Monday November 27 2017
Hong Kong Trade Deficit Widens 18.1% in October
Statistics Department of Hong Kong | Joana Ferreira | joana.ferreira@tradingeconomics.com

Hong Kong trade gap widened sharply by 18.1 percent to HKD 44.0 billion in October 2017 from HKD 37.2 billion in the same month of the previous year, but below market expectations of a HKD 44.7 billion deficit.

Year-on-year, imports surged 7.9 percent to HKD 378.7 billion, after a 9.7 percent gain in the previous month. Purchases increased mostly from Malaysia (57.3 percent), the Philippines (32 percent), South Korea (20.8 percent), Taiwan (13.5 percent) and China (6.9 percent). Concurrently, decreases were registered in the values of imports from India (-15.1 percent) and Japan (-4.1 percent).

By commodity, imports grew mostly for: Electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (14.5 percent); office machines and automatic data processing machines (14.3 percent); and miscellaneous manufactured articles, mainly jewellery, goldsmiths' and silversmiths' wares (14.8 percent). However, a decrease was registered in the value of imports of telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment (-2.1 percent).

Exports rose at a softer 6.7 percent to HKD 334.7 billion, after a 9.4 percent gain in the preceding month. Exports to Asia as a whole grew by 8 percent, mainly to India (36.5 percent), Thailand (23.4 percent), the Philippines (17.4 percent), Japan (14.9 percent), Taiwan (10.8 percent), South Korea (6.8 percent) and China (6.4 percent). On the other hand, a decrease was recorded in the value of total exports to Malaysia (-2.2 percent). Apart from destinations in Asia, increases were registered in the values of total exports to some major destinations in other regions, in particular Germany (22.6 percent), the United Kingdom (6.1 percent) and the United States (0.2 percent).

By commodity, sales expanded for: Electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (6.8 percent); office machines and automatic data processing machines (15.5 percent); and non-metallic mineral manufactures (14.7 percent). However, a decrease was registered in the value of total exports of photographic apparatus, equipment and supplies, optical goods, watches and clocks (-6.1 percent).

Considering January to October, the trade deficit widened to HKD 381.7 billion from HKD 342.8 billion in the same period of the previous year, with imports increasing 8.7 percent and exports rising 8.3 percent.




Tuesday November 21 2017
Hong Kong Inflation Rate Rises to 1.5% In October
Luisa Carvalho | luisa.carvalho@tradingeconomics.com

Consumer prices in Hong Kong increased 1.5 percent year-on-year in October of 2017, higher than 1.4 percent in September. The slight uptick in annual inflation rate was mainly driven by rising prices of housing and food while cost of miscellaneous services fell less.

Year-on-year, prices advanced faster for housing (2.4 percent vs 2.3 percent in September); food (2.9 percent vs 2.4 percent), particularly food exlcuding meals bought away from home (3.3 percent vs 1.9 percent) and miscellaneous goods (0.6 percent vs 0.5 percent). In addition, cost decreased less for miscellaneous services (-0.4 percent vs -0.6 percent) and durable goods (-2.9 percent vs -3.3 percent).

On the other hand, prices slowed for transport (0.8 percent vs 1.8 percent) while fell for clothing and footwear (-0.5 percent vs 0.4 percent) and alcoholic beverages and tobacco (-1.3 percent vs 0.5 percent).

A Government spokesman said that consumer price inflation stayed fairly modest in October. The spokesman also commented that looking ahead, considering the slow increases in import prices and moderate local cost pressure, inflation risks should remain limited in the near term. The Government will continue to monitor the inflation developments closely, particularly its impact on the lower-income people.




Thursday November 16 2017
Hong Kong Jobless Rate Lowest Since 1998
Census and Statistics Department | Marta Dubiel | marta.dubiel@tradingeconomics.com

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Hong Kong decreased to 3.0 percent in the three months to October of 2017, after four consecutive months of a 3.1 percent rate. It was the lowest unemployment rate since February 1998. Meanwhile, the underemployment remained at 1.1 percent for the fourth consecutive three-month period.

Comparing to the previous three-month period, the number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) decreased by about 4 600 from 128 200 in July-September 2017 to 123 600 in August-October 2017. In the meantime, the number of underemployed persons increased slightly from the previous period by around 500 to 44 200.

