Thursday November 24 2016
Hong Kong Trade Deficit Widens in October as Exports Fall
Census and Statistics Department | Joana Ferreira | joana.ferreira@tradingeconomics.com

Hong Kong's trade deficit rose by 25.5 percent to HKD 37.2 billion in October 2016 from HKD 29.7 billion the same month of the previous year, as exports fell by 1.8 percent while imports rose by 0.5 percent. Considering the first ten months of the year, the trade deficit was recorded at $341 billion, with exports declining by 2.5 percent and imports decreasing at a faster 2.9 percent over the same period in 2015.

Exports of goods decreased by 1.8 percent over a year earlier to HKD 313.7 billion, after an increase of 3.6 percent in September 2016. Exports to Asia as a whole went down by 0.9 percent, mainly to Thailand (-12.7 percent), Japan (-11 percent), Vietnam (-7 percent), India (-3.8 percent) and Korea (-3.4 percent). On the other hand, sales rose to Taiwan (+18.2 percent) and Singapore (+3.9 percent). Total exports to China remained virtually unchanged. Apart from destinations in Asia, decreases were also registered to Germany (-15.3 percent) and the United Kingdom (-13.5 percent). Concurrently, an increase was registered in the value of total exports to the US (+0.3 percent).

By commodity, exports declined for: Telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment (-11 percent); non-metallic mineral manufactures (-16.1 percent); and miscellaneous manufactured articles, mainly jewellery, goldsmiths' and silversmiths' wares (-12 percent). However, an increase was registered in electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (+12.5 percent).

Imports of goods increased by 0.5 percent to HKD 350.9 billion, after a year-on-year increase of 4.1 percent the previous month. Increases were registered in the values of imports from some major suppliers, in particular Korea (+39.7 percent), India (+38.2 percent), the US (+11.7 percent), the Philippines (+10.4 percent) and Singapore (+9.9 percent). Concurrently, decreases were registered in the values of imports from China (-8 percent) and Japan (-6.7 percent).

By commodity, imports went up for: Electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (+9.8 percent); and non-metallic mineral manufactures (+17.2 percent). However, decreases were registered in the values of imports of telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment (-9.3 percent); and miscellaneous manufactured articles, mainly jewellery, goldsmiths' and silversmiths' wares (-13.1 percent).

For the first ten months of 2016 as a whole, there was a trade deficit of HKD 341 billion. Exports dropped by 2.5 percent over the same period in 2015, in particular to Vietnam (-8 percent), Japan (-6.1 percent), Germany (-5.1 percent), the US (-4.9 percent), Korea (-3.6 percent) and China (-2.3 percent); and imports decreased by 2.9 percent, as purchases decreased to Japan (-8.5 percent), the US (-4.9 percent), Malaysia (-4.7 percent) and the Mainland (-4.6 percent).




Tuesday November 22 2016
Hong Kong Inflation Rate Falls to Nearly 7-Year Low
Census and Statistics Department | Joana Ferreira | joana.ferreira@tradingeconomics.com

Consumer prices in Hong Kong increased by 1.2 percent year-on-year in October 2016, easing from a 2.7 percent gain the previous month. It was the lowest inflation rate since January 2010, mainly due to a slowdown in housing prices growth.

Year-on-year, prices increased at a slower pace for housing (+0.5 percent compared to +4.2 percent in September), as cost of public housing rent dropped sharply (-5.6 percent from +11.5 percent) while that of private housing rent went up (+0.7 percent from +3.8 percent); food (+2.6 percent from +2.7 percent); electricity, gas and water (+4.9 percent from +10.3 percent); miscellaneous services (+1.6 percent from +2.1 percent); and miscellaneous goods (+1.6 percent from +2.2 percent). Additional upward pressure came from transport (+2.4 percent from +1.7 percent).

By contrast, cost fell for durable goods (-4.9 percent from -5.4 percent) and clothing and footwear (-2.4 percent from -3.6 percent).

Meanwhile, underlying consumer prices, which exclude the effects of one-off government relief measures, went up 2.1 percent, following a 2.3 percent gain in September.

Taking the first ten months of 2016 together, the consumer price index rose by 2.7 percent over a year earlier. Netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures, it rose by 2.4 percent.

Looking ahead, inflation pressure should remain moderate in the near term, given muted imported inflation and tame local cost pressures, a spokesman commented.




