent increase.

In the first ten months, China's exports and imports have grown a combined 6.3 percent, well below the 10 percent annual growth target set by the Commerce Ministry.

The monthly trade surplus was estimated at $25.7 billion, narrowing from $32 billion in October.

Dec. 10-15 - Bank Lending: Economists polled by Reuters estimate that China's banks issued 550 billion yuan ($88.34 billion) of new loans in November, slightly higher than October's 505.2 billion yuan.

That would bring total bank lending to above the government’s undisclosed target of 8 trillion yuan in 2012, higher than the 7.5 trillion yuan of new loans extended in 2011.

Economists also forecast the broad measure of M2 money supply to have grown 14.1 percent last month, in line with October's pace.

“The bigger picture is that bank lending no longer tells the whole story of credit conditions in China,” London-based Mark Williams and Wang Qinwei at Capital Economics, wrote in a note. “Corporate bond issuance has soared this year, opening up a new channel for those firms able to access the market.”

Policymakers are increasingly focused on the People’s Bank of China’s “total social financing” measure, which gives a broader picture of credit conditions, and points to stronger growth recently.

Jian Chang, China economist at Barclays, said in a research note that they expect more bond issuances and off-balance sheet lending to support a further increase in “total social financing” in November.

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