China’s campaign to upgrade its economic data, from plugging leaks to expanding sample sizes, is yet to tackle one gap: the monthlong delay each year in releasing some key January numbers.
Government agencies on Feb. 8 will report slower inflation of 2 percent and faster export growth of 17.3 percent, according to the median estimates of analysts for figures skewed by the timing of a weeklong Lunar New Year holiday. Data for industrial output, retail sales and fixed-asset investment won’t be publicly updated until March.
The wait prevents analysts and investors from fully gauging growth in the world’s second-largest economy following the first acceleration in almost two years last quarter. While it’s not simple to account for the effects of a festival held on different dates each year, that shouldn’t keep the government from releasing data, according to analysts at Royal Bank of Scotland Plc and Mirae Asset Financial Group.
“The statistics bureau could do a better job simply by releasing the January raw data for economists and investors to digest themselves, without any seasonal adjustment,” said Joy Yang, chief Greater China economist at Mirae Asset in Hong Kong and a former International Monetary Fund researcher. “The big issues for China’s data are consistency, transparency, and reliability.”
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