Thursday November 17 2016
Hong Kong Unemployment Rate Remains at 3.4%
Census and Statistics Department | Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Hong Kong came in at 3.4 percent in three months to October of 2016, the same as in the previous seven periods. The underemployment rate was also steady at 1.4 percent.

Compared to the three months to September, the number of unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) decreased by around 4 500 to 136 100 and the number of underemployed was 55 300, about the same as in July - September. Increases were seen in the repair, laundry, domestic and other personal service activities sector while a decrease was mainly seen in the construction sector. As to the underemployment rate, an increase was mainly observed in the foundation and superstructure works of the construction sector while a decrease was mainly seen in the repair, laundry, domestic and other personal service activities sector.

Employment decreased by around 2 500 to 3 810 900  and the labour force also decreased by around 7 000 to 3 947 000.

The Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung commented that while the labour market is expected to remain largely stable in the near term, the considerable external uncertainties and their potential impact on the local economy remain causes for concern.




Friday November 11 2016
Hong Kong GDP Growth Beats Expectations in Q3
Census and Statistics Department l Joana Taborda | joana.taborda@tradingeconomics.com

The Hong Kong economy advanced 1.9 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2016, higher than a 1.7 percent expansion in the previous period and above market expectations of 1.6 percent, boosted by private spending and investment.

Private consumption increased 1.2 percent (0.5 percent in Q2) while government spending grew at a slightly slower 3.3 percent (3.5 percent in Q2). Gross fixed capital formation also expanded at a faster 6 percent (5 percent in Q2) as expenditure on machinery, equipment and intellectual property products rebounded and increased 6.1 percent (-11.2 percent in Q2) and expenditure on building and construction rose 3.4 percent (3.54 percent in Q2), boosted by private investment (+5.2 percent) while public one edged down 0.2 percent. 

Exports growth slowed (1.8 percent compared to 4.6 percent in Q2) and imports expanded at a slightly faster pace (1.7 percent compared to 1.6 percent in Q2). 

On a quarterly basis, the economy advanced 0.6 percent, slowing from a downwardly revised 1.5 percent expansion in the previous period but better than market expectations of 0.3 percent. 

The government revised its 2016 growth forecasts to 1.5 percent from 1-2 percent.




Thursday October 27 2016
Hong Kong Trade Gap Widens Sharply in September
Census and Statistics Department | Joana Ferreira | joana.ferreira@tradingeconomics.com

Hong Kong's trade deficit rose by 9.1 percent to HKD 39.7 billion in September 2016 from HKD 36.4 billion the same month of the previous year, as exports went up by 3.6 percent and imports rose at a faster 4.1 percent. Considering the first nine months of the year, the trade deficit was recorded at $304.2 billion, with exports declining by 2.6 percent and imports decreasing by 3.2 percent over the same period in 2015.

Exports of goods increased by 3.6 percent over a year earlier to HKD 328.0 billion, after an increase of 0.8 percent in August 2016. Exports to Asia as a whole grew by 4.9 percent, mainly to Taiwan (+27.9 percent), India (+20.8 percent), Singapore (+7.8 percent), China (+5.1 percent) and Korea (+3.4 percent). On the other hand, sales fell to Thailand (-11.8 percent), Vietnam (-5.8 percent) and Japan (-4.6 percent). Apart from destinations in Asia, decreases were registered to some major destinations in other regions, in particular Germany (-16.3 percent), the US (-1.2 percent) and the United Kingdom (-0.8 percent).

By commodity, exports rose for: Electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (+13.2 percent); non-metallic mineral manufactures (+29.2 percent); and office machines and automatic data processing machines (+2.1 percent). However, a decrease was registered in telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment (-3.1 percent).

Imports of goods increased by 4.1 percent to HKD 367.7 billion, after a year-on-year increase of 2.8 percent the previous month. Increases were registered in the values of imports from some major suppliers, in particular Singapore (+20.5 percent), Korea (+20 percent), India (+19.4 percent), Taiwan (+9.9 percent), Malaysia (+5.2 percent) and China (+1.2 percent). Concurrently, decreases were registered in the values of imports from Japan (-5.9 percent) and Thailand (-3.9 percent).

By commodity, imports went up for: Electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (+11.1 percent); non-metallic mineral manufactures (+14.4 percent); and telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment (+3.3 percent). However, a decrease was registered in office machines and automatic data processing machines (-5.3 percent).

