China’s retail sales rise the first time this year in August, as the world’s second largest economy recovers from the pandemic

AP Photo/Andy Wong

  • China’s economy recovers further from COVID-19 as retail sales rose for the first time this year.
  • Retail sales rose by 0.5% in August compared to last year.
  • The unemployment rate fell to 5.6% in August from 5.7% in July, but still above pre-crisis average
  • Industrial activity rose by 5.6% year on year, marking its fifth consecutive month of increases. 
  • Economist Marc Ostwald said while China is faring better than other nations,  the initial recovery momentum has also been “uneven.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Chinese retail sales rose for the first time this year in August, while industrial production increased for a fifth straight months, showing both consumers and producers in the world’s second largest economy are recovering from the pandemic. 

Data released by China’s National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday total retail sales of consumer goods were 3,357 billion yuan ($495 billion) in August, 0.5% higher compared to the same period last year and 1.25% higher than the previous month. 

For the first eight months of 2020, retail sales were down 8.6% on the year. 

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Marc Ostwald, chief economist at ADM Investor Service, said: “It remains the case that China’s activity data are better than in other major economies, in part due to ‘first in, first out’, though the initial recovery momentum has also been palpably, though uneven.”

However, there were risks to the resilience of consumer spending, The urban surveyed unemployment rate fell to 5.6% in August from 5.7% in July. Ostwald said that while the jobless rate had fallen from the high seen in the second quarter of 5.9%, it was still well above the pre-crisis average of 4.5% 

Ostwald said the recovery in labour demand remains “tepid” given the small contraction in unemployment.

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Industrial activity continued to increase in August, rising 5.6% year-on-year. This marked the fifth straight month of growth and the steepest since December 2019 as the economy recovered from pandemic. 

“In the first eight months, the total value added of the industrial enterprises above the designated size went up by 0.4 percent year on year, shifting from negative to positive,” the Bureau said in a statement. 

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