Quantcast
Connect with us

China factory activity shrinks for first time in over two years, 2019 looks tougher

Published

on

China’s factory activity contracted for the first time in over two years in December, highlighting the challenges facing Beijing as it seeks to end a bruising trade war with Washington and reduce the risk of a sharper economic slowdown in 2019.

The increasing strain on factories signals a continued loss of momentum in China, adding to worries about softening global growth, especially if the Sino-U.S. dispute drags on.

ADVERTISEMENT

Trade frictions are already disrupting global supply chains, fuelling concerns of a bigger blow next year to world trade, investment and shaky financial markets.

The official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) – the first snapshot of China’s economy each month – fell to 49.4 in December, below the 50-point level that separates growth from contraction, a National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) survey showed on Monday.

It was the first contraction since July 2016 and the weakest reading since February 2016. Analysts had forecast it would dip to 49.9 from 50.0 the previous month.

China is expected to roll out more economic support measures in coming months on top of a raft of initiatives this year. A prolonged downturn in the factory sector, key for jobs, would likely spark further attempts to juice domestic demand.

In November, industrial output rose the least in nearly three years, while earnings growth at industrial firms fell for the first time in nearly three years.

ADVERTISEMENT

A PMI sub-index on overall factory output prices fell to 43.3 in December from 46.4, signaling earnings erosion. A gauge on overall production fell to 50.8, the lowest since February, from 51.9.

New orders – an indicator of future activity – continued to soften, reinforcing views that business conditions in China will likely get worse before they get better.

A sub-index for total new orders contracted for the first time in at least a year, falling to 49.7 amid persistently weak demand at home and softening global growth.

ADVERTISEMENT

New export orders shrank for a seventh straight month, with the sub-index falling to 46.6 from 47.0.

TRADE WAR UNCERTAINTIES
Many analysts doubt that Beijing and Washington can bridge their many differences and reach a comprehensive trade deal in the latest round of talks.

ADVERTISEMENT

U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed early this month to a 90-day ceasefire that delayed a planned Jan. 1 U.S. increase of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods while the two sides negotiate.

Trump said over the weekend that a possible trade deal was progressing well, but few concrete details have emerged.

The trade war has resulted in billions of dollars of losses for both sides this year, hitting industries from autos and technology to U.S. agriculture.

ADVERTISEMENT

“There are many short-term orders from overseas but few long-term orders received by Chinese factories as caution remains amid the trade uncertainties,” said Nie Wen, economist at Hwabao Trust in Shanghai.

“The medium to long-term export prospect is not optimistic particularly.”

Warehouses across the U.S. are bursting with Chinese goods after retailers stocked up before fresh tariffs, suggesting little chance of a near-term export rebound even if a trade deal is reached.

CONSUMER CAUTION
One bright spot in the downbeat data was a modest pick-up in the services sector. The official non-manufacturing PMI rose to 53.8 from 53.4.

ADVERTISEMENT

While that offers some cushion – services account for over half of the economy – consumers remain cautious.

China’s auto sector has been particularly hard hit. Sales in the world’s biggest auto market are on track to fall for the first time since at least 1990.

“Last December we saw overall China carmakers’ capacity utilization rate at around 56 percent, but now we estimate it is roughly 50 percent,” Shanghai-based senior analyst Alan Kang at LMC Automotive told Reuters. “Carmakers in general are cutting production.”

China’s stock market tumbled about 25 percent in 2018, while the yuan has lost around 5 percent versus the dollar.[CNY/]

ADVERTISEMENT

There are also signs China’s booming e-commerce may have started to moderate, with the country’s express delivery sector seeing slightly slower revenue growth towards year-end.

The courier sector raked in 542.88 billion yuan ($79 billion) in revenue from January-November, up 22.3 percent from a year earlier, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Monday, citing the State Post Bureau (SPB).

That was slower than 23.5 percent growth in the first 10 months, and less than the 24.7 percent clip for all of 2017.

Beijing says China is still on track to hit its growth target of around 6.5 percent, down from 6.9 percent in 2017, but the economy is expected to lose a few more steps next year.

The World Bank predicts growth will slow to 6.2 percent in 2019, still robust by global standards but the weakest expansion in nearly 30 years.

ADVERTISEMENT

($1 = 6.8755 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Ryan Woo and Lusha Zhang; Additional reporting by Yilei Sun; Editing by Sam Holmes and Kim Coghill


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

CNN

Carl Bernstein: There are 7-9 ‘wobbly’ Republicans who want witnesses but Mitch McConnell is trying to block them

Published

on

In a CNN panel discussion Wednesday, notorious Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein revealed that there are seven to nine Republican senators who are wavering after the compelling argument that the House has provided for the impeachment. The problem, however, is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is refusing to allow any break from the party line.

"I think this is a hugely damaging narrative that was laid out today, and that Mitch McConnell understands, and has understood for a while that this hugely damaging narrative was going to affect his members," said Bernstein. "And that his strategy -- I've talked to some Republicans about this -- #MidnightMitch is to wear out his own members so that they don't vote for more witnesses because there are six, seven, eight, nine wobbly Republicans."

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Republican Kevin McCarthy gets taken down by former top GOP colleague

Published

on

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) was attacked by a former Republican colleague who alleged McCarthy and his fellow members of Congress have allowed the House GOP to become the official shill for the White House.

In a profile for the New York Times, former Oversight Committee Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) shamed the GOP House for the way that a once-respectable institution has fallen.

“Congress no longer operates as an independent branch of government, but as an appendage of the executive branch,” said Davis. “He is made for that role.”

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Former senator reveals to Maddow how one brave Democrat can reveal key document in impeachment trial

Published

on

Near the end of Wednesday's impeachment trial, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that an agreement had been made to allow senators to read supplemental testimony from Vice President Mike Pence aide Jennifer Williams.

The document will remain classified, despite claims that there is no classified material in the document, only evidence that is damning to the president.

"In terms of this document potentially being improperly classified, which is something that has been raised in writing by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and raised on the floor of the Senate tonight by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)," MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow noted. "Obviously, it was the vice president's office that said it was classified, they are getting publicly criticized for that. If it has been improperly classified and it should be something that the public can see, who adjudicates that?"

Continue Reading
 
 
Help Raw Story Uncover Injustice. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1 and go ad-free.
close-image