China's Economy Gently Rises, Though Real Estate Remains Soft



by FARUK IMAMOVIC

China's Economy Gently Rises, Though Real Estate Remains Soft
China's Economy Gently Rises, Though Real Estate Remains Soft © Getty Images News/China Photos

Economic indicators out of China for August presented a mixed bag for analysts and investors alike. Data suggested that while there are visible signs of economic recovery, some sectors, notably real estate, remain in the doldrums.

Industrial Production and Retail Sales on the Rise

August witnessed a significant uptick in industrial production. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), output from sectors like manufacturing and mining increased by 4.5% from a year earlier.

This is a notable jump from the 3.7% growth observed in July. Retail sales, a critical measure of consumption, also saw a promising surge. These sales expanded by 4.6%, compared to the rather lukewarm 2.5% increase in the previous month.

Larry Hu, the chief economist for Greater China at Macquarie Group, offers a ray of hope. Despite the prevailing sentiment of "widespread pessimism," Hu believes that China, the globe's second-largest economy, might be past the worst of its challenges.

The nation has been wrestling with weak export demand and a significant slump in the real estate sector. Yet, Hu remarked, “Going forward, the headline growth numbers could improve on policy support and base effects, but the pace will be modest."

Stock Markets Respond with Optimism

The Asian stock market landscape responded positively to the fresh economic data.

The MSCI's broad index of regional shares saw an increase of almost 1% by midday trade. Further cementing the positive sentiment, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index surged by 1.5%, while Japan’s Topix recorded a 0.8% growth.

Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management, captured the cautious optimism in the air. "There’s a growing sense of optimism among a cohort of investors," Innes noted. These investors are buoyed by Beijing's recent strategies aimed at bolstering the economy and stabilizing the financial markets.

However, Innes also emphasized prudence: “However, it’s essential to exercise caution, as it’s still early in this process, and a single month of positive data isn’t sufficient to confirm a sustained path to recovery."

China