Chinese manufacturing profits squeezed by commodity prices

A coal shipment underway in China. (Image by Rob Loftis, Wikimedia Commons).

China’s industrial firms are doing much better this year than in 2020, but the improvement in profits is patchy, with miners and raw material providers benefiting from higher commodity prices at the expense of manufacturers. 

In the first 11 months of the year, industrial profits climbed 38% from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said Monday. 

On a monthly basis, though, profit growth decelerated to 9% in November from a year earlier. That was the slowest pace of increase since May as some manufacturers saw their margins squeezed by higher input costs.

Chinese manufacturing profits squeezed by commodity prices

The figures showed that the mining industry racked up around one-eighth of the total profits logged during the 11 months, with gains of 186%. 

For manufacturers, profits rose 34.5% during the same period. Profits at carmakers fell 3.4% from a year ago while food manufacturers saw theirs slip by 1.7%. 

“Cost pressures remain relatively large,” Zhu Hong, a senior statistician at the NBS, said in a statement. “Profit improvement at downstream industries is in need of further consolidation.”  

Chinese Manufacturing Profits Squeezed by Commodity Prices

Coal miners and crude oil suppliers were among the biggest beneficiaries of the soaring commodity prices, with profits more than trebling in the first 11 months of this year. 

Those gains have undermined profitability at firms using these products, including electricity and heating producers.

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