Monday June 11 2018
China May Inflation Rate Steady at 1.8%
Rida | rida@tradingeconomics.com

China's consumer prices rose by 1.8 percent year-on-year in May of 2018, the same as in a month earlier and matching market consensus. It remained the lowest inflation rate since January.

In May, the politically sensitive food prices increased by 0.1 percent, way slower than a 0.7 percent rise in April and marking the softest gain in food prices since a decline in January. Prices declined sharply for fresh fruit (-2.7 percent from +4.2 percent in April) and fell further for pork (-16.7 percent from -16.1 percent) while rose more for eggs (20.8 percent from 14.9 percent).

Meantime, non-food inflation edged up to 2.2 percent from 2.1 percent in April. Upward pressure came from: transport and communication (1.8 percent from 1.1 percent); other goods and services (1 percent from 0.9 percent); clothing (1.1 percent, the same as in April); rent, fuel & utilities (2.2 percent, the same as in April);  household goods and services (1.5 percent, the same as in April); healthcare (5.1 percent from 5.2 percent); and education, culture and recreation (1.9 percent from 2 percent).

For 2018, China set its consumer inflation target at around 3 percent, in line with the preceding year's figure.

On a monthly basis, consumer prices fell by 0.2 percent, similar to the April's figure while markets expected a  0.1 percent decline.

Meanwhile, the producer price index increased by 4.1 percent from a year earlier in May, after a 3.4 percent rise in the previous month and above market expectations of 3.9 percent. It is the highest producer inflation since January. Prices of means of production went up at a faster pace (5.4 percent from 4.5 percent), namely extraction (8.1 percent from 6.1 percent), raw materials (7.4 percent from 5.7 percent) and processing (4.4 percent from 3.9 percent). Also, cost of consumer goods rose more (0.3 percent from 0.1 percent), namely food production (0.3 percent from 0.1 percent), clothing (0.3 percent from 0.2 percent); daily use goods (1.1 percent from 0.9 percent); while prices of consumer durable goods declined further (-0.7 percent from -0.6 percent). On a monthly basis, producer prices went up by 0.4 percent.




Friday June 08 2018
China May Trade Surplus Smaller than Expected
Rida | rida@tradingeconomics.com

China's trade surplus narrowed sharply to USD 24.92 billion in May 2018 from USD 40.51 billion in the same month a year earlier, and came in well below market consensus of USD 31.9 billion. Imports jumped 26 percent to a record high while exports rose at a softer 12.6 percent.

Imports rose 26 percent from a year earlier to an all-time high of USD 187.95 billion in May, after a 21.5 percent rise in a month earlier and easily beating market expectations of 18.7 percent. Imports of commodities continued to lead the way in May, with shipments of copper, iron ore and soybeans all rising from the previous month. China's unwrought copper imports rose to a 17-month high of 475,000 tonnes from the previous month's 440,000 tonnes, and 21.8 percent above the previous year's figure. It was the the highest May figure for at least a decade. Iron ore imports rose 13.5 percent from the previous month to 94.14 million tonnes, and were 2.9 percent above the previous year's 91.52 million tonnes. Soybean imports rose to 9.69 million tones in May from last month's 6.9 million tonnes. Also, they were up 1 percent from last year. On the other hand, China's crude oil imports fell from record highs hit the month before to 39.05 million tonnes in May, or 9.2 million barrels per day (bpd). It compared with 9.6 million bpd in April and 8.76 million bpd a year earlier.

Exports increased at a slower 12.6 percent to USD 212.87 billion, following a revised 12.7 percent rise in the preceding month and compared to market forecasts of a 10 percent gain. The country's unwrought aluminium and aluminium product exports came in at 485,000 tonnes in May, the highest since December 2014. Shipments were up 7.5 percent from 451,000 tonnes in April and up 12.8 percent from 430,000 tonnes a year ago. In addition, sales of steel products rose 5 percent to 6.88 million tonnes in May from 6.48 million tonnes in the previous period, but down 1.4 percent from a year earlier. It was the highest value since July 2017.

