China’s Manufacturing Shrinks for 11th Month, HSBC PMI Shows
By Bloomberg News - Sep 29, 2012 11:00 AM CT
China’s manufacturing contracted for an 11th straight month, a private survey found, increasing pressure on the government to bolster growth in the world’s second-largest economy.
The purchasing managers’ index from HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA) and Markit Economics had a final reading of 47.9 for September, compared with 47.6 in August and a preliminary level of 47.8 released Sept. 20. New export orders declined in September at the fastest pace in 42 months and purchasing activity in manufacturing fell for a fifth consecutive month.
The data add to challenges for Chinese leaders who are preparing for a once-a-decade handover of power that begins in November and also trying to balance the priorities of growth with avoiding a resurgence in home prices. Speculation that authorities will take steps to counter a deepening slowdown spurred a 4.1 percent surge in the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index in the week’s final two trading days.
“The failure of both external and internal demand is weighing heavily on Chinese manufacturing,” said Glenn Maguire, principal at consultant Asia Sentry Advisory Pty and former Societe Generale SA chief Asia economist. “External demand recovery requires a stronger U.S., Japan and Europe - a highly unlikely dynamic in the near term. Internal demand recovery requires greater policy support.”
The yuan climbed on Sept. 28 to its strongest level since 1993 on speculation China will announce measures to bolster the economy. The People’s Bank of China injected record funds into the financial system during the week to ease a cash squeeze in the run-up to a week-long holiday. China’s markets are closed through Oct. 7.
Yesterday’s data also showed that manufacturing output and input prices continued to decline and that employee numbers decreased a seventh straight month. The HSBC and Markit Economics PMI hasn’t had a monthly reading above 50, which would indicate expansion, since October 2011.
“Beijing should step up easing to support growth and employment,” Qu Hongbin, chief China economist for HSBC in Hong Kong, said in a statement. “Fiscal measures should play a more important role in the coming months.”
A separate, government-backed purchasing managers’ index for manufacturing will be released tomorrow. The gauge probably rose to 50.1 in September, just above the expansion-contraction dividing level of 50, from a nine-month low of 49.2 in August, based on the median estimate of 21 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News.
China announced on Sept. 28 that the Communist Party will hold its 18th congress starting Nov. 8, when more than 2,000 delegates from the ruling party will gather to appoint new leaders. It was also announced that former Politburo member Bo Xilai had been expelled from the party.
The announcements showed “the dust finally settled” on the new leadership lineup and should mean a “re-focus on economic policy making,” Lu Ting, chief Greater China economist at Bank of America Corp. in Hong Kong, wrote in a note to clients. “We don’t expect a big stimulus, but policy easing, stimulus will be stepped up.”
Chinese industrial companies’ profits dropped for a fifth month in August, government data showed on Sept. 27. Baoshan Iron & Steel Co. (600019), the nation’s largest listed steelmaker, said Sept. 26 it suspended production at a Chinese plant after demand dropped for slabs used to make ships and bridges.
The PMI report also adds to evidence that China’s slowdown has extended into a seventh quarter after growth decelerated to a three-year low of 7.6 percent in the April-June period. The economy may expand 7.4 percent in the three months through September from a year earlier, based on the median estimate of 23 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News from Sept. 11 to Sept. 18. Estimates ranged from 7.1 percent to 7.9 percent.
Demand for Chinese exports has sputtered as a result of the European debt crisis, with shipments to the European Union falling 12.7 percent from a year earlier in August as overall exports gained 2.7 percent. Domestic consumption has been eroded by a government campaign to rein in the property market and boost the affordability of homes, which has included raising down payment requirements and limiting purchases.
China’s industrial production rose 8.9 percent in August from a year earlier, the weakest pace since May 2009, compared with a 13.5 percent gain in August 2011.
The government has sped up approvals for investment projects, lowered interest rates and boosted tax support for exporters in response to the slowdown. At the same time, authorities have refrained from easing monetary policy since rate cuts in June and July and a May reduction in banks’ reserve requirements.
Wen signaled this month that there’s more room for fiscal and monetary policy to support growth, saying Sept. 11 that the nation has full confidence it will meet its economic goals for the year. The government is trying to prevent growth this year from slipping below the 7.5 percent target set in March, which would already be the weakest since 1990.
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China Navy’s First Aircraft Carrier Commissioned After Sea Tests
By Bloomberg News - Sep 25, 2012 2:25
China’s first aircraft carrier, built with the hull of an unfinished Soviet-era ship, was handed over to the navy and formally commissioned this morning, the defense ministry said.
