Hong Kong’s economy expanded more than estimated in the second quarter on consumer spending and investment, prompting the government to raise its forecast for the full-year expansion.
Gross domestic product rose 0.8 percent in the April-June period from the previous three months after a 0.2 percent gain in the first quarter, the government said yesterday. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 10 economists was for a 0.5 percent increase.
A strengthening economy may aid Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, whose popularity dropped in July to the lowest since he took office amid allegations of wrongdoing by members of his administration and calls for electoral reform. The government said that growth this year will be between 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent, after in May estimating a gain of between 1.5 percent in 3.5 percent.
“The risk is still pretty much the external environment and that includes the Chinese economy, because Hong Kong depends on them in terms of exports of goods and services,” Frances Cheung, a senior strategist at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong, said before the release. “Hong Kong will do better because we’re looking for a continued recovery in the U.S. economy and the bottoming out in the Chinese economy.”
The economy expanded 3.3 percent from a year earlier in the second quarter, the government said, from a revised 2.9 percent pace in the first three months. The increase exceeded the 3.2 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 17 analysts.
Household spending rose 4.2 percent from a year earlier, while investment rebounded, partly because of infrastructure projects, the government said. Merchandise exports were “lacklustre,” while the property market “cooled off” after measures to curb demand.
Leung’s support rating was the lowest since he took office in July last year -- 45.1 on a scale of 0 to 100 -- in a survey of 1,032 people conducted July 22-25 by the University of Hong Kong’s Public Opinion Program.
Hong Kong’s stock market was closed when the economic data were released. Earlier, the Hang Seng Index slipped 0.1 percent after U.S. jobs data fueled concern the Federal Reserve will reduce stimulus.
Consumer spending in Hong Kong has been bolstered by an increase in tourists from China and an unemployment rate that’s held below 3.6 percent since June 2011. Visitors from the mainland rose 21 percent in the first half of the year to 18.8 million, accounting for 74 percent of the city’s 25.4 million arrivals, according to government data.
Home prices have more than doubled since the start of 2009 because of near-record low mortgage rates and an influx of Chinese buyers, turning the city into the world’s most expensive place to buy an apartment, according to London-based property broker Savills Plc.
Li Ka-shing, Asia’s richest man and chairman of Cheung Kong Holdings Ltd., Hong Kong’s second-biggest developer, said Aug. 1 home sales in Hong Kong will continue to be affected by government measures. His company Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. is considering selling its ParknShop supermarket operation in Hong Kong while boosting investment overseas.