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News from China
IMF raises China’s growth forecasts
19th April 2017

 THE International Monetary Fund yesterday raised forecasts for China’s economic growth in 2017 and 2018, citing expectations of continued policy support, but warned of potential disruptions in the medium term unless the country reduces its reliance on rapid credit growth.

 
The IMF upgraded its estimate for China’s 2017 growth to 6.6 percent from 6.5 percent, which it made in January.
 
It also raised its forecast for growth next year to 6.2 percent from the previous 6 percent.
 
While higher, the IMF estimates would equate to a slowdown from current growth rates.
 
China’s economy grew by a faster-than-expected 6.9 percent in the first quarter of this year, fueled by robust bank lending, higher government infrastructure spending and a housing market that is showing signs of overheating.
 
The IMF said China has made some progress in reducing its industrial production overcapacity, but noted that the economy continues to rely on government stimulus and rapid credit expansion to maintain growth.
 
The report cited China’s “policy preference for maintaining relatively high GDP growth,” but warned of the consequences of unbalanced growth in the medium term.
 
“The resulting persistent resource misallocation, however, raises the risk of a disruptive adjustment in China in the medium term,” which could also be exacerbated by continued capital outflows, the report said.
 
Despite vows from policy-makers to rein in financial risks and pursue more sustainable growth, China continues to depend heavily on debt and public spending to drive growth.
 
Total new credit to the economy, which includes bank lending as well as other forms of credit, rose by a record 6.93 trillion yuan in the first quarter, data showed last week.
 
Coming after China’s record 17.8 trillion yuan (US$2.6 trillion) in credit last year, analysts are skeptical that policy-makers will be able to wean the economy off years of debt-fueled growth and still hit official growth targets.
 
The Bank for International Settlements in September warned excessive credit growth in China is signaling an increasing risk of a banking crisis in the next three years.
 
China’s debt-to-GDP ratio rose to 277 percent at the end of 2016 from 254 percent the previous year, with an increasing share of new credit being used to pay debt servicing costs, according to an estimate from UBS.
 
The IMF raised its forecast for global growth for 2017 to 3.5 percent from 3.4 percent but left its estimate for 2018 growth unchanged at 3.6 percent.
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 19, 2017
Output of shale and natural gas rises
18th April 2017

 CHINA’S shale gas production surged in March while natural gas output also expanded, indicating improved energy structure as the country shifts away from reliance on traditional energy sources.

 
Shale gas output jumped 50.4 percent year on year to 1.15 billion cubic meters in March, according to National Bureau of Statistics data yesterday.
 
In the first quarter, shale gas output surged 17.4 percent year on year to 2.67 billion cubic meters.
 
The fast growth was fueled by increased production by the Changning-Weiyuan national-level shale gas pilot zone in Sichuan Province, run by China National Petroleum Corp.
 
China has been trying to improve its energy structure, shifting away from traditional energy sources such as coal. Breakthroughs have been made in shale gas exploration in capacity and drilling techniques, making China one of the top shale gas suppliers in the world.
 
By 2020, the proved reserves of shale gas will surpass 1.5 trillion cubic meters, according to plans released by authorities at the beginning of the year.
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 18, 2017
CSRC urges bourses to supervise listed firms
17th April 2017

 STOCK exchanges should conduct supervision over listed firms more proactively, China’s securities watchdog said.

 
It is the responsibility of stock exchanges to be supervising IPOs, mergers and the reorganization and delisting of listed firms, said Liu Shiyu, chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission.
 
“All players are subject to the supervision of stock exchanges, not only members and listed firms, but also intermediary institutions such as accounting firms,” Liu told a general meeting of the Shenzhen Stock Exchange on Saturday.
 
Liu pointed out that stock exchanges have the advantages of offering more comprehensive and effective supervision on listed firms.
 
“Stock exchanges should punish market irregularities without mercy,” Liu added.
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 17, 2017
Chinese economy off to good start in Q1
14th April 2017

 CHINA’S economy was off to a good start in the first quarter of this year with recovering economic vitality and market expectations, the top economic planner said yesterday.

 
“Following a positive trend in the second half of last year, the Chinese economy maintained stable yet progressive momentum,” said Yan Pengcheng, spokesman for the National Development and Reform Commission, citing latest indicators.
 
China’s electricity use, an important indicator of economic activity, rose 6.9 percent in the first quarter of the year to 1.45 trillion kilowatt-hours, he revealed at a press conference.
 
Yan especially noted that high-tech industries saw rapid rises in power use, with information transmission, computer services and software sectors recording 13.3 percent growth in energy consumption.
 
Meanwhile, China’s railway freight volume climbed 15.3 percent in the first three months, and the manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index came in at 51.8 in March, staying above 51 for a sixth consecutive month, according to Yan.
 
China’s economic growth for the first quarter is set to be released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday, which is likely to be around 6.8 percent.
 
The government trimmed its 2017 growth target to around 6.5 percent, the lowest in a quarter of a century.
 
Despite optimism on first-quarter growth, Yan said the stability and sustainability of the momentum remains to be observed as China’s economic development is still restrained by a few external and internal factors and the issue of structural imbalance.
 
He drew particular attention to the influence of commodity prices in the international market on China’s domestic prices.
 
The country’s consumer inflation grew mildly in the first quarter on the back of a firming economy, fresh data from the statistics bureau showed. But the Producer Price Index, measuring cost of goods at the factory gate, jumped 7.4 percent year on year.
 
Yan said the strong PPI growth was mostly driven by the carry-over effect of last year’s price changes and a rise in factory-gate prices in several industries such as coal and steel.
 
He expected PPI growth to peak in the first quarter as China’s aggregate demand will level off in the following quarters, given the country’s stable economic performance.
 
But future changes in commodity prices in the international market will add uncertainty to the domestic PPI trend, he said, citing recent oil price upswings due to conflicts in the Middle East.
 
Yan said the NDRC will next push the drafting of detailed plans for building the Xiongan New Area, which was brought into the public spotlight after the government announced earlier this month that it will create a brand new economic zone.
 
The blueprint will highlight both “international standards” and “Chinese characteristics,” drawing talent from home and abroad and international experience to build the area, he said.
 
On April 1, China unveiled plans to create the Xiongan New Area, about 100 kilometers southwest of Beijing.
 
The new area spans the counties of Xiongxian, Rongcheng and Anxin in Hebei Province, and is home to Baiyangdian, a major wetland in north China.
 
The new area will initially cover around 100 square kilometers and expand to 2,000 square kilometers in the long term.
 
Besides plans for the initial zone and the overall development of the Xiongan New Area, a specific plan for pollution control and environmental protection of Baiyangdian will be drafted as part of the blueprint, Yan said.
 
The NDRC promised to provide policy and funding support for the new area’s major projects in transport, ecology, water conservation, energy and public services.
 
Nationwide, the NDRC approved 56 fixed-asset investment projects with total investment of 240.9 billion yuan (US$35 billion) in the first quarter, mainly covering water conservation, energy and transport sectors.
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 14, 2017

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