The trade surplus with the US, China's largest export market, widened to USD 24.58 billion in May from USD 22.15 billion in April, as exports to the country went up 11.6 percent to USD 39.3 billion and imports grew 11.4 percent to USD 14.7 billion. Also, the trade surplus with the EU was USD 9.7 billion, with exports rising by 8.5 percent and imports by 18.3 percent; and that with ASEAN countries was USD 6.5 billion, as exports advanced 17.6 percent and imports 20.5 percent. Meanwhile, the biggest trade deficit was recorded with Taiwan (USD 11.3 billion, with exports increasing 11.7 percent and imports 31.6 percent), followed by South Korea (USD 8.2 billion, with exports increasing 11.4 percent and imports 31.8 percent), Australia (USD 5.5 billion, with exports increasing 18.5 percent and imports 22.4 percent) and Japan (USD 3.8 billion, with exports increasing 10.2 and imports 22.5 percent). 

For January-May, China's trade surplus narrowed to USD 102.81 billion from USD 141.90 billion in the same period 2017. The five-month trade surplus with the US surged 12.9 percent to USD 104.85 billion.

In yuan-denominated terms, the trade surplus stood at CNY 156.51 billion in May, as imports jumped 15.6 percent and exports advanced 3.2 percent. Over the January-May period, the trade surplus shrank 31 percent to CNY 649.8 billion, with exports increasing by 5.5 percent and imports by 12.6 percent.




Thursday May 10 2018
China April Inflation Rate Weaker than Expected
Statistics China l Rida | rida@tradingeconomics.com

China's consumer price inflation fell to 1.8 percent year-on-year in April, from 2.1 percent in the previous month and missing market consensus of 1.9 percent. It was the lowest rate since January, mainly due to a sharp slowdown in food inflation.

In April, the politically sensitive food prices increased by 0.7 percent, easing from a 2.1 percent rise in March and marking the slowest gain in food prices since a decline in January. In particular, the price of fresh fruit rose by 4.2 percent compared to a 7.4 percent increase in March, and eggs rose 14.9 percent, also below the 17.6 percent advance recorded in the previous month. The price of pork continued to fall (-16.1 percent vs -12 percent in March).

Meanwhile, non-food food inflation was unchanged at 2.1 percent. Upward pressure came from: clothing (1.1 percent, the same as in March); rent, fuel & utilities (2.2 percent, the same as in March); household goods and services (1.5 percent vs 1.6 percent); transport and communication (1.1 percent vs 0.3 percent); education, culture and recreation (2 percent vs 2.2 percent); healthcare (5.2 percent vs 5.7 percent); and other goods and services (0.9 percent vs 1.2 percent).

Annual core inflation, which excludes the prices of food and energy, stood at 2 percent in April, the same as in the previous month.

On a monthly basis, consumer prices fell by 0.2 percent, following a 1.1 percent drop in March while markets were expecting a smaller 0.1 percent decline.

The Chinese government confirmed in April that it set the inflation target for 2018 at around 3 percent.

Meanwhile, the producer price index, which measures wholesale inflation, increased by 3.4 percent from a year earlier in April, following a 3.1 percent rise in the previous month, but still missing market expectations of 3.5 percent. Prices of means of production went up at a faster pace (4.5 percent vs 4.1 percent), namely extraction (6.1 percent vs 5 percent), raw materials (5.7 percent vs 5.1 percent) and processing (3.9 percent vs 3.7 percent). Meantime, cost of consumer goods rose at a slower 0.1 percent (vs 0.2 percent in March), namely food production (0.1 percent vs unchanged), daily use goods (0.9 percent, the same as in March), and clothing (0.2 percent vs 0.3 percent); while prices of consumer durable goods declined further (-0.6 percent vs -0.3 percent). On a monthly basis, producer prices fell by 0.2 percent, the same pace as in March.


Tuesday May 08 2018
China Trade Surplus Beats Estimates In April
Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

China's trade surplus narrowed to USD 28.78 billion in April of 2018 from USD 37.45 billion in the same month a year earlier but above market consensus of USD 24.7 billion. Imports jumped 21.5 percent year-on-year to USD 171.64 billion, while exports rose by 12.9 percent to USD 200.49 billion.

In April, imports surged 21.5 percent from a year earlier to USD 171.64 billion, faster than a 14.4 percent rise in a month earlier and beating expectations of a 16 percent increase. Inbound shipments of unwrought copper imports rose to 442,000 tonnes from the previous month's 430,000 tonnes and the preceding year's 300,000 tonnes. Also, purchases increased for: copper (442,000 tonnes from 439,000 in March); crude oil (39.46 million tonnes from 39.17 million tonnes); and soybeans (6.92 million tonnes from 5.66 million tonnes).

Exports grew by 12.9 percent to USD 200.49 billion, recovering from a 2.7 percent decline in the preceding month but way above forecasts of a 6.3 percent gain. Outbound shipments of unwrought aluminium and aluminium products, including primary, alloy and semi-finished aluminium products, came in at 451,000 tonnes in April, up  from  450,000 tonnes in March and from 430,000 tonnes in April 2017. In addition, sales of steel products rose to 6.48 million tonnes from 5.65 million tonnes in a month earlier and compared with 6.49 million tonnes in April 2017.

The trade surplus with the US, China's largest export market, widened to USD 22.19 billion in April from USD 15.43 billion in March. 

Considering the first four months of 2018, China's trade surplus came in at USD 77.87, down sharply from a surplus of USD 101.42 billion in the same period 2017.  Exports in the period grew by 16.5 percent compared to the same period the preceding year, while imports went up by 19.6 percent. Meanwhile, from January to April 2018, the trade surplus with the US was USD 80.4 billion, with sales growing by 13.9 percent and imports increasing by 11.6 percent.

In yuan-denominated terms, the trade surplus stood at CNY 18.28 billion in April. Exports went up by 3.7 percent, after a  9.8 percent rise in a month earlier. Purchases increased by 11.6 percent, compared to a 5.9 percent growth in March.


Tuesday April 17 2018
China Quarterly GDP Growth Weakest in 2 Years
National Bureau of Statistics l Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

The Chinese economy grew by 1.4 percent quarter-on-quarter in the three months to March of 2018, compared to an advance of 1.6 percent in the previous period and slightly below market expectations of 1.5 percent. It was the weakest pace of expansion since the first quarter of 2016.

Year-on-year, the economy advanced 6.8 percent year-on-year in the March quarter 2018, the same pace as in the previous two quarters and matching consensus.

For 2018, the Chinese government targets growth at around 6.5 percent amid efforts to deleverage, contain debt and financial risks. 

In 2017, the economy expanded by 6.9 percent, beating the govermet target of around 6.5 percent and following a 26-year low of 6.7 percent in 2016.




Tuesday April 17 2018
China Q1 GDP Growth Remains Robust
National Bureau of Statistics l Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

The Chinese economy expanded by 6.8 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, the same pace as in the previous two quarters and in line with market expectations. Growth was mainly supported by solid consumption, property investment and exports.

The value added of the primary industry was up by 3.2 percent; the secondary industry by 6.3 percent; and the tertiary industry by 7.5 percent.

Industrial production grew by 6.8 percent in the first quarter. In March only, it rose by 6.0 percent, below market expectations of 6.4 percent and after a 7.2 percent gain in the previous period. It was the smallest increase in industrial production since last August, as output expanded at a softer pace for: textiles (0.8 percent vs 2.8 percent); general equipment (6.8 percent vs 9.1 percent); transport equipment (4.2 percent vs 4.9 percent); machinery (8.4 percent vs 9.4 percent); and power equipment (5.1 percent vs 13.1 percent). In addition, production of non-metal minerals fell 0.8 percent, after a 4.2 percent gain in the previous period. Meawhile, output growth picked up for: chemicals (4.3 percent vs 2.4 percent); ferrous metals (5.2 percent vs 1.7 percent); and communication (12.8 percent vs 12.1 percent).

