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Chinese consumer confidence seen falling again

By Song Shengxia (Global Times)

09:33, July 09, 2013

Consumer confidence dropped to the second-lowest point since 2011 in the second quarter of the year amid increasing downward pressure on the economy, a survey showed Monday.

The Chinese Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 87.9 in the second quarter from 91.7 in the first quarter, a survey conducted by the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) and the Capital University of Economics and Business showed Monday.

It was the third straight decline in the past three quarters and only slightly higher than in the same period of 2012 when China's quarterly GDP growth dipped below 8 percent for the first time since the financial crisis in 2008.

The sub-index for consumers' confidence in economic growth dropped to 110.4 in the second quarter of the year, a decline of 7.5 points from the first quarter but a significant 8.9-point increase from the same period of 2012, the survey also showed.

The index ranges from 0 to 200 with a value of 100 separating pessimism from optimism.

"Although the index continued to drop in the second quarter, it was higher than the same period of last year when growth dropped below 8 percent, indicating consumers have adapted to the slower pace of economic growth," Ma Jingyi, director of telephone surveys and the data mining laboratory at CUFE, told the Global Times Monday.

China's economic growth fell to 7.7 percent in the first quarter this year and the figure for first-half GDP growth is due to be released on July 15.

"The decline of consumer confidence came as no surprise as the current weak global and domestic economy cannot support strong consumption, and a series of domestic subsidy policies to boost consumption expired in May and June," Zhao Ping, a research director at the Consumption Economics Department under the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times.

"As consumption (retail sales) already declined in the first quarter, it is necessary for the government to roll out new policies to encourage consumption. Otherwise it will be difficult for the government to achieve its target for consumption growth by the end of 2015," Zhao said.

China's retail sales rose by 12.4 percent year-on-year to 5.545 trillion yuan ($887.22 billion) in the first quarter of 2013, down 2.4 percentage points from the first quarter of 2012 and 1.9 percentage points from the whole-year figure for 2012.

China aims to double its retail sales to 32 trillion yuan by the end of 2015, with annual average growth of 15 percent between 2010 and 2015.

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