China June data to show weak trade, further drop in FX reserves

A flurry of data from China in coming weeks is expected to show continued weakness in trade and investment, sluggish industrial output and another drop in foreign reserves, reinforcing views that Beijing will roll out more economic support measures soon.

Weak factory surveys and heightened economic uncertainty following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union have added to views that authorities will ramp up fiscal stimulus and ease monetary policy by cutting interest rates and banks’ reserve requirements in coming months.

Reuters reported on Thursday that the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) also would tolerate a fall in the yuan to as low as 6.8 per dollar in 2016 to support the economy, if it did not trigger a backlash from major trading partners.

Economists polled by Reuters expected June exports fell 4.1 percent, the same rate as in May, while imports likely dropped 5 percent, renewing their decline after only a marginal drop in May raised hopes that domestic demand was reviving.

China’s trade surplus is forecast to hit $46.6 billion in June, from around $50 billion in May.

The consumer inflation rate may have dipped slightly to 1.8 percent in June, which would be a five-month low, while producer deflation may show further signs of moderating, easing strains on companies’ profit margins.

Factory-gate prices are expected to have declined 2.5 percent, which would be the slowest decline since October 2014.

Loan and money supply data may also show signs of moderating.

After record lending by Chinese banks in the first quarter, policymakers seem to have put the breaks on credit as it became clear it was not translating into faster economic growth, while adding to already elevated debt levels.

Banks likely extended 1 trillion yuan ($150 billion) in new loans in June, up slightly from May, the polls showed.

Based on the June estimate, total new loans in the first half of 2016 were less than 10 percent more than the year-ago period, and would put loan growth slightly off the record pace seen in China’s massive stimulus during the 2009 crisis.

Growth in M2 money supply may have fallen to a 13-month low in June, in line with recent calls from the government to reduce leverage.

Forex reserves likely dropped $20 billion to $3.17 trillion, after falling in May to their lowest since December 2011.

After stabilising early this year, China’s forex reserves have begun declining again amid renewed pressure on the yuan, which tumbled 3.1 percent against the dollar in the second quarter, the biggest quarterly depreciation since China established the domestic foreign exchange market in 1994.

Forex reserves data are expected to be released later this week, with trade, inflation and loan figures out next week.

Industrial output, investment and retail sales will be released on July 15 along with second-quarter gross domestic product (GDP).

($1 = 6.6627 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Elias Glenn and Shaloo Shrivastava; Editing by Kim Coghill)

Containers are seen at a port in Lianyungang

Containers are seen at a port in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province, China, April 13, 2016. REUTERS/China Daily

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China’s imports slump for January

China’s trade performance slumped in January, with exports falling 3.3 percent from year-ago levels while imports tumbled 19.9 percent, far worse than analysts had expected and highlighting deepening weakness in the Chinese economy.

Largely as a result of the sharply lower imports – particularly of coal, oil and commodities – China posted a record monthly trade surplus of $60 billion. The slower trade performance will increase concerns that an economic slowdown in China – originally considered a desirable adjustment away from an investment-intensive export model toward one based on domestic consumption – is at risk of derailing.

The government is expected to lower its GDP target to around 7 percent this year, after posting 7.4 percent in 2014 – the slowest pace in 24 years.

China posts record trade surplus

Imports, by contrast, fell 1.6% on the year, missing forecasts of a 3% increase, reflecting in part lower prices for the commodities that fuel its economy. Over the first seven months of the year, China has imported 18% more iron ore for steelmaking, but the average price for it has fallen 15%. Likewise coal imports fell 2.2% by volume, at an average price down 15% from a year ago. Analysts said that an ongoing probe into commodity-backed loan deals also probably depressed import volumes. As a result, China’s trade surplus hit $47.3 billion in July, up from $31.6 billion in June. Economist had forecast a slight narrowing to $28 billion. The figures are the latest to suggest that the government succeeded in stopping a slowdown caused reversing–at least temporarily–its declared strategy of rebalancing the economy, downgrading exports and focusing more on domestic consumption.

A new era for China-ASEAN trade

China has embarked on a new phase of economic development. In the future, it will no longer rely on export might for economic growth and prosperity. The mainland policymakers have started on a course to turn China into a fully-fledged economy based on domestic consumption, services and innovation. As a result, China has become one of the biggest trade and investment locations for South East Asia.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) continues to rise as an economic powerhouse with 600 million people and the combined GDP of US 2.1 trillion. As a region it will be one of world’s fastest growing consumer markets over the next two decades. The ASEAN Economic Community will come into existence at the end of 2015 effectively creating one of the world’s biggest single markets.

