Apr 01

China Watch Blog has learnt that China’s economic growth is expected to ease to 8.2 percent in the first quarter of this year from 8.9 percent in the last quarter of 2011.

The China Daily reported citing a report issued on Saturday by the Bank of China saying that the country’s annual GDP growth is to rebound to 8.4 percent in the April-June period and the GDP growth rate will remain over 8 percent for the whole of 2012, just above the government’s 7.5-percent target for the year.

The consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, is expected to rise by 3.6 percent and 3.0 percent year-on-year in the first and second quarters, respectively, the report said.

The report said sluggish growth for China’s trading partners in the European Union, the United States and Japan, as well as excessive industrial capacity and shrinking domestic demand, will be major challenges for the economy this year.

Despite these challenges, China will be able to maintain stable growth courtesy of increased investment in affordable housing projects and an initiative to give private capital access to railway, public facility and financial investment, it said.

First quarter economic data, including GDP growth and CPI figures, is due for release on April 13.

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Nov 22

China Watch Blog has learnt that the Mainland China economy is expected to grow 9.2 percent in 2012, a slight drop from 9.4 percent this year, a university report forecast, raising concerns on slowdown and financial risks.

China’s economic expansion will continue the easing trend in the first half of next year, according to a report released by the Beijing-based Renmin University of China.

Growth of China’s gross domestic product (GDP) slowed to 9.1 percent in the third quarter of this year from 9.5 percent in the second quarter and 9.7 percent in the first quarter, as the government tightened monetary policy to contain inflation.

To rein in excessive price gains triggered by a credit boom, the government has made inflation control its top priority this year and adopted monetary-tightening measures. So far, the central bank has raised interest rates three times and hiked reserve requirement ratio (RRR) by six times this year.

The weakening growth has promoted the central bank to stand ready to fine-tone its monetary policy in an appropriate and timely manner to stay in line with economic changes.

The continuous economic slowdown will lead to a significant shift in the government’s macroeconomic policies, which will buoy the economy to avoid a double-dip recession, the report said.

China will face bigger slowdown in growth of real economy, rising risks in fictitious economy and worsening structure problems next year, it said.

The report said China inflation will see a marked softening next year, with full-year rise at 3.3 percent.

The nation’s consumer price index (CPI), the main gauge of inflation, increased 5.5 percent in October year-on-year, marking the slowest rise since May.

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Jul 27

China Watch Blog has learnt that Hong Kong’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) in June rose 5.6 percent year on year, higher than the 5.2 percent rise in May.

It comes as no surprise that prices have gone up as everything around us in Hong Kong and China seems to have risen in recent months following the increase in minimum wages in Hong Kong to HK$28 per hour. So, undoubtedly, many have also taken advantage of this wage increase to push up prices of all goods and services.

According to the Census and Statistics Department, the increase was mainly due to the enlarged increases in private housing rentals, as well as the charges for household services and the prices of pork.

Stripping out the effects of all the one-off relief measures from the Hong Kong government, the underlying inflation rate was 5.5 percent last month, larger than the 5.1 percent in May.

The prices for alcoholic drinks and tobacco jumped 19.9 percent due to the increase in tobacco duty by 41.5 percent; food prices advanced 10.5 percent; and housing prices climbed 6.5 percent, according to the data.

A government spokesman says that inflationary pressures remained notable, and private housing rentals and food prices were the two major driving forces accounting about 70 percent of the rate of increase in the underlying CPI in June.

The spokesman expected the economy will continue to face with upward price pressures in the coming months.

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Mar 06

China Watch Blog has learnt that China’s top priority is to stablise consumer prices this year as well as containing inflation increase at around 4 percent,  China Daily reported, citing Premier Wen Jiabao who spoke on Saturday during the parliament’s annual session.

The target, topping last year’s 3-percent aim, is 0.7 percentage points higher than the actual inflation growth rate reported in 2010.

“Recently, prices have risen fairly quickly and inflation expectations have increased. This problem concerns the people’s well being, bears on overall interests and affects social stability. We must therefore make it our top priority in macroeconomic control to keep overall price levels stable,” Wen said at the opening of the fourth session of the 11th National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s top legislature.

