The profits of Chinese industrial companies dropped for the first time in almost three years, highlighting the effects of slowing economic growth, falling prices, and the trade war with the United States.
According to Bloomberg News, industrial profits declined 1.8% in November from a year earlier, down from a 3.6% rise in October. Total profits for the month were 595 billion yuan (US$86 billion), the National Bureau of Statistics said the previous Thursday.
China’s manufacturing companies are already under pressure with output growing at the slowest in a decade in November and factory inflation decelerating. If current trade talks fail, higher U.S. tariffs would further damage their prospects.
“Slowdown in sales growth and factory gate inflation, combined with rising costs, led to the decline of industrial profits in November,” the NBS said in the statement on its website.
The official year-on-year growth rate for profits began diverging from the growth rate calculated from the nominal profit figures in 2017, and that continued to be an issue in November’s release. That discrepancy led some economists to question the veracity of the figures.
Profits for the first eleven months climbed 11.8% from a year earlier to 6.12 trillion yuan. Within sectors, mining and ferrous metals smelting had the biggest gains, while ferrous metals and non-ferrous metals smelting had the biggest drops. Manufacturing posted an 9.9% increase over the period, slowing from an 11.5% gain in the first 10 months.