China March FDI robust at $12.4 billion, outbound flows up 29.6 percent in first-quarter

Thu Apr 16, 2015 2:38am EDT
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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Foreign direct investment (FDI) into China rose 2.2 percent on the year in March, while outbound flows posted a milder rise, as foreign corporate investors remain undeterred by China's weakening domestic economic performance.

Thursday's data showed inbound FDI up 11.3 percent to $34.88 billion for the first quarter.

The FDI news follows a series of disappointing data releases, highlighting flagging domestic fixed asset investment, including in property, and slowing industrial activity.

Foreign investment projects take time to conceive and implement, making FDI a lagging indicator of general confidence, but they have remained strong in recent months nevertheless.

In contrast, March trade data released on Monday was extremely weak, with exports falling 15 percent on the year, the worst performance for March since 2009, in the depths of the financial crisis.

Some analysts have posited a continued seasonal effect from this year's very late Lunar New Year holiday, which fell on February 19th, making it the first in late February since 2007. Chinese economic activity usually recedes during the holiday as factories shut down and workers travel back to their home towns and villages.

Sectorally, Q1 FDI in services rose 24.1 percent year on year to $21.59 billion, while FDI in manufacturing fell 3.6 percent to $11.22 billion.

Investment from European nations posted large year-on-year gains in the first quarter of the year, with French and British investment up 40 percent and 259 percent respectively. In aggregate, European Union countries invested $2.02 billion, up 30.5 percent year on year.

Exceptionally strong growth in FDI inflows in the first two months of the year, including a nearly 874-percent jump for Saudi Arabia and a 367-percent gain for France, were due to one-off deals, commerce ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said in March.   Continued...

Customers select goods at a supermarket in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province February 9, 2015.  REUTERS/Stringer