Total employment also fell marginally to 3.837 million from 3.837 million in July-September 2017, and the labour force decreased by around 4 900 to 3.96 million.

Meanwhile, unemployment among youngsters between 15 and 24 went down by 1.0 percentage point to 9.5 percent. To assist young people to find jobs, the Labour Department provides through the Youth Employment and Training Programme comprehensive training and employment support to young school leavers aged 15 to 24 with educational attainment at sub-degree level or below.

“Labour market conditions will likely remain tight in the near term amid the further solid growth of the local economy. Yet, we will stay vigilant of various uncertainties in the external environment and closely monitor the relevant developments”, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare commented.




Friday November 10 2017
Hong Kong Economy Grows 3.6% in Q3
Census and Statistics Department | Joana Ferreira | joana.ferreira@tradingeconomics.com

The Hong Kong economy advanced 3.6 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2017, following an upwardly revised 3.9 percent expansion in the previous period and missing market expectations of 4 percent. Growth was driven by private consumption and government spending while fixed investment contracted for the first time in over a year and net external demand contributed negatively.

The positive contribution to GDP came from private consumption (4.2 percentage points) and government spending (0.4 percentage points). In contrast, fixed investment, changes in inventories and net trade subtracted 0.4 percentage points each from the growth.

Year-on-year, private consumption grew 6.7 percent (5.4 percent in Q2); and public spending increased 4.1 percent (3.2 percent in Q2). By contrast, gross fixed capital formation contracted for the first time since the second quarter of 2016 by 1.7 percent, following a 7.2 percent growth in the previous period. Within fixed investment, expenditure on machinery, equipment and intellectual property products decreased 6 percent, as against the increase of 4.7 percent in Q2. Exports of goods went up 5.5 percent, the same pace as in Q2, and imports jumped 6.1 percent, also the same as in Q2. Exports of services advanced 3.7 percent (2.6 percent in Q2) and imports increased at a slower 1.5 percent (3.7 percent in Q2). 

On a quarterly basis, the GDP advanced 0.5 percent, following an upwardly revised 1.1 percent expansion in the previous period. Private consumption grew 2.4 percent (2.1 percent in Q2) and government spending went up 1.5 percent (1.1 percent in Q2). Meanwhile, exports of goods rose 0.7 percent (-0.9 percent in Q2) and imports increased 1.9 percent (-0.3 percent in Q2). Exports of services jumped 2.8 percent (-1 percent in Q2) while imports shrank 2.3 percent (1.8 percent in Q2). 

The robust quarterly performance prompted Hong Kong's statistics office to revise its full-year GDP forecast from a range of 3-4 percent to 3.7 percent in 2017.




Thursday October 26 2017
Hong Kong Trade Deficit Highest in 3 Months
Statistics Department of Hong Kong | Marta Dubiel | marta.dubiel@tradingeconomics.com

Hong Kong trade gap increased by 12.6 percent to HKD 44.41 billion in September of 2017 from a HKD 39.7 billion shortfall in the same month of the previous year, as imports rose faster than exports. Considering the January-September period, the trade deficit widened to HKD 338.0 billion from HKD 304.2 billion in the same period of the previous year, with imports increasing 8.8 percent and exports rising 8.5 percent.

Year-on-year, imports surged 9.7 percent to HKD 403.4 billion, after a 7.7 percent gain in the previous month. Purchases increased mostly from South Korea (32.3 percent), the Philippines (30.3 percent), India (19.8 percent), Malaysia (14.3 percent) Singapore (14.0 percent) and Taiwan (11.6 percent).

By commodity, imports grew mostly for: electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (14.6 percent); office machines and automatic data processing machines (15.0 percent); miscellaneous manufactured articles, jewellery, goldsmiths´ and silversmiths´ wares in particular (16.6 percent). Meanwhile, a drop was recorded for telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment (-3.0 percent).

Exports rose 9.4 percent to HKD 358.7 billion, after a 7.4 percent gain in the preceding month. Exports to Asia as a whole grew by 9.6 percent, mainly to India (30.8 percent), Japan (18.1 percent), Singapore (16.9 percent), Vietnam (16.9 percent), Thailand (16.3 percent), Taiwan (12.0 percent) and China (7.5 percent). Among destinations outside Asia, increases were registered for Germany (39.0 percent), the Netherlands (14.3 percent), the US (4.1 percent) and the UK (1.2 percent). 

