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News from China
Yuan hits lowest in 5 1/2 years
7th July 2016

 THE yuan weakened to the lowest in five and a half years against the US dollar yesterday after the central bank eased the guidance rate amid global and domestic economic uncertainties.

The yuan closed at 6.69 per US dollar at 4:30pm after going above 6.70, the weakest since late 2010.

The spot rate fell from Tuesday’s 6.6695 after the People’s Bank of China yesterday lowered the central parity rate by 0.4 percent from Tuesday to 6.6857, the weakest since November 2010.

The yuan can trade within 2 percent on each side of the reference rate.

The weaker yuan was in line with the pound’s tumble to a 31-year low against the US dollar on fears of financial and economic instability from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

The PBOC tolerates a greater decline of the yuan in line with the trend of US dollar strengthening as it wants to keep the yuan relatively stable against a basket of currencies, according to analysts, adding that the sluggish outlook of the Chinese economy is also weighing on the yuan’s exchange rate.

“Nearly all emerging market currencies have been weakening since Britain decided to leave the European Union, and the yuan cannot avoid the impact,” foreign exchange broker FXTM said in a note.

“Market sentiment for the yuan will continue to weaken in the second half as risk aversion prevails. The market is also worried that the close link between the Chinese and British governments will be hurt by the Brexit decision.”

Zhu Haibin, chief China economist of JPMorgan, said China’s economic growth may slow to 6.3 percent annually in the fourth quarter from 6.7 percent in the first quarter. The US investment bank maintained its forecast for the yuan’s exchange rate at 6.75 against the US dollar at year’s end.

Source: Shanghai Daily, July 7, 2016
Alibaba buys app firm to lift position
6th July 2016

 ALIBABA yesterday said it has acquired domestic Android application distributor Wandoujia to strengthen its position in the mobile Internet market.

Wandoujia will merge with Alibaba’s mobile business unit, which includes UC Browser and online mapping service AutoNavi, to tap on each other’s strength.

“Both companies share the same strategic vision, and we believe Alibaba’s mobile business and Wandoujia could form a strong product offering and deliver synergies under new mobile Internet trends,” said Yu Yongfu, president of Alibaba mobile business group.

The founder of Wandoujia, Wang Junyu, said combining each other’s resources and data analytic capabilities will help shape its future growth.

Earlier media reports said the deal is valued at around US$200 million but both companies declined to comment on the financial details.

Launched in 2010, Wandoujia is one of the earliest Android app distributors in China. Former Google China head Kaifu Lee’s Innovation Works, Softbank Group and DCM have invested in it.

Alibaba has been trying to catch up with Baidu and Tencent in the mobile Internet sector. According to Beijing-based Big Data Research, Baidu, Tencent and Qihoo 360 took the top spots among Android app distributors in China in the first quarter.

Source: Shanghai Daily, July 6, 2016
PBOC to adopt various policy tools
5th July 2016

 CHINA’S central bank said yesterday that it would use various policy tools to maintain appropriate liquidity and reasonable growth in credit and social financing.

The People’s Bank of China will continue with a prudent monetary policy and keep its stance neither too loose nor too tight, it said in a statement after the second-quarter monetary policy committee meeting.

It said the central bank would improve the financing and credit structure, increase the proportion of direct financing and reduce social financing costs.

The PBOC reaffirmed that it would keep the yuan exchange rate basically stable at “a reasonable and balanced level” while improving the exchange rate formation mechanism.

The central bank said China’s economic performance remained generally stable, but warned “the complexity of the current situation should not be underestimated,” underlining a modest recovery in the United States, a fragile recovery in Europe, financial market volatility after the Brexit vote, sluggish growth in Japan and difficulties facing emerging economies.

Latest data showed there remains downward pressure on the economy as the manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index, a main gauge of factory activity, fell slightly in June.

China’s economy grew 6.7 percent year on year in the first quarter of this year, the slowest growth since the global financial crisis in early 2009 but still in line with the official 2016 target range of between 6.5 percent and 7 percent.

The second-quarter GDP and an array of economic data are due for release on July 15.

Source: Shanghai Daily, July 5, 2016
186 dead as rivers hit danger levels
4th July 2016

 FLOODS spawned by torrential rain in China’s southern and eastern regions have left at least 186 people dead and another 45 missing, the nation’s flood headquarters said yesterday.

The extreme weather has also displaced 1.48 million people and caused 50.6 billion yuan (US$7.6 billion) in direct economic losses in 26 provincial areas, it said.

Storms have been hitting most of southern China since Thursday, pushing water levels in rivers to dangerous levels and swelling many reservoirs.

The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said the situation remained grave, with two more rounds of rainstorms forecast to hit southern regions over the next 10 days. Nepartak, the first typhoon of the year, is expected to bring gales and downpours to eastern coastal areas this week.

The country’s weather authority suggested people in southern areas reduce outdoor activities on rainy days and take precautions against possible floods and landslides.

Some 9,000 houses collapsed and 710,000 hectares of crops have been damaged in seven southern provinces. Combined losses have been estimated at around 9.1 billion yuan.

China’s meteorological authority yesterday renewed its orange alert, the second most serious, for heavy rain across much of the south today.

Thunderstorms will continue to affect the provinces of Hubei, Anhui, Jiangsu, Hunan, Jiangxi, Guizhou and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region this morning, with precipitation reaching up to 220 millimeters in some areas, the National Meteorological Center said on its website.

Meanwhile, the death toll from Friday’s landslide in southwest China’s Guizhou Province was put at 23 yesterday, with seven others injured, after everyone had been accounted for.

Intense rain triggered the landslide around 5:30am in Dafang County’s Pianpo Village, according to the local rescue headquarters.

Thirty people had been buried in the debris and more than 800 soldiers and rescuers had worked with excavators to search for the missing villagers.

The heaviest rain this year battered Hubei Province on Saturday, leaving at least 22 people missing or dead. Water levels of the Jushui River, a major Yangtze tributary, had risen by more than eight meters in a day, inundating at least 23 villages. Thousands of soldiers, firefighters and relief workers are working around the clock to repair the breaches.

On the same day, soldiers in Hubei’s Macheng City used a ton of explosives to open a sluice channel for the Xianggudun reservoir. It is near several key railway and highway lines and a dam breach could have put the lives of around 70,000 people in danger.

The Yangtze has seen 16 rounds of heavy rainfall since the middle of March and levels of 43 rivers along its course have surpassed the safe limit.

The water level on the Dongting Lake is about a meter higher than in previous years, while the level of Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater body, is 2 meters higher than the level in previous years.

Source: Shanghai Daily, July 4, 2016

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