The 65,000-ton vessel, named the Liaoning, enters operation after months of sea trials amid a dispute with Japan over islands claimed by both sides. Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao visited the ship today after it was commissioned, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
The aircraft carrier Varyag is pictured at a dock in Dalian city, northeast Chinas Liaoning province, 9 August 2012. Photograph: Imaginechina via AP Images
The carrier will enhance China’s warfighting and defense capabilities and “promote international peace and common development,” China’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on its website today. China has the world’s second-largest defense budget after the U.S. and depends on maritime commerce to ship its goods across oceans and to import oil from countries including Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela.
“It is natural that China should have its own aircraft carrier,” Rear Admiral Yang Yi, the former director of the Institute for Strategic Studies at the military’s National Defense University, said in an editorial in today’s English- language China Daily newspaper. “While China is facing the threat of various external security challenges, the development of its aircraft carrier has become the common aspiration and will of the entire nation.”
The dispute over the islands sparked street protests and saw China deploy patrol vessels to waters surrounding them. The People’s Liberation Army Navy commissioned the carrier today in a ceremony at Dalian Port in China’s Liaoning province, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
The ship, about two-thirds the size of the U.S. Navy’s newest aircraft carriers, was originally intended to be the Soviet Union’s second main battle carrier when construction began in the 1980s, the U.S. Office of Naval Intelligence said in a 2009 report. Dubbed the Varyag, it was still unfinished when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. Its sister ship, the Admiral Kuznetsov, is the Russian navy’s flagship.
Ukraine inherited the Varyag and sold it to China in 1998. The hull arrived in 2002 in Dalian, site of China’s largest shipyard, the report said. In 2009 it was in plain view during its refurbishing in drydock about 600 meters from an IKEA furniture store.
Carrier flight operations require years of training. China built a mockup of the Varyag on the side of a lake in the inland city of Wuhan to train flight crews. The U.S. has 11 carriers on active duty and two, the Gerald R. Ford and John F. Kennedy, under construction, according to the Navy’s website. All but one of the U.S. carriers displace at least 100,000 tons.
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U.S. Stock-Index Futures Drop on China Manufacturing Data
By Alexis Xydias - Sep 20, 2012 7:04 AM CT
U.S. stock-index futures declined as data from China to Japan and the euro area increased concern a global economic slowdown is worsening.
Norfolk Southern Corp. dropped 5.4 percent in Europe as the rail carrier’s earnings outlook trailed analysts’ projections. Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY) retreated 4.9 percent after reporting second-quarter profit below expectations. Nike (NKE) Inc. rose 1 percent after the sporting-goods maker announced an $8 billion buyback.
Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures expiring in December lost 0.3 percent to 1,449.3 at 7:09 a.m. in New York before reports on U.S. leading economic indicators and manufacturing. Contracts on the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 33 points, or 0.2 percent, to 13,464.
“Poor economic data has superseded central-bank stimuli as the market’s near-term focus,” said Ioan Smith, a market strategist at Knight Equity Europe Ltd. in London. “The re- acceleration of a slowdown in Asia and Europe to new cycle lows will be a big worry for countries in the midst of sweeping austerity and a concern for investors betting the recent rally can last.”
U.S. stocks rose yesterday as the Bank of Japan increased its asset-purchase target and sales of existing American homes rose more than forecast. The S&P 500 (SPX) has advanced 16 percent so far in 2012, reaching its highest price relative to its members’ expected profits since 2010, as central banks around the world stepped up their effort to sustain growth.
A Chinese manufacturing survey pointed to an 11th month of contraction in September and Japan’s exports fell in August, supporting the case for increased stimulus as Asia’s growth slows.
The preliminary manufacturing reading for a China purchasing managers’ index released today by HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics was 47.8, compared with a final level of 47.6 last month. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. Japan’s overseas shipments slid 5.8 percent on weakness in demand from Europe and China.
Euro-area services and manufacturing output also contracted in September. A composite index based on a survey of purchasing managers in both industries in the 17-nation euro area dropped to 45.9, a 39-month low, from 46.3 in August, Markit said today in an initial estimate.
The Markit Economics preliminary index of U.S. manufacturing probably fell to 51.5 in September from 51.9 last month, economist forecasts compiled by Bloomberg show, indicating slowing growth.
The Conference Board’s gauge of leading economic indicators might have fallen 0.1 percent in August, after gaining 0.4 percent in July, a separate survey showed. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s economic index will probably be minus 4.5 for September, showing contraction for a fifth straight month, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists. Both reports are due at 10 a.m. New York time.
