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China's Lunar New Year Bring New Hope For Chinese Economy

Early Glimmers of Light from China’s Lunar New Year

 Early Glimmers of Light from China’s Lunar New Year

About: (China’s Lunar New Year, China's Spring Festival, Xinhua news agency, Lunar New Year, Shanghai Stock Exchange, Shanghai Composite Index, China’s economy, China investing, China economy, China Stock Digest, Chinese economy, China stock market) Bookmark and Share

Stock traders were the first to get back to business in Shanghai and Shenzhen as China’s Lunar New Year celebration draws to an end. Although the holiday travel period doesn’t officially end until March 10th, the early economic indicators from the festival are already in. Our first look at the numbers is encouraging to investors.

Retail sales in China during the Spring Festival rocketed by more than 17 percent compared to last year, a clear sign of growing confidence among Chinese consumers.

Shops across China rang up $49.8 billion dollars in sales. That is up 17.2 percent from the same period in 2009 according to the official Xinhua news agency.

The Chinese people splurged on food, tobacco and liquor as families across the country reunited to celebrate the beginning of the Lunar New Year. Food sales jumped 16.5 percent while sales of tobacco and liquor were up 13.2 percent during the holiday period.

Communications equipment sales (mainly cell phones) were up 19.2 percent, jewelry sales gained 19.1 percent, and home appliances were also popular, with a 15.4 sales increase.

Chinese stocks had been trending down in the weeks before the holiday, and there was considerable nervousness about the opening of the Shanghai Exchange after Beijing’s credit tightening during the holiday. It turns out that those fears were exaggerated.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell by only half a percent today. That is substantially less than the 2 percent pounding that U.S. investors gave the China ADR Index when credit tightening was first announced on the eve of the holiday.

Tourism was another sector showing growing consumer confidence and willingness to spend. China's tourism revenue rose 26.9 percent to $9.46 billion during the Spring Festival. 125 million tourists travelled during the holiday period, up 14.8 percent from the same period last year.

One statistic was not up, but that might also be an encouraging sign. New home sales in Shanghai plunged 82 percent last week, as Chinese observers said a "wait-and-see" attitude apparently curbed buyers’ sentiments. Given the current fears of a real estate bubble, a pause in home buying may suggest an orderly cooling of the market.

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Jim Trippon
China Stock Digest

Disclosure: no positions