China’s economy at a glance: June 2017

Trends stable across the board, no sign of a major economic slowdown.

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Overview:

  • There was little change in most of China’s key monthly indicators in May. ‘Old economy’ measures, such as industrial production and fixed asset investment were flat or slightly higher (in real terms), while real retail sales were marginally weaker. As we suggested last month, these indicators suggest slightly softer economic conditions in Q2, compared with the relatively strong rate in Q1. Our forecasts remain unchanged, with China’s economy to grow by 6.5% in 2017, before slowing to 6.25% next year and 6.0% in 2019.
  • China’s industrial production grew by 6.5% yoy in May – unchanged from the rate recorded in April. Construction related heavy industrial sectors (such as crude steel and cement ) saw much weaker growth.
  • China’s fixed asset investment recorded slightly weaker growth in May – at around 7.9% yoy (from 8.3% in April). That said, weaker inflation trends for investment goods meant that real fixed asset investment was slightly higher (1.5% in May, up from 0.9% in April). Real estate investment has remained comparatively strong, however we continue to anticipate a slowdown in construction activity this year – given tighter financial and policy constraints – which should flow through to industrial production and demand for Australian commodity exports.
  • China’s trade balance edged slightly higher in May – to US$40.8 billion (from US$38.0 billion in April). Both imports and exports were higher month-on-month (with the increase in exports stronger). Commodity prices have had a major impact on import values (and likely export values as well given producer price trends) – with values likely to slow across the second half of the year – in line with weaker commodity price forecasts.
  • Growth in retail sales was unchanged in May – with nominal sales rising by 10.7% yoy. The uptick in inflation during the month meant that real retail sales were slightly weaker – albeit stronger than the growth across most of 2016. Consumer confidence pushed higher in April – up to 113.4 points (the highest level recorded since June 2007).
  • Chinese monetary policy remained comparatively stable in across May and early June – with the 7 day Shibor trading in a narrow range of just under 9 basis points around the 2.9% mark. This represents around 40 basis points of tightening since the start of the year. Our monetary policy views are unchanged – we believe that the PBoC has a tightening bias, but will be cautious in doing so, in an attempt to manage the risks associated with the country’s high corporate debt levels..

For further details, please see the attached document: