Thursday April 18 2019
Hong Kong Jobless Rate Unchanged at Over 21-Year Low
Census and Statistics Department | Stefanie Moya | stefanie.moya@tradingeconomics.com

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Hong Kong stood at 2.8 percent in the three months to March 2019, remaining the lowest jobless rate since January 1998. Also, the underemployment rate was unchanged at 1.0 percent, the same as in the previous period.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the number of unemployed persons went up by 7,900 to 110,400 in January-March 2019 when compared with the prior period, while the number of underemployed dropped by 1,400 to 38,900 persons. On a yearly basis, the unemployment situation continued to improve for many of the main services sector, notably in the retail, accommodation and food services sectors, amid an expansion in inbound tourism.

Meantime, the number of employed rose by 6,300 to 3,867 thousand and the labour force participation rate was steady at 60.7 percent. 

Looking ahead, "The labour market is expected to remain largely stable in the near term. The Government will stay vigilant to how the evolving external uncertainties will affect the labour market going forward." the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong, said. 




Tuesday March 26 2019
Hong Kong Trade Gap Rises in February
Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

The trade deficit in Hong Kong widened to HKD 48.8 billion in February of 2019 from a HKD 42.7 billion gap a year earlier as exports went down 6.9 percent and imports declined at a slower 3.8 percent. Trade flows in January and February tend to be volatile due to difference in timing of the Lunar New Year holidays. Considering the first two months of the year, the trade deficit narrowed to HKD 59.3 billion from HKD 74.4 billion a year earlier as exports went down 3.1 percent and imports fell at a faster 5 percent.

In February of 2019, sales shrank 6.9 percent year-on-year to HKD 228.7 billion, mainly due to lower sales of electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (-8 percent); office machines and automatic data processing machines (-13.7 percent); and miscellaneous manufactured articles (mainly jewellery, goldsmiths' and silversmiths' wares) (-13 percent). However, an increase was registered in sales of telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment (3.8 percent). Shipments to Asia as a whole went down 7.8 percent, namely sales to India (-41.2 percent), Taiwan (-26.5 percent), Japan (-19.7 percent) and China (-5.3 percent). On the other hand, increases were seen in exports to Malaysia (14.3 percent), Vietnam (12.2 percent) and Singapore (11.1 percent). Apart from destinations in Asia, decreases were registered in shipments to the US (-20.5 percent) and Germany (-15 percent) while an increase was registered in exports to the United Kingdom (30.7 percent).

Imports fell 3.8 percent to HKD 277.5 billion, namely purchases of electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (-7.5 percent); office machines and automatic data processing machines (-12.7 percent); and articles of apparel and clothing accessories (-21.6 percent). However, an increase was registered in the imports of non-metallic mineral manufactures (8.3 percent). Among major import partners, decreases were registered purchases from South Korea (-23.4 percent), Thailand (-15.4 percent), Malaysia (-12.1 percent), Switzerland (-11.3 percent) and China (-10.2 percent). Concurrently, increases were recorded in imports from Singapore (16.8 percent) and the US (14.9 percent).

A Government spokesman said that, similar to the situations in many other Asian economies, Hong Kong's exports remained weak in early 2019, dampened by easing global economic growth and the US-China trade tensions. In the near term, the external trading environment is likely to remain challenging. While the US-China trade negotiations have reportedly entered the final stage, there are still uncertainties about whether and when the two sides will reach a final agreement. Other external developments, including global growth moderation and Brexit, also warrant attention. 




Thursday March 21 2019
Hong Kong February Inflation Rate at 9-Month Low of 2.1%
Census and Statistics Department | Stefanie Moya | stefanie.moya@tradingeconomics.com

The annual inflation rate in Hong Kong fell to 2.1 percent in February 2019 from 2.4 percent in the previous month. It was the lowest inflation rate since May last year, mainly due to a decline in cost of housing and utilities as the government introduced electricity subsidy in January and a slowdown in food prices.

Year-on-year, cost of electricity, gas and water declined further (-4.7 percent compared to -4.6 percent in January), mainly due to a Government electricity subsidy introduced in January and prices of clothing & footwear fell (-1.5 percent compared to 0.3 percent). Additionally, cost eased for food (3.0 percent compared to 3.3 percent), of which meals bought away from home (2.0 percent compared to 2.7 percent) while food excluding meals bought away from home (4.9 percent compared to 4.2 percent); transport (1.4 percent compared to 2.3 percent); and alcoholic drinks and tobacco (2.6 percent compared to 3.1 percent).

On the other hand, prices rose at a faster pace for miscellaneous goods (1.4 percent compared to 1.3 percent) and inflation was steady for housing (3.0 percent, the same as in January) and miscellaneous services (1.6 percent).

On a monthly basis, consumer prices went down 0.2 percent, the same pace as in the previous month.

Underlying consumer inflation, which excludes the effects of one-off government relief measures - such as tax cuts for lower income individuals; extra allowance for the elderly, child & disabled people; students' grants; etc. -, was at 2.6 percent, lower than 3.0 percent in January.

A Government spokesman commented that, in the near term, the upside risks to inflation should remain contained. “The earlier moderation in fresh-letting residential rentals could have a mitigating effect in the period ahead, and external price pressures have also stayed moderate recently. The Government will continue to monitor the inflation developments closely, particularly the impact on the lower-income people”




Tuesday March 19 2019
Hong Kong Jobless Rate Steady at Over 21-Year Low
Census and Statistics Department | Stefanie Moya | stefanie.moya@tradingeconomics.com

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Hong Kong was unchanged at 2.8 percent in the three months to February 2019, remaining the lowest jobless rate since January 1998. Meantime, the underemployment rate fell to 1.0 percent in the December-February period from 1.1 percent in the prior period.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the number of unemployed persons rose by 700 to 102,500 in December-February 2019 when compared with the previous period, while the number of underemployed declined by 1,900 to 40,300 persons. On a yearly basis, the unemployment situation continued to improve for many of the main services sector, namely in the retail, accommodation and food services sectors, amid the expansion in inbound tourism.

Meanwhile, the number of employed dropped by 5,900 to 3,867 thousand and the labour force participation rate went down to 60.7 percent from 60.8 percent in the prior period. 

Looking ahead, "The labour market is expected to stay tight in the near term. Nevertheless, the Government will stay vigilant to the external uncertainties and monitor the potential impact on the local labour market closely" the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong, said. 


Wednesday February 27 2019
Hong Kong Q4 GDP Annual Growth Weakest in Near 3 Years
Census and Statistics Department l Rida Husna | rida@tradingeconomics.com

The Hong Kong economy advanced 1.3 percent year-on-year in the December quarter of 2018, easing from a downwardly revised 2.8 percent growth in the previous period. It was the weakest pace of expansion since the March quarter 2016, amid a marked slowdown in private consumption and a slump in fixed investment.

Private consumption increased by 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter, following a 4.8 percent rise in the previous three month-period and marking the slowest rise in ten quarters. In addition, fixed investment shrank 5.4 percent, compared to a 9.2 percent growth in the prior quarter and reaching the first drop in five quarters. Investment in building and construction contracted (-6 percent vs 1.1 percent Q3) and costs of ownership transfer slumped 43.7 percent (vs -1.1 percent in Q3), while spending on machinery, equipment and intellectual property products slowed sharply (4.6 percent vs 21 percent). 

Meantime, government spending rose by 5 percent, faster than a 3.3 percent gain in the prior quarter. Also, net external demand contributed positively to the GDP growth as imports fell faster than exports. Imports of goods dropped 0.8 percent (vs 7.7 percent in Q3) and those of services grew 2 percent (vs 2.5 percent in Q3), while exports of goods dropped 0.2 percent (vs 5 percent in Q3) and those of services went up 2.9 percent (vs 3.4 percent in Q3).

Considering 2018 the whole year, the economy grew by 3 percent, less than than the government's forecast of 3.2 percent and after a 3.8 percent expansion in the preceding year.

For 2019, the government expects the economy to grow between 2 to 3 percent.

On a quarterly basis, the economy contracted 0.3 percent in the three months to December, compared to a 0.1 percent growth in the prior quarter. Exports of goods  contracted 2.7 percent (vs 1.2 percent in Q3) while those of services grew by 0.7 percent (vs 0.5 percent in Q3). Meantime, imports of goods declined by 5 percent (vs 3.1 percent in Q3) while those of services went up 0.1 percent (vs 0.7  percent in Q3). At the same time, private consumption rose by 0.2 percent (vs 0.6 percent) and  government spending grew by 1.4 percent (vs 0.7 percent in Q3). 




Tuesday February 26 2019
Hong Kong Posts Smallest Trade Gap in 7 Years
Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong | Stefanie Moya | stefanie.moya@tradingeconomics.com

The trade deficit in Hong Kong narrowed to HKD 10.3 billion in January 2019 from HKD 31.9 billion in the same month of the previous year. It was the smallest trade gap since January 2012, as imports fell 6 percent year-on-year while exports declined 0.4 percent.

Year-on-year, imports dropped 6 percent to HKD 359.0 billion in January 2019, mainly due to lower purchases of electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (-10.8 percent); non-metallic mineral manufactures (-21.4 percent) and telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment (-4.9 percent).

Among major trading partners, imports fell from Korea (-36.0 percent), India (-34.6 percent), Switzerland (-17.5 percent), Japan (-14.2 percent), Taiwan (-11.0 percent); the US (-9.5 percent) and China (-1.6 percent).

Meantime, exports declined 0.4 percent to HKD 348.7 billion, mostly due to lower sales of non-metallic mineral manufactures (-23.9 percent); office machines and automatic data processing machines (-8.0 percent) and articles of apparel and clothing accessories (-1.3 percent).

Sales to Asia as a whole decreased 3.6 percent, namely India (-35.2 percent), Taiwan (-18.6 percent), Vietnam (-7.9 percent) and China (-3.9 percent). On the other hand, exports rose to Malaysia (25.6 percent), Philippines (24.4 percent), Singapore (17.9 percent) and Thailand (14.5 percent). Apart from destinations in Asia, sales fell to the US (-5.8 percent) and Germany (-1.1 percent) while went up to the UK (10.7 percent).


Friday February 22 2019
Hong Kong Inflation Rate at 5-Month Low of 2.4%
Census and Statistics Department | Luisa Carvalho | luisa.carvalho@tradingeconomics.com

The annual inflation rate in Hong Kong dropped to 2.4 percent in January 2019 from 2.5 percent in the previous month. It stands at the lowest level since August, amid falling prices of electricity, gas and water due to the Government's electricity subsidy starting from January 2019. Also, cost slowed mainly for miscellaneous services.

Year-on-year, prices declined for electricity, gas and water (-4.6 percent vs 3.8 percent in December), mainly due to the Government's provision of electricity charge subsidy starting from January 2019. Meantime, cost slowed mainly for miscellaneous services (2.9 percent vs 3.4 percent), as prices rose less for educational services (2.3 percent vs 2.5 percent) and fell further for information & communication services (-6.4 percent vs -6.2 percent).

In contrast, inflation rose for food (3.3 percent vs 2.9 percent), including food excluding meals bought away from home (4.2 percent vs 3.8 percent) and meals bought away from home (2.7 percent vs 2.5 percent); housing (3.0 percent vs 2.9 percent), namely private rent (2.3 percent vs 2.2 percent); transport (2.3 percent vs 1.8 percent); alcoholic drinks and tobacco (3.1 percent vs 2.8 percent); and miscellaneous goods (1.3 percent vs 1.2 percent). In addition, prices rebounded for clothing & footwear (0.3 percent vs -1.5 percent).

On a monthly basis, consumer prices edged down 0.2 percent after increasing 0.4 percent in the previous month.

Underlying consumer inflation, which excludes the effects of one-off government relief measures - such as tax cuts for lower income individuals; extra allowance for the elderly, child & disabled people; students' grants; etc. -, was at 3.0 percent, slightly higher than 2.9 percent in the prior month.

A Government spokesman commented that, in the near term, the upside risks to inflation should remain contained. "The recent moderation in fresh-letting residential rentals could have a mitigating effect in the months ahead. The moderating global economic growth and the earlier strengthening of the US dollar vis-à-vis other major currencies should help keep external price pressures in check. The Government will continue to monitor the inflation developments closely, particularly the impact on the lower-income people."


Thursday February 21 2019
Hong Kong Jobless Rate Unchanged at 21-Year Low
Census and Statistics Department | Stefanie Moya | stefanie.moya@tradingeconomics.com

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Hong Kong stood at 2.8 percent in the three months to January 2019, remaining the lowest jobless rate since January 1998. The underemployment also remained unchanged at 1.1 percent in the November-January period.

On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, the number of unemployed persons dropped by 3,600 to 101,800 in November-January 2019 when compared with the prior period, ant the number of underemployed declined by 2,300 to 42,200 persons. On a yearly basis, the unemployment situation continued to improve for many of the main services sector, mainly in the retail, accommodation and food services sectors, amid the expansion in inbound tourism.

