Chinese consumers pull back, but other indicators stabilize

Government blamed the deceleration on consumers holding off from making purchases until Singles Day, China’s annual discount shopping bonanza. (AFP)
Updated 14 November 2018
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Chinese consumers pull back, but other indicators stabilize

  • Retail sales slowed to an 8.6 percent year-on-year increase in October
  • The NBS blamed the deceleration on consumers holding off from making purchases until Singles Day

BEIJING: Chinese consumer spending slowed in October, official data showed Wednesday, adding to worries over the world’s second-largest economy, but investment and industrial production appeared to stabilize.
Concerns about China have increased in recent months after third-quarter growth came in at its slowest pace in nine years, and as trade frictions with the US have ratcheted upwards.
Chinese officials are currently engaging with their US counterparts as the two economic giants try to work out a compromise on trade ahead of President Xi Jinping’s meeting with Donald Trump later this month at the G20 gathering.
The National Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday that retail sales slowed to an 8.6 percent year-on-year increase in October, slightly short of estimates and down from 9.2 percent in September.
The NBS blamed the deceleration on consumers holding off from making purchases until Singles Day, China’s annual discount shopping bonanza that was held on November 11.
“Given uncertain and unstable factors abroad, there are concerns over the slower though stable economic development which is facing downward pressure,” bureau spokeswoman Liu Aihua told a news briefing.
“The world economy and trade growth momentum have weakened while international financial markets have been turbulent.”
Exports to the major US market have held up so far but analysts forecast a dimming picture in the months ahead, reinforcing the need for China to rely on its legions of domestic consumers to grow the economy.
The trade row with the US has sapped market confidence, dragging down Chinese equities and the yuan currency.
On the positive side, fixed-asset investment, a key economic driver, showed signs of rebounding.
It expanded 5.7 percent on-year for the first ten months of the year, picking up after hitting record lows this summer as Beijing’s push to get big projects moving this autumn lifted infrastructure spending.
Output at factories and workshops ticked up 5.9 percent in October, an improvement on the 5.8 percent in September, according to the NBS, and ahead of the 5.8 percent forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.
“Despite the uptick in industrial output and investment, we doubt that economic growth has bottomed out just yet,” Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics wrote in a research note.
He said local governments had held off on issuing bonds in recent weeks as they face budget limits.
“US tariffs have, if anything, acted as a prop to exports recently (due to front-loading by US importers) but are set to become a drag early next year,” he said.


Shareholders of India’s Jet Airways approve debt-for-equity swap

Updated 23 February 2019
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Shareholders of India’s Jet Airways approve debt-for-equity swap

  • The plan will mean the lenders will have a bigger holding than any other shareholder
  • Currently, Chairman Naresh Goyal owns a 51 percent stake in the company and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways owns 24 percent

MUMBAI: India’s Jet Airways said late on Friday that its shareholders approved a plan to convert existing debt to equity, paving the way for the troubled company’s lenders to infuse funds and nominate directors to its board.
Jet’s board last week approved a plan by lenders, led by State Bank of India, for an equity infusion, debt restructuring and the sale or sale-and-lease-back of aircraft.
The plan will mean the lenders will have a bigger holding than any other shareholder.
Currently, Chairman Naresh Goyal owns a 51 percent stake in the company and Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways owns 24 percent.
Jet, which had net debt of 72.99 billion rupees ($1.03 billion) as of end-December, has debt payments looming next month, according to rating agency ICRA. It has been unable to pay pilots’ salaries and has outstanding bills to aircraft lessors.
The company, India’s biggest full-service carrier, is struggling with competition from budget rivals, high oil prices and a weaker rupee. The share price took a beating in 2018, losing nearly 70 percent of its value.
In a regulatory filing, Jet said on Friday that 98 percent of its shareholders voted to increase the share capital to 22 billion rupees ($309.8 million) from 2 billion rupees at a special meeting.
Jet, whose financial woes are set against the backdrop of wider aviation industry problems, has been in the red for four straight quarters.