Connect with us

Economy

Exclusive: As virus fallout widens, China readies more measures to stabilize economy – sources – TheChronicleHerald.ca

Published

 on


By Kevin Yao

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese policymakers are readying measures to support an economy jolted by a coronavirus outbreak that is expected to have a devastating impact on first-quarter growth, policy sources said.

The sources said the government is debating whether to lower the planned 2020 economic growth target of around 6 percent, which many private sector economists see as well beyond China’s reach.

With the death toll from the virus epidemic climbing to over 420 and risks to growth mounting, China’s central bank is likely to lower its key lending rate – the loan prime rate (LPR) – on Feb. 20, and cut banks’ reserve requirement ratios (RRRs) in the coming weeks, said the sources who are involved in internal policy discussion.

“Currently, monetary policy is being loosened, but the central bank will follow a step-by-step approach and watch the virus situation,” said a policy insider.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has already pumped in hundreds of billions of dollars into the financial system this week as it attempted to restore investor confidence and as global markets shuddered at the potentially damaging impact of the virus on world growth. In the past two days, the PBOC has injected 1.7 trillion yuan ($242.74 billion) through open market operations.

In order to minimize job losses, China’s stability-obsessed leaders are likely to sign-off on more spending, tax relief and subsidies for virus-hit sectors, alongside further monetary easing to spur bank lending and lower borrowing costs for businesses, according to the policy insiders.

“We have policy reserves and will step up policy support for the economy. The most urgent task is to put the virus outbreak under control,” said a source who advises the government, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Support measures will be concentrated on the retail, catering, logistics, transportation and tourism sectors, which are likely to be hit hard and are especially vulnerable to job losses, they said.

Increased government spending could push up the annual budget deficit relative ratio to 3% this year from 2.8% in 2019, and local governments could be allowed to issue more debt to fund infrastructure projects, the policy insiders said.

Policymakers deem targeted measures as more effective than unfettered credit easing at this stage, given that the outbreak has weighed on factory and investment activities due to the extended holiday in some regions, the insiders said.

The Lunar New Year holiday has been effectively extended by 10 days in many parts of China including powerhouse regions such as Shandong province and the cities of Suzhou and Shanghai, while transport networks have been curtailed to curb the spread of the disease. More than 40 foreign airlines have suspended flights to China.

“It’s necessary to step up policy support for the economy but we don’t need to use strong stimulus at this stage,” said one of the policy insiders.

While Beijing has rolled out a series of support measures in the last two years, mainly in the form of higher infrastructure spending and tax cuts, leaders have pledged they will not embark on massive stimulus like that during the 2008-09 global crisis, which saddled the economy with a mountain of debt.

The PBOC has cut the RRR, or the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves, eight times since early 2018, with the latest reduction taking effect on Jan. 6. It has also lowered its key lending rates modestly since August.

MORE PAIN AHEAD

China’s economy grew 6% in the fourth quarter, bringing 2019 expansion to 6.1% in 2019, the weakest in nearly three decades as demand at home and abroad weakened in part due to the bitter Sino-U.S. trade war. Growth of about 5.6% this year is seen enough for meeting the long-term gross domestic product target.

This year is symbolically crucial for the ruling Communist Party to fulfill its goal of doubling GDP and incomes in the decade to 2020, turning China into a “moderately prosperous” nation.

Chinese leaders face a more challenging job than they did during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002-03, as the economy is now driven more by consumption and services, and growth has been on a downward trajectory.

The virus has killed 425 and infected 20,438 in China, most of them in central Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak.

“It’s hard to see a turning point in the outbreak. First-quarter GDP growth could dip below 5% and the impact may persist in the second quarter,” said Wang Jun, chief economist at Zhongyuan Bank.

Many private economists have lowered their growth outlook for China, with Louis Kuijs at Oxford Economics forecasting 5.4% growth in 2020, compared with 6% previously.

Tao Wang, China economist at UBS, predicted first-quarter growth could dip to 3.8%, and 5.4% for the whole year.

