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Business> Market Watch
UPDATED: February 21, 2011 NO. 8 FEBRUARY 24, 2011

CLEAN POWER: The photovoltaic power project of CNPV Dongying Solar Power Co. Ltd., a leading integrated manufacturer of solar photovoltaic products, has generated 1.24 million kwh of electricity since December 29, 2010, when it was integrated into power grid. The project is designed to transmit 9.48 million kwh of clean electricity to the power grid annually (LIU WENZHONG)

Numbers of the Week

5.1 trillion yuan

China issued 5.1 trillion yuan ($773.3 billion) in bonds in 2010, an increase of 3.1 percent over 2009, said the People's Bank of China.

3.4 billion yuan

The aviation industry raked in net profits of 3.4 billion yuan ($516.7 million) in January, skyrocketing 611.4 percent over a year ago, said the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

TO THE POINT: Economic data for January indicate inflation remains a concern, with CPI climbing 4.9 percent and PPI edging up 6.6 percent. Foreign trade is recovering healthily with both imports and exports bouncing back quickly in January. China is still the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities despite shedding $4 billion last December. The crisis-stricken dairy industry has made a solid comeback, though uncertainties still remain. Credit cards are gaining popularity across the nation.


January Data


The consumer price index (CPI) rose 4.9 percent in January over the previous year, said the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The figure is 0.3 percentage points higher than December, and 0.2 percentage points lower than the 28-month high in November.

The producer price index (PPI), the main gauge of inflation at the wholesale level, rose 6.6 percent in January year on year.

The CPI was largely driven up by food prices, which surged 10.3 percent in January over the previous year.

"Extremely cold weather in parts of China and Spring Festival holiday spending pushed up consumer prices," said the NBS.

Although the figure is lower than market expectations of more than 5 percent, inflation remains a daunting challenge given the ongoing winter drought in north China, wage inflation of migrant workers and global commodity price hikes, said Lu Zhengwei, an economist at the Industrial Bank Co. Ltd.

In response, the central bank is likely to further raise the interest rate and the ratio of deposits that commercial banks must set aside in reserves, he said.

Foreign Trade

China's foreign trade surged 44 percent year on year in January to $295.01 billion due to busy shipments before the nation's traditional Spring Festival.

Exports totaled $150.73 billion, soaring 37.7 percent from a year ago while imports skyrocketed 51 percent to reach $144.28 billion, said the General Administration of Customs. The trade surplus hit a nine-month low of $6.45 billion, plunging 53.5 percent over the previous year.

The Chinese New Year fell on February 3 this year, and exporters and importers front-loaded their trading activities in January, said Lu Ting, an economist with the Bank of America-Merrill Lynch.

Export growth momentum is supported by improvements in the economic health of China's major trading partners, and imports are boosted by strong domestic demand growth, said Yu Song, an economist at Goldman Sachs.

China's domestic demand remains buoyant due to continued loose liquidity conditions despite a spate of tightening measures aimed at cooling the economy, he said.

Although the trade surplus contracted sharply, said Wang Tao, an economist with UBS Securities, the figure at the start of the year was routinely smaller than other times of the year because of seasonal factors.

Bank Lending

Newly extended loans denominated in the yuan totaled 1.04 trillion yuan ($158.1 billion) in January, 318.2 billion yuan ($48.38 billion) less than the same month last year, said the People's Bank of China.

It seems that the hikes in the reserve requirement ratio and the benchmark interest rate are starting to take effect, said Zuo Xiaolei, chief economist with China Galaxy Securities Co. Ltd.

Wang Jianhui, chief economist with Southwest Securities, said while new lending slowed in January, the figure is still "relatively high," reflecting a strong appetite for lending among banks.

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