Retail sales grew 9.8 percent in the first quarter. In March only, retail sales increased 10.1 percent, beating market consensus of 9.7 percent and following a 9.7 percent rise in the previous period. It was the steepest increase in retail trade since last November, as sales rose at a faster pace for: building materials (10.2 percent vs 6.8 percent in January-February); furniture (10.9 percent vs 8.5 percent); home appliances (15.4 percent vs 9.2 percent); personal care (16.9 percent vs 10.1 percent); jewelry (20.4 percent vs 3.0 percent); cosmetics (22.7 percent vs 12.5 percent); and garments (14.8 percent vs 7.7 percent). In addition, sales rebounded sharply for office supplies (12.6 percent vs -0.9 percent). Meanwhile, retail trade growth was unchanged for oil, oil products (at 9.1 percent) and slowed for both automobiles (3.5 percent vs 9.7 percent) and telecoms (1.6 percent vs 10.7 percent).

From January to March, fixed-asset investment increased by 7.5 percent to CNY 1,007.63 billion, compared to a 7.9 percent rise in the first two months of the year and missing market expectations of 7.7 percent. Public investment rose at a softer pace (7.1 percent vs 9.2 percent in January-February) while private investment advanced further (8.9 percent from 8.1 percent). By industry, fixed investment growth eased for agriculture (23 percent vs 25.3 percent); manufacturing (3.8 percent vs 4.3 percent); transport, storage and postal industry (9.7 percent vs 13.4 percent) and water conservancy, environment and public facilities management (13.8 percent vs 16.1 percent). Meanwhile, fixed-asset investment fell strongly for electricity, heat, gas and water production (-8.9 percent vs -6.1 percent).

Figures released earlier showed that China's exports grew 14.1 percent in the first quarter and imports jumped 18.9 percent.

For 2018, the Chinese government targets growth at around 6.5 percent, the same as in 2017 amid efforts to deleverage, contain debt and financial risks. "Trade dispute with the US will not change the stable development of the country’s economy", a spokesman for the National Statistics Bureau/NBS, Xing Zhihong, said in a news conference. "China is fully capable of responding to Sino-US trade frictions, responding to challenges and maintaining sustained and healthy economic development," he added.





Friday April 13 2018
China Unexpectedly Posts Trade Gap in March
Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

China reported a trade deficit of USD 4.98 billion in March 2018, compared to a USD 23.56 billion surplus in the same month a year earlier and missing market consensus of a USD 27.1 billion surplus. It was the first trade gap since February last year, as imports surged while exports unexpectedly fell.

Imports soared 14.4 percent year-on-year to USD 179.10 billion in March, beating market consensus of a 10 percent increase, and compared with 6.3 percent growth in February. Imports of commodities continued to lead the way in March, with shipments of copper, crude oil, iron ore and soybeans all rising from the previous month. China's unwrought copper imports rose to 439,000 tonnes from the previous month's 350,000 tonnes and the previous year's 430,000 tonnes. China's crude oil imports climbed to 39.17 million tonnes in March, or 9.22 million barrels per day, the second-highest on record. It compared with 32.26 million tonnes in February and 38.95 million a year earlier. Iron ore imports rebounded 1.8 percent from the previous month to 85.79 million tonnes in March from 84.26 million tonnes in February, but were 10.2 percent below the previous year's 95.56 million tonnes. Soybean imports rose to 5.67 million tones in March from last month's 5.424 million tonnes. Still, they were down 10 percent from last year's 6.327 million tonnes, as demand usually eases after the Lunar New Year festival.

Exports declined 2.7 percent from a year earlier to USD 174.12 billion, missing market expectations of a 10 percent rise, and down from a 44.5 percent surge in February. It was the first drop in exports since February last year due to seasonal factors around the Lunar New Year holiday. Meantime, trade tensions between China and the US have been escalating, after President Donald Trump approved a possible tariff hike on USD 50 billion of Chinese goods. Trump is demanding Beijing take steps to narrow its trade deficit with the US, which stood at a record USD 375.2 billion last year.

The trade surplus with the US, China's largest export market, narrowed to USD 15.4 billion in March from 21.0 billion in February, as exports to the country fell 5.6 percent to USD 30.7 billion while imports grew 3.2 percent to USD 15.3 billion. Also, the trade surplus with the EU was USD 3.6 billion, with exports falling by 7 percent and imports rising by 10 percent; and that with ASEAN countries was USD 3.0 billion, as exports advanced 1.4 percent and imports 13.4 percent. Meanwhile, the biggest trade deficit was recorded with Taiwan (USD 11.4 billion, with exports increasing 8.1 percent and imports 30 percent), followed by South Korea (USD 8.1 billion, with exports falling 4.2 percent and imports increasing 19.1 percent), Australia (USD 5.6 billion, with exports falling 1.3 percent and imports increasing 1.1 percent) and Japan (USD 4.8 billion, with exports falling 3.7 and imports increasing 16 percent).

