China is the second largest economy in the world with a GDP of more than $11 billion. It is also the most important economy in the world from a demand and supply perspective. This is because it buys most of the world’s important goods like crude oil and iron ore. On a supply side, it supplies the world with most of the products it needs. For example, while the iPhone is an American company, it is assembled by a Chinese company. The same is true with other popular products made by companies like Nike, Adidas and Under Armor. China is also important because it is forecasted to be the biggest economy in the world in a few years.
Therefore, the Chinese economy provides an important barometer on how the world’s economy is doing. When the country’s data weakens, it tends to send shockwaves to the market.
Today, the country released the first reading of the first quarter performance. In the quarter, the economy expanded by 6.4%, topping the analysts forecasts of 6.3%. Nonetheless, it was unchanged from the fourth quarter’s performance. On a MoM basis, the economy expanded by 1.4%, which was in line with the expectations. It was lower than the previous growth of 1.5%. Today’s data showed that things are not as bad as investors were expecting.
In addition to the positive GDP numbers, the country’s unemployment rate declined to 5.2% from the previous 5.3%. The unemployment rate is an important number that shows the percentage of working-age residents who are out of work for economic reasons. This year, the unemployment rate remains higher than last year’s average of below 5.0%.
Another positive number was the industrial production. In March, the production rose by 8.5%, which was higher than the expected 5.6%. It was also higher than the previous 5.3%. It was the fastest growth since 2015. The retail sales rose by 8.7%, which was higher than the expected 8.3%. It was the fastest growth since December last year.
These numbers show that the fears that the country’s economy is slowing have been overstated. It also means that the economy could have bottomed. However, data from China should be taken with a grain of salt. This is because the country is like a dictatorship, with a president who is very powerful. There are very few checks and balances. This means that the data could be manipulated, especially at a time when the country is negotiating a trade deal with the US.
In response to the data, the Australian dollar and Chinese yuan gained. Chinese stocks were mixed, with the Shanghai index gaining by less than 10 basis points. China A50 declined by 76. The price of crude oil jumped, with Brent gaining by 0.25%. The chart below shows the reaction of the Aussie.