Industrial output unexpectedly fell 2.9% in April from April 2021, China’s National Bureau of Statistics reported today. Retail sales contracted 11.1%. Economists had projected a 6.6% drop. The unemployment rate climbed to 6.1% and the youth jobless rate hit a record. Monday’s data suggests China’s gross domestic product declined 0.68% in April from a year ago, the first contraction since February 2020,
The Chinese government has promised more stimulus to prop up growth in the country’s economy and the Politburo has indicated that, at least temporarily, it will slow the pace of its regulatory crack down on China’s Internet companies. The combination, as I posted in today’s Quick Pick YouTube video, has launched a huge rally in China’s Internet and e-commerce stocks. As of 3 p.m. on Friday, April 29, the New York traded shares of Tencent Holdings (TCEHY) wee up 8.95%. JD.com (JD) hadgained 7.72%. And Ablibaba (BABA), the big name among foreign investors and the leading target of government regulators is up 8.26%. On this trend, I’m adding shares of Alibaba to my JubakPicks Portfolio today
China’s President Xi Jinping has vowed to boost China’s economy, struggling under the impact of widespread Covid-19 lockdowns and a collapse in the property development sector, by pushing more infrastructure spending into the economy. This has been China’s tried and true first response to faltering growth. But this time it seems unlikely to work.
China expanded coronavirus testing to most of Beijing as rising cases fuel fears about an unprecedented lockdown of the capital. Officials on Monday night said testing would take place in another 11 of Beijing’s 16 districts, moving beyond just Chaoyang, where most of the infections have been detected since Friday. The city of more than 20 million people has already locked down parts of the eastern district of Chaoyang, home to 3.5 million people, with plans to ease restrictions after residents complete a testing regimen on April 27. The bad news from Beijing added to new bad news from a locked down Shanghai
Forget about all the hoopla over Tesla (TSLA) founder Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter (TWTR). (If you can.) On Wednesday, when the electric car leader announces first quarter 2022 earnings the story will be China, China, China.
China’s Premier Li Keqiang issued a third warning about risks to economic growth. Authorities should “add a sense of urgency” when implementing existing policies, Li told local authorities at a seminar Monday. China will study and adopt stronger economic policies as needed to support the economy, he said.
China’s official purchasing managers’ index (PMI) fell to 49.5 in March, the government announced on Wednesday. In this index any reading below 50 signals that the sector is in contraction. This is the first time in five months that this index has shown China’s manufacturing sector to be in contraction.
The cause is obvious: In pursuit of its Zero Covid-19 policy China has locked down major technology and factory cities to combat a surge in infections. China’s manufacturing activity contracted in March as authorities locked down major technology and factory hubs, including Shenzhen (technology), and Changchun (automobiles) and Shanghai (finance), to curb a surge in Covid cases. The bad news in the bad news? The PMI survey period ended with March 25, three days before the lockdown in Shanghai.
In the coming week I expect global stock market action to shift to China. With every other stock market looking almost too risky to invest in, and the recent advice to invest in emerging market stocks, China’s short-term story looks (relatively) very attractiveAt the opening of China’s weekend session of the country’s legislature on Saturday, China’s premier, Li Keqiang, announced that the 2020 growth target for the country’s economy was “around 5.5 percent.”
Beijing adds cash to financial system, promises bigger tax transfers to boost economy (and local governments)
The People’s Bank of China increased its cash injections into the financial system via reverse repos to 100 billion yuan ($15.8 billion). That resulted in a net injection of 90 billion yuan. The PBOC had been draining cash in the last two weeks, which is routine following the Lunar New Year holiday.
Output from China’s manufacturing sector slowed to its weakest in almost two years in January, according to the Caixin/Markit Purchasing Managers Index. The index dropped to 49.1 in January from 50.9 in December. In the index a reading below 50 indicates that output is contracting rather than expanding. The January level is the weakest since February 2020 when much of the country was on lockdown during the first wave of the Covid-19 virus.
Today, the People’s Bank of China cut its key interest rate for the first time in almost two years to help support China’s economy. The People’s Bank of China lowered the rate at which it provides one-year loans to banks by 10 basis points. Not a huge move–100 basis points equals one percentage point–but earlier than many economists–and I–had anticipated.
Economists predict that China will add significant stimulus to its economy early in 2022. That’s just speculation at this point but it makes very solid sense given: 1. The likely slowdown in China’s economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2021. 2. A likely official growth target for 2022 of 5% or more 3. The Chinese Communist Party’s sense that ideology is no longer enough to keep China’s people fully behind Party rule and that growth of better than 5% is is a key part of the Party’s contract with the average Chinese citizen.