During the SARS outbreak, China’s growth slowed to 9.1% in the second quarter of 2003 from 11.1% in the first, before rebounding to 10% in June-September, bringing the full-year expansion to 10%.

(Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Economy

Soft landing hopes for U.S. economy brighten outlook on stocks – The Globe and Mail

Published

 on


Optimism is seeping back into the U.S. stock market, as some investors grow more convinced that the economy may avoid a severe downturn even as it copes with high inflation.

The benchmark S&P 500 has rebounded about 15% since mid-June, halving its year-to-date loss, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite is up 20% over that time. Many of the so-called meme stocks that had been pummeled in the first half of the year have come screaming back, while the Cboe Volatility Index, known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, stands near a four-month low.

In the past week, bullish sentiment reached its highest level since March, according to a survey from the American Association of Individual Investors. Earlier this year, that gauge tumbled to its lowest in nearly 30 years, when stocks swooned on worries over how the Federal Reserve’s monetary tightening would hit the economy.

“We have experienced a fair amount of pain, but the perspective in how people are trading has turned violently towards a glass half full versus a glass half empty,” said Mark Hackett, Nationwide’s chief of investment research.

Data over the last two weeks bolstered hopes that the Fed can achieve a soft landing for the economy. While last week’s strong jobs report allayed fears of recession, inflation numbers this week showed the largest month-on-month deceleration of consumer price increases since 1973.

The shift in market mood was reflected in data released by BoFA Global Research on Friday: tech stocks saw their largest inflows in around two months over the past week, while Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS, which are used to hedge against inflation, notched their fifth straight week of outflows.

“If in fact a soft landing is possible, then you’d want to see the kind of data inputs that we have seen thus far,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley Wealth. “Strong jobs number and declining inflation would both be important inputs into that theory.”

Through Thursday, the S&P 500 was up 1.5% for the week, on track for its fourth straight week of gains.

Until recently, optimism was hard to come by. Equity positioning last month stood in the 12th percentile of its range since January 2010, a July 29 note by Deutsche Bank analysts said, and some market participants have attributed the big jump in stocks to investors rapidly unwinding their bearish bets.

With stock market gyrations dropping to multi-month lows, further support for equities could come from funds that track volatility and turn bullish when market swings subside.

Volatility targeting funds could soak up about $100 billion of equity exposure in the coming months if gyrations remain muted, said Anand Omprakash, head of derivatives quantitative strategy at Elevation Securities.

“Should their allocation increase, this would provide a tailwind for equity prices,” Omprakash said.

Investors next week will be watching retail sales and housing data. Earnings reports are also due from a number of top retailers, including Walmart and Home Depot, that will give fresh insight into the health of the consumer.

Plenty of trepidation remains in markets, with many investors still bruised from the S&P 500′s 20.6% tumble in the first six months of the year.

Fed officials have pushed back on expectations that the central bank will end its rate hikes sooner than anticipated, and economists have warned that inflation could return in coming months.

Some investors have grown alarmed at how quickly risk appetite has rebounded. The Ark Innovation ETF, a prominent casualty of this year’s bear market, has soared around 35% since mid-June, while shares of AMC Entertainment Holdings , one of the original “meme stocks,” have doubled over that time.

“You look across assets right now, and you don’t see a lot of risks priced in anymore to markets,” said Matthew Miskin, co-chief investment strategist at John Hancock Investment Management.

Keith Lerner, co-chief investment officer at Truist Advisory Services, believes technical resistance and ballooning stock valuations are likely to make it difficult for the S&P 500 to advance far beyond the 4200-4300 level. The index was recently at 4249 on Friday afternoon.

Seasonality may also play a role. September – when the Fed holds its next monetary policy meeting – has been the worst month for stocks, with the S&P 500 losing an average 1.04% since 1928, Refinitiv data showed.

Wall Streeters taking vacations throughout August could also drain volume and stir volatility, said Hogan, of B. Riley Wealth.

“Lighter liquidity tends to exaggerate or exacerbate moves,” he said.

