CH News – 09.13.11

Ok news so far for August, some slowing but no sign of a hard landing yet!

On Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 8:03 AM, Evelyn Richards wrote:

-China’s retail sales up 17% in Aug
-China’s fixed asset investment up 25% in Jan-Aug
-Yuan Forwards Decline Most in a Month on Greece Debt Concern
-China Aims to Play Role in Stabilizing Europe, Researcher Says
-China August Fiscal Revenue Rises 34.3% on Year, Ministry Says
-China Called on as Emergency Lender as Italy Faces Crisis
-China unlikely to loosen monetary policy

China’s retail sales up 17% in Aug
Sep. 13, 2011 (China Knowledge) – China’s retail sales reached RMB 1.47 trillion
in August this year, up 17% year-on-year, said the National Bureau of

Total retail sales in urban areas rose 17.1% year-on-year to RMB 1.28 trillion
last month, while retail sales in rural areas rose 16.4% to RMB 192.2 billion in
the same period.

Retail sales in the catering industry also grew and increased to 16.7%
year-on-year to RMB 171.7 billion in August, while retail sales of consumer
goods rose 17% to RMB 1.3 trillion.

Last month, the retails sales of automobiles continued to top the country’s
retails sales list, reaching RMB 174.6 billion, up 12.4% year-on-year, while
retail sales of oil and related products came in second, hitting RMB 126.7
billion, with a growth of 38.4%.

In the first eight months of this year, the country’s retail sales totaled RMB
11.49 trillion, 16.9% more than in the corresponding period of last year.
Retails sales of automobiles grew 14.9% to RMB 1.29 trillion during the period,
and retail sales of oil and related products amounted to RMB 928.2 billion,

China’s fixed asset investment up 25% in Jan-Aug
Sep. 13, 2011 (China Knowledge) – China’s total fixed asset investment surged
25% year on year to RMB 18.06 trillion in the first eight months of this year,
according to statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics.

The growth rate was 0.4 percentage points lower than that in the first seven

Last month, the country’s fixed asset investment climbed 1.16% from July.

Fixed asset investment in primary industry saw a 23% increase, hitting RMB 417.6
billion, while investment in secondary and investment in tertiary industry grew
27% and 23.6% year on year to RMB 7.92 trillion and RMB 9.73 trillion,
respectively, according to the latest statistics.

The country’s investment in the industrial sector jumped 26.6% year-on-year to
RMB 7.71 trillion, including RMB 638.9 billion in the mining sector and RMB 6.24
trillion in the manufacturing, up 15.9% and 32.2% year on year, respectively.
The power, gas and water producing and supplying industry saw its fixed-asset
investment climb 1.9% year on year to RMB 833.5 billion in the first eight

In the first eight months, investment in real estate development surged up 33.2%
year on year to RMB 3.78 trillion.

Meanwhile, fixed asset investment in China’s eastern, central and western areas
booked notable year-on year increases of 22.6%, 30.1% and 29.4%, respectively.

Yuan Forwards Decline Most in a Month on Greece Debt Concern
Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) — China’s yuan forwards dropped the
most in a month amid speculation Greece is nearing default,
which may prompt policy makers to slow the currency’s
The People’s Bank of China set the daily reference rate
0.09 percent lower today, the most in almost four weeks, as
Asian currencies weakened. The chance of a default by Greece in
the next five years has soared to 98 percent as Prime Minister
George Papandreou fails to reassure investors that his country
can survive the euro-region crisis, credit-default swaps showed.
“What you may see actually is a weaker pace of
appreciation,” said Leong Sook Mei, regional head of global
currency research at Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in
Singapore. “There was lots of risk aversion with regards to the
Greece issue. The overall trend of appreciation won’t stop as
yet until we see decisive signs of Chinese growth coming off and
inflation easing.”
Twelve-month non-deliverable forwards slid 0.33 percent to
6.3305 per dollar as of 4:58 p.m. in Hong Kong, according to
data compiled by Bloomberg. The premium to the onshore spot rate
was 1.1 percent, compared with 1.2 percent yesterday.
The yuan dropped 0.17 percent to 6.3991 per dollar in
Shanghai, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System.
In Hong Kong’s offshore market, the yuan declined 0.02 percent
to 6.3855.
A central bank statement yesterday that inflation is still
too high is “hawkish,” Tim Condon, head of Asia research at
ING Groep NV, said in an e-mailed note today.
Policy makers will want to see a second consecutive month
of lower headline inflation before declaring “victory,” Condon
wrote. He reiterated the bank’s call for one more 25-basis point
increase in benchmark interest rates by the end of the year.
China’s inflation eased in August, rising 6.2 percent from
a year earlier, compared with 6.5 percent in July, which was the
fastest since June 2008.

