Hong Kong's Hang Seng (HSIINDICES:^HSI) had a rough week for investors, losing nearly 2% over the course of the past five days. Despite that dip, however -- a regularity for one of the world's worst stock indices year to date -- signs of hope might finally be forming in China.
The country's slowdown has dominated headlines, as China's GDP has slipped from double-digit growth last decade to 7.5% growth last quarter. However, recent data released in July has lifted economists' opinions about how the country's recovering from its slump. Questions still abound about China's future, but is there optimism for investors looking to capitalize on the king of the emerging markets?
Production shifts up
Industrial production jumped in July, growing 9.7%, to gain nearly 1% year over year. While production's been partly to blame for some of the struggles from leading Chinese companies -- materials firms, in particular, have suffered from critical oversupply issues -- consumer prices did increase 2.7% for the month, ahead of economist expectations. Prices will have to continue rising in order to offset high supply and middling demand for many industrial firms reliant on China's growth.
Retail sales also climbed higher, gaining more than 13%, to miss analyst projections, but remain in line with average growth. It's here that investors likely will find tomorrow's great buys in China. With a middle class quickly swelling, thanks to the country's growth and urbanization efforts, more Chinese dollars will be at work among the retail sector and related industries.
For automakers like Volkswagen (NASDAQOTH:VLKAY) and General Motors (NYSE:GM), the opportunity's colossal. Both automakers don't suffer from the issues of high supply and weak demand that have hit China's industrial sector hard, and both maintain top spots in the world's fastest-growing auto market – GM's the country's largest auto seller, and VW takes the second spot in this growing economy.
VW's surging behind its luxury Audi brand in China, which grew an eye-popping 27% last month alone. The country's emerged as Audi's largest market. Meanwhile, GM posted its own chart-topping numbers for the month, with the firm's Cadillac brand up an astronomical 82% for the month. For China investors, the automakers have held steady despite the country's slowdown, and look ready to keep on rising.
That doesn't mean all big names are doing well in China, however. PetroChina (NYSE:PTR) is one of Big Oil's biggest names, but shares have fallen more than 21% year to date. Things might get worse for PetroChina and the other big names in China's oil industry. With oil demand slowing -- and in some cases, declining -- across the world, and transportation increasingly embracing fuel efficiency, PetroChina and its competitors will need to find alternate ways to invigorate their stocks.
Fool contributor Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends General Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.