So the Lunar New Year this week in China has given a welcome pause for thought after a rather frenetic period of seemingly stronger data coming through from leading emerging market. So in an effort to assess whether the recent turnaround is a seasonal swing, a false dawn, or a true trend, here’s a random collection of tidbits I have gathered together to slowly digest.
–Chinese electricity demand is often seen as a better indicator than GDP…and it is pointing to a return to growth. It reached a four-month high in December.
–China has now surpassed the US to become the largest global trading power.
–Snakes apparently don’t have eyelids.
–A word of caution! The Year of the Snake is the only one of the twelve Chinese lunar calendar years where the S&P500 has a losing record, falling an average of 2.9% and only rising 3 of 9 snake years since 1900.
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–There is a limited number of Chinese economic indicators that can actually be trusted. Industrial production and retail sales are two such examples, and both are showing a recent rebound – affirming the increase in electricity production and the recent pick up in economic growth (although some consider it overstated).
–In the last week, revelers in the Philippines attempted to get into the Guinness world record for the longest human snake dance.
–China now accounts for nearly half of the world’s new money supply.
–A snake’s ears are on the inside (?!).
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–China’s January crude imports rose 7.4% to 5.95 million barrels a day, while sources show oil demand rose to a record in December. That said, the latest monthly report from the IEA saw them adjust their methodology for measuring China’s oil demand, raising the question as to whether any estimate is accurate. The IEA also tempered optimism on a Chinese rebound.
–Due to the year of the snake, serpent sales have spiraled higher.
–And finally, this is absolutely nuts. The growth of China is perhaps best highlighted through this image from space in 1992…and now.
By. Matt Smith