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News from China
Survey shows strong consumer, investor confidence in Shanghai economic outlook
9th April 2019

 Shanghai's consumers and investors are increasingly confident about the city's economy, buoyed by authorities focusing on development and cutting taxes and fees, a survey released on Monday showed.

 
The latest Shanghai University of Finance and Economics quarterly Consumer Confidence in Shanghai index grew 4.8 points from the fourth quarter of 2018 to 124.5 points in the January-March period this year. That was up 6.3 points from a year earlier.
 
The Index of Investor Confidence bounced back strongly, reversing five quarters of falls. It grew 11.89 points from the fourth quarter to 113.12 points for Q1 this year.
 
But it remained flat on a yearly basis. For both indexes, a reading above 100 shows optimism; below, pessimism.
 
The increasing consumer confidence in Shanghai’s economy was attributed to Shanghai's Two Sessions held in January 2019 — the second meeting of the 13th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference Shanghai Committee and the second session of the 15th Shanghai People’s Congress — during which the city's authorities focused on promoting the steady development of the economy, said Xu Guoxiang, director of the university’s Applied Statistics Research Center.
 
The government also began cutting taxes and fees from the start of this year, reducing the burden on companies and putting more money into consumers' pockets, boosting consumer expectations on income and higher purchase intentions, Xu said.
 
The rally in the capital market also helped boost consumer confidence in the first quarter.
 
The sub-index of purchase intentions jumped sharply by 11.2 points from the previous quarter and 7.8 points from the same period in 2018 to 90.5 points.
 
The component index measuring intentions to buy homes soared to 74.8 points, 16.4 points higher than the fourth quarter and posting a year-on-year rise of 13.6 points. The intention to buy cars also posted a sharp rise to 88.2 points from 76.6 points in the previous quarter and was up 6.1 points from a year earlier.
 
The investor index was helped by the easing of trade tensions between China and the US and the plan to increase the weighting of China A-shares in the MSCI index this year, which led to strong gains in China's stock markets, Xu said.
 
The MSCI's plan to quadruple the weighting of Chinese mainland shares in its global benchmarks later this year could attract more than  US$80 billion of new foreign investment, analysts say.
 
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 9, 2019
China sees forex reserves grow 5 months in a row
8th April 2019

 China’s foreign exchange reserves rose for a fifth straight month in March, with the increase exceeding expectations, as growing optimism about the prospects for a US-China trade deal offset concerns over slowing economic growth.

 
Chinese reserves, the world’s largest, rose by nearly US$9 billion in March to US$3.099 trillion, its highest since August last year, central bank data showed yesterday.
 
Economists polled by Reuters had expected reserves in the world’s second-largest economy would rise US$5 billion to US$3.095 trillion.
 
“The US dollar index strengthened slightly in March due to China-US trade talks, the revised policy outlooks of central banks in Europe and America as well as uncertainty over Brexit,” China’s forex regulator said after the data release.
 
“China’s forex reserves expanded marginally.”
 
The State Administration of Foreign Exchange added that with the economy expected to maintain reasonable growth and improved flexibility in the yuan exchange rate, the country’s forex reserves will remain stable.
 
The yuan fell 5.3 percent against the dollar last year as trade relations with the United States deteriorated and the Chinese economy slowed. But it has rebounded over 2 percent so far in 2019 on hopes Washington and Beijing will reach an agreement to end their trade tension.
 
In March, the yuan fell 0.3 percent against the dollar due to the strength of the greenback. The dollar was up 1 percent against a basket of major currencies.
 
US and Chinese negotiators wrapped up their latest round of trade talks on Friday and were scheduled to resume discussions this week to try to secure a pact that would end a tit-for-tat tariff battle that has roiled global markets.
 
But the outlook for the dollar is expected to remain soft after the Federal Reserve last month abandoned projections for further interest rate hikes this year on signs of an economic slowdown in the United States.
 
Assuming continued dollar weakness and progress in trade talks, the yuan will likely hold on to its recent gains and appreciate modestly over the coming year, according to analysts in a new Reuters poll.
 
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday a trade deal could be announced in the next four weeks.
 
But the US trade office said on Saturday that significant work remains to be done.
 
The value of China’s gold reserves fell slightly to US$78.525 billion from US$79.498 billion at the end of February.
 