On the other hand, the number of employed was at 3,873 thousand, the same as in the previous three-month period and the labour force participation rate decreased to 60.8 percent from 60.9 percent in the prior period. 

Looking ahead, "While the labour market will likely remain tight in the near term, the employment outlook for the rest of 2019 will hinge on how the various external uncertainties evolve. The Government will stay vigilant and monitor the developments closely.” the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong, said. 


Monday January 28 2019
Hong Kong Trade Gap Narrows in December
Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong | Luisa Carvalho | luisa.carvalho@tradingeconomics.com

The trade deficit in Hong Kong decreased to HKD 51.2 billion in December of 2018 from HKD 59.9 billion in the same month a year ago. Imports declined at a faster 7 percent to HKD 391.2 billion and exports fell 5.8 percent to HKD 339.9 billion.

Year-on-year, imports slipped 7 percent to HKD 391.2 billion in December 2018, dragged down by lower purchases of electrical machinery, apparatus & appliances, and electrical parts thereof (-13 percent); telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment (-11.3 percent) and non-metallic mineral manufactures (-13 percent). However, imports of office machines and automatic data processing machines rose (9 percent).

Among major trading partners, imports decreased from Taiwan (-29.6 percent), Korea (-25.4 percent), India (-24.3 percent), the Philippines (-19.2 percent), Japan (-12.7 percent), Thailand (-8.0 percent) and the Mainland (-4.2 percent). Concurrently, an increase was recorded in imports from Malaysia (+14.3 percent).

Meantime, exports fell 5.8 percent to HKD 339.9 billion, as sales declined mostly for non-metallic mineral manufactures (-41 percent); electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (-5.7 percent) and office machines and automatic data processing machines (-5.3 percent). In contrast, shipments of power generating machinery and equipment jumped (48.5 percent).

External sales to Asia as a whole declined 7.8 percent, namely India (-35.9 percent), Vietnam (-15.7 percent), China (-8.7 percent), Korea (-4.5 percent) and Japan (-3.6 percent). On the other hand, increases were recorded in total exports to Singapore (+29.9 percent) and Thailand (+9.9 percent).

Considering full 2018 year, the trade shortfall widened to HKD 563.3 billion from HKD 481.1 billion, as imports surged 8.4 percent to HKD 4721 billion and exports advanced 7.3 percent to HKD 4158 billion.

"A Government spokesman noted that the value of merchandise exports showed an enlarged year-on-year decline in December 2018, as the moderation in global economic growth and the US-Mainland trade tensions increasingly weighed on the exports of many Asian economies. Nonetheless, thanks to the strong performance in the earlier part of the year, the value of merchandise exports rose notably by 7.3 percent for 2018 as a whole. The near-term outlook for merchandise trade is challenging amid moderating global economic growth and the uncertainty surrounding the US-Mainland trade relations. The Government will continue to monitor the situation closely."


Tuesday January 22 2019
Hong Kong Annual Inflation Rate Slows to 2.5% in December
Census and Statistics Department | Stefanie Moya | stefanie.moya@tradingeconomics.com

The annual inflation rate in Hong Kong fell to 2.5 percent in December 2018 from 2.6 percent in the previous month. It remained the lowest inflation rate since August, as prices slowed mostly due to housing; food and electricity, gas and water.

Year-on-year, prices eased for housing (2.9 percent compared to 3.0 percent in November); food (2.9 percent compared to 3.0 percent); electricity, gas & water (3.8 percent compared to 4.0 percent); transport (1.8 percent compared to 1.6 percent); and miscellaneous services (1.2 percent compared to 3.1 percent). Also, cost declined further for clothing & footwear (-1.5 percent compared to -0.2 percent) and durable goods (-2.3 percent compared to -1.8 percent).

On a monthly basis, consumer prices went up 0.4 percent after a 0.2 percent gain in the prior month.

Underlying consumer inflation, which excludes the effects of one-off government relief measures - such as tax cuts for lower income individuals; extra allowance for the elderly, child & disabled people; students' grants; etc. -, was at 2.9 percent, unchanged from the previous month.

A Government spokesman said that the underlying inflation rate held largely stable at 2.9 percent in December 2018. For 2018 as a whole, the underlying inflation rate averaged 2.6 percent. In the near term, the upside risks to inflation should be contained, as imported inflation has stayed moderate and as pressures on local rentals have weakened somewhat of late. The Government will monitor the situation closely, particularly the impact on the lower-income people.