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News from China
Chinese economy expands 6.4% in Q1
17th April 2019

 The Chinese economy expanded 6.4 percent year on year in the first quarter of this year, official data showed Wednesday.

China's GDP reached 21.343 trillion yuan (US$3.18 trillion) in the first three months of 2019, and the growth pace was the same as that of Q4 2018, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement.
The tertiary sector reported the strongest growth in added value by expanding 7 percent to reach 12.232 trillion yuan, which accounted for 57.3 percent of the total Q1 GDP, picking up by 0.6 percentage points compared with Q1 2018.
Consumption continued to be the mainstay in driving up demand, contributing 65.1 percent to Q1 economic growth, NBS data showed.
The industrial and agricultural sectors saw their added value grow 6.1 percent and 2.7 percent respectively.
Wednesday's data also showed stable Q1 growths in fields including industrial output, retail sales, property investment and resident disposable income.
The national economy performed within an appropriate range in Q1, sustaining the momentum of progress in overall stability with growing positive factors, which laid a sound foundation for the stable and healthy economic development of the whole year, the NBS statement said.
A string of economic data have shown notably improved market expectation with strengthened development confidence.
Factory activities became expansionary in March after staying below the threshold for three months, while the services sector continued to expand. The Q1 Consumer Confidence Index was 3.2 percentage points higher than that of Q4 2018.
The NBS also pointed out that the task of reform and development is arduous and the economic downward pressure still persists given global uncertainties and domestic structural issues.
The government will fully mobilize the initiative of all sectors of the society, and redouble efforts to implement policies to ensure the economy performs within an appropriate range and advance the high-quality development, the NBS said.
Industrial output
China's industrial output, an important economic indicator, expanded 6.5 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2019, official data showed Wednesday.
The growth rate came in 1.2 percentage points higher than that recorded in the January-February period, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Ownership analysis showed that in the first quarter, industrial output of state-holding enterprises and share-holding firms went up 4.5 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, industrial output of enterprises funded by overseas investors increased by 1.4 percent.
The industrial production saw faster growth in the first quarter, with more presence of high-tech industries, the NBS said in a statement.
High-tech industries maintained fast expansion, with their output increasing 7.8 percent year on year, up 0.8 percentage points from a year earlier.
New products saw robust growth, as the production of mobile communication base station equipment, urban rail vehicles, new energy vehicles, and solar panels increased 153.7 percent, 54.1 percent, 48.2 percent and 18.2 percent, respectively.
In March alone, industrial output increased 8.5 percent year on year, a record-high since July 2014, up 3.2 percentage points from the January-February period.
Industrial output, officially called industrial value added, is used to measure the activity of designated large enterprises with an annual turnover of at least 20 million yuan (US$2.9 million).
Retail sales
China's retail sales of consumer goods rose 8.3 percent year on year in the first quarter of the year, official data showed Wednesday.
The growth quickened from an increase of 8.2 percent registered in the first two months.
Disposable income
China's per capita disposable income stood at 8,493 yuan in the first three months, up 6.8 percent year on year in real terms, official data showed Wednesday.
The growth rate was 0.2 percentage points higher than the same period last year.
Fixed-asset investment
China continued to see faster growth in fixed-asset investment thanks to robust high-tech investment in the first quarter of 2019, official data showed Wednesday.
FAI grew 6.3 percent year on year in Q1, 0.2 percentage points faster than the first two months of 2019 and 0.4 percentage points faster than the whole year of 2018, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Compared with the same period of last year, the growth was down 1.2 percentage points.
In March, FAI rose 0.45 percent from the previous month.
The FAI in Q1 amounted to 10.187 trillion yuan (US$1.5 trillion), according to the NBS.
"Investment has steadily recovered, with that in high-tech industries recording relatively fast growth," the NBS said in a statement.
In Q1, investment in high-tech manufacturing and services posted vigorous gains of 11.4 percent and 19.3 percent year on year, respectively.
Private investment, accounting for around 60 percent of the total FAI, posted a 6.4-percent year-on-year increase, also outpacing the overall growth, the NBS data showed.
Investment in the primary and secondary industries rose 3 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively, while that in the tertiary industry went up 7.5 percent.
Wednesday's data also showed steady expansion in the broader economy, as the country's GDP grew 6.4 percent year on year in Q1, level with that of Q4 2018 and within the government annual target of 6-6.5 percent.
Source: Shanghai Daily, APril 17, 2019
China's central SOEs report steady profit growth in Q1
16th April 2019

 China's centrally administered state-owned enterprises reported steady profit growth in the first quarter of 2019, official data showed Tuesday.

The combined profits of China's central SOEs saw a year-on-year increase of 13.1 percent to 426.5 billion yuan (US$63.6 billion) in the first three months, according to the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.
In March alone, the profits of central SOEs stood at 188.28 billion yuan, up 10.8 percent from the same period last year.
SOEs in sectors such as mining and construction outperformed the others during Q1, according to the state asset regulator.
For the January-March period, central SOEs reported combined revenue of 6.8 trillion yuan, up 6.3 percent from a year earlier.
Central SOEs have made 384.02 billion yuan of fixed asset investment in Q1, up 9.7 percent from a year earlier, 8.8 percentage points higher than that of the same period of 2018, the regulator said.
Source: Shanghai Daily, APril 16, 2019
Beijing tries to tackle poplar and willow woes
15th April 2019

 Beijing's spring season comes again with unruly companions of airbone cotton known as catkins, from willow and poplar trees, and the gardening authority is trying to tackle them.

The Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau said it had stepped up efforts to curb the cotton-like seed clusters in key areas such as hospitals, kindergartens, schools, city parks and large residential areas.
Beijing has 284,000 female willow and poplar trees, the main source of the flying catkins. About 37 percent of the trees are in Chaoyang District.
With high survival rates, fast growth and low maintenance costs, poplars and willows were used as landscaping trees in Beijing, but flying catkins are a nuisance for the city and a fire hazard.
Workers use high-pressure water guns to wash the cotton balls, and clip branches off high trees to prevent them from producing catkins.
This year, they will not be using catkin inhibitors, because they do not work well, the bureau said.
Grasslands are added to keep the flying cotton balls on the ground. Beijing will ban the plantation of female poplars and willows in the future and increase the diversity of landscaping trees.
Zhang Jianguo, a researcher with Chinese Academy of Forestry, warned that though the trees produce annoying seeds, they can not be felled.
Beijing's female poplars and willows were planted in the 1960s and 1970s, when there were few tree options for landscaping. 
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 15, 2019
March CPI surges to 5-month high
12th April 2019

 China’s consumer inflation quickened last month, coming in at a five-month high, while factory-gate inflation picked up for the first time in nine months. 

The Consumer Price index, a main gauge of inflation, grew 2.3 percent in March from a year earlier, 0.8 percentage points faster than the previous month, the national Bureau of statistics said yesterday. 
The March figure was the highest since October and rebounded beyond 2 percent for the first time since December. Pork prices rose in March for the first time after falling for 25 consecutive months, leading to higher food prices and boosting the CPI growth. 
Pork prices jumped 5.1 percent year on year, reversing the 4.8 percent decline in February. it led to a 0.12-percentage-point increase in overall CPI growth. 
On a month-on-month basis, the pork price moderately went up 1.2 percent nationwide as outbreaks of african swine fever were gradually contained, according to the statistics bureau. 
Financial service group Nomura paid particular attention to the pork prices in its analysis.
“Pork prices are set to become a major source of CPI inflation this year as the stock of hog stocks and breeding sows have fallen to historically low levels,” said the Nomura. 
Food prices jumped 4.1 percent year on year last month, contributing to a 0.82-percentage-point rise in the overall CPI growth. 
The pace of increase was also much faster than the 0.7 percent recorded in February. The prices of vegetables and fruits surged 16.2 percent and 7.7 percent year on year, respectively. 
The sharp increase of vegetable prices can be attributed to low yields in spring and cold rainy weather. non-food prices posted an increase of 1.8 percent year on year last month, contributing to a 1.46-percentage-point increase in the overall CPI growth. 
On a month-on-month basis, the CPI dipped 0.4 percent in March, compared with the 1 percent growth in February, with food prices down 0.9 percent and non-food prices shedding 0.2 percent. 
Prices of eggs, aquatic products and vegetables declined after the spring Festival by 6 percent, 3.6 percent and 2.6 percent respectively. 
Beef, lamb and chicken prices also fell by 1.8 percent, 1.7 percent and 1.6 percent from a month earlier. among non-food sectors, with the shrinking number of travelers after the Spring Festival, the prices of air tickets, travel agency charges and hotel accommodation dropped by 15.9 percent, 11.1 percent and 1.5 percent respectively. 
Prices for vehicle repair and maintenance, housekeeping services and haircuts fell 5.3 percent, 4.1 percent and 3.9 percent respectively, with workers returning to the cities. 
The Producer Price index, which measures costs of goods at the factory gate, rose 0.4 percent year on year in March, 0.3 percentage points faster than the previous month. 
This marked the first acceleration in PPI growth since June, with the market fear over deflation risks largely abated, according to an analysis of the Bank of Communications. Despite the high base a year earlier, the prices of mining-related products rose 4.2 percent in March, the highest since November. 
The prices of raw materials also improved from a 1.5 percent drop in February to rise 0.6 percent in March. The trend is consistent with the jump in the factory output index in the manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ index, the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group said. 
Prices of the hot-rolled coil have also breached 4,000 yuan (US$595) per ton as producers responded to rising iron ore prices due to Brazilian supply disruptions, according to the ANZ Group. 
“China’s inflation data for March indicate that the supply shocks faced on the consumer and producer fronts have helped to mitigate deflationary risks,” said Raymond Yeung, chief China economist of the ANZ Group. 
“Both CPI and PPI are unlikely to retreat in the second quarter, in our view,” Yeung said. 
Analysts with the CITIC securities Co expected the PPI to continue expanding in April on the low-base effect. 
Considering the high producer price base last year and China’s reducing value-added tax rates, however, the PPI may contract in May and June of 2019, they said. 
Source: Shanghai Daily, April 12, 2019

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