While some of the Chinese activity indicators might have perked up, there is no hiding from the disinflationary pressure stalking China’s economy. April CPI dropped back to 3.3% yoy (4.3% in March) while PPI sunk to -3.1% from -1.5% in the previous month. And the problem would be even worse were it not for persistent food price pressures as the impact of the earlier swine flue epidemic continues to pressure meat prices. Indeed, CPI ex-food is now running at just 0.6%.
There is little sign of a slowdown in credit growth in China as the authorities continue to try and drive cash into the disrupted economy. Total social financing came in at a robust CNY3.09trn while overall new loan growth hit CNY1.701trn. This marks a significant pick up in credit creation, with household debt up nearly 2% pts of GDP since the end of last year while NFC bank debt has jumped from 95% to 102% of GDP.
Total Covid-19 infections may just have broken the two million barrier globally. But there are encouraging signs that, at least in some places, active cases have already peaked. Scientists’ understanding of the disease is still in its infancy and there are many questions we don’t yet have clear answers to. In particular, if we’re all exposed to the same disease, why is there such a wide variation in apparent infection, fatality and recovery rates from country to country?
Following on from our recent reports on the Wuhan Cornonavirus, the following spreadsheet offers a detailed breakdown of infections, spread and fatalities. This will be updated on an ongoing basis.
China looks to have the Coronavirus (COVID-19) under control. The rate of daily infections has been on a clear downward trend since the start of the month, suggesting the initial measures to quarantine areas were largely effective. As knowledge and understanding improves, it seems highly unlikely this is a temporary lull, even if economic disruptions surrounding the outbreak become more prolonged.
Chinese January credit data came in quite a bit stronger than expected, amid firm new loan growth and local government spending, which contributed to significantly a higher overall total social financing number (CNY5.7trn vs. the CNY4.3trn consensus). Chinese New Year fell earlier this year, but it’s not clear if that accounts for the strong outcome.
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The improvement in the surveys continues to provide a realistic guide to Chia’s improving fortunes with the December real activity data corroborating this picture. The strong recovery in industrial production is most noticeable, with y/y rate jumping to 6.9%, the highest since March
China December money supply ticked up, reflecting easier financial conditions. We also saw solid growth in total social financing, which came in ahead of expectations. The authorities have been keen to avoid an overt debt splurge, trying to generate more targeted easing, particularly focusing on transmission to SMEs in the private sector. These numbers suggest this has been a partial success...
The strong upswing in Chinese consumer price inflation in November has a very straightforward explanation. The swine flu epidemic and the devastation this has inflicted on Chinese pig herds – reducing total numbers by over 40%. Indeed, meat prices are up 74% yoy, driven by pork which is now up 110% compared to the same period last year.
UK Russia dossier a bit of a non-event. Attracted some media attention but sources suggest that the content is largely benign. The main criticisms contained within was that the UK was ill-equipped to deal with this type of interference, largely because they had not expected it. Seems a little surprising that the PM would veto publication given the content. There is nothing that screams conspiracy.
Quite a slowdown in credit growth during October, certainly compared to the rate we saw last year. While the trend for shadow sector deleveraging continues there was also quite a sharp slowing of bank loans. Corporate bond issuance remained muted while there was a pronounced deceleration in the ‘other’ category, which now encompasses local government bond issuance.
While China’s 3Q GDP number was a little lower than expectations at 6.0% y/y the monthly production and activity series for September all improved. Retail sales growth picked up to 7.8% y/y from 7.5% while industrial activity rebounded to 5.8% y/y from 4.4% in August. Investment was perhaps the one area of disappointment, growth slowing to 5.4% y/y despite a further modest pick up on the State Owned side.
China’s trade balance continues to improve, a function of persistent weakness for imports which again outweighed soft, if patchy, export demand. The locus of the export demand problem remains the US which is being offset by ongoing growth from the Eurozone and parts of Asia, the exceptions being Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, which have continued to contract.
Chinese August money supply and credit data was in line with market expectations. Money supply growth remains stable. Even if M2 was fractionally above estimates the broad money growth rate has been basically static for the past eighteen months. On the credit side loan growth picked up a little from last month, but overall not that different to what we saw this time last year.
Stronger than expected rise in credit during June with the culprit appearing to be an increase in local government bond issuance, reflecting official efforts to support the domestic economy. Loan growth continues to run well ahead of nominal GDP. And with no underlying pick up in money supply growth the velocity measures also remain weak.
Consumer prices remained steady in June with prices actually falling m/m, which kept the y/y rate at 2.7%. The backdrop would have been more encouraging had swine flu not taken its toll on meat prices while fresh fruit and vegetables have also soared over the past few months.
Money supply growth remains steady. Credit growth has quickened a touch from April but overall there isn’t much evidence that the governments stimulus efforts have opened the credit spigots, particularly the private sector. Debt is growing a little faster than GDP again, but not markedly.
China recorded a larger than expected trade surplus in May, but mainly due to weakness on the import side rather than any underlying improvement in export performance.