By commodity, sales expanded for: electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (10.1 percent); office machines and automatic data processing machines (16.4 percent); miscellaneous manufactured articles, jewellery, goldsmiths´ and silversmiths´ wares in particular (17.7 percent). In contrast, exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories decreased 4.2 percent. 

A Government representative summed up that merchandise exports expanded further in the month of September and sales to Asia remained strong despite regional trade flows. Exports to the US and the EU also posted an improvement. Additionally, the spokesman forecasted that the global economic upturn is expected to boost Hong Kong´s exports in the near term. Yet, the uncertain position of the US dollar and possible changes in policies of major central banks pose a concern about results in sales in the near future. Besides, the possible rise in protectionist sentiment, Brexit-related negotiations and elevated geopolitical tensions in various regions are also fields of interest.


Monday October 23 2017
Hong Kong Consumer Prices Rise the Least in 6 Months
Census and Statistics Department |Luisa Carvalho | luisa.carvalho@tradingeconomics.com

Consumer prices in Hong Kong increased 1.4 percent year-on-year in September of 2017, easing from 1.9 percent in August. It was the lowest inflation rate since March as school fees declined after Government launched new subsidy scheme; and effect of upward adjustment in public housing rentals by the Housing Authority in September 2016 dissipated.

Year-on-year, prices slowed for housing (2.3 percent vs 2.8 percent in August); miscellaneous goods (0.5 percent vs 0.6 percent) and clothing and footwear (0.4 percent vs 1.6 percent) while advanced at the same pace for food (2.4 percent). In addition, cost declined for miscellaneous services (-0.6 percent vs 1.8 percent), led by lower prices of education (-3.4 percent vs 3 percent), information and communication services (-2.8 percent vs -0.2 percent) and medical services (4.7 percent vs 5.1 percent).

In contrast, cost rose faster for transport (1.8 percent vs 1.1 percent) and recovered for alcoholic beverages and tobbaco (0.5 percent vs -0.8 percent).

A Government spokesman said that inflation pressure remained generally contained in September, thanks to slow increases in import prices and moderate local cost pressures. The spokesman commented also that looking ahead, inflation pressure is likely to remain limited in the near term but the Government will continue to monitor the inflation developments closely, particularly its impact on the lower-income people.


Thursday October 19 2017
Hong Kong Jobless Rate Steady at 3.1%
Marta Dubiel | marta.dubiel@tradingeconomics.com

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Hong Kong stood at 3.1 percent for the fourth consecutive three-month period in September of 2017. It remains the lowest jobless rate since February of 2014, as unemployment fell mainly in the professional and business services (excluding cleaning and similar activities) and retail sectors. The underemployment rate remained unchanged at 1.1 percent, the lowest level in almost two decades.

Comparing to the previous three-month period, the number of unemployed persons decreased by around 1,800 to 128,000 and the number of underemployed persons also decreased by around 1,500 to 43,700. As far as the underemployment is concerned, a decrease was recorded in the foundation and superstructure works of the construction sector, while an increase was noted in the repair, laundry, domestic and other personal service activities sector.

Meanwhile, total employment decreased by around 3,800 to 3.84 million in July-September 2017, and the labour force decreased by around 5,600 to 3.97 million.

“Barring any abrupt downturns in the external environment, labour market conditions will likely remain favourable in the near term. Yet, we will stay vigilant and closely monitor the relevant developments.”, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare said.


Tuesday September 26 2017
Hong Kong Trade Deficit Widens in August
Statistics Department of Hong Kong lLuisa Carvalho | luisa.carvalho@tradingeconomics.com

Hong Kong trade gap increased by 10.6 percent to HKD 35.53 billion in August of 2017 from a HKD 32.10 billion shortfall in the same month of the previous year, as imports rose at a faster 7.7 percent and exports advanced 7.4 percent. Considering the January to August period, the trade deficit widened to HKD 293.1 billion from HKD 264.8 billion in the same period of the previous year, with imports increasing 8.6 percent and exports rising 8.4 percent.

