While the talk on Wall Street is about a slowing in the Chinese economy in the first two months of the year – China’s looking ahead. The nation is spotlighting its shift from a smokestack/export-driven economy to a “One Belt One Road” model with a new set of macro indicators.
Steve Wang, an analyst with Hong Kong-based Reorient Financial Markets, says in a March 17 report that the latest set of indicators from China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) offer a glimpse of a rapidly changing side of the nation’s economy. The new ruler is being used by NBS officials in their monthly analysis. The indicators include data points on the service’s sector’s output and corresponding electricity usage, box office revenues across the nation, the production volume of environmental protection-related equipment, and sales figures for online goods and services transactions. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is betting on these parts of the economy to help steer China away from its industrial past.
For example, the NBS now estimates that services industry output grew 7.4% y-o-y during the Jan.-Feb. period ahead of the industrial sector’s 6.8% output growth. Meanwhile, electricity consumption for the services sector is growing at an 8.1% annualized pace, greatly exceeding industrial power usage growth of 1.6%. E-commerce, which continues to surge close to 50% y-o-y, now accounts for 8.3% of China’s 29.7 trillion yuan retailing market, creating a massive pull on the express delivery industry – which processed 2.16 billion packages during the first two months of this year, up 36.6% y-o-y.
At the same time, Wang says no one can deny that the economy’s run at a relatively slower pace in the opening months of 2015. The latest NBS release says capital investment and the rate of industrial output expansion were especially hard hit. Retail sales – the closest proxy for consumption – sustained the least amount of pullback. Lastly, it is also interesting to note that the NBS saw February’s surveyed jobless rate (as opposed to the old “registered” rate) across 31 large cities grow at “around 5.1%,” basically unchanged from the previous 5.05% for June 2014. Monthly publication of city-by-city surveyed employment data is expected to be available starting this July, which has the definite potential to become the key guiding factor in policy analysis.
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