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China’s 2015 growth slows to 6.9% as the economy rebalances away from manufacturing

Discussion in 'Fundamental Analysis' started by FXStreet_Team, Jan 19, 2016.

  1. FXStreet_Team

    FXStreet_Team Well-Known Member Trader

    Oct 7, 2015
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    FXStreet (Mumbai) - Official data released today showed China’s GDP growth in Q4 came in at 6.8 per cent, slightly lower than the 6.9 per cent growth clocked in the third quarter. The economy grew 6.9 per cent in 2015, down from 7.3 per cent growth rate achieved in 2014. Growth pace in 2015 touched a 25 year low as China looks to rebalance its economy away from the manufacturing sector and transform to a consumer-led growth model. The yearly growth rate is in line with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s forecast that China's economy will grow about 7 per cent in 2015 and services will account for half of GDP.

    China moves to a consumer and services led growth model

    Growth was noted to have slowed across sectors, be it industrial production, retail sales or fixed-asset investment. Industrial production rose 5.9 per cent in December year on year, posting one of the weakest gains in the past quarter century. Retail sales growth came in at 11.1 per cent, lower than the estimated 11.3 per cent. Fixed-asset investment expanded at the slowest pace since 2000, growing only 10 per cent in 2015.

    Electricity became more negative in 2015. Last year China's power generation fell 0.2 per cent from 2014, marking the first annual decline since 1968, Reuters reported. Housing starts on the other hand were about 14 per cent down.

    Manufacturing growth slowed to 6.0 per cent in 2015 from 2014's 7.3 per cent, while the services sector expanded by 8.3 per cent in 2015, up from 2014's 7.8 per cent. The data highlighted that China is on track to move away from manufacturing to a more consumer and services dependent growth.

    CNBC referred to the note of Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics. He wrote "The growth picture remains two-sided. The real estate construction slump and weak exports continued to weigh on activity and prices in industry, especially heavy industry. Meanwhile, though, consumption continued to expand robustly, supported by solid wage growth. This is supporting light industry and the service sector, where pricing power vastly exceeds that in heavy industry.”

    Stock market turmoil

    2015 was rough year for China. The last year saw Chinese stock market crash, yuan devaluation and a fall in foreign-exchange reserves to record low levels. The markets could not leave their woes behind in the past year. Trading had to be suspended twice in the first trading week of 2016 to avoid fresh market crash. Yuan had to be devalued too. Investors began questioning the health of the economy as the fear of slowdown gripped the markets. Louis Kuijs however feels "Notwithstanding the recent equity market turmoil, there are no signs of a more drastic slowdown."

    China’s debt, the performance of the shadow banking sector, the property market bubble and slowing down major industries have caused markets to be very worried about the overall health of the economy. These factors have stoked fears of more gloomy days ahead with respect to market reactions to weak fundamentals.

    The Chinese stock markets have suffered on account of these glaring concerns. The Shanghai Composite fell more than 20 per cent from its December high and has entered "bear within a bear" territory. It is currently trading 40 per cent down from its 52-week high seen in June 2014. The Shanghai Composite had climbed as much as 0.7 per cent before the release of the data. Post the release it erased its earlier gains to trade flat. However, it did manage to climb again as the day progressed.

    2016 to see supply side reforms along with interest rate & RRR cuts

    Last year, the policy makers responded to the slowdown by opting to ease monetary policy. Interest rates were slashed six times since end 2014. RRR cuts have been put in place. China also managed to get the yuan included in the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights basket of reserve currencies.

    In the current year, policy makers said they will concentrate on supply-side reforms which will include getting rid of excess industrial capacity and labor in state enterprises, slashing taxes and boosting production.

    Going forward economists expect policy makers will stick to their objective of achieving 6.5 per cent growth in 2016. They also see policy makers opting for more interest rate and RRR cuts as well as an expansionary fiscal policy to support the economy. JPMorgan's Aziz via CNBC said "We will see the numbers going closer to 6.5 per cent and more policy support. The policy setting has changed over the last two months. We're not going to see the kind of heartburn we saw last year."

    Zhou Hao, an economist at Commerzbank AG in Singapore said via CNBC "China’s monetary policy should remain extremely accommodative," said. "While headline growth looks fine, the breakdown of the figures points to overall weakness in the economy. More importantly, recent market turmoil warns many of the weakness of China’s economy and its financial system." Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital Investors Ltd. in Sydney also feels more stimulus measures are required to support the economy in its transition to services and consumption led growth model.
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