For the first nine months of 2016 as a whole, there was a trade deficit of HKD 304.2 billion. Exports dropped by 2.6 percent over the same period in 2015, in particular to Vietnam (-8.1 percent), Japan (-5.5 percent), the US (-5.5 percent), Germany (-3.9 percent), Korea (-3.7 percent) and China (-2.6 percent); and imports decreased by 3.2 percent, as purchases decreased to Japan (-8.6 percent), the US (-6.6 percent), Malaysia (-5.6 percent) and China (-4.2 percent).


Thursday October 20 2016
Hong Kong Inflation Slows to 2.7% in September
Census and Statistics Department | Yekaterina Guchshina | yekaterina@tradingeconomics.com

Consumer prices in Hong Kong increased 2.7 percent year-on-year in September of 2016, following 4.3 percent rise in the previous month. The larger growth in August 2016 was attributable to the low base of comparison arising from the Government's payment of public housing rentals a year ago, and such effect did not come into play in September. Netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures, the inflation rate was 2.3 percent, slightly larger than 2 percent in August.

Year-on-year, prices increased at a slower pace for housing (+4.2 percent compared to +9.5 percent in August);  meals bought away from home (+2.9 percent from +3 percent in August); food excluding meals bought away from home (+2.2 percent compared to +2.3 percent in August); miscellaneous goods (+2.2 percent compared to +2.5 percent in August); miscellaneous services (+2.1 percent compared to +2.7 percent in August) and transport (+1.7 percent compared to +2 percent in August).

In contrast, electricity, gas and water went up at a faster 10.3 percent(+4.2 percent in August), mainly due to the low base of comparison resulted from the special fuel rebate in electricity starting from mid-August last year.

Also, prices fell for durable goods (-5.4 percent, compared to -5.3 percent in August) and clothing and footwear (-3.6 percent compared to -5 percent in August).
Considering the first nine months of 2016, the CPI rose by 2.8 percent over a year earlier but netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures, it went up at a slower 2.4 percent.

The spokesman commented that looking ahead, inflation pressure should remain contained in the near term, given the subdued global inflation as well as moderate local cost pressures.


Tuesday October 18 2016
Hong Kong Jobless Rate Steady at 3.4% in September
Census and Statistics Department | Yekaterina Guchshina | yekaterina@tradingeconomics.com

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Hong Kong came in at 3.4 percent in three months to September of 2016, unchanged from the previous sixth periods. The underemployment rate was also steady at 1.4 percent.

Comparing the three months to August of 2016 with the previous period, unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) increased by around 2 400 to 141 200. Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons also increased by around 400 to 55 900.

Movements in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) in different industry sectors varied. Increases were mainly seen in the professional and business services (excluding cleaning and similar activities) sector while a decrease was mainly seen in the construction sector. As to the underemployment rate, increases were mainly observed in the foundation and superstructure works of the construction sector and the retail sector while decreases were mainly seen in the food and beverage service activities sector and the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector. 

Total employment increased by around 5 400 from 3 811 400 in May - July 2016 to 3 816 800 in June - August 2016. Over the same period, the labour force also increased by around 7 700 from 3 950 300 to 3 958 000. 

Commenting on the latest unemployment figures, the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said: "The unemployment rate of the consumption- and tourism-related segment (retail, accommodation and food services as a whole) inched up by 0.1 percentage point over the preceding period to 5.3% in July - September 2016. On a year-on-year comparison, the unemployment rate was 0.7 percentage point higher. Within the segment, the retail sector was particularly hard hit by the weakness in the local consumption market, with its unemployment rate up by 0.9 percentage point over a year earlier to 5.5%."

On the short-term outlook: "While the labour market has stayed resilient so far this year, the near-term employment outlook remains overshadowed by the unsteady external environment and the moderate growth of the local economy".


Tuesday September 27 2016
Hong Kong Trade Deficit Widens 21% YoY in August
Census and Statistics Department | Mojdeh Kazemi | mojdeh@tradingeconomics.com

Hong Kong trade gap rose to HKD 32 billion in August 2016 from HKD 25.1 billion shortfall a year earlier. Exports went up 0.8 percent to HKD 309.7 billion and imports rose at a faster 2.8 percent to HKD 341.8 billion. For the first eight months of the year, the trade shortfall came at HKD 264.8 billion compared to HKD 295.8 billion in the same period of 2015, as exports of goods declined 3.4 percent and imports fell 4.2 percent.