“The central-bank easing was good for reducing tail risk,” yet “it doesn’t do anything immediate in terms of a better global economy,” Otto Waser, chief investment officer at Research & Asset Management AG in Zurich, said on “The Pulse” with Maryam Nemazee on Bloomberg Television. “The economy is going through a relatively weak phase in the third quarter, and that is not going to change in the fourth quarter. The markets in the next few weeks will be more in a profit-taking mode.”
Trading of futures linked to the benchmark for U.S. options prices has risen to a record as investors seek to protect gains in stocks that are approaching all-time highs.
More than 190,000 futures on the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index (VIX) changed hands on Sept. 13, the most since the contracts started in 2004, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That brought the average daily volume to almost 152,000 last week, a record. The VIX fell 41 percent this year through yesterday, leaving the gauge near a five-year low.
Norfolk Southern (NSC) declined 5.4 percent to $68.77 in Germany. Third-quarter profit will miss analysts’ estimates as dwindling volumes at the second-biggest eastern U.S. railroad add to signs of a slowing domestic economy.
A drop in coal carloads and merchandise shipments will offset container-freight gains, paring revenue by about $120 million for the three months ending Sept. 30, the company said late yesterday. Fuel-surcharge receipts will decline by $80 million.
Norfolk Southern’s peers also retreated. Union Pacific Corp. (UNP), the biggest U.S. railroad, fell 3.5 percent to $120.68 in Germany, while CSX Corp. (CSX) dropped 4 percent to $21.87.
Bed Bath & Beyond, the operator of more than 1,000 home- furnishing stores, dropped 4.9 percent to $65.43.
Net income fell 2.2 percent to $224.3 million from $229.4 million a year earlier, the Union, New Jersey-based company said late yesterday. Profit per share rose to 98 cents from 93 cents a year earlier after the number of shares outstanding declined. Analysts projected $1.02 a share, the average of 25 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.
Nike advanced 1 percent to $98.61 in Germany. The world’s largest maker of sporting goods announced an $8 billion, four- year program to repurchase Class B shares.
Liberty Global Inc. (LBTYA) may be active. The John Malone-led cable-TV company offered to buy the remaining 49.6 percent of Belgium’s Telenet Group Holding NV for 1.96 billion euros ($2.54 billion), allowing it to forge closer links with his other cable-TV units in Europe. The shares didn’t trade in Europe.
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Japan says it will purchase disputed islands from private owner, angering China
Kyodo News, File/Associated Press -
FILE - In this Sept. 2, 2012 file photo, the survey ship Koyo Maru, left, chartered by Tokyo city officials, sails around Minamikojima, foreground, Kitakojima, middle right, and Uotsuri, background, the tiny islands in the East China Sea, called Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese. Japan’s government says it has decided to purchase several disputed islands from their private owners in a step that is likely to anger China. Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Monday, Sept. 10 that Japan plans to buy the three uninhabited islands from a Japanese family it recognizes as the owner.
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By Associated Press, Updated: Monday, September 10, 11:20 AM
TOKYO — Japan’s government said Monday it has decided to purchase several disputed islands, prompting China to angrily warn of “serious consequences” if it proceeds with the plan.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Japan will buy the three uninhabited islands in the East China Sea from a private Japanese family it recognizes as the owner. China and Taiwan also claim the islands, which are part of what Japan calls the Senkakus and China the Diaoyu group.
Fujimura said the decision to nationalize the islands reflects Japan’s desire to create a “stable and secure” environment, not to anger China.
“We hope there will be no misunderstandings,” he said.
China’s Foreign Ministry responded swiftly, saying Beijing would not “sit back and watch its territorial sovereignty violated.”
“China strongly urges Japan to immediately stop all action to undermine China’s territorial sovereignty and return to a negotiated settlement to the dispute. If Japan insists on going its own way, it will bear all the serious consequences that follow,” the ministry said in a statement.
It did not specify the possible consequences.
State-run China Central Television reported that Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi summoned the Japanese ambassador to protest the plan.
Fujimura said the decision to buy the islands was made at a meeting of Cabinet ministers who are involved in the purchase plans. The full Cabinet, led Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, is expected to approve the decision on Tuesday.
Supporters think having the government own the islands will strengthen Japan’s claim and control over them and send a tougher message to China.
Under the nationalization plan, the islands are to be left as they are now. China does not recognize the Japanese family’s deed to the islands as legitimate.
In April, the outspoken nationalist governor of Tokyo announced that he was hoping that his city would buy the islands and push for their development, a move that would have inflamed relations with China even more.
The dispute has long been a flashpoint in Japan-China relations, and has been heating up in recent months.
Earlier this month, the city of Tokyo sent a team of experts to waters around the islands to survey fishing grounds and possible sites for development, a move that was strongly criticized by China. Activists from Japan and Hong Kong briefly set foot on the islands last month, and hundreds of Chinese have held street protests in various cities in recent weeks.
