(Bloomberg) -- China’s economy showed signs of a stronger recovery in September, according to several early indicators and a firm analyzing the global economy using satellite data.
Activity around Chinese shopping malls remained at relatively high levels in September following an increase in August, according to SpaceKnow, a US company that analyzes satellite images. A pickup in cement manufacturing, which began in June, was also sustained through this month, the data show.
“We are in the ‘early signs of recovery’ team,” said Jan Pintera, an economist at SpaceKnow. He said satellite imagery showed a “positive direction for the Chinese construction sector” and “renewed consumer confidence.”
Supporting the recovery story, traffic congestion in China surged in the week to September 27, reaching the highest level recorded for any week in 2022 and 2023, according to analysis of data from Baidu Inc. by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The traffic gauge has been rising steadily since the start of August.
Spaceknow also compiles a new orders prediction benchmark, which combines several satellite image-derived activity indicators to create a forecast of orders in China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers index. That gauge rose to 51 in mid-September, up three points from the level a month before.
However, the company’s most recent data on cement production show activity low compared to 2021, Pintera added, suggesting the years-long property slump remains a drag on construction. Activity around malls also saw a daily peak at the end of August, and has weakened slightly since.
Questions remain about whether a pickup in growth recorded in official data for August can be sustained, given ongoing weakness in the property sector.
Morning Consult’s index of Chinese consumer sentiment preserved most of the previous month’s gains in September, but weakened slightly.
Other indicators suggest China’s economy gained momentum in recent weeks. World Economics’s all sector Sales Growth Index for China increased to 53.1 in September, a six-month high.
The Emerging Industries PMI, which some economists see as a leading indicator for China’s official manufacturing PMI, increased to 54 in September from 48.1 the previous month.
Based on those indicators as well as seasonal factors, Goldman Sachs Group Inc economist Hui Shan predicts China’s manufacturing PMI will rise to 50.2 in September from 49.7 in August.
That would be the first reading above 50, which marks an expansion in output, since March. The PMI figures are due to be released on Saturday.
“Looking ahead, we expect the recovery to continue on the back of three tailwinds: the recent shift in fiscal stance, the stabilization in exports and the property policy put,” Larry Hu, Macquarie Group Ltd.’s chief China economist, wrote in a note.
(Adds traffic data.)
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.