There were no upside surprises in China’s May economic indicators. Instead, they mostly confirm that the nation’s growth rate remains relatively high but may be losing some momentum. Real GDP growth slipped from 7.9% in Q4-2012 to 7.7% in the first quarter. April and May data suggest that growth isn’t picking up.
The month’s industrial output, retail sales, and fixed-asset investment met expectations, rising 9.2%, 12.9%, 20.4% y/y, respectively. Those numbers almost match April’s results. However, imports fell 0.8% y/y as the volume of many commodity shipments fell from a year ago. The volume of major metals imports, including copper and alumina, fell at double-digit rates. Coal imports fell sharply. The PPI inflation rate fell to minus 2.9% y/y in May, the lowest since September 2012.
Export growth slowed to only 0.6% y/y, the lowest since November 2009. Reuters reported on Sunday that the authorities cracked down on currency speculation disguised as export trades to skirt capital controls, which had created double-digit rises in export growth every month this year even as world growth stuttered. May exports to both the US and the EU--China's top two markets--fell from a year earlier for the third month in a row.
Today's Morning Briefing: Around the World. (1) Go Global or Stay Home? (2) The previous bull market was good for MEI sectors. (3) US equity mutual funds investing overseas are still getting inflows. (4) Staying away from some Stay Home sectors. (5) It all depends on global economic growth, which remains lackluster. (6) No juice in industrial commodities. (7) Euro Zone flat-lining at 2009’s depressed levels. (8) China’s trade data showing weaker domestic and global economies. (9) Two strikes against EMs. (10) Japan’s fireworks show. (More for subscribers.)