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News from China
Eurozone posts lower inflation of 1.4% in May
1st June 2017

 EUROZONE inflation slowed to a lower than expected 1.4 percent in May, as volatile energy prices sapped the intended effects of the European Central Bank’s massive stimulus plan, EU data showed yesterday.

 
Eurozone unemployment in April kept an encouraging trend, inching lower to 9.3 percent, at its lowest rate since March 2009, Eurostat said.
 
The fall in inflation will provide backing to ECB head Mario Draghi, who on Monday said the central bank remained “firmly convinced” it must maintain its massive interventions in the eurozone economy to avoid undermining a gathering recovery.
 
Analysts at Factset had expected 1.5 percent inflation after prices jumped 1.9 percent in April. Factset had predicted no change for eurozone unemployment in April.
 
Inflation is a key indicator of underlying consumer demand and the ECB works toward a 2.0 percent target with the aim of ensuring a modest but sustained increased in prices, the sign of a healthy economy.
 
To achieve this, the ECB has set interest rates at historic lows, offered cheap loans to banks, and buys tens of billions of euros in bonds each month.
 
But an accelerating eurozone recovery and a spike in inflation earlier this year strengthened voices within the ECB for an end to the bond-buying, especially from powerful Germany, which sees it as an unfair subsidy to overspending eurozone partners.
 
Observers are looking to next week’s ECB council meeting for hints that the end is on the way, although most believe any concrete action to wind the programme down is still months away at least.
 
During the worst of the debt crisis, unemployment in the single currency bloc peaked at 12.1 percent with 19.3 million people looking for work in April 2013.
 
Last month, the number of unemployed stood at just over 15 million, according to the Eurostat.
Source: Shanghai Daily, June 1, 2017
Tobacco killing 7m a year, WHO says
31st May 2017

 SMOKING and other tobacco use kills more than 7 million people each year, the World Health Organization said yesterday as it also warned of the dire environmental impact of tobacco production, distribution and waste.

 
The UN agency said tougher measures were needed to rein in tobacco use, urging countries to ban smoking in the workplace and indoor public spaces, outlaw marketing of tobacco products and raise cigarette prices.
 
“Tobacco threatens us all,” WHO chief Margaret Chan said in a statement.
 
“Tobacco exacerbates poverty, reduces economic productivity, contributes to poor household food choices, and pollutes indoor air,” she said.
 
In a report released ahead of today’s World No Tobacco Day, WHO warned that the annual death toll of 7 million people had jumped from 4 million at the turn of the century, making tobacco the world’s single biggest cause of preventable death.
 
The death toll is expected to keep rising, with the organization bracing for more than 1 billion deaths this century.
 
“By 2030, more than 80 percent of the deaths will occur in developing countries, which have been increasingly targeted by tobacco companies seeking new markets to circumvent tightening regulation in developed nations,” the statement said.
 
Tobacco use also brings an economic cost. WHO estimates it drains more than US$1.4 trillion from households and governments each year in health care expenditure and lost productivity, or nearly 2 percent of the global gross domestic product.
 
In addition to the health and economic costs linked to smoking, the WHO report for the first time delved into the environmental impact of everything from tobacco production to the cigarette butts and other waste produced by smokers.
 
“From start to finish, the tobacco life cycle is an overwhelmingly polluting and damaging process,” Assistant Director-General Oleg Chestnov said.
 
The report detailed how growing tobacco often requires large quantities of fertilizers and pesticides, and it warned that tobacco farming had become the main cause of deforestation in several countries.
 
This is largely due to the amount of wood needed for curing tobacco, with estimates that one tree is needed for every 300 cigarettes produced. The WHO also highlighted the pollution generated during the production, transport and distribution of tobacco products.
 
The report estimates that the industry emits nearly 4 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent a year — the same as around 3 million transatlantic flights.
 
Waste from the process contains over 7,000 toxic chemicals that poison the environment, including human carcinogens, the WHO said.
 
Once in the hands of the consumer, tobacco smoke emissions spewed out thousands of tons of human carcinogens, toxic substances and greenhouse gases.
 
Cigarette butts and other tobacco waste make up the largest number of individual pieces of litter in the world, the agency said. Two thirds of the 15 billion cigarettes sold each day are thrown onto the street or elsewhere, it said, adding that butts account for up to 40 percent of all items collected in coastal and urban clean-ups.
 
The agency urged governments to take strong measures to rein in tobacco use. “One of the least used, but most effective tobacco control measures is through increasing tobacco tax and prices,” Chestnov said.
Source: Shanghai Daily, May 31, 2017
Yuan-dollar formula facing change
30th May 2017

 CHINA plans to change a formula for forming the yuan-US dollar central parity rate, a move to ensure stable exchange rates at a time when global financial markets remain beset by instability.

 
Under China’s market-based, managed floating exchange rate regime, the yuan can rise or fall by 2 percent against the dollar from the central parity rate each trading day.
 
The central parity rate is a weighted average of quotes from dealer banks, and follows a formula of the previous day’s closing rate and changes in a basket of currencies.
 
