Saturday marked the Lunar New Year, the most important date in the Chinese calendar. It’s also the start of the longest holiday at two weeks, during which the largest mass migration of humans occurs every year as families reunite and go on vacations, both domestic and overseas.
2017 is the year of the 10th Chinese zodiac, the fire rooster, one of whose lucky colors is gold. Year-to-date, gold – the metal, not the color – is up 3.5 percent, which is below the 5.7 percent it had gained so far around this time last year. Unfortunately, gold prices won’t find support from Chinese traders this week, as markets will be closed in observance of the new year. If you remember, the yellow metal had one of its worst one-day slumps of 2016 back in October during China’s Golden Week, when markets were similarly closed.
But there are other opportunities to get excited about. More than 3 billion trips are expected to take place domestically this year – 58 million by air alone. That’s up from 55 million last year and is equivalent to the combined populations of Texas, Ohio and New York. China Southern Airlines, the largest carrier in Asia, added as many as 3,600 flights to accommodate the demand.
As disposable incomes rise in the worlds second-largest economy, travelers are more inclined to take their new year celebrations outside the country. This year, 6 million Chinese tourists are expected to travel abroad and spend more than $14 billion in 147 destinations, the U. S. included. As I’ve mentioned before, China is home to some of thebiggest overseas spenders, with 128 million people spending a whopping $292 billion in 2015 alone.
Betting on China’s Surging Middle Class
A theme I’ve written and spoken about frequently is the emergence of new investment opportunities as more and more Chinese citizens join the middle class and build disposable incomes. The size of the Asian giant’s middle class has already exceeded that of America’s. Looking ahead 10 years, the number of Chinese households with incomes over $35,000 is now expected to surge 300 percent, from 40 million today to 160 million by 2025. That projection can be found in a January report from Oxford Economics, which points out that these new middle-class Chinese consumers ‘will demand more of the services and higher-end products that American companies export.’
This post was published at GoldSeek on 31 January 2017.