For the first quarter as a whole, China's trade surplus narrowed 23.2 percent from the previous year to USD 49.12 billion, as exports grew 14.1 percent and imports jumped 18.9 percent. The quarterly trade surplus with the US surged 19.4 percent to USD 58.25 billion, as exports to the country rose 14.8 percent from a year earlier, and imports went up at a slower 8.9 percent.

In yuan-denominated terms, the trade surplus stood at CNY 29.78 billion in March, as exports dropped 9.8 percent while imports rose 5.9 percent. Over the January-March period, the trade surplus shrank 21.8 percent to CNY 326.18 billion, with exports increasing by 7.4 percent and imports by 11.7 percent.



Wednesday April 11 2018
China Inflation Rate Slows to 2.1% in March
Statistics China l Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

China's consumer price inflation fell to 2.1 percent year-on-year in March 2018 from a four-and-a-half-year high of 2.9 percent in the previous month and below market consensus of 2.6 percent. Cost increased at a softer pace for both food and non-food products.

The politically sensitive food inflation eased to 2.1 percent in March from 4.4 percent in the previous month, as prices increased at a slower rate for fresh vegetables (8.8 percent from 17.7 percent), fresh fruits (7.4 percent from 8.7 percent) and eggs (17.6 percent from 22.5 percent); while those of pork fell further (-12 percent from -7.3 percent). Meanwhile, cost continued to increase for milk (0.7 percent from 0.4 percent) and tobacco (0.1 percent from 0.1 percent).

Cost of non-food products rose at a softer 2.1 percent, following a 2.5 percent advance in February. Prices increased less for: household goods and services (1.6 percent from 1.8 percent); transport and communication (0.3 percent from 1.5 percent); education, culture & recreation (2.2 percent from 3.7 percent); healthcare (5.7 percent from 6 percent) and other goods and services (1.2 percent from 1.7 percent). Meantime, inflation was steady for clothing (at 1.1 percent) and rent, fuel & utilities (at 2.2 percent).

On a monthly basis, consumer prices declined by 1.1 percent in March, following a 1.2 percent rise in February and way above market expectations of a 0.5 percent fall. It was the first monthly drop since last June.

Meanwhile, the producer price index increased by 3.1 percent from a year earlier in March, easing from a 3.7 percent advance in the prior month and missing market expectations of 3.2 percent. It was the lowest producer inflation since October 2016, as cost of means of production rose at a softer pace (4.1 percent from 4.8 percent in February), namely extraction (5 percent from 6.4 percent), raw materials (5.1 percent from 5.9 percent) and processing (3.7 percent from 4.2 percent). Also, consumer goods inflation eased to 0.2 percent in March from 0.3 percent in the previous month, due to a slowdown in daily use goods (0.9 percent from 1.1 percent) and clothing (0.3 percent from 0.5 percent) and a decline in consumer durable goods (-0.3 percent from -0.1 percent). Food production prices were unchanged for the third consecutive month. On a monthly basis, producer prices fell by 0.2 percent in March, following a 0.1 percent drop in February.



Friday March 09 2018
China Inflation Rate at Over 4-Year High of 2.9%
Statistics China l Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

China's consumer prices rose by 2.9 percent year-on-year in February of 2018, after a 1.5 percent rise in the prior month and above market consensus of 2.5 percent. It was the highest inflation rate since November 2013, as cost of food rebounded sharply and cost non-food rose faster.

In February, the politically sensitive food prices increased by 4.4 percent, rising for the first time since January 2017 and reversing 0.5 percent decline in the prior month. Prices surged for fresh vegetables (17.7 percent from -5.8 percent in a month earlier) and rose at a faster pace for eggs (22.5 percent from 14.2 percent) and fresh fruits (8.7 percent from 6.4 percent). Meantime, cost continued to increase for milk (0.4 percent from 0.9 percent) and tobacco (0.1 percent from 0.1 percent). In contrast, cost of pork continued to fall (-7.3 percent from -10.6 percent).

