Released: 16 January 2018

January Sales Managers Index shows Rising Economic Activity in China

  • Headline Sales Managers’ Index grows to 6 month high in January
  • Manufacturing Sales Index improves to 33 month high ahead of Chinese New Year
  • China’s service sector growth also increases in January

January’s Sales Managers’ Index (SMI) data shows that the Chinese economy continues to grow rapidly. The Headline SMI displayed an accurate trend during 2017 with economic growth peaking during the summer months, verified by improvements in official GDP figures. The solid start to 2018 is good news as China’s authorities continues to grapple with their long term task of turning their economy from an industrial behemoth to consumer led. It should be noticed however that Chinese official data must be viewed with caution, based on its out-of-date System of National Accounts (SNA) version of 1993. Given the volume of other data (see China Growth Tracker), it could be that the Chinese economy is actually growing faster than official data suggests as the 1993 SNA used in calculating GDP could be misrepresenting technological advances of the past 25 years and undercounting key new sectors.

January SMI data covering all industry sectors (excluding government) shows strong overall growth for the month along with rising prices and growing staffing levels. [Download Data Tables]


Sales Managers' Index (SMI)

The Headline Sales Managers' Index (SMI) - a composite indicator designed to provide the most up-to-date assessment of business activity.

Sales Growth Index

The Sales Growth Index defines the speed and direction of overall sales of goods and services made by business during the month.

Prices Charged Index

The Prices Charged Index measures the speed and direction of changes in the current price of goods and services taking into account any discounts offered.

Manufacturing Sector – [Download Data Tables]

The main driver of economic growth in January has been a continuation of the recovery in China’s manufacturing sector. The Sales Managers’ Index for Manufacturing has shown growth levels steadily improved throughout 2017 and January data reports that sales in the sector are now at a 4 year high with producer prices remaining stable. This is coupled with staffing levels continuing to grow modestly and at a consistent rate.

Sales Growth Index - Manufacturing

The Sales Growth Index defines the speed and direction of overall sales of goods and services made by business during the month.

Prices Charged Index - Manufacturing

The Prices Charged Index measures the speed and direction of changes in the current price of goods and services taking into account any discounts offered.

Staffing Levels Index - Manufacturing

The Staffing Levels Index monitors the level of growth or decline in employment against the same period a year earlier.



Non-Manufacturing Service Sector – [Download Data Tables]

The services industry is reported to be the largest private sector of the Chinese economy at around 51% compared to Industry at 40%. As the Chinese authorities try to reduce China’s dependence on heavy industry and manufacturing activities, more emphasis is being placed on Service sector growth. Over the past three years the Services SMI has remained at relatively low levels which has muted overall gains. However, Sales Growth in the Service sector grew rapidly during 2017 but towards the end of the year growth began to slow with a Sales Growth Index reading of 52.4 in November. January data reports that business conditions have improved to a level where they are consistent on a year-on-year basis. These steady levels of growth are giving the Chinese economy the stable growth foundation that it needs.

Sales Growth Index - Services

The Sales Growth Index defines the speed and direction of overall sales of goods and services made by business during the month.

Prices Charged Index - Services

The Prices Charged Index measures the speed and direction of changes in the current price of goods and services taking into account any discounts offered.

Staffing Levels Index - Services

The Staffing Levels Index monitors the level of growth or decline in employment against the same period a year earlier.





About China SMI Data

The Sales Managers Index provide the earliest monthly data on the speed and direction of economic activity in China.

Key advantages of the Chinese SMI:

  • The SMI provides the first indication each month of the speed and direction of economic growth in China.
  • The SMI provides the most complete indication of growth, covering all private sector activity.
  • The SMI is based on a key occupational group - uniquely able to sense changes in business activity levels.
  • The SMI is composite index of business confidence, market growth, sales, prices charged and staffing levels.
  • The SMI is a diffusion index, any index value above 50 indicates growth and below 50 indicates contraction.


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