Chinese-ASEAN trade relations are essentially reciprocal in nature. No longer is China the same exporting competitor of past decades. China represents an important new consumer market for ASEAN, while ASEAN is growing in importance for mainland China’s manufacturing. These growing ties open up numerous opportunities for many ASEAN countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, which have large pools of labour and make for competitive low cost production locations for mainland companies.

India’s trade deficit with China nears record $30 b

India’s trade deficit with China after 11 months of this year has reached a record $29.5 billion, exceeding last year’s annual figure, according to newly released trade data.

The numbers underline the sharp decline in once-burgeoning trade, which reached $74 billion in 2011 when China became India’s biggest trading partner.

The following year, a 20 per cent slump in India’s exports, largely on account of iron ore mining bans, coupled with the global slowdown, resulted in a 10 per cent decline as trade fell to $66.50 billion, even as both countries announced an ambitious $100 billion target for 2015.
Doubts over achieving target

The latest figures have cast doubt on whether that target may be achieved. During the period under reference, even as China’s trade with the rest of Asia as well as with its major Western trading partners has picked up, trade with India has remained in a slump, suggesting that causes were more structural rather than a reflection of global trends.

After 11 months of this year, India’s exports to China reached only $14.87 billion out of total bilateral trade of $59.24 billion, according to data released this week by the China’s General Administration of Customs.

Trade between the two countries was down by 2.7 per cent year-on-year, even as China’s overall global trade rose 7.7 per cent. This was driven by an export sector that has continued to show signs of revival, growing 12.7 per cent and marking the second straight month of rising exports.

Among China’s biggest trading partners, trade with the U.S. was up by 7.6 per cent. China’s trade with Southeast Asian countries showed the biggest growth, growing 10.9 per cent.

China reports weaker than expected trade data

Exports fell 3.1% in June from a year earlier, indicating weak global demand for Chinese goods. Most analysts had expected a 4% increase in shipments.

Imports fell 0.7% from a year ago, showing a subdued domestic demand. China, the world’s second-largest economy, has been keen to rebalance its economy, after a decline in global demand hurt its export-led growth.

China’s economy grew at an annual pace of 7.7% in the January to March quarter, compared with 7.9% in the previous three months.Analysts say second-quarter GDP figures, due to be released on Monday, are likely to show a further slowdown, as demand in key export markets in the US and Europe remains weak.

Beijing and Taipei set to agree on service trade pact

Taiwan and the mainland are expected to sign a service trade pact during a new round of talks later this month, which could help spur mainland investment on the island.

“Senior negotiators from the two sides will discuss, in a preparatory meeting in Taipei on Friday, details concerning the 9th cross-strait talks,” a spokesman for Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation said. The 9th round talks would see SEF chairman Lin Join-sane negotiate with mainland counterpart Chen Deming , the head of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, for the first time since he succeeded Chiang Pin-kung in September and Chen Deming succeeded Chen Yunlin in April, he said.

SEF and Arats, set up in early 1990s, represent their respective governments in talks in the absence of formal ties. But the two bodies were only able to achieve results in their talks after Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008 and adopted a policy of engagement with Beijing, which has led to the holding of eight rounds of talks and the signing of 18 non-political agreements. The official said Arats deputy chairman Zheng Lizhong would lead a delegation to Taipei on Friday for discussions with Taiwanese counterpart Kao Koong-lian in preparation for the ninth round of talks. Zheng was scheduled to return to Beijing on Saturday, he added. The official said talks would be held before the end of this month, but he stopped short of revealing the likely venue and exact date. Taiwanese media, quoting unnamed government sources, said it would be held in Shanghai or Nanjing in the third or fourth week of June.

“The focus this time will be on the signing of the service trade agreement, which the two sides have been negotiating through more than 10 meetings since February 2011,” the spokesman said. He said Zheng and Kao would discuss the text of the proposed agreement, which would be signed by Lin and Chen Deming “if things all go smoothly”. He said negotiators would touch on the issue of establishing representative offices on opposite sides of the strait, but no agreement would be reached in the talks. The proposed service trade pact is a major follow-up to the landmark Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement – a semi-free-trade pact – signed by the two sides in 2010.

Wang Yu-chi, chairman of the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan’s top cross-strait policy planning body, told a news conference on May 27 the agreement would also help Taiwan send a strong message to the world that it was committed to pursuing further trade liberalisation.