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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

China Retail Sales Rise At Record Pace In July

China's retail sales expanded at the fastest pace in at least nine years in July as incomes and prices climbed in the world's fastest-growing major economy. Sales rose 23.3 percent to 862.9 billion yuan ($126 billion) after gaining 23 percent in June, the statistics bureau said today.

As we can see, as inflation is falling back the real rate of increase in retail sales is accelerating. This, in part, is a result of increases in wages.

According to the most recent data from the Chinese statistical office, in the first half year of 2008, the average wage of on-duty staff and workers in urban units reached 12,964 yuan, a year-on-year increase of 18.0 percent. Of the total, the average wage of state-owned units was 13,800 yuan, up by 17.0 percent; that of collective-owned units was 7,789 yuan, rose by 18.9 percent; and that of units of other types of ownership was 12,610 yuan, an increase of 19.2 percent.

Urban disposable income increased 14.4 percent in the first half, or 6.3 percent after stripping out inflation. Also per capita consumption expenditure was 5,490 yuan, up by 13.7 percent over the same period of the previous year, a real increase of 5.7 percent after deducting price factors. China aims to increase consumption to reduce dependence on investment and overseas sales for economic growth.

The problem with this scenario at the present time is the impact on producer prices. China's producer prices climbed at the fastest pace since 1996 in July on energy and commodity costs, underscoring the significant risk of second round effects and the possibility of a rebound in consumer-price inflation. Factory-gate prices rose 10 percent in July from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said yesterday, after gaining 8.8 percent in June.

The acceleration in retail sales and the surge in fixed asset formation at a time when industrial output is weakening and exports are slowing means only one thing as far as I am concerned: a correction is coming.

Today's data comes two days after figures showing exports climbed 26.9 percent in July, accelerating from 17.2 percent in June.

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