Covid has hit China’s economy harder than expected

The world’s second-largest economy reported shocking declines in retail sales and factory output, below market expectations.

Retail sales shrank 11.1% in April from a year earlier, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics on Monday. That was well below the 6.1% drop forecast in a Reuters survey of economists, and also much lower than the 3.5% decline seen in March.

Industrial production fell 2.9% last month from a year earlier, reversing a 5% gain in March.

This marks the worst contraction in industrial production since February 2020, when China’s economy came to a near standstill during the initial coronavirus outbreak.

Unemployment also rose to the second highest level on record.

The urban unemployment rate hit 6.1% in April, up from 5.8% in March, which was already at a 21-month high. The only time China’s unemployment rate was higher was in February 2020.

Asian stock markets struggled for gains after the weak data. Hong Kong hang up seng (HSI)China Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP)and Korea Kospi (KOSPI) all opening profits invested, between 0.3% and 0.5%.

strong hit

China’s economy got off to a good start in 2022, posting 4.8% growth in the first quarter.
But Beijing’s efforts to curb its worst Covid outbreak in two years have dealt a heavy blow to activity since March.
So far, at least 31 cities in the country remain under full or partial lockdown, according to CNN’s latest calculations. Shanghai, the country’s financial and manufacturing hub, has been closed for more than six weeks. During this period, many companies have been forced to suspend operations, including the automotive ones. Tesla (TSLA) and Volkswagen and iPhone assembler Pegatron.

“We think second-quarter GDP growth will probably turn negative,” Zhiwei Zhang, president and chief economist at Pinpoint Asset Management, said on Monday.

“The government faces mounting pressure to launch new stimulus to stabilize the economy,” Zhang said.

Tesla sales in China plummet 98% as lockdowns take their toll

The leadership in China is aware of the economic pains and has recently taken some steps to provide relief.

The People’s Bank of China announced on Sunday that it would lower the mortgage rate for first-time home buyers, in a move to lift the ailing property market.

Separately, the Shanghai government said the city will gradually open shops, restaurants and beauty salons from Monday, which will be a relief to its 25 million people.

The government also recently pledged to prop up the economy through more spending on infrastructure and targeted monetary easing to support small businesses.

But “risks to the outlook are tilted to the downside, as the effectiveness of stimulus policies will largely depend on the scale of future Covid outbreaks and lockdowns,” Tommy Wu, chief economist at Oxford Economics, said on Monday. for Chinese.

“We forecast GDP to grow 4% this year, with a quarterly contraction in the second quarter before growing again in the second half.”

– CNN’s Beijing bureau contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.