China overtook Japan as the world’s second largest economy in the second quarter and, in about 15 years China is expected by pundits to become the world’s largest economy. In the second quarter, China reported GDP of $1.34 trillion versus $1.29 trillion for Japan, but far lower than the $15.0 trillion GDP in the United States. China is experiencing continued growth in its per-capita income and spending. Consumer spending only accounts for less than 20% of China’s GDP, compared to around 70% in the U.S. The Chinese need to spend and this is what domestic and foreign companies are hoping for to help drive some growth.
Clearly, in the emerging markets of Asia, it has become a tale of two cities. While China continues to report double-digit GDP growth despite increased concerns of some slowing, Japan reported a weak 0.1% rise in its second -quarter GDP and continues to be impacted by decades of stagnant growth.
In reality, while Japan has faltered over the past two decades, China has used the opportunity to put itsmassive cheap labor workforce to use and create colossal manufacturing capacity for the world’s manufacturers looking for cheap labor and lower costs to produce goods.
As we said, China’s GDP is predicted to slow to the high single digits. The country’s GDP is pegged at 9.2% in the third quarter on dwindling stimulus, according to The State Information Center. China could see two straight quarters of declining GDP, albeit the growth is still far ahead of the U.S. and Europe. In the first quarter, China reported impressive GDP growth of 11.9%, and 10.3% in the second quarter. Pundits estimate GDP growth of eight percent at the end of 2010.
Evidence of slowing in China was demonstrated by the slowest increase in industrial output in July of 13.4% year-over-year and a slower rate of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in July. The FDI still grew at a 26.2% year-over-year at $6.92 billion in July, but well off from $12.5 billion in June.
China is also working on reining in speculative loans that have driven up property prices to bubble-like conditions. The fear is that a real estate collapse could wreak havoc on the Chinese banks. While property prices jumped 10.3% in July, its 14th straight month of gains, the increase was slower.
For some, the reality of playing the Chinese capital markets involves excessive political and economic risk. However, as we have said, you need to be well-diversified, which would enable you to play some Chinese growth stocks, especially those of the small-cap variety.
Our Chinese stock recommendations, while losing some ground, continue to show some strong gains. We remain long-term bullish on China, but you should watch for the short-term volatility.
On the chart, the Shanghai Composite Index (SCI) rallied after declining to below 2,350 in early July. The chart looks more positive now than the same time last month. Since then, the SCI has broken above its 20-day moving average (MA) of 2,636 and 50-day MA of 2,550 on a rising MACD. The 20-day MA has also broken above the 50-day MA, which is bullish, but remains well below the 200-day MA of 2,912. The SCI is in a sideways channel between 2,575 and 2,700. A strong break above could drive the index towards the 200-day MA.
It continues to be risky investing in Chinese stocks, but we know that, in the longer term, patience will pay off for us. We continue to favor China for growth investors who have long-term views.