Year-on-year, imports surged 7.7 percent to HKD 368.2 billion in August of 2017, after a 5.5 percent gain in the previous month. Increases were recorded from major suppliers, namely the Philippines (35.7 percent); Korea (30.9 percent); Singapore (30.2 percent); Malaysia (15.4 percent); Thailand (12.9 percent) and China (3.9 percent). Meanwhile, purchases declined from India (-7.8 percent).

By commodity, imports grew for: electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (13.1 percent); office machines and automatic data processing machines (15.4 percent); petroleum, petroleum products and related materials (62.6 percent). In contrast, a decrease was registered in purchases of articles of apparel and clothing accessories (-7.6 percent).

Exports rose 7.4 percent to HKD 332.7 billion in August of 2017, after a 7.7 percent gain in the preceding month. Exports to Asia as a whole grew 10 percent, mainly to Taiwan (23.6 percent); Thailand (22.1 percent); the Philippines (15.9 percent); Japan (11.4 percent); China (10.8 percent) and Vietnam (5.7 percent) while fell to Korea (-8.3 percent). Apart from destinations in Asia, an increase was reported to Germany (6.5 percent) while decreases were seen to the United Kingdom (-18.2 percent) and the United States (-5.5 percent).

By commodity, exports advanced for: electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (11 percent); office machines and automatic data processing machines (18.9 percent) and telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment (3 percent). However, sales of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 13.1 percent.

A Government spokesman noted that merchadise exports grew notably further in August, boosted by strengthened global demand. The spokesman commented also that looking ahead, the improvement in global economic conditions should continued to support Asia and Hong Kong's export performance. However, the external environment is still under various uncertainties, particularly those arising from the US monetary policy normalisation as well possible actions by other major central banks, Brexit and possible rise of protectionist sentiment and elevated geopolitical tensions in various regions.


Thursday September 21 2017
Hong Kong Inflation Rate Slows to 1.9% in August
Census and Statistics Department | Luisa Carvalho | luisa.carvalho@tradingeconomics.com

Consumer prices in Hong Kong increased 1.9 percent year-on-year in August of 2017, easing from 2 percent in the previous month. Prices advanced at a softer pace for food and transport while rose faster for housing and miscellaneous services.

Year-on-year, prices rose less for food (2.4 percent vs 2.5 percent in July), as cost of meals bought away from home advanced at the same pace (2.7 percent) and the one of food, excluding meals away from home slowed (1.9 percent vs 2.2 percent). Also, prices advanced at a slower pace for transport (1.1 percent vs 3 percent) while fell for alcoholic beverages and tobacco (-0.8 percent vs -0.2 percent) and durable goods (-3 percent vs -3.6 percent).

In contrast, cost increased faster for: housing (2.8 percent vs 2.7 percent); miscellaneous services (1.8 percent vs 1.4 percent), of which education (3 percent vs 2.8 percent) and medical services (5.1 percent vs 4.7 percent); clothing and footwear (1.6 percent vs 0.9 percent) and miscellaneous goods (0.6 percent vs 0.5 percent).

Underlying consumer inflation, which excludes the effects of one-off government relief measures was also 1.9 percent, slightly smaller than 2 percent in July, mainly due to the decreases in inbound and outbound transport fares.


Monday September 18 2017
Hong Kong Jobless Rate Steady For 3rd Month
Census and Statistics Department | Luisa Carvalho | luisa.carvalho@tradingeconomics.com

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Hong Kong stood at 3.1 percent in the three month to August of 2017, unchanged from the previous two periods. It remains the lowest jobless rate since February of 2014. The underemployment rate also remained unchanged at 1.1 percent, the lowest level in almost two decades.

Compared to the three months to July, the number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) increased by around 1,800 to 130,000 and the number of underemployed also grew by 900 to 45,200.

Despite small movements in the unemployment rates of most of the major economic sectors when compared to the preceding three-month period, the unemployment rates of many sectors were generally lower than their year-ago levels. In particular, the tourism-related segment (retail, accomodation and food services), which stood at 4.6 percent, the lowest since the end 2015.

Total employment rose by around 7,700 to 3.8412 million and the labour force also went up to 3.9712 million from 3.9617 million in May-July 2017.

Looking ahead, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare said "While overall labour market conditions are expected to remain tight in the near term, we will stay vigilant to the potential impact of various external uncertainties".