There has been a rebound in laptop computer sales in China. Could things not be quite as bad as they seem, or is this the newly jobless preparing for a lengthy reacquaintance with World of Warcraft? As usual, it depends who you ask. Two Taiwan computer manufacturers noted an uptick in sales in February following a disastrous fourth quarter. One of them says it’s a sign that China will lead the global laptop market to double-digit growth this year; the other says the numbers were inflated by a boost in shopping over the Lunar New Year, and the outlook is much worse. The much more important China Purchasing Managers’ Index has also provoked differing responses. Manufacturing activity contracted in February, but the size of the contraction fell for the third month in a row. What do we make of this? Is it: a) the start of economic stabilization, with full-year economic growth of 8% on the horizon; b) evidence of the Wal-Mart effect, as thrifty Western consumers buy cheap and therefore buy China, easing the slowdown in exports; c) a temporary rebound that cannot be sustained in a deteriorating global economy? We’re tempted to add a fourth option – “a clumsy mixture of all of the above” – and wait for the mists to fall at the National People’s Congress. Like they always do… erm, don’t they?