China Aims to Play Role in Stabilizing Europe, Researcher Says
Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) — China is playing its role as a
responsible major world economy and is trying to help stabilize
global confidence by supporting European governments, Zhang
Yansheng, a researcher affiliated with the nation’s top economic
planning agency, said today.
Chinese policy makers are thinking in a “global context”
and about the need to prevent a “domino effect” in the debt
crisis, Zhang said in Beijing today when asked to comment on
reports that China is in talks to make investments in Italy that
may include government bonds. If Italy “falls” it may drag
down Europe, the world and China’s economy, he said.
There is a limit to what China can do to help, Zhang said.
Zhang, who is a researcher at the Institute of Foreign
Economic Research affiliated to the National Development and
Reform Commission, said he was giving his own views on the

China August Fiscal Revenue Rises 34.3% on Year, Ministry Says
Sept. 13 (Bloomberg) — China’s August fiscal revenue rose
34.3 percent from a year earlier to 754.6 billion yuan and
fiscal expenditure rose 25.9 percent to 807.7 billion yuan,
according to a statement on the Ministry of Finance’s website
Fiscal revenue for the first eight months this year rose
30.9 percent to 7.4 trillion yuan, the statement said.

China Called on as Emergency Lender as Italy Faces Crisis
Sept. 13 (Bloomberg Businessweek) — China’s status as the fastest- growing major economy and holder of the largest foreign-exchange reserves lured another bailout candidate as Italy struggles to avoid a collapse in investor confidence.

Italian officials held talks in the past few weeks with Chinese counterparts about potential investments in the country, an Italian government official said yesterday, adding that bonds weren’t the focus. Finance Minister Giulio Tremonti met with Chinese officials in Rome earlier this month, his spokesman Filippo Pepe said by phone today, declining to say exactly when the talks took place or what was discussed.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu, asked about buying Italian assets, said Europe is one of China’s main investment destinations, without specifically mentioning Italy.

Italy joins Spain, Greece, Portugal and investment bank Morgan Stanley among distressed borrowers that turned to China since the 2007 collapse in U.S. mortgage securities set off a crisis that widened to engulf euro-region sovereign debtors. Stocks rose on the potential Chinese investment in Italy even as previous commitments failed to have a lasting impact.

“It’s a clear pattern of China’s intention to help stabilize the euro area,” said Nicholas Zhu, head of macro- commodity research for Asia at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group in Shanghai and a former World Bank economist. “The benefit to China is that it will help in the perception of host countries if China is viewed as a responsible stakeholder in the global community.”

Bond Auction
Italy today is auctioning as much as 7 billion euros ($10 billion) of bonds to help pay for 14.5 billion euros of bonds maturing on Sept. 15. The euro region’s third-largest economy sold 11.5 billion euros of bills yesterday and priced its one- year notes to yield 4.153 percent, up from 2.959 percent at the previous auction last month.

The yield on Italy’s 10-year bond rose to 5.69 percent as of 10:01 a.m. in Rome, pushing the spread with the equivalent German securities up 13 basis points to 396 basis points. The MSCI Asia Pacific index of stocks advanced 0.3 percent as of 4:50 p.m. in Tokyo after the Standard & Poor’s 500 index gained 0.7 percent overnight.

Chinese Image
For China, any purchases of European debt may allow the world’s largest exporter to be seen as helpful as it rebuffs calls to allow its exchange rate to appreciate at a faster pace. The world’s second largest economy has amassed record currency reserves of $3.2 trillion by selling yuan to limit gains.

Chinese policy makers are thinking in a “global context” and about the need to prevent a “domino effect” in the European debt crisis, Zhang Yansheng, a researcher affiliated with the nation’s top economic planning agency, said today.

China’s central bank referred questions to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, which didn’t respond to a request for comment. China Investment Corp., the nation’s sovereign-wealth fund, also didn’t respond.

Italy’s bond-yields rose to a euro-era record last month as the region’s sovereign debt crisis spread from Greece, the first to receive a European Union-led bailout. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government rushed a 54 billion-euro austerity package to convince the European Central Bank to buy its debt.

Even so, the size of Italy’s debt — at 1.9 trillion euros more than Spain, Greece, Ireland and Portugal combined — leaves it vulnerable to any rise in borrowing costs as it refinances maturing securities. The country still needs to sell about 70 billion euros of debt this year to cover its deficit and finance redemptions.

“We have heard this story before with regard to the likes of Spanish and Portuguese bonds, and in the end it was ECB buying and EU bailouts that seemed to have taken place rather than anything with a Chinese influence,” Gary Jenkins, a strategist at Evolution Securities in London, wrote in a research note.

Any Chinese purchases of euro-region debt to date haven’t produced a lasting cut in yield premiums for Greece, Portugal or Spain.

The extra yield investors demand to buy Greek 10-year debt over German bunds is about 23 percentage points, up from 14 percentage points three months ago. The equivalent spread for Portugal over Germany is 9.5 percentage points, up from 7.7 points over that period. Spain’s gap rose to 3.6 points from 2.5 points.

