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Numbers game: China’s essential indicators

By NexChange
Capital Markets

All eyes are are on China. Is the country really headed for a historic crash, or is this just a bump in road as the government shepherds China from an investment-led economy to one that is driven by consumer-demand? Investors will be focusing on some key indicators to gauge the country’s prospects:
GDP growth
This perhaps provides the best overall picture. The impact of China’s recent decision to revise down 2014 growth to 7.3%, from 7.4%, raises concerns over the economy’s health. The change is small but nonetheless significant as China  is used to making upward revisions on GDP growth. According to the Financial Times, this revision was largely attributed to the decline in the service sector - the biggest contributor to GDP.
PMI
Representing the health of the country’s manufacturing sector, China’s Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) for August slumped to a three-year-low of 49.7 from 50.0 in July, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. But that was still better than the figure given by an independent survey by China media group Caixin: 47.1.  
Retail sales growth
Retail sales growth edged down to 10.5% in July from 10.6% in June - August’s numbers will be released on Sunday. The number is expected to hold at 10.5% for last month. If this turns out to be the case, in the light of everything, the consumer spending has held up quite well.   

Exports

China’s trade data will be released tomorrow (Tuesday). According to Reuters, China's National Bureau of Statistics expects exports to swing into positive growth for August from an 8.3% drop in July - a possible indication the economy is stabilizing. That said, analysts polled by Reuters expect August exports to drop 6% compared with a year earlier.

Debt

According to the South China Morning Post, new data shows a surge in the debt run up by regional and local governments (RLGs), and it is worrying ratings agency Moody's. Official data shows RLG debt surged by more than a third between June 2013 and December 2014 to top 24 trillion yuan ($3.7 trillion), or 38% of economic output. Perhaps more than any, this number threatens to undermine China’s growth prospects.
Photo: up to 2011

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