A long overdue report from the International Monetary Fund later this week should provide the first comprehensive and independent view of the Chinese economy for three years.
The IMF and the Chinese Government have been in dispute over the wording of the report for more than two years (the last report was in 2006). Especially sensitive has been China’s policy towards its currency and the way its value is controlled (“manipulated” claimed the US Government earlier in the year, a description it later watered down).
Bloomberg reported on Friday that the Fund has softened the language used to describe exchange rates ahead of the report’s consideration and final drafting.
Chinese companies revealed their interest in over $US20 billion worth of deals on Friday: the state owned sovereign wealth fund bought a 17% stake in troubled Canadian mining group, Teck Resources, for $US1.7 billion), a state owned oil company was revealed as interest in a possible $US17 billion purchase of the Argentinian assets of the Repsol oil group of Spain, and a Chinese car company emerged as a third bidder for the Opel subsidiary in Germany of General Motors.
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Already the stockmarket in China is showing distinct signs of running ahead of its economy — the economy could grow by around 7% annual half year to June, but the main indices (the Shanghai) was up 65% in the first half of 2009. And real estate companies are running strongly with reports of big property deals.
The IMF report will come the week before the usual monthly flow of figures on the Chinese economy for June, and importantly, for the half year. Growth, inflation, production, investment, retail sales and government spending are all due for release from next week.
Friday saw the first figure for June and no wonder it was dropped out so quickly. The Government said China’s power generation rose 3.6% year on year in June, ending eight months of falling output since last October last year.
This is the latest statistic that seems to suggest a recovering Chinese economy. The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) released last Wednesday was at 53.2 percent in June, up 0.1 percentage points from May and the fourth consecutive month with a reading above 50, which suggests expansion. But there was a noticeable fall in new orders.
And there were reports on the weekend that a land parcel along Beijing’s Guangqu Road was auctioned off for more than 4 billion yuan ($US585 million) after fierce bidding among major developers from the mainland and Hong Kong. According to Friday’s China Daily the price set a record for a single land parcel in Beijing. But just 15 months ago, the same bit of land was withdrawn from a public tender due to a lack of bidders.