Too Big
“The issue with Europe is bigger than China alone can help with,” said Ju Wang, a fixed-income strategist at Barclays Capital in Singapore, adding that Italy’s debt load alone is a sum exceeding half the Chinese foreign-exchange reserves. “China probably will continue to help to shore up the euro, but its involvement in direct purchases of troubled Europe debt is unlikely to be too aggressive.”

If Italy “falls” it may drag down Europe, the world and China’s economy, said Zhang, a researcher at the Institute of Foreign Economic Research affiliated to the National Development and Reform Commission.

Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi said today that European policy makers should decide themselves whether they need fiscal assistance from Japan. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner will travel to Poland on Sept. 16 to participate in a meeting of European government finance officials trying to contain the region’s debt crisis.

‘Helping Hand’
Premier Wen Jiabao said in June that China can offer “a helping hand” to Europe by buying a limited volume of sovereign bonds. The Asian nation pledged that month to buy Hungarian government bonds and agreed to extend a 1 billion euro loan for the financing of development projects in the European country that needed an International Monetary Fund-led bailout in 2008.

Spain’s prime minister secured a Chinese pledge to invest in his nation’s faltering savings banks and in government debt on an April visit to Beijing.

In October, Wen said China will buy Greek bonds to support Greece’s shipping industry, while Chinese state-run banks agreed to $267.8 million in loans to three Greek shippers. President Hu Jintao visited Portugal in November and said China is “available to support, through concrete measures, Portuguese efforts to face the impacts caused by the international financial crisis.”

Any Chinese purchases of euro-denominated debt may help it diversify its reserves away from dollars. The biggest foreign owner of U.S. government debt has doubled its holdings of Treasuries in the three years through June to about $1.17 trillion.

China is playing a “white knight” role in assisting Europe and buying itself goodwill that will enable it to purchase more sensitive European assets such as technology companies, according to Stamford, Connecticut-based Faros Trading in a June report. The European Union still has an arms embargo on China, imposed after the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989.

Some of China’s investments have returned losses. China Investment Corp. paid $3 billion for a 9.4 percent stake in private equity firm Blackstone in 2007 at a 4.5 percent discount to its initial public offering price of $31. The stock traded at $12.31 yesterday, which translates to a loss of more than $1.7 billion loss for China, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

CIC, as the wealth fund is known, widened its investment horizon to 10 years from five years, the company said in July.

“They are trying to be helpful by diversifying a little within the euro zone community,” Michael Spence, a Nobel laureate in economics, said while attending a conference in Beijing today. “With relatively high yields, if there is a credible plan in Italy — Italy has very low private debt, its public debt is relatively stable if they adopt sensible policies — so could be quite a good investment as well.”

China unlikely to loosen monetary policy
Sept 13 (The Australian) – CHINA’s central bank says stabilising prices remains its priority, reinforcing signs that Beijing is unlikely to loosen the reins on the world’s No. 2 economy any time soon despite mounting global uncertainties.

In a statement last night, the People’s Bank of China also gave fresh acknowledgment that its traditional measuring tools have failed to keep up with recent changes in the Chinese financial system. The bank said it is considering issuing an adjusted version of its benchmark measure of the supply of money in the economy to help plug the resulting gaps.

The PBOC’s statement came after economic data over the previous three days showing growth and inflation both easing somewhat, but remaining strong.

The data reinforced a growing consensus among economists that Beijing has likely pressed pause on any big monetary policy moves — after a series of rate increases over the last year — as it balances concerns about the weakness in advanced economies like Europe and the US against ongoing wariness over consumer prices at home.

“There is some control over the causes of rising prices, but they haven’t been eliminated,” the PBOC said last night. “Inflation remains high and stabilising prices remains the top macro-control policy.” The bank said China needs to continue its “prudent” monetary policy and maintain steady and appropriate credit growth.

Data issued by the PBOC on Sunday showed that money-supply growth slowed further last month, which the central bank said was in line with its “prudent” monetary policy. China’s broadest measure of money supply, M2, was up 13.5 per cent at the end of August from a year earlier, slower than the 14.7 per cent rise at the end of July, and below economists’ expectations of 14.5 per cent.

But the PBOC’s statement last night also said it is researching the addition of an “M2-Plus” measure of money supply, because the current M2 measure — which gauges bank deposits and cash in circulation — doesn’t capture funds in wealth management products, which have expanded dramatically this year. That means the M2 readings have understated the total growth in money, which is a factor in inflation.

“The official M2 growth number has become a little less reliable than it once was,” said Standard Chartered economists Li Wei and Stephen Green in a research note last week.

The PBOC noted that growth in lending hasn’t been slow so far this year, pointing out that bank lending in August was up about 10 billion yuan ($1.5bn) from the same month last year, when monetary policy was still loose.

“Overall liquidity conditions are appropriate and banks’ provision levels are normal,” the PBOC said. China’s financial institutions issued 548.5bn yuan of new yuan loans in August, up from 493bn yuan in July and above economists’ expectations of 500bn yuan.

China’s consumer price index rose 6.2 per cent in August from a year earlier, slowing from July’s 6.5 per cent increase, which was the fastest rise in more than three years.