The Westpac MNI Chinese Consumer Sentiment Indicator (CSI) is out, showing a dip 0.4 points to 112.1 in December for a fall of 0.3% on the month.
That’s not much but the 7.9% fall across the year, the down trend and the fact that the index is sitting at multi-year lows suggests “Chinese consumers are still relatively anxious about their own personal financial wellbeing and the economy more broadly”, Westpac says.
The good news however is that Westpac says the “the pronounced pessimism that dominated much of 2014 has clearly lessened in recent months, with the shift in the policy stance.”
While four of the five key components of the index fell on the previous month (current family finances, business conditions ‘one year ahead’ and ‘five years ahead’, and ‘time to buy a major household item’) while “family finances one year ahead” rose.
It seems clear in Westpac Senior International Economist Huw McKay’s commentary that this forward-looking aspect of the index has caught his eye, and leaves it more upbeat than many China watchers in the year ahead.
Indeed McKay says: “We noted a month ago that forward looking indicators of the economy had improved more so than the coincident ones. In January, we build on that observation by noting that the ‘current’ portion of the headline index is down by 11.3% from a year ago, whereas the “expected” portion is down by a lesser 5.9%.”
As with the rest of the world, however, job security remains an issue for Chinese workers.