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News from China
News Analysis: Deleveraging not panacea for China's property market
16th September 2016

The latest data on China's property market reveals symptoms that will need more than deleveraging measures, analysts said.

The growth of real estate investment in August was 0.1 percentage point more than the January-July period despite slowing growth in land sales, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed.
New home prices in 100 surveyed cities continued to rise for the 16th-consecutive month in August on a month-on-month basis, according to data compiled by the ChinaIndex Academy.
Concerns have been raised over the excessive issuing of loans, which fueled the recent increase in record-breaking land deals and panic home buying in several cities, which Zhang Dawei, chief analyst wit Centaline Property, termed as "irrationalities."
Improving deleveraging would be a plausible move to cool the market, but Ma Jun, chief research economist at the People's Bank of China (PBOC), called for discretion.
"Abrupt deleveraging could shoot down the growth rate and hurt employment," Ma said, adding that a balance must be struck between short-term and long-term to ward off a crisis.
The government and personal leverage rate of China is not high when viewed internationally, so the short-term task is to curb and stabilize the growth in China's general leverage rate, according to Yi Gang, deputy governor of PBOC.
Deleveraging alone is unlikely to defuse tensions in the property market, while developing the real economy and cutting back reliance on the real estate are now essential, said Fan Xiaochong, vice president of Sunshine 100, a developer focused on second- and third-tier cities.
August lending data released by the central bank suggests that more than 600 billion yuan in mortgage loans was issued, an increase of more than 100 billion yuan from a month earlier.
Despite the substantial increase, lenders see the mortgages, a relatively small portion of the all lending, to be at a safe level as a lot of countries have a ratio of between 40 to 50 percent, said PBOC governor Zhou Xiaochuan earlier this year.
When looking at the Chinese economy as a whole, deleveraging will not necessarily channel resources toward strengthening the weak links, said Huang Zhiling, chief economist of the China Construction Bank.
China's property market has become increasingly diversified, with major cities reporting record prices and smaller cities struggling to shift the glut, Sheng Laiyun, NBS spokesperson, said Tuesday.
While stabilizing the growth in leverage rate, targeted efforts must be made to avoid property bubbles in first- and second-tier cities, said Chen Sheng, executive director of China Real Estate Data Academy in Shanghai.
Chen said everything boils down to developing new industries to create new pillars for the economy.
Source: Xinhua
China's new yuan loans more than double in August
15th September 2016

China's new yuan loans surged in August as mortgage loans soared amid a property market frenzy, official data showed on Wednesday.

New yuan-denominated lending more than doubled from a month ago to 948.7 billion yuan (about 145.95 billion U.S. dollars), the People's Bank of China said in a statement on its website.
Home loans increased more than 670 billion yuan, the central bank said, which explains most of the monthly rise in new loans. The central bank also attributed the surging new loans to the fact that loans to non-financial companies and institutions increased 120.9 billion yuan, in sharp contrast with a 2.6-billion-yuan decrease in July.
The property market has seen prices and sales increase substantially over the past months, boosted by pro-growth policies including interest rate cuts and lower deposit requirements.
M2, a broad measure of money supply that covers cash in circulation and all deposits, rose 11.4 percent year on year to 151.1 trillion yuan by the end of August.
The narrow measure of money supply (M1), which covers cash in circulation plus demand deposits, rose 25.3 percent year on year to 45.45 trillion yuan.
The central bank data also showed newly added social financing, a gauge of funds that firms and households get from the financial system, increased by more than 360 billion yuan from the same period a year ago to 1.47 trillion yuan. 
Source: Xinhua
China economy further stabilizes with booming new engines
14th September 2016

The Chinese economy stabilized last month as pro-growth measures propped up investment and industrial output and new economic engines continued to gather steam. 

