More traffic, night lights show China's factories restart as new virus cases drop

reuters.com 2020-03-03 09:20:19

Nearly 300 million people have gone back to work in China since the Lunar New Year break as more companies restart business and coronavirus travel restrictions ease, although many small firms are still struggling to find enough workers to run plants.


Eighteen regions in mainland China have cut the emergency response level as of March 2, and authorities eased travel restrictions amid a sharp drop in new coronavirus infection cases.


The flu-like epidemic has killed 2,912 people and infected more than 80,000 across the country.


China transportation ministry data showed an average of 15.8 million passengers returned from their hometowns per day last week, the third week after the prolonged Lunar New Year break.


That brings the total to 295 million people so far tracked by the ministry as having returned to their workplaces since the holiday, according to Reuters calculations based on transportation ministry data.


Increasing traffic flows in big cities also indicate more commuting across the country.


Location technology firm TOMTOM's traffic index shows congestion levels picked up noticeably in most major cities on March 2 to their highest levels since the virus outbreak.


Public transportation systems have also gotten busier. Of the 33 Chinese cities that have metro lines, only three have system restrictions still in place: Wuhan where the virus originated, Wenzhou in manufacturing hub Zhejiang province, and Urumqi in northwestern Xinjiang.


Average daily passenger volumes at metros across the country reached 10.2 million last week, up 65.15% from a week earlier, according to data compiled by China Association of Metros.


But air quality measures indicate China's industrial emissions remain well below normal.


Pollution data monitored by NASA and European Space Agency satellites show that the mean density of nitrogen dioxide - a noxious gas emitted by motor vehicles, power plants and industrial facilities - dropped significantly during February 10-25, to mostly below 125 micromoles per square metre in northern and eastern China.


That compares to more than 200 micromoles in Jan 1-20, according to maps from NASA's Earth Observatory. The drop in readings suggests a greatly curbed industrial engine as the virus-led travel restrictions took hold.


Underscoring the suddenness of the economic downshift, the Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) tumbled to 40.3 last month, the lowest on record, down sharply from 51.1 in January as well as the 50-mark that separates growth from contraction.


Daily coal consumption at six major coal-fired power groups across China is now starting to pick up, however, with 450,700 tonnes consumed on March 2, the highest level in five weeks.


China's top officials have urged local authorities to do everything they can to help companies resume production, including extending cheap loans and simplifying paperwork.


According to Chinese authorities, at least 11 regions in mainland China have seen resumption rates at companies with annual revenue above 200 million yuan ($28.73 million) exceed 90%.


But the matrix doesn't specify the utilisation rates at the firms, and excludes small-sized enterprises.


A "nightlight" index launched by China Merchants Bank , based on light intensity at a sample of 143 industrial parks across the country at night, shows that work resumption levels remain below 55% as of Feb.28, compared to a peak of more than 80% in late last year.


Ping An Bank estimated that average capacity resumption at its 600 small- and micro-businesses (SMEs) clients was 59% as of Feb.24, up from 30% in the prior week.


A survey of 577 companies in China by the European Union Chamber of Commerce and the German Chamber of Commerce found almost half reporting staff shortages and almost a third struggling with compliance requirements.



(Writing by Tammy Yang  Editing by Jessie Jia)
For any questions, please contact us by inquiry@fwenergy.com or +86-351-7219322.

Share this article
Connect with us

Editors Recommendations

1 Chinese thermal coal traders lift offer prices to test market reaction 2020-10-29

In anticipation of the potential supply tightness in November, spot traders in the Chinese domestic thermal coal market adjusted up offer prices to feel out market reaction. Several offer

2 Chinese buyers turn to Canada for premium coking coal 2020-10-29

Chinese buyers have moved to seek for Canadian high-quality coking coal as an alternative of Australian ingredients due to the sustained impact of customs restrictions. Two transactions o

3 Indonesian low-CV coal further loses strength after 4-session plateau 2020-10-29

CFR China price of Indonesian low-calorific value thermal coal further lost strength after holding steady for four sessions, as buying from Chinese users subdued after a flurry of deals reached for sh

4 China Coal Energy's 3Qs net profit down 27.9% YoY 2020-10-29

China Coal Energy Co., Ltd., one listed arm of China National Coal Group, posted its net profit contract 27.9% year on year to 4.15 billion yuan ($618.61 million) in the first three quarters, said the

5 Inner Mongolia's Wuhai Jan-Sep raw coal output up 10.30% YoY 2020-10-29

Wuhai city of Inner Mongolia mined a total 39.58 million tonnes of raw coal in the first three quarters, increasing 10.30% over the same period last year, showed data from Wuhai Municipal Bureau of St

6 China's Sep thermal power output sees marked MoM decline 2020-10-29

China's thermal power generation logged a 0.2% rise year on year but 17.03% reduction from a month ago to 422.3 TWh in September, showed the latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

7 China Coal Daily Track (Oct 29) 2020-10-29

Thermal coal Production area Coal prices headed down 10 yuan/t at some mines in Inner Mongolia, given growing stock backlogs amid rising production and slowed long-distance purchase from buyers.

8 China's thermal coal prices up slightly on growing demand 2020-10-28

Chinese spot thermal coal market closed the trading day with a marginal rise on October 28, as buying interest increased at northern ports, sources said. Offer prices of 5,500 Kcal/kg NAR

9 Australian thermal coal exports to China slump in Oct, Kpler data 2020-10-28

Australian thermal coal exports to China may tumble to a record low this month, data from Kpler indicated, a proof of tightening restriction on Australian fuel. As of October 28 this mont

10 Japan's carbon neutral target to hit Australia's coal and natural gas exports 2020-10-28

Japan's target of carbon neutral or net zero greenhouse gas emissions will pose a big challenge for Australian coal and natural gas producers in the long run. The target was proposed by J

Most Read Articles

1 Inner Mongolia's Ordos stresses overproduction ban while boosting supply 2020-10-26

Inner Mongolia energy bureau in a notice stressed tough attitude in banning coal mining beyond the approved capacity in Ordos city while agreeing it to put cargoes in stock on offer to guarantee suppl

2 Chinese appetite shrinks for Indonesian thermal coal 2020-10-26

Chinese appetite of Indonesian thermal coal further contracted at the beginning of this week, as the limited winter restocking demand seemed to have been met after a flurry of recent procurement.

3 Mongolian coking coal supply via Ganqimaodu declines amid sandstorm 2020-10-26

The number of trucks loaded with Mongolian coking coal arriving China through Ganqimaodu border crossing has nearly halved in recent days as the sandstorm delayed the customs clearing at the hub, sour

4 Chinese domestic thermal coal gains strength amid emerging demand 2020-10-27

China's spot thermal coal market saw offer prices edge up at northern transfer ports as some utilities started to look for November caroges, helping ease the bearish sentiment in the market.

5 China's thermal coal import to extend weakness in Q4 on multiple factors 2020-10-27

China's imports of thermal coal – a main fuel for power generation – are likely to extend weakness in the fourth quarter, owing to the government's tough stance on Australian coal ban amid soured bila

6 Mongolia hard to fully replace Australia in coking coal exp to China, but growth may continue 2020-10-28

Mongolia overtook Australia as China's top coking coal supplier in September, with shipments to China further expanding compared with the latter, but completely replacing Australian coking coal with M

7 China Sep thermal coal imports drop 39.26% YoY to 8.23 Mt 2020-10-27

China imported 8.23 million tonnes of thermal coal (including bituminous and sub-bituminous coals and excluding lignite) in September, falling 39.26% year on year but rising slightly by 0.73% from Aug

8 Shanxi premium coking coal prices keep rising amid absence of Australian coal 2020-10-27

Prices of premium hard coking coal kept moving up in Shanxi province, fueled by robust demand after imports of Australian coal became unavailable, sources said on October 27. Some large c

9 China's met coke may further tick up on short supply, yet upside limited 2020-10-26

Supply tightness of metallurgical coke is likely to further push up prices of the steel-making material in China in the near future, yet the upward room is believed limited due to thin steel profit.

10 China's Sep coking coal import fall 15.7% YoY 2020-10-27

China's coking coal imports in September fell 15.7% from the year-ago level, according to General Administration of Customs (GAC). The import of coking coal totaled 6.72million tonnes in