January 18, 2013 in China
Chinese data out in the past few days gives some cause for comfort.
Positive statistics covering retail sales, the housing market and industrial production indicate the country may be emerging from its economic trough, and their confluence probably provided a much-needed push to GDP growth.
GDP grew 7.9% year-on-year during the last quarter of 2012 and was ahead of analysts’ consensus forecast of 7.8%. On a full-year basis, however, the Chinese economy grew only 7.8%. This was the lowest rate of growth witnessed in 13 years, though it is still hugely better than that seen in other countries.
In the housing market new home prices showed a rising trend with data showing that 54 out of the 70 cities that were surveyed in December saw better prices for new homes.
December also saw much better industrial production which rose to 10.3%. This was the fourth consecutive month that the indicator showed positive growth.
In another positive reading retail sales during the month of December climbed 15.2% higher on a year-on-year basis.
On a disturbing note, however, the National Bureau of Statistics broke its more-than-decade long silence on statistics relating to income inequality in China. The commonly used statistic, the Gini coefficient, read 0.474 for 2012, and is considered a high reading of income inequality. It has been falling from a high of 0.491 in 2008, and read 0.477 in 2011. 0.400 is a cut-off level beyond which income inequality can cause serious social protest.