Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu
Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu

China’s top government officials overseeing the economy began a two-day conclave on Tuesday, incidentally coinciding with the two-day meeting of US Federal Reserve policymakers.

Statements from both sides will have broad-ranging implications for next year and also may reveal just how much concern has been prompted by a slowdown in China’s economy.

Data release suspended

Following a recent spate of disconcerting economic data releases, more signs that China’s economic growth is abating came with news on Tuesday that Guangdong province has stopped publishing key manufacturing data.

Data for the province’s manufacturing purchasing manager’s index stopped updating abruptly in October amid signs that the export-dependent region has been hit hard by US tariffs, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

The Federal Reserve signaled in the minutes of its November meeting that China’s slowing growth was on the minds of policymakers, raising the concern several times.

Dovish surprise?

The Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates, but also may surprise markets by announcing a delay, as David Goldman writes. In addition to external headwinds, the specter of deflation has emerged with the bond market’s forecast of inflation falling sharply in recent days.

A dovish surprise could provide relief for China and more leeway for fiscal stimulus. News on Tuesday that Beijing may move up the issuance of local government bonds could be one sign of this.

“The [potential] early issuance of local bonds reflects the government’s mentality of relaxing fiscal policies for 2019,” Huang Wentao and Li Guang, analysts of China Securities, were quoted by Caixin as saying.

The quotas are typically granted in April, but an agenda for a meeting of top officials this month has led to speculation that it will be moved up to the first quarter.