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News from China
Economic growth slows to 6.9%
20th October 2015

 CHINA’S economy beat market expectations in the third quarter by growing 6.9 percent, although that was the slowest in six years, National Bureau of Statistics data showed yesterday.
The country’s gross domestic product was 48.77 trillion yuan (US$7.7 trillion), up 6.9 percent year on year.
Sheng Laiyun, a bureau spokesman, said economic fundamentals remained stable.
“China’s economic growth still moved within a reasonable range, in line with the government target,” Sheng said. “Besides, the employment and people’s income expanded faster than expected, while the service sector also outperformed the overall growth, indicating an optimized economic structure.”
China has set a growth target of around 7 percent for this year, lower than the previous goal of 7.5 percent, after authorities proclaimed a “new normal” of slower expansion but higher quality.
Growth was led by the service sector, which gained 8.4 percent to 25.08 trillion yuan in the first nine months. The manufacturing sector added 6 percent to 19.78 trillion yuan, while agriculture rose 3.8 percent to 3.91 trillion yuan.
People’s disposable income gained 9.2 percent to 16,367 yuan, with rural earnings rising faster than those of urban residents by 1.1 percentage points. The country also achieved its full-year target of creating 10 million jobs by the end of September.
Some economists had expected growth to dip as low as 6.6 percent, after 7 percent in each of the first two quarters.
“China’s third-quarter growth surprised on the upside thanks to a robust service sector,” said Zhu Haibin, chief economist for China at JP Morgan. “But details of the activity data were mixed and somewhat disappointing.”
Industrial production increased 6.2 percent, down 0.1 percentage points to that in the first half of the year. Factories reported an expansion of 5.7 percent in September alone, decelerating from August’s 6.1 percent.
Fixed-asset investment grew 10.3 percent to 39.45 trillion yuan during the first nine months, weakening from the increase of 11.4 percent in the first six. Capital flowing into the property sector rose 2.6 percent, compared to the pace of 4.6 percent in the first half.
Retail sales, a broad gauge of domestic consumption, accelerated 10.5 percent to 21.6 trillion yuan in the first three quarters, slightly better than the first half’s 10.4 percent rise.
One highlight was the online spending, which surged 36.2 percent to 2.59 trillion yuan in the first nine months. In September, retail sales rose 10.9 percent.
Liu Ligang, chief economist for China at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, said the third-quarter growth did not alleviate concerns over China’s economy because domestic activity indicators remained low last month.
“We expect GDP growth to remain largely stable in the fourth quarter on the back of supportive policies. Funding constraints on investments have been relaxed as the central bank eased monetary policy and fiscal policy becomes more proactive,” Liu said.
“Meanwhile, continued warm-up of the property market should also help drive the economy back on track. We expect the fourth-quarter growth could be 6.8 percent, leading to a full-year growth of 6.8 percent,” Liu said.
Earlier data showed that China’s trade volume had contracted 7.9 percent in the first three quarters, far behind the government target of an increase of around 6 percent for the year.
The official Purchasing Managers’ Index, a gauge of conditions in the state-owned manufacturing sector, landed at 49.8 in September, pointing at weakening industrial activities for the second straight month.
The Asian Development Bank last month lowered its forecast of China’s 2015 economic growth rate to 6.8 percent.

Source: Shanghai Daily
Infrastructure spending key to stability in GDP growth
19th October 2015

 INCREASED infrastructure investment is key to stabilizing China’s economic growth, a top state advisor said yesterday, while calling on the central bank to lower the cost of financing for companies and increase overall credit.
“Keeping relatively high growth of infrastructure investment is key to stabilizing economic growth” since property and manufacturing investment remains weak, said Yu Bin, head of the micro economy research department at the State Council’s Development Research Center.
China needs to speed up its 172 hydropower projects, develop 53 million hectares of high-standard agricultural land and lift investment in rural roads, Yu said.
His comments, coming a day before the government is due to release third-quarter gross domestic product growth figures, were published in the government-owned Economic Daily yesterday.
Many economists expect China to report that July-September economic growth fell below 7 percent for the first time since the global financial crisis.
Premier Li Keqiang said on Saturday that with the global economic recovery losing steam, achieving domestic growth of around 7 percent is “not easy”.
President Xi Jinping also acknowledged “concerns about the Chinese economy” but sought to allay them in a written interview with Reuters.
The government has taken several measures in recent months to accelerate construction investment, in part by attracting private financing through the increased used of public-private partnerships.
The Ministry of Finance in September published details for 206 proposed PPP projects, worth a total of 659 billion yuan (US$104 billion), including an expressway in Beijing.
The ministry last month also launched a 180 billion yuan fund with China’s biggest banks and financial institutions to invest in PPP projects.
Yu also called for the central bank to be alert to macro-economic adjustments, lower the cost of finance for companies and allow for credit growth, while maintaining a prudent monetary policy.
“Given the short-term rising downward pressure, it does not benefit China’s structural adjustment if economic growth is too slow or too fast,” he said.
China has already launched several measures to drive economic growth since late 2014, including cutting interest rates five times since November and lowering bank reserve requirement ratio.

Source: Shanghai Daily
China’s FAI reaches US$285b
16th October 2015

 CHINA’S fixed-asset investment hit 1.81 trillion yuan (US$285 billion) in the first nine months of this year as the country seeks to provide a lift to the economy, the National Development and Reform Commission said yesterday.
The NDRC, the country’s top economic planner, approved 84 transport infrastructure projects with investments of 991 billion yuan in China in the January-September period. The government aims to use the investments in public transport to boost its economy and balance regional development, said Li Pumin, secretary-general of the NDRC.
To encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, 20.8 billion yuan was invested in high-tech and information in the same period, Li said.
He said 166.9 billion yuan had been invested in China’s public service sector in the first three quarters as part of government efforts to improve public infrastructure in remote regions.
Foreign investment in China rose 9 percent to US$94.9 billion in the same period, Li said.

Source: Shanghai Daily
Consumers upbeat as spending up
15th October 2015

CHINESE consumer sentiment rose in September for the first time in four months as people spent more during the Mid-Autumn Festival and the weeklong National Day holiday, according to a report yesterday.
The Bankcard Consumption Confidence Index added 0.33 points from August to 82.4 last month, China UnionPay said in the report.
Spending on alcohol and tobacco added 23.6 percent from a month ago due to more dining feasts during the holidays.
A recent rebound in the property market also boosted the sales value of home appliances by 39 percent from the same period a year ago. The value also rose 4.5 percent from that during the Labor Day holiday this year.
Bankcard owners also spent 35.12 percent more at public schools and education institutions from a month ago with the start of the new semester.
Spending at supermarkets and on household merchandise also rose, the report said.
 

Source: Shanghai Daily

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