The dispute over the islands boiled over into a major diplomatic tiff between the two neighbors after a Sept. 7, 2010, incident in which a Chinese fishing boat collided with Japanese coast guard ships near the islands. The fishing boat captain was arrested and later released.
Associated Press writer Louise Watt in Beijing contributed to this report.
Clinton Seeks Unified Asean Front To Ease China Disputes
By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan - Sep 3, 2012 11:35 AM CT
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Southeast Asian nations and China to use diplomacy rather than force to settle maritime territorial disputes in a region rich in oil and gas, warning against missteps that might result in armed conflict.
After consultations on the South China Sea tensions with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa tonight in Jakarta, Clinton told reporters that the U.S. “has a national interest” in “the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea.”
Rival maritime claims among half a dozen Asian nations have fueled tensions this year. China is establishing a military garrison on a disputed island, while the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei are asserting their own claims. The region is estimated to have as much as 30 billion metric tons of oil and 16 trillion cubic meters of gas, according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.
The U.S doesn’t take a position on competing territorial claims, Clinton said, “but we believe the nations of the region should work collaboratively together to resolve disputes without coercion, without intimidation, without threats -- and certainly without the use of force.”
Clinton said the U.S. endorses a July 20 declaration of principles on the South China Sea by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, known as Asean, and urged its members and China to make meaningful progress together toward finalizing a comprehensive “code of conduct” to establish “clear procedures for peacefully addressing disagreements.”
Clinton will meet Asean’s secretary general and its 10 ambassadors tomorrow in Jakarta, and urge them to forge a unified position that will allow them to move forward in negotiations with China. China has criticized U.S. attempts to promote a resolution.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a briefing in Beijing today that “countries outside the region should respect the countries concerned and take a stance of non- intervention.”
China’s criticism of the U.S. underscores strains over maritime trade in the resource-rich area, as the Obama administration has increased its focus on the Asia-Pacific. The U.S. needs to prove it’s returning to Asia as a “peacemaker, instead of a troublemaker,” China’s official Xinhua News Agency said in a commentary today.
Asean leaders in early July failed to reach consensus on how to handle disputes with China after Cambodia rejected a compromise with the other nine members. At the time, the Chinese government warned nations to avoid mentioning the territorial spats during the meetings and rejected Clinton’s call for adopting a code of conduct to address them.
Indonesia’s foreign minister later managed to negotiate a set of principles among the states, and stressed last night that the declaration is “not meant to be at the expense of any other party” or to “put any other country on the spot or in the corner” - a reference to China.
He said he had a “frank” and good conversation last month with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and that talks to finalize a code of conduct should now move forward.
“The track is quite clear what is ahead of us,” he said. “Absent a code of conduct, absent a process, we can be certain of more incidents and more tensions for the region.”
“In China many ordinary people, including some officials, have the impression that the U.S. is increasingly taking sides,” said Zhao Hong, a senior research fellow at the East Asian Institute in Singapore. “The U.S. can play a very important role if it can keep its promise not to take sides and maintain a neutral position.”
Clinton insisted she is not backing any nation’s territorial claims, saying the U.S. goal is for all parties to refrain from taking any steps that would stoke tensions or cause a “miscalculation” that could result in a military conflict.
“It is time for diplomacy” and for everyone to “literally calm the waters,” she said, urging tangible progress on a deal ahead of the East Asia Summit in Cambodia in November.
Clinton and Natalegawa also discussed Iran’s nuclear program, following a summit that Indonesian delegates attended in Tehran. The secretary of state said Indonesia shares with the U.S. a “common position that while Iran has a right to the use of peaceful, nuclear energy,” it must abide by its international obligations and not pursue a nuclear weapon.
Tomorrow, Clinton will meet Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to discuss bilateral cooperation on a range of issues, including counter-terrorism, political opening in Myanmar and education, officials on both sides told reporters.
She then flies to China for talks with President Hu Jintao and Vice President and heir apparent Xi Jinping to discuss the maritime conflicts, as well global security concerns, including Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs. The visit to Beijing comes ahead of the Chinese Communist Party Congress meeting this year that will decide on a new generation of leaders.
The Obama administration has increased its commitment to Asia by preserving spending in the region in the face of budget cuts and boosting military cooperation with Australia, Singapore and the Philippines. While that has been welcomed by U.S. allies, China’s state-run media has criticized the moves as an effort to constrain Asia’s biggest economy.
China expects Clinton to explain the “Asia Pivot” policy, especially on issues regarding its core interests, the Xinhua commentary today said.
Her six-nation, 11-day trip ends with the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Russia.
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