Talk Money with Tony Field – October 20, 2015


China's latest growth numbers turned out to be better than expected. They also immediately drew scepticism from some analysts.

Chinese gross domestic product (GDP) slipped to 6.9 percent in the September quarter, compared to 12 months before.

That was below the Government's target of 7 percent. But it was higher than a Reuters poll had expected. The economists polled by Reuters had predicted GDP of 6.8 percent.

It is the first time since 2009 that China's GDP has fallen below 7 percent.

Industrial production dipped to 5.7 percent, whereas analysts had predicted 6 percent.

Offsetting that, the retail sector grew at 10.9 percent year-on-year. Fixed asset investment increased 10.3 percent, against expectations of 10.8 percent.

But can the figures be trusted? There is plenty of scepticism with some analysts saying the real growth rate could between 3 to 4 percent.

Analysts look at factors like rail cargo volumes and electricity use to try to get an accurate picture of how the economy is doing.

Here is my talk with Paul Henry about the figures.

New Zealand's services sector is growing at its fastest pace in eight years.

The sector accounts for around two thirds of the local economy.

The BNZ – Business New Zealand Performance of Services Index (PSI) was 59.3 in September. That was 0.8 points higher than August, and the highest result since November 2007.

A PSI reading above 50.0 indicates the service sector is generally expanding.

"With activity/sales (63.2) close to record levels and new orders/business (63.1) also remaining well above the 60-point mark, the sector is in very good health at present, with little sign of any slowdown," says Business NZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly.

"The proportion of positive comments in September (65.8 percent) was well up from August (59.2 percent), with those who stipulated positive influences citing a variety of factors, including new products/markets, increased demand and seasonal factors at play."

The value of electronic transactions increased 0.7 percent in the month of September, on a seasonally adjusted basis. Its annual growth lifted to 6.4 percent from an average of 5.9 percent over the previous three months and from a 4.3 percent average in the first half of the year.

"The positivity in the PSI adds to the improvement we saw in its cousin for the manufacturing sector last week. Together these surveys add support to our view that economic growth will be stronger in the second half of 2015 than it was over the first half," BNZ senior economist Doug Steel added.

The NZ dollar is trading at 68 US cents.

At 8am the Kiwi was sitting at 93.76 Australian cents.

It was 43.96 pence, 81.20 Yen and 60.05 Euro.

Shares in Weight Watchers surged 70 percent after it was announced Oprah Winfrey is buying a major shareholding in the company.

She is paying around US$43 million for a 10 percent stake.

The stock price rose 70 percent to US$11.40.

Oprah Winfrey will use the Weight Watchers app and work with a personal coach. The company will be able to use her name, image and likeness to promote its products and services.

The company wants to be seen as more than simply a weight loss company and has been facing competition from fitness trackers and apps.

3 News