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The Impact of China’s Economic Slowdown

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China’s central bank unexpectedly slashed interest rates after data showed its retail sales and manufacturing output grew less than expected, signaling central bankers want to avoid an economic slowdown in China, the world’s second-largest economy.

Retail sales rose 2.7% in China in July compared to expectations of 5% growth, while industrial production grew 3.8%, below expectations of 4.6%. Both retail sales and industrial production slowed from the month before. According to a government spokesman, “the momentum of the economic recovery has slowed. More efforts are needed to consolidate the foundation of economic recovery.”

The slowdown comes in the wake of China’s “zero COVID” approach to containing COVID-19 with local lockdowns and amid a real estate slowdown. Oil prices fell on the slower-than-expected economic data, with light sweet crude down as much as 5%, below $90 per barrel. 

The retail sales data may signal problems ahead for Tesla and GM. Tesla generated roughly 26% of its sales from China last year, while GM generated about 11% of its sales in the country. China is the world’s largest market for electrical vehicles.

The industrial output data could also impact industrial giants like 3M and Caterpillar. 3M gets 11% of its total sales from China. Caterpillar doesn’t provide its sales numbers for China, but generates about 20% of its sales in Asia.

“China’s economy appears to be suffering from a crisis in confidence among consumers and businesses. Retail sales, industrial output and investment are all slowing, and the unemployment rate for young workers is near 20%. That will impact China’s domestic economy and its trading partners severely in the future,” said Caleb Silver, Editor-in-Chief of Investopedia.

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