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Industrial profits’ growth buoys economic outlook

Xin Zhiming
Updated: Dec 28,2016 9:31 AM     China Daily

China’s industrial profits registered 14.5 percent growth year-on-year in November, the fastest in three months, which analysts said is a solid sign of improving economic fundamentals.

Profits in November totaled 774.6 billion yuan ($111.4 billion), and in the first 11 months, total industrial profits reached 6.03 trillion yuan, up by 9.4 percent year-on-year. That was 0.8 percentage point faster than in the January-October period, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Dec 27.

Industrial profits increase has been rebounding since summer after tumbling to as low as 3.7 percent in May and peaking at 19.5 percent in August, which is attributable to recovery in commodity prices. The country’s recovering industrial output is also behind the rising profit level.

Profits of electronics, telecommunications, equipment manufacturing and oil-related industries rose at a fast pace in November, pushing up overall profit growth, according to the NBS.

“The trend of improving corporate profit growth has been gradually consolidated,” He Ping, an NBS official, said in a note after the release of the data. “As the country’s supply-side structural reform gradually deepens, its industrial structure will continually improve and new growth momentum will continue to accumulate, hopefully leading to stable growth in profits of industrial enterprises,” he said.

But the official conceded that problems remain. “Industrial profits rose relatively fast due to a lower base last year, and the growth was overly reliant on a price rebound in raw material industries such as oil refining and iron and steel.”

Nomura Securities economists Zhao Yang and Wendy Chen agreed. “The improvement was mainly due to rising prices, as producer price index (gauging factory-gate prices) inflation jumped strongly to 3.3 percent in November, and to a low base, given consistent negative profit growth throughout the whole of 2015,” they said in a research note.

“We expect profit growth to rise further in December, as high price inflation and a low base continue to play a role.”

China achieved faster-than-expected GDP growth of 6.7 percent in the first three quarters of the year, but as the domestic and international economic situation still has many uncertainties, analysts said the country faces an uphill battle in stabilizing the economy next year.

“Some data are improving, but the Chinese economy will remain in a painful transition process next year,” said Xia Bin, senior economist and former member of the monetary policy committee of the central bank.

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