China’s property misery sours metal sector in warning signal for financial system

Laborers work at a metal plant of Shandong Iron & Metal Group in Jinan, Shandong province, China, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

  • Spillover-effect of property stoop poses recent dangers to financial system
  • Metal demand, very important a part of industrial engine, suffers blow
  • Hit to building ripples broadly, stings cement, home equipment
  • Credit score constraints, property woes present no indicators of easing quickly

BEIJING, Dec 19 (Reuters) – Debt issues at a significant Chinese language property developer have now spilled over into a significant artery of the nation’s industrial engine – the metal sector – and began to ripple by means of to different crucial components of the world’s second-largest financial system.

The spreading balance-sheet disaster at actual property companies is a warning for policymakers as a swing within the fortunes of the metal business would have vital repercussions for China’s financial system, with cement, glass, and family home equipment all weak to demand drops.

Already, metal costs are down from their file highs seen earlier this 12 months as a result of easing demand from building actions, which account for over half of the steel’s consumption, whereas steelmakers’ share costs have additionally been harm. learn extra

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Share costs of main Chinese language listed companies dropped from excessive ranges in current months on easing demand and decrease uncooked supplies costs.

Metal’s acute sensitivity to the ebbs and flows in building and manufacturing makes it a closely-tracked bellwether for China’s financial system, which has began to decelerate from the second quarter. learn extra Metal companies are additionally large employers that help an unlimited provide chain.

Hitting metal operations, actual property builders have dialled again funding in tasks to preserve money in a sector squeezed by tighter borrowing rules which have engulfed indebted corporations, most notably China Evergrande Group(3333.HK). learn extra

“We usually stockpile metal merchandise in winter at comparatively decrease costs and promote them after the brand new 12 months holidays when consumption resumes. However we’re holding off this 12 months,” stated Qi Xiaoliang, a Beijing-based metal dealer.

“There’s nonetheless uncertainty in the actual property marketplace for 2022 and the state of affairs just isn’t anticipated to be absolutely reversed for one more six to 12 months,” he added.

Within the last quarter of 2021, the property market took an extra hit because the unease within the sector shook already weak purchaser sentiment, with unsold housing inventory in China’s 100 largest cities reaching a five-year excessive in November. learn extra

Demand for houses is anticipated to ease additional in 2022, hitting downstream producers of family merchandise. learn extra

Cement manufacturing, one other building materials, was down round 16% for September-November year-on-year, and was decrease versus the identical interval between 2017 and 2019. Demand for earth excavators has additionally dropped off in current months.

The broadening spillover affect of the property downturn was additionally seen elsewhere. Within the home equipment business, for instance, month-to-month fridge output has been falling since Could by means of to November on an annual foundation.


Metal producers have been among the many finest performers of all the Chinese language financial system over the primary three quarters of 2021, with China’s 28 main listed mills pocketing over 106 billion yuan ($16.61 billion) in internet earnings, up 174% year-on-year and 129% greater than in pre-pandemic 2019.

Main Chinese language listed metal mills’ earnings jumped within the first 9 months of 2021.

However the increase occasions within the metal sector are over. The paralysis that has struck China’s mammoth building business is triggering a uncommon contraction in constructing exercise throughout the nation.

New building begins by ground space have contracted from a 12 months earlier since July – their longest stretch of declines since 2015. learn extra

Progress in China’s property funding and new building begins measured by ground space fell in current months amid builders’ default disaster and authorities’s controls.

The slowdown in the actual property sector has dented China’s month-to-month crude metal output by greater than 20% since September.

The closely-tracked metal fairness devices and commodities futures have captured the reversal of fortunes.

After gaining roughly 90% by means of mid-September, the CSI metal equities index (.CSI930606) has plunged 27% since, whereas futures costs for building supplies rebar and wire rod have tumbled 24% and 31% respectively from their historic highs to erase virtually all their beneficial properties this 12 months.

As metal producers hit the brakes, the important thing inputs utilized in steelmaking have additionally taken a shellacking, with Dalian Commodity Change iron ore futures down greater than 45% from their file in Could.

Gross earnings for metal rebar have began to development down from the height seen in late September.

China’s metal rebar output fell in current months as a result of easing property market demand.


Property-related sectors are the only largest contributor to China’s financial system, accounting for 28% of GDP in 2021, down from a current peak of 35% in 2016.

The GDP share is damaged down right into a 7% direct contribution from property and a 21% oblique contribution from building and thru sectors alongside the provision chain reminiscent of equipment and tools, based on Moody’s.

China’s home costs present uncommon weak spot as building sector debt woes chunk

A authorities business consultancy forecast China’s metal demand will slip 0.7% in 2022, following an anticipated 4.7% decline this 12 months.[nL1N2T102U]

Trying forward, any prolonged credit score constraints “may cut back demand for metals utilized in building as builders lose the power to pay for uncooked supplies at excessive costs,” analysts with Fitch Options wrote in a current be aware to purchasers.

If the contraction in building spending endures, it can then have an effect on the producers of home equipment and white items that represent a key a part of China’s crucial manufacturing base.

China seasonal output of metal, cement and key home equipment

“Property building has been the engine of China’s financial system for over 20 years now,” stated Frederic Neumann, Co-Head of Asian Economics Analysis at HSBC.

“With constructing exercise more likely to stay depressed for fairly a while, development will inevitably shift down a gear or two.”

($1 = 6.3813 Chinese language yuan renminbi)

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Reporting by Min Zhang and Ryan Woo; Modifying by Gavin Maguire& Shri Navaratnam

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Rules.