Stock market shares

China disappoints and upsets the markets. All the (unresolved) problems of Beijing

China pushes Asian stocks into the abyss today and the reason is disappointing growth data.
The dragon continues its difficult road towards a more solid recovery after the strict brakes imposed to control Covid infections.
However, the results so far are not very encouraging and highlight the persistence of uncertainties and fragilities in the world's second largest power.
China's economy grew slower than expected in the fourth quarter, as the worsening housing crisis, rising deflationary pressures and weak demand strengthened expectations of further stimulus measures.
Against this backdrop, Asian stock markets slipped into deep red.
The Shenzhen and Shanghai indices closed the session with -2.40% and -2.09% respectively.
The negative performance of Hong Kong is noteworthy, with the Hang Seng index falling by more than 4%.
Chinese stocks, already close to five-year lows, then fell further and the yuan weakened.
The currency has recently come under renewed pressure as market expectations grow that policymakers will soon have to commit to further interest rate cuts and other support measures.
read also This country is the best to invest in, according to JP Morgan (which rejects China) China, the recovery is irregular and unconvincing.
Alarming data China's GDP grew by 5.2% in the October-December period compared to the previous year, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Wednesday 17 January, accelerating from 4.9% in the third quarter but missing a forecast of 5.3% according to a Reuters poll.
The pace has been solid enough to ensure it hits its annual growth target of around 5%, but analysts say the recovery remains unsteady and that restarting activity in 2024 could be much more challenging.
December activity indicators also showed that industrial production growth accelerated to the fastest pace since February 2022, partly driven by automotive production, but retail sales increased at the slowest pace since September and Investment growth remained tepid.
Data on the real estate sector, once a key driver of the economy, was much bleaker.
Prices of new homes in China fell at the fastest pace in nearly nine years in December, marking the sixth consecutive month of decline, NBS data showed.
Property sales by square footage fell 8.5% over the year, while new construction starts plunged 20.4%.
The national unemployment rate increased to 5.1% in December from 5.0 in November.
The publication of data on youth unemployment, which resumed after a halt of several months, also showed that among 16-24 year olds, excluding university students, unemployment was at 14.9% in December, compared to the record level of 21.
3% of June.
Recent data highlighted that the economy was starting 2024 on shaky footing, with persistent deflationary pressures and a slight recovery in exports unlikely to trigger a quick turnaround in lackluster industrial activity.
December bank lending was also weak.
Finally, of note, the country's population declined for the second consecutive year in 2023.
The total number of people in China fell by 2.08 million to 1.409 billion in 2023, a faster decline than in 2022.
read also Xi's messages and China's agenda for 2024 What to expect about the Chinese economy in 2024? The picture that emerged from the data for 2023 paints a complex and unstable situation for the world's second largest economy, which achieved the official growth target for the year but has not managed to shake off many of the problems that persistently weigh on demand internally and on trust.
“December's weak activity and the first increase in the unemployment rate in five months raised awareness that weakness could extend into 2024 unless policy support is stepped up.
The government is already increasing fiscal measures and we expect stronger policy measures, especially on the fiscal side in the coming months,” economist Chang Shu and David Qu explained to Bloomberg.
“The gradual rollout of support starting mid-year has done little to change the situation.
It is clear that the Chinese economy needs further stimulus,” said Harry Murphy Cruise, an economist at Moody's Analytics.
Direct support for families could be the leverage needed to open wallets, but the prospect of such support has been a non-starter for officials in recent years.
Instead, monetary easing and new debt issuance for infrastructure, energy and manufacturing projects appear more likely, he added.
“While we still expect a short-term boost from easing monetary policy, this is unlikely to prevent a new slowdown later this year,” warned Julian Evans-Pritchard, head of China Economics at Capital Economics.
read also China's demographic collapse will impact the global economy “Although the government has achieved the GDP growth target of 'around 5.0%' for 2023, achieving the same pace of expansion in 2024 will prove very more challenging,” reported the expert.
Meanwhile, Chinese Prime Minister Li underlined in Davos that last year's goal was achieved without resorting to "massive stimuli", adding that it was a strategy to not have the short-term growth by accumulating long-term risks.
2024 has therefore begun as a very treacherous and challenging year for China, which is being watched specially by powers around the world.

Author: Hermes A.I.

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