China delays the official data release for the third quarter in the middle of a major political event in Beijing.
According to Bloomberg, the critical economic data, including gross domestic product growth, was supposed to be released on Tuesday, in the middle of the national congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
China’s National Statistics Bureau did not explain the postponement and provided no future release date.
Investors are eager for the data to overview the economy’s last quarter performance and forecast China’s outlook for the rest of the year. However, the chief China economist at Standard Bank Group said that putting off the data unexpectedly “isn’t a good look.”
Chief Asia FX strategist at Mizuho Bank Ltd. said, “This could cause some uncertainties and cautiousness among investors in the absence of explanation for such an unusual delay.”
The Financial Times reported that the economic data was expected to show China’s continued economic downturn, including an ongoing real estate crisis, and the negative impact of Beijing’s strict “zero-COVID” policy on locked-down cities and consumption, mainly the cutting off of the country from the outside world.
A survey from economists by Bloomberg expected GDP in the third quarter to rebound to 3.3% after near-zero growth in the last quarter. However, the number is still low for China due to tight COVID controls and a slump in the property sector.
Experts said the delay is to avoid distraction at a politically sensitive time; the CCP’s congress, where Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to win a five-year third term.
Duncan Wrigley, a chief China economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, told Bloomberg, “My guess is they want to avoid potential distractions from the congress.”
He added, “I would say now is a more politically sensitive time, given the economy and the expected reappointment of Xi for a third term.”
China’s second-quarter GDP growth rate was only 0.4%, down from 4.8% in the first three months. Major global financial institutions cut their forecast for China’s 2022 growth. The International Monetary Fund lowered China’s growth projection to 3.2% for the year, while the World Bank cut the rate to 2.8%.