Cost of non-food rose at a faster 2.5 percent (from 2.0 percent in January). Prices increased at a faster rate for: household goods and services (1.8 percent from 1.5 percent); transport and communication (1.5 percent from 0.2 percent); education, culture & recreation (3.7 percent from 0.9 percent) and other goods and services (1.7 percent from 1.2 percent). Meanwhile, cost went up at a softer pace for: clothing (1.1 percent from 1.4 percent); rent, fuel & utilities (2.2 percent from 2.7 percent) and healthcare (6.0 percent from 6.2 percent). Cost of consumer goods grew 2.5 percent (1.0 percent in December) and those of services were up 3.6 percent (from 2.3 percent).

On a monthly basis, consumer prices increased by 1.2 percent, much faster than a 0.6 percent gain in the preceding month and above estimates of a 0.8 percent rise. It was the highest monthly figure since February 2016.

The producer price index increased by 3.7 percent from a year earlier in February, the least since November 2016, and compared to a 4.3 percent rise in the prior month and markets estimates of a 3.8 percent gain. Still, it was the 18th straight month of rise in producer inflation.  Cost rose at a softer pace for means of production (4.8 percent from 5.7 percent in January) namely extraction (6.4 percent), raw materials (5.9 percent) and processing (4.2 percent). Meantime, inflation was steady for consumer goods (0.3 percent) namely daily use goods (1.1 percent), clothing (0.5 percent) while food production was flat. At the same time, prices of consumer durable goods continued to decline (-0.1 percent from -0.3 percent in the prior month). On a monthly basis, producer prices fell by 0.3 percent, following  a 0.3 percent gain in January.


Thursday March 08 2018
China Unexpectedly Posts Trade Surplus in February
Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

China unexpectedly reported a trade surplus of USD 33.74 billion in February of 2018, compared to a USD 0.1 billion gap in the same month a year earlier while markets estimated a USD 2.3 billion deficit. Exports jumped by 44.5 percent year-on-year to USD 171.6 billion while imports rose 6.3 percent USD 137.9 billion.

In February, exports soared 44.5 percent from the previous year to USD 171.6 billion, far above estimates of a 13.6 percent growth and after a 11.1 percent increase in a month earlier. It was the strongest rise in outbound shipments in three years. Sales of steel rose to 4.85 million tonnes from 4.65 million tonnes in the preceding month.

Imports increased by 6.3 percent  to USD 137.9 billion, below consensus of a 9.7 percent rise and following a 36.8 percent growth in January. Amid the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, purchases fell for: copper (352 million tonnes from 440 million tonnes in January); crude oil (32.26 million tonnes from 40.64 million tonnes); iron ore (84.72 million tonnes from 100.34 million tonnes) and soybeans (5.42 million tonnes from 8.48 million). In addition, inbound shipments of coal were recorded at 20.9 million tonnes, the lowest since July 2017. 

The trade surplus with the US, China's largest export market, narrowed slightly to USD 21.0 billion from 21.9 billion in January. 

Considering January-February combined, the trade surplus came in at USD 54.3 billion, an increase of 43.6 percent from January-February 2017 combined. Exports in the period grew by 24.4 percent, much higher than a 4 percent growth in the same period a year earlier. Imports advanced 21.7 percent. The January-February trade surplus with the US stood at USD 42.9 billion.

In yuan-denominated terms, the trade surplus was at CNY 224.9 billion in February. Exports jumped by 36.2 percent year-on-year, after a 6 percent rise in January. Purchases declined by 0.2 percent, compared to a 30.2 percent gain in a month earlier. Over the January-February period combined, the trade surplus came in at CNY 362.2 billion, with exports increasing by 18 percent year-on-year while imports growing by 15.2 percent.

Trade in January and February can be distorted by the Lunar New Year holiday, with business slowing down weeks ahead of time and companies scaling back operations. This year, the holiday fell on February 16th.