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China In-Focus — Yuan firms; Service sector expands; Q2 job confidence lowest since 2009

BEIJING: China’s yuan firmed slightly against the US dollar on Thursday as the manufacturing and service sectors returned to growth after coronavirus curbs were eased, but gains were capped by signs that the country’s strict “zero-Covid” strategy will remain in place.  

The onshore yuan was changing hands around 6.6960 at midday, 40 pips stronger than the previous late session close, despite China’s central bank setting a weaker midpoint rate. 

By midday break, the Shanghai Composite index rose 1.3 percent to 3,405.64 points, while the blue-chip CSI300 index gained 1.62 percent to 4,492.2 points.

Both indexes were set for their best months since July 2020, if gains hold.

China’s June service sector activity expands at faster pace: official PMI

China’s services sector activity expanded at the fastest pace in 13 months, after authorities ended a city-wide lockdown in Shanghai, an official survey showed on Thursday.

The official non-manufacturing purchasing managers’ index rose to 54.7 in June — indicating the first activity expansion in four months — from 47.8 in May, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

A reading above the 50-point mark indicates expansion in activity while a reading below indicates contraction.

China’s official composite PMI which includes both manufacturing and services activity, stood at 54.1, compared with 48.4 in May.

Q2 job confidence among Chinese households lowest since 2009: PBOC survey

A Chinese index of employment confidence dived in the second quarter to its lowest since the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009, a central bank survey showed on Wednesday, after tough COVID-19 curbs took a toll on the economy from April to June.

Nearly 46 percent of Chinese households think the employment situation remains “grim” in the second quarter, urban depositors surveyed by the People’s Bank of China said.

Another indicator of future expectations of employment also dropped to the worst level since 2009.

With the survey-based jobless rate in 31 big cities rising to a record of 6.9 percent in May, Premier Li Keqiang said China would strive to return the economy to a normal track and cut the jobless rate as soon as possible, state media said on Tuesday.

Faced with economic uncertainties, more than 58.3 percent of the households are inclined to save rather than spend or invest in the second quarter, up from 42.4 percent in the first quarter, the PBOC survey showed.

(With input from Reuters) 

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