In Wen’s government work report, taming inflation and keeping the overall level of prices stable top the agenda of the government this year, followed by further boosting domestic demand, and strengthening the position of agriculture as the foundation of the economy.

The move signalled the government’s increasing concern about rapid price rises and its determination to solve the problem among “issues that the masses feel strongly about”.

China’s January inflation remained stubbornly high at 4.9 percent despite a series of measures taken to cap price rises. The growth accelerated from 4.6 percent in December but was lower than the 28-month high of 5.1 percent in November.

However, price pressure is still mounting. Food price, which makes up about one third of the basket of goods used to calculate China’s consumer price index (CPI), surged 10.3 percent in January.

To make the situation worse, higher grain prices after adverse weather conditions worldwide, rising oil prices, regional political tensions and turmoil and the quantitative easing policies of the United States will all add price pressures in China.

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Mar 03

China Watch Blog has learnt that China’s southern economic powerhouse Shenzhen said Thursday it would raise the minimum wage by 20 percent, following a similar move by Shanghai, as China continues to battle rising inflation and a labor shortage.

The hike, effective from April 1, would bring the minimum monthly wage in the city to 1,320 yuan ($200) from the current 1,100 yuan, the highest minimum wage in the country, Shenzhen’s Human Resources and Social Security Bureau reported.

It is Shenzhen’s largest one-time wage hike over the past 19 years, official statistics show.

A human resources official who declined to be named said the wage hike aims to make jobs in Shenzhen more attractive to solve the current labor shortage facing cities on China’s manufacturing belt on the country’s southeastern coast.

Minimum wages have been rising around the country since last year in the wake of labor shortages and surging inflation.

The consumer price index (CPI), a major gauge of China’s inflation, rose 4.9 percent in January from a year earlier as food prices increased 10.3 percent due to rising demand and a drought in key grain-growing regions.

On Wednesday, Shanghai announced that it would raise the minimum wage by 14 percent to 1,280 yuan from the current 1,120 yuan.

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Feb 08

China Watch Blog has learnt that growth in China’s manufacturing sector slowed in January amid the government’s efforts to cool price pressures, a key index released Tuesday showed.

China’s manufacturing sector purchasing managers index (PMI) fell to a five-month low of 52.9 percent in January, compared with 53.9 percent in December, the China Daily reported, citing the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing (CFLP).

The January figure means the benchmark index for economic expansion has remained above the boom-or-bust line of 50 percent for 23 consecutive months.

Analysts said authorities’ moves to cool prices prompted the PMI decline and the economic outlook remained unclear.

Zhang Liqun, a research fellow with China’s top government think-tank — the Development Research Center of the State Council — said the continued slowdown in the January PMI data showed economic uncertainty remained and the data would likely drop further in months to come.

The December manufacturing sector PMI figure fell 1.3 percentage points to 53.9 percent from November.

Sub-indices of the January manufacturing sector PMI data, which tracked the performance of production, new export orders, inventory and employment, all fell by more than 2 percentage points from December, but the purchase prices of raw materials rose.

“This showed manufacturing enterprises are facing greater pressure and more difficulty with increasing costs and shrinking orders,” Zhang said.

He Yifeng, a senior researcher who had kept tracing PMI figures with Hongyuan Securities, said the January PMI data was a good sign that the economy was slowing remarkably.

China’s consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, rose 4.6 percent year on year in December and the full-year CPI climbed 3.3 percent in 2010, exceeding the central government’s official target of 3 percent.

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Nov 23

China Watch Blog has learnt that the State Council, China’s Cabinet, has announced a number of measures to rein in rising commodity prices to ease the economic pressures on the people.

Local governments and departments are required to boost agricultural production and stabilize supply of agricultural products and fertilizer while reducing the cost of agricultural products and ensuring coal, power, oil and gas supplies, the State Council said in a seven-page circular.

Local governments must also temporarily disburse subsidies, the circular added.

Local authorities were also ordered to establish coordinated social-security mechanisms that promise a gradual rise in basic pensions, unemployment insurance and minimum wages.

China’s consumer price index (CPI), the main gauge of inflation, rose to a 25-month high of 4.4 percent in the 12 months to the end of October. The hike was mainly due to a 10.1-percent surge in food prices. Food prices have a one-third weighting in China’s CPI calculation, the China Daily reported.

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