Land Sales Surge m-o-m in Dec, Developers in No Rush to Start New Projects

Official figures put land sales in China at 122 million square meters in December, up 140% month-on-month but down 35.8% year-on-year. Total land sales during 2014 fell 33.6% on an annual basis to 885 million square meters. Amid the year-end land-banking, industry data show developers starting 102 million square-meters of new construction last month, down 26.8% year-on-year. For the year, work began on 1.24 billion square-meters of new projects, down 14.4% from 2013.

Mortgage Lending Jumps in Dec

New loans to homebuyers in China totaled 154 billion yuan in December, up 11.5% year-on-year and hitting a high not seen in at least 30 months, industry figures show. Signs of depression pervaded China's mortgage market over much of 2014. New mortgage volumes in November fell 3.3% on an annual basis to 124 billion yuan; while October lending totaled 110 billion yuan, representing a modest increase of 1.7% year-on-year. For 2014 as a whole, new mortgage lending reached 1.3 trillion yuan, down 2.6% from 2013.

Third Party to Cover Kaisa Trust Payment

According to reports, troubled Chinese property developer Kaisa Group was unable to repay 2.5 billion yuan owed on a trust product from Ping An Trust Co. Sources say the product has been transferred to an unnamed third-party who will cover interest and principal payments owed to investors. Kaisa rattled the market earlier in the year when it failed to make a $23-million coupon payment on dollar-denominated bonds. By the end June, Ping An Trust had 367 billion yuan worth of assets under trust, one-fourth of which were tied to China's real estate industry. Trusts account for the bulk of China's shadow banking sector, and amid mounting signs of weakness in the country's property market developers have become increasingly reliant on high-interest trust vehicles for financing.

Sinopec Gas and Oil Production up 10% y-o-y in Q4, Refined Product Sales Sink

According to its latest operational results, Sinopec Corp, the Hong Kong listed arm of China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, produced the equivalent of 123 million barrels of oil and gas in the fourth quarter, up 10% year-on-year and 2% quarter-on-quarter respectively. Specifically, crude oil production rose 11% year-on-year and 1% quarter-on-quarter to 92 million barrels. Meanwhile, total refined product sales tumbled to just 33 million tons, down 37% year-on-year and 35% quarter-on-quarter. For the whole of 2014, domestic refined product sales totaled 170.97 million tons, up 3.36% over the previous year.

China Mobile Leads 4G Race

The largest of China's Big Three telecoms companies, China Mobile, added a net 18.83 million 4G subscribers in December, up 12.2% month-on-month. This brings its total 4G subscriber count to 90 million, representing 11.2% of the carrier's subscribers. All told, China Mobile accounted for about 75% of all new 3G and 4G subscribers last year, up from 56% in 2013.

Meanwhile, China Telecom picked up a net 2 million 3G and 4G subscribers last month, even with November. China Unicom net added 1.15 million 3G and 4G subscribers, up 5.5% month-on-month.

Telecom Service Revenue Growth Stabilizes in Nov

According to figures from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, telecom service revenue totaled 160 billion yuan in November, unchanged from the same month last year. Service revenue gains had been declining since mid-2014 thanks to value-added tax reforms and a shift among carriers into tariff subsidies (versus handset subsidies). Service revenues were down 4% year-on-year in October; compared with gains of 0.7%, 3.3% and 4.6% in September, August and July respectively. Analysts expect service earnings to gather steam in 2015 as subscribers upgrade to faster 4G plans which allow for more monthly data usage.

Retail Sales Edge Higher in Dec, Consumption Expands Share of GDP Growth

Retail spending in China rose 11.9% year-on-year in December, outpacing gains of 11.7% and 11.5% in November and October respectively, according to figures from China's National Bureau of Statistics. These results bring retail receipts for 2014 to 26.24 trillion yuan, up 12% over the previous year. Rural shoppers increased retail spending by 12.9% last year, compared with an increase of 11.8% among urbanites. Growth in online spending was particularly robust, rising 49.7% to 2.79 trillion yuan for the year. Overall, consumption accounted for 51.2% of Chinese GDP growth in 2014, 3 percentage-points higher than in 2013.

Gree Sales up 16% in 2014, Air Con Market Share Dips

Chinese home appliance manufacturer Gree recorded 140 billion yuan in sales revenue last year, up 16.7% from 2013, company figures reveal. Sales during the fourth quarter hit 40 billion yuan, up 28% over the on-year period and accelerating from 16% annual growth during Q3. According to data from industry portal ChinaIOL, Gree sold 9.35 million air conditioning units during the October-December period, up 7% year-on-year. Despite the solid volume increase, the company's share of China's air-conditioner market eased to 33.8% by year-end, down from 34.7% at the start of 2014.

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