11 months ago • 2 mins
Data out on Wednesday showed that Chinese families celebrated the Lunar New Year in high style.
What does this mean?
Relaxing Covid restrictions was never going to set China’s economy straight overnight, but there have been some promising signs that the country’s finding its feet again. Just look at the stats for China’s most important holiday, the Lunar New Year: the first four days of the break each notched up an average 24 million journeys by road, rail, air, and water, as Chinese folk packed up en masse and headed home to be with family. And box office takings were also hale and hearty, coming in even higher than pre-pandemic levels – a feat that hotel bookings managed to pull off too. In short, there’s been a mood shift after last year, when the economy grew at its second-slowest pace since the ‘70s, and that suggests China could come back swinging even faster than expected.
Why should I care?
The bigger picture: Feeling flush.
China’s holidaymakers weren’t all warming themselves by the family hearth, mind you: some sought more exotic locales, with experts estimating that outbound air travel quadrupled compared to last year, while overseas hotel stays doubled. That’s got analysts hoping that China’s waves of pent-up demand will turn the tide of the global economy and underpin a full-blown recovery. And the country has the ammunition to do it: data out earlier this week showed that Chinese households added a massive $2.6 trillion to the bank last year – the biggest pool of new savings in history.
For markets: Infectious optimism.
China’s good mood seems to be rubbing off on everyone else: things have been looking up for all kinds of assets since restrictions eased, from shares in mining companies to stock markets in popular tourist destinations. In fact, research from Bank of America showed that investors poured a record-breaking $12.7 billion into emerging-market debt and equity funds in a single week earlier this month.
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