Chinese factory output rebounds after stimulus

Updated 12 December 2015

Chinese factory output rebounds after stimulus

BEIJING: China’s activity data was stronger than expected in November, with factory output growth picking up to a five-month high, signalling that a flurry of stimulus measures from Beijing may have put a floor under a fragile economy.

Still, analysts believe more policy steps are needed to weather nagging headwinds from a cooling property market, risks from high domestic debt levels, and weak global demand as financial markets brace for interest rate rises by the US Federal Reserve.
“Real interest rates are still high due to falling producer prices,” Wang Jun, senior economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), a Beijing-based think-tank.
“It’s still necessary to cut interest rates to support economic growth and combat deflation.”
Factory output grew an annual 6.2 percent in November, data from the National Bureau of Statistics(NBS) showed, quickening from October’s 5.6 percent and beating expectations of 5.6 percent.
Growth in China’s fixed-asset investment, one of the main drivers of the economy, rose 10.2 percent in the first 11 months, unchanged from the gain in January-October, and higher than an expected 10.1 percent rise.
Retail sales grew an annual 11.2 percent in November — the strongest expansion this year — compared with 11.0 percent in October. Analysts had forecast 11.1 percent growth in November.
“While low base could be the factor driving the headline growth, we still have to acknowledge that China’s data are illustrating signs of stabilization, albeit at a low level,” said Zhao Hao, senior economist at Commerzbank in Singapore.
The data came after weak trade and inflation readings earlier this week, which underscored the persistent slack in the economy.
The world’s second-biggest economy has been hit by weak demand at home and abroad, factory overcapacity and challenges posed by its transition to a consumption-led growth model from one reliant on investments.
With the Fed poised to raise interest rates for the first time in almost a decade at next week’s review, the risk of intensifying capital outflows has added to Beijing’s policy challenge.
Premier Li Keqiang has recently pledged to step up “supply-side” reform to generate new growth engines in the economy while tackling factory overcapacity and so-called zombie firms.
With its trade sector ailing, there are also signs China is ramping up efforts to send more excess production abroad with tax cuts for the export sector.
China’s output of key industrial commodities including coal and steel remained weak in November amid chronic oversupply as slowing construction demand took its toll.
Over the past year Chinese authorities have launched the most aggressive policy stimulus since the 2008/09 global financial crisis, including cutting interest rates six times since late 2014 and lowering bank reserve requirements.
They have also taken other steps, including an announcement on Friday to lock-in more investments as Beijing tries to put a floor under the economy.
But the government has been struggling to reach its economic growth target of around 7 percent this year, which would be the weakest pace in a quarter of a century. Many analysts suspect actual growth is lower than official figures suggest.
A cooling property market has weighed heavily on China’s economy over the past year. Home sales and prices have increased in bigger cities over recent months, helped by a barrage of government measures.
Data issued by the statistics bureau on Saturday showed property investment grew 1.3 percent in the first 11 months of 2015 from a year earlier, slowing from 2.0 percent rise in January-October and hitting the weakest pace since early 2009.


NYSE begins move to delist Chinese state oil producer CNOOC

Updated 27 February 2021

NYSE begins move to delist Chinese state oil producer CNOOC

  • The Trump administration had last year moved against certain Chinese companies that Washington said were owned or controlled by the Chinese military in an effort to ramp up pressure on Beijing

The New York Stock Exchange on Friday decided to begin formal delisting of Chinese state oil giant CNOOC Ltd. based on an update to an executive order signed by former US President Donald Trump in November last year.
Prohibitions on CNOOC will take effect on March 9, 60 days after the company was added to the list that prohibits US investments, according to a guidance issued by the Treasury Department on Jan. 27.
However, the exchange did not disclose a target date for the completion of the delisting.
The Trump administration had last year moved against certain Chinese companies that Washington said were owned or controlled by the Chinese military in an effort to ramp up pressure on Beijing.
The NYSE said CNOOC has the right to appeal the delisting decision. The exchange will include any appeal it receives in its application to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which will be submitted on completion of all procedures.
CNOOC could not be immediately reached for comment.


McDonald’s considers selling part of digital startup Dynamic Yield

Updated 27 February 2021

McDonald’s considers selling part of digital startup Dynamic Yield

  • Dynamic Yield is run as a standalone company within McDonald’s
  • The startup, whose customers include IKEA and Lacoste, has businesses with more than 300 brands globally

McDonald’s Corp. is exploring selling part of Israeli artificial intelligence startup Dynamic Yield Ltd, which it acquired two years ago in an attempt to boost online marketing efforts, the company said on Friday.
Dynamic Yield, run as a standalone company within McDonald’s, personalizes customers’ experience by changing offerings on the chain’s Drive Thru menu displays, according to time of day, weather, customer traffic and trending choices.
The startup, whose customers include IKEA and Lacoste, has businesses with more than 300 brands globally.
“The potential sale of the non-McDonald’s part of our business has been discussed from the outset and now feels like the right time to explore that possibility,” its chief executive, Liad Agmon, said in a statement.
The Chicago-based hamburger chain said it was considering a sale of only the part of Dynamic Yield that works with other companies with no timeline set for the deal.
McDonald’s said Dynamic Yield’s technology was used across many markets, adding, “We’re continuing to deploy to more.”


