China’s strong data sparks major stock rally with economic stimulus ‘bearing fruit’

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REUTERS/Bobby Yip

  • Asian stocks closed higher on Wednesday after a raft of positive Chinese data signaled a recovery in the world’s second-largest economy.
  • China’s economy grew 6.4% in the first quarter, higher than forecasted.
  • Growth in industrial output, retail sales and fixed-asset investment also impressed.
  • In Europe, passenger car sales declined for a seventh straight month in March, led by Italy and Spain.

Asian stocks closed higher on Wednesday after a raft of positive Chinese data pointed to a recovery in the world’s second-largest economy, dampening fears of a global slowdown.

China’s economy beat forecasts with first-quarter growth of 6.4%. Industrial output rose 8.5% – well ahead of forecasts and its biggest rise since July 2014, according to Reuters.

The nation’s retail sales rose 8.7%, driven by strong demand for home appliances, furniture and building materials. Similarly, fixed-asset investment swelled by 6.3%, according to Reuters.

“This is just the latest in a string of recent Chinese data that has surprised to the upside, indicating that policy implemented by Beijing at the end of last year could finally be bearing fruit,” said Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group.

“An improvement in the Chinese economy was a necessary requirement for an improvement in the health of the global economic outlook,” he added.

However, the market reaction to the positive data may have been muted by concerns that Chinese policymakers may now decide to temper planned monetary stimulus, Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at TF Global Markets, warned.

The news was worse in Europe as passenger car sales declined for a seventh straight month in March. Registrations dropped 3.6% to fewer than 1.8 million cars, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, as sales slumped nearly 10% in Italy and more than 4% in Spain.

“These data confirm that car sales in the Eurozone have now all but stalled,” said Claus Vistesen, chief eurozone economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. “Looking ahead, we doubt that the car registration data will improve much in coming months.”

Here’s the market roundup as of 9.20 a.m. (4.20 a.m. ET ):

Asian stocks closed broadly higher as the Shanghai Composite and Japan’s Nikkei registered gains of 0.3%, and the SZSE Component climbed 0.6%.

European stocks were mixed as Germany’s DAX and the Euro Stoxx 50 were flat, while Britain’s FTSE 100 was down 0.2%.

US stocks were set to open higher, as the futures underlying the S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq rose between 0.1% and 0.3%.