For much of last year, global investors worried about the risk of capital flight from China as the economy cooled.
 
More recently, with the dollar on the backfoot, attention has turned to how much upward pressure Chinese policy-makers will be comfortable with, as foreign inflows into the country’s financial markets look set to boost the currency.
 
Chinese stocks have rallied more than 20 percent this year on trade deal hopes, while some Chinese bonds were added on April 1 to the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index, one of the most widely tracked fixed income benchmarks.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 8, 2019
Xi says new substantial progress made on text of China-US economic and trade agreement
5th April 2019

 Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a message delivered to his US counterpart, Donald Trump, on Thursday that new substantial progress has been made on the text of the China-US economic and trade agreement in the past more than one month.

 
In the message conveyed by Chinese Vice Premier Liu He at a meeting with Trump at the White House, Xi encouraged the two sides to keep up with the spirit of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, and resolve issues of mutual concern so as to conclude the negotiations on the agreement text as soon as possible.
 
Under the current situation, a healthy and stable development of China-US relations concerns the interests of both Chinese and American people, as well as the interests of people of other countries around the world, and it needs, in particular, their strategic leadership, Xi told Trump.
 
Xi also said he is ready to keep close contact with Trump through various means, and believes that the China-US relations will make new and greater progress under their joint guidance.
 
At the meeting, Liu said the Chinese and US negotiation teams have over the past two days conducted fruitful consultations and reached new consensus on such important issues as the text of the economic and trade agreement.
 
Liu also said that the two sides, guided by the consensus reached by the two heads of state, will continue with the consultations to achieve greater progress on issues of mutual concern so as to conclude the negotiations as soon as possible and push forward the healthy and stable development of bilateral economic and trade ties.
 
Trump said that the US-China bilateral relationship now sees a sound and robust development, and is at a high level in history.
 
The US president said that he is glad to see that huge progress has been achieved in the economic and trade negotiations, and that he hopes the two sides make further efforts and resolve the remaining issues in a bid to reach a comprehensive and historic agreement as soon as possible.
 
It will not only benefit the two countries but also the whole world, he added.
 
The US president said he looks forward to meeting with Xi after the two sides reach the agreement, and to witnessing the great moment together with the Chinese leader.
 
Trump also thanked Xi for China's decision to add fentanyl-related substances to a supplementary list of controlled narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances with non-medical use, saying it is of great significance for American people and the US-China anti-drug cooperation.
 
Liu is in the United States for the ninth round of high-level economic and trade consultations between the two nations.
 
US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner attended the meeting.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 5, 2019
Rising trade tensions, lower productivity growth hurt affordability of capital goods: IMF
4th April 2019

 For three decades, improved affordability of capital goods like machinery and equipment helped countries to raise real investment and improve living standards. However, trade tensions and lower productivity could weigh on that, said an International Monetary Fund report on Wednesday.

 
In the World Economic Outlook Analytical Chapters, the global monetary cooperation facilitator highlighted the contribution of lower relative price of investment goods.
 
"Decline in the relative price of tradable investment goods has provided sizable impetus to the rise in real investment rates in machinery and equipment over the past three decades," IMF said in the report.
 
The decline was driven by faster productivity growth in capital goods production and deepening trade integration. However, both of these factors are facing challenges and threats, according to IMF.
 
IMF warned that rising trade tensions, a slowing pace of trade integration, and sluggish productivity growth posed a threat to the expansion of the world economy.
 
"Hikes in tariffs and nontariff barriers could disrupt cross-border supply chains and, by making production less efficient, slow or even reverse the downward trend in capital goods prices," the report said.
 
Even as many emerging markets and developing economies were not directly involved in the current trade tensions, they may face collateral damage if the disputes escalate, according to IMF.
 
"As net importers of capital goods, they may face higher prices of machinery and equipment and, more broadly, diminished opportunities to benefit from the cross-border spread of knowledge and technology brought on by globalization," IMF warned.
 
Besides, the sluggish productivity growth in advanced economies may lead to a further decline of capital goods prices.
 
"The pace of decline in the relative price of machinery and equipment has already slowed considerably in advanced economies in the past decade," the report said.
 
IMF also highlighted the importance of continued technological advances and innovation in capital goods production in all economies, which could lower the relative price of investment goods, and therefore "generate dividends beyond their effect on aggregate productivity growth."
 
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 4, 2019

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