China Suspends PMI Details in New Hurdle for Scrutiny of Economy

China Suspends PMI Details in New Hurdle for Scrutiny of Economy

China suspended the release of industry-specific data from a monthly survey of manufacturing purchasing managers, with an official saying there’s limited time to analyze the large volume of responses.

“We now have 3,000 samples in the survey, and from a technical point of view, time is very limited — there are many industries, you know,” Cai Jin, vice president of the China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing, which compiles the data with the National Bureau of Statistics, told reporters yesterday in Beijing.The disappearance of data on industries including steel adds to issues hampering analysis of the world’s second-biggest economy, after fake invoices inflated trade numbers this year. The manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index also omitted readings on export orders, imports and inventories without any explanation from the government.

“Suspension of the monthly data, without prior notice, makes the research work difficult for us,” Xu Xiangchun, a steel researcher and chief analyst at Mysteel.com, said by phone from Beijing. “The random absence of official data is disorienting.”

The industry-specific PMI readings have only been available via paid subscription, while the broader data are issued via press releases.

Ding Shuang, senior China economist at Citigroup Inc. in Hong Kong, said earlier this week that he subscribes to the industry-specific PMI readings, and the logistics federation told him in a July 1 e-mail that the figures would be “temporarily” suspended without giving a reason.

Not Permanent

Cai said the suspension wasn’t permanent. He didn’t elaborate on the reason for the decision beyond rejecting the idea that it was because the data showed too much weakness.

The statistics bureau didn’t respond to e-mailed or faxed questions seeking comment.

The logistics federation increased the number of companies in its manufacturing survey to 3,000 from 820 starting with January’s reading and also regrouped the industries into 21 categories from 31. The latest release referred to 31 industry groups.

Less information makes it more difficult to assess the magnitude of an economic slowdown at risk of deepening because of a cash squeeze in the interbank market that sent borrowing costs soaring last month. The issues with trade data this year added to broader skepticism of the nation’s statistics.

Export Growth

Economists in a May survey by Bloomberg News said January-April export growth was overstated by 4 to 13 percentage points, while Bank of America Corp. estimated the trade surplus for the period was one-tenth the official figure. Shen Danyang, a Commerce Ministry spokesman, said last month that data on trade with Hong Kong were inflated by arbitrage transactions that skirted rules.

Earlier this week, a person involved in producing PMI data on the country’s steel industry said that the release was suspended after the statistics bureau decided to change how the figures are compiled.

It isn’t yet clear what changes will be made and in what time frame, or if the data for July would be released next month, said the person, who asked not to be identified as he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

The monthly steel PMI, released by the statistics bureau together with the logistics federation and Shanghai-based Xiben New Line, measures production, orders and inventories in the industry. It rose to 46.8 in May from 45.1 in April. A reading below 50 indicates contraction.

China is the world’s largest producer of steel. It accounted for 49.18 percent of worldwide crude steel production in May, according to the World Steel Association. Japan, the second-largest producer, accounted for 7.06 percent, the data showed.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Helen Yuan in Shanghai at hyuan@bloomberg.net; Zhou Xin in Beijing at xzhou68@bloomberg.net

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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