Profits at Chinese industrial concerns rebounded last month to post gains of 4.5 percent from a year ago, the government said Friday, adding that wage inflation in March rose 21.2 percent for the nation's nearly 160 million migrant workers.
The National Bureau of Stastics (NBS) report also revealed that the March profits bounce could be a disparity from previously observed data. Over the full three months in the first quarter of 2012, profits actually fell to ?1.04 trillion ($165 billion), down 1.3 percent from the prior year.
Further, the NBS said that drop in profits came in the face of a substantial decline in corporate margins -- the result of rising input costs -- as revenues actually grew by 14.1 percent for the same period.
Those facts will likely be highlighted by those rooting for further loosening from the People's Bank of China, including international investors with massive bets that assume such action will occur in the near future. And they will likely back it up with numbers from a purchasing manager's survey, released earlier this month, that suggested industrial production is in the sixth straight month of contraction in China.
Given the mixed nature of the report out Friday, Chinese investors were somewhat at a loss with how to play the data, and sold off on the uncertainty; but not too much.
First-quarter earnings are supposed to be very poor, Zhang Ling, general manager at Shanghai River Fund Management Co., told Bloomberg News. The market still needs some time to digest these bad numbers.
Composite indexes in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong were down between a quarter and half a percentage point. After spending most of the day in slight positive territory, the Hang Seng Index of Hong Kong-traded equities, arguably the most important Chinese benchmark, was down 0.33 percent for the day.