China's producer inflation surges

Building activity in Beijing's central business district. China's year-long, government-led construction boom, a resilient property market and a recovery in exports have combined to offset the expected drag from a regulatory crackdown on riskier type
Building activity in Beijing's central business district. China's year-long, government-led construction boom, a resilient property market and a recovery in exports have combined to offset the expected drag from a regulatory crackdown on riskier types of financing.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Index hits four-month high in August, in sign of strong growth for factory profits, economy

BEIJING • China's producer price inflation accelerated more than expected to a four-month high in August, fuelled by strong gains in raw material prices and pointing to strong, sustained growth for both factory profits and the economy.

Consumer inflation also quickened more than forecast to a seven-month high, amid signs that upstream price gains are trickling through, but analysts said price gains remain modest and there is little pressure on the central bank to tighten policy further.

"The unexpected rise in both CPI (consumer price index) and PPI (producer price index) suggests there is little hope China's monetary policy could see some relaxation before the end of this year," said Singapore-based analyst Zhou Hao at Commerzbank.

"We believe the market has underestimated the inflationary pressure facing China's economy, although inflation is unlikely to surge in the foreseeable future. That said, onshore rates are still on the rise," he said, referring to higher financing costs.

China's PPI rose 6.3 per cent in August from a year earlier, from 5.5 per cent in July, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected producer inflation would edge up to 5.6 per cent, its first pick-up in six months.

On a month-on-month basis, the PPI rose 0.9 per cent.

The price data added to a long list of upside surprises for the world's second-largest economy this year, which has so far defied analysts' expectations of a slowdown.

A year-long, government-led construction boom, a resilient property market and a recovery in exports have combined to offset the expected drag from a regulatory crackdown on riskier types of financing, which is slowly driving up borrowing costs.

"The pick-up in PPI shows demand remains steady, and we expect third-quarter economic growth to remain steady from the first half," said Mr Zhang Yiping, an economist at Merchants Securities in Shenzhen.

With the industrial sector in high gear, the economy grew by a faster-than-expected 6.9 per cent in the first six months of the year.

If activity remains relatively solid in coming months, China's economic growth could accelerate for the first time in seven years in 2017. Last year's pace of 6.7 per cent was the slowest in 26 years.

China's industrial firms have been posting their strongest profits in years as the building boom fuels demand and prices for everything from cement and steel to glass and copper wiring.

Its commodities futures markets have rallied hard and continued to surge through August, boosted by strong restocking demand and government pledges to shut inefficient and highly polluting mines and plants, which has underscored concerns over tight supply heading into winter.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 10, 2017, with the headline 'China's producer inflation surges'. Print Edition | Subscribe