China investors had a rough week, as Hong Kong's Hang Seng (UNKNOWN:^HSI) fell by more than 3.4% over the past five days. The Hang Seng has made a strong comeback over the past few months after a disappointing start to 2013, but the index has been unable to break even on the year -- and this week's downer won't help its quest to recover completely by the end of the year.
Many China stocks have waned in 2013, particularly as the world's second-largest economy has transitioned from its high-growth past to a long-term, sustainable growth plan designed for the future. With China's economy between worlds, are American stocks hoping for a China bounce, with stocks like Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Boeing (NYSE:BA) becoming some of the best investments in the world's top emerging market?
Who's gaining from China's rise?
There has been some good news for China's economy lately. Markit's preliminary Purchasing Managers Index for the country's manufacturing sector inched up to a mark of 50.9 for October, a reading that exceeded expectations, and above the 50-point mark that reflects neither expansion, nor contraction. Given how slumping materials prices and increasing labor costs have hammered China's factories lately, the stronger-than-expected PMI reading is a good sign for China, if the country can keep it up.
Indeed, Beijing isn't the only source of optimism in China. While the Chinese government expects a 7.5% economic growth rate next year, a recent Reuters poll projects the country's GDP to move higher by 7.6% in 2014. Global demand for China's goods has waned lately, particularly with the U.S. economy still working its way out of the post-financial crisis slump, and parts of Europe stuck in recession.
However, Beijing's goal of growing for the long term looks to be paying off so far, after projections earlier this year pegged China's economic growth possibly slowing into the sub-7% range in future years. That looks much less likely now, and a good bit of news for China's top companies and stocks.
The big winners might not be China's companies, however, but America's. U.S. firms that are counting on China for growth aren't slowing down, despite the Chinese economy's slump this year, and sustainable long-term growth will be just what top global firms need to keep investors pleased.
Look no further than Boeing. According to a report from Reuters, the aircraft giant scored deals from several Chinese customers for nearly 200 of its 737 Max airliners late this week. China's projected to eclipse the U.S. as the world's largest air market in the near future, and this deal is the first of its kind in the country for Boeing's short-haul 737-Max. It's an important step forward for Boeing in the market as it looks to hold off Airbus in the race for global civilian aerospace dominance.
Reuters reported that Boeing projects Chinese airlines to order more than 3,000 single-aisle airliners in the coming two decades. If Boeing can secure its spot in this growing market today, it'll be poised for global preeminence for years to come.
Wal-Mart's counting on Chinese consumers more than airlines. China's urban boom has captured headlines as the country's cities swell with millions of citizens, and Wal-Mart faces the opportunity to cater to this surging segment.
Wal-Mart plans to launch up to 110 new stores in the country by 2016, nearly four times the number of stores it opened in the country this year so far. The retail giant's also hoping to grow its e-commerce footprint in China to take advantage of a tech-savvy urban population. With retail lackluster in the U.S. and Europe, emerging markets are becoming more important than ever to Wal-Mart and other top companies -- and no emerging market is as enticing a draw as China.
Fool contributor Dan Carroll has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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.