Be smart with your money. Get the latest investing insights delivered right to your inbox three times a week, with the Globe Investor newsletter. Sign up today.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Economy

Malaysian economy smashes forecasts, growing 8.9 percent in Q2 – Al Jazeera English

Published

 on


Southeast Asian country continues strong pandemic recovery after reopening its borders in April.

Malaysia’s economy grew at its fastest annual pace in a year in the second quarter, boosted by an expansion in domestic demand and resilient exports, but a slowdown in global growth is expected to pose a risk to the outlook for the rest of 2022.

Gross domestic product (GDP) in April-June surged 8.9 percent from a year earlier, the central bank said. This was faster than the 6.7 percent growth forecast in a Reuters poll and was up from the 5 percent annual rise in the previous quarter.

It was also quicker than any annual rate seen since the second quarter of 2021, when GDP was 16.1 percent higher than a low year-earlier base.

Seasonally adjusted GDP for April-June was up 3.5 percent on the previous three months, when quarterly growth was 3.8 percent.

Malaysia’s economy has been on a strong recovery path since the country reopened its borders in April.

“Going forward, the economy is projected to continue to recover in the second half of 2022, albeit at a more moderate pace amid global headwinds,” Central Bank of Malaysia Governor Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus told a news conference.

Full-year growth for 2022 would likely be at the upper end of the previously forecast range of 5.3 percent to 6.3 percent, Nor Shamsiah said.

Headline and core inflation were expected to average higher in 2022, though Nor Shamsiah said any adjustments to the overnight policy rate would be measured and gradual to avoid stronger measures in the future.

The central bank lifted its benchmark interest rate for the second straight meeting in July.

Capital Economics said in a note it expected Malaysia’s economic growth to slow in coming quarters, as commodity prices dropped back and the boost from border reopening fades.

“That said, the slowdown is likely to be relatively mild, with the reopening of the international border set to provide decent support to activity,” said Gareth Leather, the group’s senior Asia economist.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Economy

The UK Economy, and Sterling, Face Next Big Crisis This Winter – BNN Bloomberg

Published

 on


(Bloomberg) — Headwinds for the UK economy spell trouble for sterling, and the real test for the Bank of England and the currency may still be in store.

The cost-of-living crisis is about to intertwine with the energy crisis this winter, leaving the BOE in a bind. UK wholesale natural gas prices have more than tripled in the last year and are more than four times higher than the seasonal average over the previous five years. Household energy bills are forecast to rise while the government plans for organized blackouts in a worse-case scenario in January.

If the energy crisis gets out of hand, the market might expect the BOE to pivot because rates can only do so much in the face of supply-driven forces such as Russian gas supplies, inventories, and alternate energy sources that are being tested by climate change.

There is also the question of fiscal support and the uncertainty surrounding it. The BOE has forecast inflation topping 13% in coming months and a recession through 2023 as it raises rates. The central bank is an apolitical body that has no say over government fiscal policies, making whoever becomes the next prime minister that much more significant. Front-runner Liz Truss is pledging an emergency budget and more borrowing to stimulate the economy, while the competing former chancellor Rishi Sunak is advising caution while also vowing to offer more cost-of-living support.

Currency traders aren’t convinced that economic data Friday is enough to prove the economy’s resilience, which is why even as money markets are raising their BOE tightening bets, the pound is the second worst-performing G-10 currency against the dollar on the day.

But it’s fair not to read too much into the curious gross domestic product print. A small contraction was expected given the Jubilee bank holiday, but June’s drop is smaller than in comparable periods, as Samuel Tombs, chief U.K. economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, noted. July data will likely offer a better picture. It’s possible that numbers would either be revised lower or show that the economy has indeed been more resilient than many expect. Looking ahead, however, there aren’t many other concessions that the pound can give way to.

NOTE: Nour Al Ali writes for Bloomberg’s Markets Live. The observations are her own and not intended as investment advice. For more markets commentary, see the MLIV blog.

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending