Thursday, October 30, 2008

Chinese Economy in Focus -- China may cut rates again to ensure "gentle slowdown" doesn't turn ugly

On the ground, things don't seem so bad in China. As I report from Suzhou, China I see construction booming on both a residential level on in terms of infrastructure. However as Bloomberg LP paints in a article you can view here, things aren't so pretty on a macro level.

Actually they may depend on what you think "pretty" is. Economic growth will slow this year. 3rd Quarter growth in 2008 when released is expected to come in at around 9%, down from 2007's astounding 11.9%. Considering the state of the global economy many argue 9% is still quite healthy. However for a country seeking to fast track its economic development and solidify its position in the global economy the slowing growth rate is not welcome news.

The government is acting quick to stem the problem, having already reduced interest rates three times in the past two months. Will it be enough? Probably not...

For one, the reckless speculation from abroad and domestically on Chinese equities has fully exploded in investors faces this year (including my own). The CSI 300 is down a whopping 69% in 2008 so far, and has not seen the rallies other Asian markets like Hong Kong, Korea and Japan have seen when the west introduced their respective bailouts, lowered interest rates and set up new lending facilities.

Chinese Media, Xinhua reports export orders dropped in the 3rd quarter to their lowest level since 2005. Home sales have plunged 59% in Beijing and 39% in Shanghai so far in 2008.

All this looks bleak, but a casual observer may add that between 2005 and 2008, both Beijing and Shanghai have continued to grow rapidly. Few can deny the changes which have manifested in each city in the past 3 years, not to mention the rapid change which occurred between 2000-2005.

My observations are simple. China was indeed growing too fast for its own good, this financial crisis is simply bringing it back down to reality. China will continue to grow but due to the nature of its export oriented economy it must do so within the context of the world economy. All the while it does have the capacity to cushion its own slowdown with its domestic economy and macro policies which will help spur growth in the domestic market.

Check out this Bloomberg article to get a full picture.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

News Line: Commodities in Focus - China, Vietnam, Italian Investments in Peru and Venezuela, Petrobras to suffer from global credit crisis

1) Falling prices give China chances to buy copper mines -- reports Mining Journal Online via Reuters

Falling copper prices are providing opportunities for cash-rich Chinese firms to buy overseas resources, a senior executive at China Nonferrous Metal Mining said on Monday...


"The winter is coming. It may be a good timing for Chinese firms to go out to buy resources," Liu Guoping, director of the exploration department at China Nonferrous, said at the conference. Liu said some overseas exploration firms might find it difficult to obtain funds to finance their projects, giving cash-rich Chinese firms good opportunities to buy their assets...


Liu at China Nonferrous said Chinese firms had acquired copper resources in the past few years at high prices as China`s need for the raw material rose. The demand for imported copper materials would stay strong in the long term. Jiangxi Copper, China`s top producer and the owner of the country`s largest open-pit copper mine in Jiangxi, will need to import 70% of its materials for refined copper production by the end of this year when its capacity rises by nearly 30% to 900,000t/y, president Li Yihuang said.

Click here to view the full article, courtesy of Reuters and Mining Journal

2) Saipem wins $1.1 billion contracts in Peru and Venezuela

Italian oil and gas industry contractor Saipem announced it had won onshore drilling contracts in Peru and Venezuela worth a total value of about $1.1 billion...

Click here to access the full article, courtesy of Living In Peru

3) Vietnam Lion Field Fires up production offshore Vietnam

Cuu Long Joint Operating Co. has commenced oil production from the Su Tu Vang (Yellow Lion) field located in Block 15-1 offshore Vietnam, according to a Dow Jones Newswire citing the Thoi Bao Kinh Te newspaper. Su Tu Vang, estimated to be Vietnam's fourth-largest field, is situated in the Cuu Long Area near the Bach Ho, Rang Dong and Ruby Fields and was discovered in 2001. The 'Yellow Lion' field is set to produce 65,000 barrels of crude per day...

Click here
to access the full article, courtesy of Rigzone

4) Credit crunch may block 20% of deep oil rigs, slow Petrobrad reports Bloomberg LP

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) -- As many as 20 of the 100 deepwater oil rigs on order worldwide may be delayed or canceled as loan availability erodes, possibly slowing developments including the biggest petroleum discovery in the Americas in three decades...


Norway's Sevan Marine ASA has lost 70 percent of its value this month amid concern it won't get financing for two drilling units. Houston-based Atwood Oceanics Inc. said Oct. 16 that it won't exercise an option to build a deepwater rig at Jurong Shipyard Pte. Ltd. in Singapore. New rigs were being ordered to ease a shortage of deepwater gear needed to exploit offshore prospects like Brazil's Tupi, announced in November by Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras.

``Petrobras would probably be the dominant oil and gas company that gets hit by this,'' Uhlmer said.

Jose Sergio Gabrielli, chief executive officer at state- controlled Petrobras, said the Rio de Janeiro-based company may need to help find financing for some of its suppliers. ``We are concerned about the supply chain of products for Petrobras,'' Gabrielli told reporters at a conference in Houston last week...


Click here to access the full article, courtesy of Bloomberg LP

Sunday, October 26, 2008

你好 读者(Ni hao duzhe)-- Hello readers

I must apologize to all those who once counted on this blog for perspectives, news, analysis and all the rest that used to be provided on a daily basis.  Sadly Internet restrictions and lack of access in the far east have made it difficult, sometimes impossible to access blogger. 

I write to you from the beautiful, bustling, urbanized yet serene city of Suzhou, China.  

I had planned to keep this website going strong during my year long stay in China.  Sadly, it is incredibly difficult to update from here.  I will continue to try, and I have a new internet connection arriving in a few days, which I hope will allow me more privileges as I am being forced to provide everything down to my blood type in order to obtain (hehe).

While my connection lasts i'll get what word I can out.  Everyday as I check in with the world via my blackberry I see stock markets plummeting, governments hosting meeting to address the crises, blame being dealt left and right, and my portfolio sadly decrease in value more and more.

While on this side of the Pacific, many express concern and legitimate worry that something horrible is on the verge of beginning (a global recession).  Meanwhile, from a rational point of view, I don't exactly see the world crumbling into pieces.  Buildings are still going up, the malls in China are full, people are swiping their credit cards, mortgages are being taken to buy apartments and houses, and people have generally remained hopeful of a brighter future.

Whether it will still be like this 6 months from now when the economic problems of the West more fully manifest, I can not tell.  What I can say for certain is it is not in China or any other emerging market of Asia's interest to see the United States and Europe come tumbling down. There is still tremendous room for China to grow, and grow it will.  Factories which produce goods for export to the West will shut, but the economy will re-adjust with a heavier focus on the domestic front.  

Just as the United States has centers of economic activity - New York, California, Texas, etc, so does China.  Beijing, Shanghai, the Southern Coast, the rebuilding of Sichuan will dominate China's economy on the surface in the months to come.  

Yes, hardships will probably become more obvious in the poorer regions of the country in the months to come, but they will not dictate the course of China's economy.  I have come to learn, China can not grow to infinity on its own, if it could, my Chinese stocks would not be hurting so greatly right now.  China can however soften the impact it will feel from the global financial meltdown underway right now.  

After researching, analyzing and attempting to no avail to decipher the commodity trade between China and South America, one thing I can say for certain is that the recent plunge in commodity prices will help China continue to prosper, not hurt it.  Record high prices of everything from copper, iron ore to energy had become a genuine problem for many industries here in Asia.  

In the coming months it will be interesting to see how and if a new balance can be established, and where prices will settle.  I'll leave my personal observations here, and I hope to be able to soon be in a position where I can begin bringing news, analysis and my personal observations to all readers of this site.