x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

China's income hits Dh460bn for month

China's fiscal revenues grew at their fastest pace this year last month as the country's central and local governments raked in 787.1 billion yuan.

China's fiscal revenues grew at their fastest pace this year last month as the country's central and local governments raked in 787.1 billion yuan (Dh462.86bn).

Income soared 22 per cent from a year ago, another sign China's recovery is gaining speed, and the data added to Beijing's recent unveiling of a trillion-yuan package of infrastructure stimulus projects.

That provided the catalyst for confidence among resource producers, stabilising steel and copper prices and encouraging mills to restock, analysts said.

"There's some expectation of more infrastructure stimulus later this year or early next year," said Dai Bing, a Coal Network steel analyst.

Faster growth in factory output, retail sales and fixed-asset investment also boosted last month's receipts from value-added tax, business tax and enterprise income tax, the finance ministry said yesterday.

Total fiscal revenues in the first 11 months of this year hit 10.9tn yuan, exceeding last year's full-year income of 10.4tn yuan.

Tax revenues grew 14 per cent in October and the quickening growth adds to evidence that China's economy is rebounding.

Still, the ministry cautioned against reading too much into yesterday's data. It said last month's fiscal revenue growth was lifted by low comparison figures a year ago, when the economy was in the throes of a slowdown.

Value-added tax revenues rose 16 per cent last month from a year earlier, while enterprise income tax surged 51 per cent.

Meanwhile, China's fiscal expenditure rose 7 per cent last month from a year earlier to 1.21tn yuan. The central government spent 149.5bn yuan and local governments spent 1.07tn yuan, the ministry said.

Spending on transport climbed 12 per cent to 720.5bn yuan. China has been fast-tracking infrastructure projects this year in the hope of bolstering the economy.

To add to the emerging picture of rapidly improving health, the country increased production of industrial materials including copper and oil products, suggesting smelters and refiners are gaining confidence that the economy is on a recovery course. Copper output set a record in data issued yesterday, reinforcing an optimistic outlook based on record crude-oil throughput, announced on Sunday. The data also support indications of an upturn in industrial demand as measured by China's official Purchasing Managers' Index, a measure of nationwide manufacturing activity, which rose to 50.6 last month from 50.2 in October, marking its third straight monthly gain - and second consecutive month in expansionary territory.

The PMI data indicate a recovery in the industrial sector, which the Deutsche Bank analysts Daniel Brebner and Xiao Fu in a research note said they expected would "prove supportive for parts of the industrial metals complex".

Copper production rose to 531,000 tonnes last month, up 2.1 per cent on month and 11.6 per cent on year, data from the national bureau of statistics showed yesterday.

Data from the bureau also showed Chinese refiners processed 10.17 million barrels a day of crude oil last month, up 4.2 per cent on month and 9.1 per cent on year.

However, some analysts cautioned the figures may not actually reflect stronger demand.

"The reason [for record crude-oil throughput] is simple: there is just very little refinery maintenance," said Li Li, an analyst at the Chinese consultancy ICIS C1 Energy.

For the market to really know whether consumption is the reason for the record throughput, it would need data on Chinese oil inventories, Ms Li said. China excludes strategic oil inventories from data it issues, which indicates only the on-month change in stockpile levels.

* compiled from Reuters and Dow Jones