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News from China
China’s CPI cools but PPI heats up
10th March 2017

 CHINA’S consumer inflation cooled in February because of lower food prices, but factory-gate inflation continued to warm.

 
The Consumer Price Index, a main gauge of inflation, rose 0.8 percent year on year in February, the lowest since January 2015 and down from January’s 2.5 percent, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday.
 
It also missed market expectations of 1.7 percent, according to a Reuters poll.
 
The CPI for January and February combined rose 1.7 percent.
 
Meanwhile, the Producer Price Index, which measures costs for goods at the factory gate, surged 7.8 percent, the fastest year-on-year increase in more than eight years.
 
The gain compared with a 6.9 percent rise in January and market hopes of 7.7 percent.
 
Sheng Guoqing, a bureau analyst, attributed the slower CPI to a high base last year and lower prices of food.
 
Prices of fresh vegetables tumbled 26 percent year on year and pork prices fell 0.9 percent, Sheng said.
 
Fewer travelers after the Chinese New Year also resulted in a 12.2 percent drop in air ticket prices month on month, a 7.7 percent decline in travel agency prices and a 3.6 percent fall in hotel rates.
 
Sheng attributed the fast growth in the PPI to a low base last year and price rise in oil and gas, which surged 85.3 percent year on year.
 
Of the 40 industries covered by the bureau, prices rose in 33 industries, flat from January.
 
Analysts said the divergence between CPI and PPI indicated very little inflation was transferred from factory gate to consumers.
 
“The high base effects of food prices last year could continue to weigh on the overall CPI in the coming months, and we forecast the PPI to soften later this year, based on our assumption of relatively stable commodity prices through 2017,” Australia and New Zealand Banking Group said in a note yesterday. “But the data back our opinion that the transfer effect should be rather weak.”
 
ANZ said the lower-than-expected CPI should alleviate the upward pressure on benchmark deposit or lending rates amid the central bank’s efforts in preventing financial risks.
 
The government kept this year’s CPI target at 3 percent and economic growth target around 6.5 percent, compared with last year’s 6.5-7 percent.
Source: Shanghai Daily, March 10, 2017
US workers’ productivity rises more slowly in Q4
9th March 2017

 The productivity of American workers grew at a slower pace in the fourth quarter and last year recorded the smallest annual gain in five years.

 
The US Labor Department said yesterday that productivity grew at a 1.3 percent annual pace from October through December, down from 3.3 percent in the third quarter. For 2016, productivity eked out a 0.2 percent increase, the smallest since a 0.1 percent gain in 2011.
 
Labor costs, which account for changes in productivity, rose at a 1.7 percent annual pace in the fourth quarter. That’s up from a 0.7 percent increase from July through September.
 
The fourth-quarter numbers were flat from an original report in February.
 
Productivity gains have slowed in recent years for reasons economists are struggling to understand. Since 2007, productivity has grown by an average 1.2 percent a year, compared with an average 2.6 percent from 2000 through 2007 and 2.1 percent from 1947 through 2016.
 
Productivity measures output per hour worked. Increases are crucial for economic prosperity. When their workers are more productive, employers can afford to pay them more. And productivity gains, along with growth in the number of people working, determine how fast the economy grows.
Source: Shanghai Daily, March 9,2017
China says US steel ruling ‘groundless’
6th March 2017

 A Chinese commerce ministry official has rejected a recent US ruling on Chinese steel product imports as “groundless.”

 
In the ruling, the United States declared that stainless steel sheet and strip imports from China are subsidized and sold in the US at less than fair value.
 
The US failed to take into consideration the evidence and documents provided by Chinese manufacturers, and its ruling is against the facts, said Wang Hejun, head of the Ministry of Commerce’s trade remedy and investigation bureau.
 
The US International Trade Commission said on Friday that it had determined that US industry is materially harmed by imports of stainless steel sheet and strip from China.
 
Difficulties facing the US steel industry mainly stem from its outdated equipment and low efficiency and are thus not related to products China has sold in the country, Wang said.
 
During the investigation, demand for Chinese-made stainless steel sheet and strip grew, and imports from China have actually helped meet the rising demand, Wang added.
 
China and the US are complementary in their steel trade, and China not only exports steel products to the country but also imports US-made steel products, Wang said.
 
China urges the US to make an objective and fair ruling to avoid negatively affecting the normal economic and trade relations between the two countries, Wang added.
 
Chinese exporters suffered a total of 20 trade remedy probes initiated by the US involving US$3.7 billion last year, up 81.1 percent and 131 percent from a year earlier respectively, the ministry said in February.
Source: Shanghai Daily, March 6, 2017
Mainland execs more optimistic this year
3rd March 2017

 CHINESE mainland business executives are more optimistic about their companies’ revenue growth amid a global recovery and opportunities emerging from the Belt and Road initiative, PricewaterhouseCoopers said yesterday.

 
PwC found 33 percent of 182 business executives, covered by the China part of its global CEO survey, said they are “very confident” about the outlook of their companies’ income in the next 12 months, up from 25 percent last year.
 
“Despite turbulence in 2016, the Chinese mainland’s chief executives ... are more confident of opportunities for growth over the next 12 months,” said Siu Fung Chan, PwC China consulting partner.
 
Meanwhile, 31 percent of China’s executives said they believe the global economy will improve over the next 12 months, higher than the global level of 29 percent.
 
But they picked uncertain economic growth, access to affordable capital and overregulation as three top concerns or risks that threaten companies’ earnings.
 
Nearly 60 percent of the mainland executives expect investment opportunities to emerge from the Belt and Road initiative, especially in infrastructure development.
 
The initiative was proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, with visions to connect Asian, European and African countries more closely and promote mutually beneficial cooperation.
Source: Shanghai Daily, March 3, 2017

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