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News from China
Industrial sector still in need of govt support
23rd July 2015

 CHINA’S industrial sector continues to face considerable downward pressure, although positive signs have emerged due to government support policies, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said yesterday.

“Some regions, industries and businesses are facing increasing difficulties, and strong efforts are needed to stabilize and improve industrial operations,” ministry spokesman Zhang Feng told a press conference.

His comments came after China’s industrial output in the first half grew 6.3 percent year on year, slightly down from 6.4 percent in the first quarter.

The growth rate recovered, however, from 5.6 percent in March, its lowest since the 2008 global financial crisis.

As China’s pro-growth policies filter through, the sector will see more positive factors to sustain the improving trend, Zhang said.

China’s economy posted year-on-year growth of 7 percent in the second quarter.

Source: Shanghai Daily, July 23, 2015
Slow growth takes toll on coal output
22nd July 2015

 FLAGGING demand in China has dented output at the country’s top-two coal firms as slower economic growth took a toll on the world’s largest producer and consumer of the mineral.

China Shenhua Energy Co, China’s largest coal miner, yesterday reported that its coal output declined 10.1 percent year on year to 139 million tons in the first half of 2015.

China Coal Energy Co, the second-largest coal producer, said on the same day that its output slumped 22.1 percent to 46.3 million tons in the first six months.

During that period, coal sales by China Shenhua slipped 24.2 percent and those by China Coal fell 12 percent, according to the two companies’ statements.

The drop in sales was caused by weaker demand, the impact of government measures to reduce pollution and other reasons, China Shenhua said.

The coal industry will remain anemic in the short term and it will get more difficult for producers to survive, said Wang Xianzheng, head of the China National Coal Association.

Source: Shanghai Daily, July 22, 2015
Oil companies lead rally in volatile trade
21st July 2015

 SHANGHAI shares rose in volatile trade yesterday as investors waited for the government’s next move to boost the market.

The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.88 percent to 3,992.11 points, with China’s biggest oil producer PetroChina Co surging 4.25 percent. The country’s largest oil refiner China Petroleum and Chemical Corp added 0.85 percent.

China Avic Electronics Co jumped 10 percent of the daily limit to 32.54 yuan (US$5.24).

Jiangxi Lianchuang Optoelectronic Science and Technology Co also rose by the 10 percent daily limit to 13.18 yuan.

The gauge dropped to 3,927.12 points in the morning session after Caijing magazine reported that the China Securities Regulatory Commission planned to withdraw funds from the market, but rebounded later after the regulator dismissed the report.

“Investors are piling into small caps as they are likely to do better,” said Wu Kan, a fund manager at Dragon Life Insurance Co.

“It looks like the rebound has more legs as confidence seems to have partially recovered.”

A total of 576 companies remained suspended, or 20 percent of the total listings, down from 635 on Friday.

The Shanghai benchmark index has rebounded 13.8 percent from July 8, following a monthlong rout that wiped out nearly US$4 trillion.

Caijing also reported last week that China Securities Finance Corp, a state-backed agency that provides margin finance and liquidity to the market, had prepared about 2.6 trillion yuan funds to support the stocks.

Source: Shanghai Daily, July 21, 2015
Banks set to open while Greeks face widespread price increases
20th July 2015

 GREECE was preparing to restart its struggling economy yesterday, with a revamped government, a bank reboot and a new round of tax rises agreed after months of fraught confrontation with creditors.

Banks are set to reopen today after a three-week shutdown estimated to have cost the economy some 3 billion euros (US$3.3 billion) in market shortages and export disruption.

Crisis-hit Greeks will also have to endure widespread price rises for a broad batch of goods and services, from sugar and cocoa to condoms, taxis and funerals, now taxed at 23 percent, up from 13 percent.

To sweeten the pill, the tax on medicines, books and newspapers falls from 6.5 percent to 6 percent.

With Greeks now able to withdraw up to 420 euros per week in a single transaction, people will be spared the ordeal of queuing daily at ATMs in the summer heat, which thousands did for three weeks for an allowance of 60 euros a day.

But capital controls remain largely in place, including a block on money transfers to foreign banks and a ban on the opening of new accounts.

Greece last week had to agree to a tough fiscal package to earn a three-year bailout from its international creditors and avoid crashing out of the eurozone.

For the first time in months, technical teams representing the creditors — the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — are expected in Athens next week to assess the state of the economy.

The austerity package caused a mutiny among lawmakers from the ruling Syriza party, forcing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to carry out a limited reshuffle last Friday.

Even so, most analysts and even government officials say early elections are now inevitable, possibly in September.

Tsipras — who barely has time to eat or sleep, according to his mother — faces a fresh challenge in parliament on Wednesday to approve a second wave of reforms tied to its economic rescue.

Tsipras’ coalition holds 162 seats in parliament, but in last Wednesday’s vote, only 123 government MPs backed the bailout — just over the minimum 120 required to sustain a minority government.

Nearly a quarter of Syriza’s lawmakers — 39 out of 149 — failed to support the reforms bill, which passed thanks to solid support from opposition parties.

The government has agreed to raise taxes, overhaul its ailing pension system and commit to privatizations it had previously opposed, in exchange for a bailout of up to 86 billion euros over the next three years.

The draconian agreement — accepted by a party that came to power in January promising to end austerity — came after over 61 percent of Greeks on July 5 rejected further cuts in a referendum called by Tsipras.

His critics accuse him of kowtowing to blackmail by creditors, who threatened to expel Greece from the eurozone.

Source: Shanghai Daily, July 20, 2015

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