A string of data released Tuesday by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed the economic activity in better shape, albeit still under downward pressure. 
China's fixed-asset investment grew 8.2 percent year on year in August, a huge increase from 3.9 percent in the previous month. Investment in the private sector, a concern for policymakers, expanded 2.3 percent, reversing two months of declines. 
"Investment is on a more steady path," NBS spokesperson Sheng Laiyun said at a press briefing. 
In the first eight months, fixed-asset investment rose 8.1 percent year on year, unchanged from the January-July period and ending a slowdown that had lasted for four consecutive months. Fixed-asset investment includes capital spent on infrastructure, property, machinery and other physical assets. 
"Solid investment in property and infrastructure made the major contribution," said Zhang Jun, economist with Morgan Stanley Huaxin Securities. Both sectors have seen faster investment growth during the period. 
The figures were among a series of encouraging economic indicators. 
Value-added industrial output increased to 6.3 percent year on year last month, picking up from 6 percent for July and 6.1 percent posted for the same period of last year. The figure measures the output of companies with annual business revenue of more than 20 million yuan (3 million U.S. dollars). 
Consumer goods retail sales grew 10.6 percent year on year, up from 10.2 percent in July . Retail sales have started to contribute significantly to growth. 
"Generally speaking, the improvement in major indicators last month showed positive changes, with progress in structural adjustment and new economic impetus," Sheng said. He added that employment was stable and factory activity recovering. 
Echoing Sheng's remark, Bloomberg economist Tom Orlik said that the latest signs of stabilization suggested policy would continue to be aimed at longer-term reform and financial stability challenges. 
Economic growth held steady at 6.7 percent in the second quarter, still the lowest level since the 2009 global financial crisis but within the government's target range for 2016.. 
Output in high-tech industries rose 11.8 percent from a year ago in August. New business registrations surged 28.9 percent in the first eight months. Internet shopping sales continues to grow well above 25 percent. "New services including online medical services, education and taxi-hailing are mushrooming," Sheng said. 
But the NBS spokesperson said the government will remain clear-headed despite the improvement, due to uncertainties in global economic recovery, including a possible interest rate hike in the United States. "China's economic restructuring is at a crucial stage [...] and the downward pressure is still looming." 
Responding to the situation, the State Council is about to launch a nationwide inspection, the third of its kind since 2014, to spur local implementation of reform and pro-growth policies later this month. 
In the remainder of 2016, the government will strengthen fiscal measures and improve banks' lending to major projects in a bid to realize the official growth targets, Zhang said. 
"As further interest rate cuts now appear unlikely, additional support for growth will continue to be channeled through fiscal policy," Orlik said, "The gradual shift to rein in excess credit growth, shadow banking, and real estate speculation will continue."
Source: Xinhua
China's private investment remains weak
13th September 2016

China's fixed-asset investment by the private sector remained weak despite government attempts to stimulate growth, official data showed on Tuesday.

Fixed-asset investment by the private sector in China increased 2.1 percent in the first eight months, unchanged from the growth seen in the January-July period, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
In contrast, state-sector investment surged 21.4 percent during the period.
The torpid growth of private investment this year has concerned policymakers as the private sector regularly contributes more than 60 percent of China's GDP growth and provides over 80 percent of jobs.
Some analysts attributed the decline to the slowdown in the export manufacturing and real estate industries, the two sectors most favored by private investors, combined with the deterioration in business confidence over the past few years.
In infrastructure and some service industries, such as railways and health care, state-linked companies still dominate meaning less opportunities for private investors.
To encourage private investment, the State Council has taken gradual steps to level the playing field. Infrastructure projects that were previously off-limits have been gradually opened up and in November 2014, six new areas -- environmental protection, agriculture, water, urban utilities, transportation and energy -- were liberalized.
At the local level, however, where the actual work takes place, lax implementation and red tape remain major hurdles.
To arrest the investment slowdown, the State Council earlier this year sent inspectors to local regions to investigate how central policies on private investment are put into practice.
Source: Xinhua

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