China economy on track for strong March performance: China Beige Book

China economy on track for strong March performance: China Beige Book

Employees work on a battery production line at Jiangsu Yongda Power Supply Co. in Suqian, Jiangsu Province of China, March 26, 2024.

Vcg | Visual China Group | Getty Images

BEIJING – China’s economy is ending the first quarter on a “strong” note, according to a business survey released by China Beige Book on Thursday.

“The economy improved significantly in March thanks to better industrial activity and higher retail spending,” said Shehzad H. Qazi, chief operating officer at China Beige Book, a U.S.-based research firm.

China’s official retail sales, industrial production and fixed investment data for January and February beat expectations across the board. Figures for the first two months of the year are typically reported together to account for the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, which follows the agricultural calendar.

The China Beige Book said it surveyed 1,436 companies between March 1 and March 23, broadly divided into state-owned and non-state-owned companies.

“China Beige Book March data shows the economy is poised for a strong end to the first quarter,” the report said. “Sales growth accelerated last month while price increases boosted margins.”

The National Bureau of Statistics is scheduled to release first quarter data on April 16.

China said earlier this month that it was targeting growth of about 5% for the year. Some analysts said it was an ambitious target given the current size of government stimulus measures announced.

The China Beige Book noted that companies have cut back on borrowing due to higher interest rates, but also observed signs of a pause in lending.

“Market watchers largely missed the significant monetary easing we saw last year, and now some lenders may be putting the brakes on,” the report said.

Employment is improving

“Employment experienced the longest increase since the end of 2020,” the report said, noting that job growth increased in all sectors except services.

Retail spending rose in all subsectors except luxury goods, the report said.

In the real estate sector, the report said that while there was still a decline in sales in the residential sector, there was a significant improvement in commercial sales and construction.

The manufacturing sector has seen production and domestic orders rise since February, but export orders fell, the report said.

Official data showed that investment in real estate fell 9% in the first two months of the year compared to a year ago. Investment in infrastructure increased by 6.3% during the period, while manufacturing saw an increase of 9.4%.

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2024-03-27 22:00:01