Thursday, 12 November 2009

Strong data from China, currency may rise

China reported a strong set of economic numbers on Wednesday. From AFP/CNA:

China said Wednesday that massive government spending was paying off as a new wave of data showed the world's third-largest economy continued to strengthen, following the worst global crisis in decades.

Industrial production and retail sales picked up pace in October, while demand for Chinese exports improved, official data showed, putting the government's growth target of eight per cent well within reach for 2009...

China's industrial output, which shows activity in the millions of factories and workshops around the country, expanded by 16.1 per cent in October from a year ago.

Exports fell 13.8 per cent to US$110.76 billion on-year in October - the best result since exports dropped by 2.8 per cent in December 2008 as the worldwide crisis began to set in.

Retail sales - the main measure of consumer spending, which the government sees as a key factor in boosting the economy - rose 16.2 per cent in October from a year ago, up from 15.5 per cent in September...

Fixed-asset investment in urban areas rose 33.1 per cent in the January to October period, the statistics bureau said, after growing 33.3 per cent in the first three quarters of 2009.

The nation's consumer price index, the main gauge of inflation, fell 0.5 per cent in October compared with the same month a year earlier, after falling 1.1 per cent in the first nine months of the year.

New Chinese bank loans dropped to 253.0 billion yuan (US$37.1 billion) in October, the lowest monthly level since the beginning of the year, the central bank said.

With the economy apparently returning to strong growth, China may be about to let its currency appreciate. From Reuters:

China sent its clearest signal yet that it was ready to allow yuan appreciation after an 18-month hiatus, saying on Wednesday it would consider major currencies, not just the dollar, in guiding the exchange rate.

In its third-quarter monetary policy report, the People's Bank of China departed from well-worn language on keeping the yuan "basically stable at a reasonable and balanced level." It hinted instead at a shift from an effective dollar peg that has been in place since the middle of last year.

"Following the principles of initiative, controllability and gradualism, with reference to international capital flows and changes in major currencies, we will improve the yuan exchange rate formation mechanism," the central bank said in a 46-page monetary policy report.

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