The FT‘s Confidential Research team has been tracking Chinese business activity, and the country’s economic recovery looks to be slowing down. The team reports:
China’s economy lost a little more steam in April, deepening a slowdown seen at the end of the first quarter. The latest data from FT Confidential Research showed fresh weakness in the freight and export industries, and a household sector less confident in the domestic economy.
The all-important property sector lent support, with the FTCR Real Estate Index showing a second successive month of improving conditions. That helped sustain the Business Activity Index, our monthly aggregated read of Chinese industrial conditions. The BAI was 2.8 points lower in April but for a second month was above the 50-mark separating improving from deteriorating conditions.
Other FTCR data showed that conditions are softening. Our monthly export survey suggested that the sector’s recovery, which began in early 2016, is giving way. For all the bluster surrounding the US-China trade war, few concrete actions have been taken so far — the Trump administration is still considering whether to impose tariffs on $50bn in goods imports while the threat of another $100bn remains just that. Even without meaningful curbs on Chinese shipments, however, our survey shows improvements in key measures such as volumes and values have been fading since the end of last year (though new orders have remained stable).
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