SoftBank says deal reached with WeWork founder, directors

Updated 27 February 2021

SoftBank says deal reached with WeWork founder, directors

  • Tokyo-based SoftBank is a majority shareholder in WeWork, whose bumpy results, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic, has dented SoftBank’s financial results
  • SoftBank says WeWork holds potential, especially in markets like Japan

TOKYO: SoftBank Group Corp. has reached a settlement in a US legal dispute with directors of office space-sharing venture WeWork Inc. and its founder Adam Neumann, the Japanese technology company said Saturday.
The terms of the settlement in the Delaware Court of Chancery were not disclosed. The statement said the agreement was not yet final. Other details were not immediately available.
The wrangling began more than a year ago after SoftBank acquired shares in WeWork, which was suffering after its failed IPO. But some investors and Neumann were not satisfied with the monetary deals offered by SoftBank.
“With this litigation behind us, we are fully focused on our mission to reimagine the workplace and continue to meet the growing demand for flexible space around the world,” said Marcelo Claure, executive chairman of WeWork and SoftBank Group International chief executive.
Tokyo-based SoftBank is a majority shareholder in WeWork, whose bumpy results, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic, has dented SoftBank’s financial results.
SoftBank says WeWork holds potential, especially in markets like Japan, where office space is costly and workers’ commutes tend to be long. SoftBank also invests in artificial intelligence, Internet services, sustainable energy and IoT.


Investors weigh new stock leadership as broader market wobbles

Updated 27 February 2021

Investors weigh new stock leadership as broader market wobbles

  • Tech and momentum stocks helped drive returns in 2020 “when everyone was locked down and all they had was their computer”

NEW YORK: A shakeup in stocks accelerated by the past week’s surge in Treasury yields has investors weighing how far a recent leadership rotation in the US equity market can run, and its implications for the broader S&P 500 index.
Moves this week further spurred a shift that has seen months-long outperformance for energy, financial and other shares expected to benefit from an economic recovery, while a climb in Treasury yields weighed on the technology stocks that have led markets higher for years.
The two-track market left the benchmark S&P 500 down for the week, and sparked questions about whether it could sustain gains going forward if the tech and growth stocks that account for the biggest weights in the index struggle.
So far this year, the S&P 500, which gives more influence to stocks with larger market values, is up 1.5 percent, while a version of the index that weights stocks equally is up 5 percent.
“That just tells us the gains are less narrow, more companies are participating, and I think that’s healthy,” said James Ragan, director of wealth management research at D.A. Davidson.
The focus on market leadership comes as investors are weighing whether the S&P 500 is due for a significant pullback after a 70 percent run since March, with the rise in long-dormant yields the latest sign of trouble for equities as it means bonds are more serious investment competition. The yield on the 10-year US Treasury note this week jumped to a one-year peak of 1.6 percent before pulling back.
Economic improvement will be in focus in the coming weeks, including the monthly US jobs report due next Friday, as will the country’s ability to ensure widespread coronavirus vaccinations, especially as new variants emerge.
Tech and momentum stocks helped drive returns in 2020 “when everyone was locked down and all they had was their computer,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Capital Management. “Now it seems with the vaccines, the stimulus and the prospect of reopening that we are looking out toward a recovery phase.”
The shift in the market this week is building on one that was fueled in early November, when Pfizer’s breakthrough COVID-19 vaccine news generated broad bets on an economic rebound in 2021.
Among the moves since that point: the S&P 500 financial and energy sectors are up 29 percent and 65 percent, respectively, against a nearly 9% rise for the benchmark index and 7 percent rise for the tech sector. The Russell 1000 value index has gained 16.5 percent against a 4.3 percent climb for its growth counterpart, while the smallcap Russell 2000 is up 34 percent.
“You definitely are seeing the reopening trade that has pretty much come alive here,” said Gary Bradshaw, portfolio manager of Hodges Capital Management.
Despite the gains, there remains “plenty of room for the reflation trade to run from a valuation perspective,” Lori Calvasina, head of US equity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, said in a report this week. RBC is “overweight” the financials, materials and energy sectors.
Rising rates tend to be favorable for more cyclical sectors, David Lefkowitz, head of Americas equities at UBS Global Wealth Management, said in a note, with financials, energy, industrials and materials showing the strongest positive correlations among sectors with 10-year Treasury yields.
Still, how long the market’s reopening trade lasts remains to be seen. Investors may be reluctant to stray from tech and growth stocks, especially with many of the companies expected to put up strong profits for years.
Any setbacks with the economy or with efforts to quell the coronavirus could revive the stay-at-home stocks that thrived for most of 2020.
And with a GameStop-fueled retail-trading frenzy taking hold this year, banks and other stocks in the reopening trade may fail to draw the same attention from amateur investors as stocks such as Tesla, said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments.
“There isn’t the pizzazz to those stocks,” Meckler said. “There rarely is a potential for stocks to make the kind of moves that big tech growth stocks have made.”


IMF urges Tunisia to cut wage bill and energy subsidies

Updated 27 February 2021

IMF urges Tunisia to cut wage bill and energy subsidies

  • The IMF said in statement that monetary policy should focus on inflation by steering short term interest rates, while preserving exchange rate flexibility

TUNIS: The International Monetary Fund urged Tunisia on Friday to cut its wage bill and limit energy subsidies to reduce a fiscal deficit, putting more pressure on the fragile government amid a severe financial and political crisis.
With the coronavirus pandemic, political infighting and protests since last month over social inequality, it is a time of unprecedented economic hardship in the North Africa country that ran a fiscal deficit of 11.5 percent of GDP in 2020.
The IMF said in statement that monetary policy should focus on inflation by steering short term interest rates, while preserving exchange rate flexibility.
Tunisia’s 2021 budget forecasts borrowing needs $7.2 billion including about $5 billion in foreign loans. It puts debt repayments due this year at 16 billion dinars, up from 11 billion dinars in 2020.
The IMF said the service salary bill is about 17.6% of GDP, among the highest in the world.