China's economy accelerates as virus recovery gains strength

China's economy accelerates as virus recovery gains strength”

But China's new data is generating big headlines because observers see COVID lessons at play.

The world's second-largest economy grew by 0.7 percent in the first nine months of 2020 from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.

China became the first major economy to return to growth after the ruling Communist Party declared the disease under control last March and began reopening factories, shops and offices.

Beijing paved the way for a return to economic growth "in roughly three stages", The Wall Street Journal reports: Shutting down its economy from January through March, firing up its factories starting in April, and - "having nearly entirely stamped out the coronavirus within its borders - encouraging consumers to begin venturing outside of their homes and opening up their wallets".

The Nikkei 225 index added 1.1% to 23,671.13 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 0.6% to 24,542.26. Markets in South Korea and Australia also rose.

[Bloomberg] China's currency, the yuan, and key stock indices trimmed gains following the weaker-than-expected data, with the benchmark Shanghai index trading 0.6 percent higher and the CSI300 index up 0.8 percent after rising as much as 1 percent and 1.2 percent, respectively. However, it warned, "the worldwide environment is still complicated and severe".

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Industrial production rose 5.8% in just-ended quarter compared to the same period past year, a marked improvement over the first half's 1.3% contraction. It said China faces great pressure to prevent a resurgence of the virus.

The economic rebound follows China's broad return to normalcy this summer, following sweeping COVID-19 curbs including stringent lockdowns, extensive contact tracing, and restrictions on global travel through the first half of the year, which allowed the authorities to nearly entirely stop transmission of the virus within China, with the exception of a few clusters that were contained locally. That broke a streak of nearly two months with no virus transmissions reported within China. Online commerce rose 15.3 percent.

In a sign demand is accelerating, sales in September rose 3.3 percent.

China has reported 4,634 coronavirus deaths and 85,685 confirmed cases, as well as three suspected cases.

"While private-sector business investment, which is driven mostly by growth in consumption and exports, was down 1.5% year-to-date, total fixed asset investment was up 0.8% for the year", Mr. Pettis said.

The growth was slower than the 5.2 per cent forecast by analysts in a Reuters poll, and followed 3.2 per cent growth in the second quarter. The IMF expects a 9.8% contraction in France, 6% in Germany and 5.3% in Japan.

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