Chinese consumers pull back, but other indicators stabilise

Business Wednesday 14/November/2018 13:22 PM
By: Times News Service
Chinese consumers pull back, but other indicators stabilise

Beijing: Chinese consumer spending slowed in October, official data showed on Wednesday, adding to worries over the world's second-largest economy, but investment and industrial production appeared to stabilise.
Concerns about China have increased in recent months after third-quarter growth came in at its slowest pace in nine years, and as trade frictions with the US have ratcheted upwards.
Chinese officials are currently engaging with their US counterparts as the two economic giants try to work out a compromise on trade ahead of President Xi Jinping's meeting with Donald Trump later this month at the G20 gathering.
The National Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday that retail sales slowed to an 8.6 per cent year-on-year increase in October, slightly short of estimates and down from 9.2 per cent in September.
The NBS blamed the deceleration on consumers holding off from making purchases until Singles Day, China's annual discount shopping bonanza that was held on November 11.
"Given uncertain and unstable factors abroad, there are concerns over the slower though stable economic development which is facing downward pressure," bureau spokeswoman Liu Aihua told a news briefing.
"The world economy and trade growth momentum have weakened while international financial markets have been turbulent."
Exports to the major United States market have held up so far but analysts forecast a dimming picture in the months ahead, reinforcing the need for China to rely on its legions of domestic consumers to grow the economy.
The trade row with the US has sapped market confidence, dragging down Chinese equities and the yuan currency.
On the positive side, fixed-asset investment, a key economic driver, showed signs of rebounding.
It expanded 5.7 per cent on-year for the first ten months of the year, picking up after hitting record lows this summer as Beijing's push to get big projects moving this autumn lifted infrastructure spending.
Output at factories and workshops ticked up 5.9 per cent in October, an improvement on the 5.8 per cent in September, according to the NBS, and ahead of the 5.8 per cent forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.
"Despite the uptick in industrial output and investment, we doubt that economic growth has bottomed out just yet," Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics wrote in a research note.
He said local governments had held off on issuing bonds in recent weeks as they face budget limits.
"US tariffs have, if anything, acted as a prop to exports recently (due to front-loading by US importers) but are set to become a drag early next year," he said.