Exports went up 0.8 percent year-on-year to HKD 309.7 billion, after a 5.1 percent fall in July 2016. Sales to Asia as a whole grew by 3.8 percent, in particular India (+27.4 percent), Taiwan (+20.8 percent), the mainland of China (the Mainland) (+4.3 percent), Korea (+3.2 percent) and Malaysia (+1.6 percent). On the other hand, decreases were recorded in the values of total exports to Vietnam (-13.5 percent), Japan (-11 percent) and the Philippines (-2.3 percent).

By commodity, increases were recorded for: electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances(12 percent); non-metallic mineral manufactures ( 17.6 percent) and telecommunications and sound recording and reproducing apparatus and equipment (2.2 percent). However, a decrease was registered in office machines and automatic data processing machines (-9.9 percent).

Imports rose by 2.8 percent year-on-year to HKD 341.8 billion as purchased form major suppliers declined: Japan (-9 percent), the USA (-7.4 percent), Malaysia (-7 percent), the Mainland (-5 percent) and Thailand (-4.2 percent). On the other hand, increases were registered in the values of imports from India (+7.8 percent) and Taiwan (+2 percent).

By commodity, increases were registered in particular for: electrical machinery, apparatus and appliances, and electrical parts thereof (+14.6 percent) and non-metallic mineral manufactures (+13.4 percent). However, decreases were registered in imports of office machines and automatic data processing machines (-10.3 percent) and miscellaneous manufactured articles, mainly jewellery, goldsmiths' and silversmiths' wares) (-8.4percent). 

For the first eight months of the year, the trade shortfall came at HKD 264.8 billion compared to HKD 295.8 billion in the same period of 2015, as exports of goods declined 3.4 percent and imports fell 4.2 percent.



Thursday September 22 2016
Hong Kong Inflation Rate at 17-Month High in August
Yekaterina Guchshina | yekaterina@tradingeconomics.com

Consumer prices in Hong Kong increased 4.3 percent year-on-year in August of 2016, following 2.3 percent rise in July. It was the highest inflation rate since March 2015, due to the low base of comparison resulted from the government's payment of public housing rentals in August last year. Netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures, the inflation was 2.1 percent, also slightly larger than 2 percent in July.

Year-on-year, prices increased at a faster pace for housing (+9.5 percent compared to +4.2 percent in July); electricity, gas and water (+4.2 percent compared to -1.5 percent in July); alcoholic drinks and tobacco (+2.6 percent compared to 2 percent in July); transport (+2 percent compared to 0.6 percent); miscellaneous goods (+2.5 percent compared to 2 percent in July) and food excluding meals bought away from home (+2.3 percent compared to 1.9 percent in July).

Inflation was lower for meals bought away from home (3 percent from +3.3 percent in July) and miscellaneous services (2.7 percent compared to 2.8 percent in July); 

In contrast, prices fell for durable goods (-5.3 percent, the same as in July) and clothing and footwear (-5 percent compared to -4.8 percent in July).

Considering the first eight months of 2016, the CPI rose by 2.9 percent over a year earlier but netting out the effects of all Government's one-off relief measures, it went up at a slower 2.4 percent.

The spokesman commented that looking ahead, inflation pressure should remain contained in the near term, given the soft import prices and moderate increases in local costs. 


Monday September 19 2016
Hong Kong Jobless Rate Steady at 3.4%
Census and Statistics Department | Yekaterina Guchshina | yekaterina@tradingeconomics.com

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in Hong Kong came in at 3.4 percent in three months to August of 2016, unchanged from the previous period and remaining at the highest level since 2013 for the sixth consecutive month. The underemployment rate was also steady at 1.4 percent in the two periods.

Comparing the three months to August of 2016 with the previous period, unemployed persons (not seasonally adjusted) increased by around 2 400 to 141 200. Over the same period, the number of underemployed persons also increased by around 400 to 55 900.

Movements in the unemployment rate (not seasonally adjusted) in different industry sectors varied. Increases were mainly seen in the professional and business services (excluding cleaning and similar activities) sector while a decrease was mainly seen in the construction sector. As to the underemployment rate, increases were mainly observed in the foundation and superstructure works of the construction sector and the retail sector while decreases were mainly seen in the food and beverage service activities sector and the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector. 

Total employment increased by around 5 400 from 3 811 400 in May - July 2016 to 3 816 800 in June - August 2016. Over the same period, the labour force also increased by around 7 700 from 3 950 300 to 3 958 000. 

The near-term employment outlook is still clouded by the lingering external headwinds and their potential impact on local consumption and business sentiment.