The new formula, announced last Friday by the China Foreign Exchange Trade System, will allow dealers to incorporate a “counter cyclical factor” into the existing formula.
 
In a statement, CFETS said China’s foreign exchange (forex) market was easily influenced by irrational expectations and “spurred by inertia, due to a certain level of “pro-cyclicality,” which distorts market demand and supply, and magnifies the risk of exchange rate over-correction.
 
The proposed adjustment aims to “appropriately hedge against the pro-cyclical fluctuation in market sentiment and alleviate the potential for herd behavior in the forex market,” the statement said.
 
It added the “counter cyclical factor” would be adjusted in accordance to China’s economic performance, but it did not give further details about how and when the potential new formula would be used.
 
CICC analyst Chang Huili said the “counter cyclical factor” might be adjusted according to a number of economic indicators, particularly those concerning growth and inflation.
 
According to Commerzbank senior economist Asia Zhou Hao, “counter cyclical factor” could counteract the impact of the previous day’s excessive volatility by reducing the closing rate’s role in the next day’s central parity rate, and help to ensure the general stability of the yuan exchange rate.
 
CFETS noted on Friday that the yuan-dollar market exchange rates had recorded lower levels from the central parity rate, despite China’s improving economic fundamentals and a weakening US dollar.
 
According to CICC, the yuan has depreciated 2.7 percent this year against the CFETS basket, in contrast to the notable improvement in economic fundamentals this year.
 
“The new formula will enable the yuan-dollar exchange rate movements to be more independent and better reflect the domestic economic fundamentals,” Chang Huili said.
 
The CICC analyst expects the yuan to be well supported by China’s economic fundamentals this year, saying a prolonged period of growth slowdown was unlikely.
 
The proposed formula change comes amid China’s efforts to push reform to the yuan’s exchange rate formation system to make the currency more market-oriented and internationally recognized.
 
Last October, the yuan joined the dollar, euro, pound and yen in the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing right (SDR) currency basket.
 
“After joining the SDR basket, the yuan’s better reflection of domestic economic and financial performances has become an important precondition to help diversify global risk, and a solid foundation for the internationalization of the currency,” said Meng Xiangjuan, an analyst at Shenwan Hongyuan Securities.
 
Pan Gongsheng, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, said China’s efforts to seek a balance between making the yuan exchange rate more flexible and keeping it more stable is good for the global community, avoiding negative spillover effects from the yuan’s disorderly adjustment or competitive currency devaluations.
Source: Shanghai Daily, May 30, 2017
Yuan-dollar formula facing change
29th May 2017

 CHINA plans to change a formula for forming the yuan-US dollar central parity rate, a move to ensure stable exchange rates at a time when global financial markets remain beset by instability.

 
Under China’s market-based, managed floating exchange rate regime, the yuan can rise or fall by 2 percent against the dollar from the central parity rate each trading day.
 
The central parity rate is a weighted average of quotes from dealer banks, and follows a formula of the previous day’s closing rate and changes in a basket of currencies.
 
The new formula, announced last Friday by the China Foreign Exchange Trade System, will allow dealers to incorporate a “counter cyclical factor” into the existing formula.
 
In a statement, CFETS said China’s foreign exchange (forex) market was easily influenced by irrational expectations and “spurred by inertia, due to a certain level of “pro-cyclicality,” which distorts market demand and supply, and magnifies the risk of exchange rate over-correction.
 
The proposed adjustment aims to “appropriately hedge against the pro-cyclical fluctuation in market sentiment and alleviate the potential for herd behavior in the forex market,” the statement said.
 
It added the “counter cyclical factor” would be adjusted in accordance to China’s economic performance, but it did not give further details about how and when the potential new formula would be used.
 
CICC analyst Chang Huili said the “counter cyclical factor” might be adjusted according to a number of economic indicators, particularly those concerning growth and inflation.
 
According to Commerzbank senior economist Asia Zhou Hao, “counter cyclical factor” could counteract the impact of the previous day’s excessive volatility by reducing the closing rate’s role in the next day’s central parity rate, and help to ensure the general stability of the yuan exchange rate.
 
CFETS noted on Friday that the yuan-dollar market exchange rates had recorded lower levels from the central parity rate, despite China’s improving economic fundamentals and a weakening US dollar.
 
According to CICC, the yuan has depreciated 2.7 percent this year against the CFETS basket, in contrast to the notable improvement in economic fundamentals this year.
 
“The new formula will enable the yuan-dollar exchange rate movements to be more independent and better reflect the domestic economic fundamentals,” Chang Huili said.
 
The CICC analyst expects the yuan to be well supported by China’s economic fundamentals this year, saying a prolonged period of growth slowdown was unlikely.
 
The proposed formula change comes amid China’s efforts to push reform to the yuan’s exchange rate formation system to make the currency more market-oriented and internationally recognized.
 
Last October, the yuan joined the dollar, euro, pound and yen in the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing right (SDR) currency basket.
 
“After joining the SDR basket, the yuan’s better reflection of domestic economic and financial performances has become an important precondition to help diversify global risk, and a solid foundation for the internationalization of the currency,” said Meng Xiangjuan, an analyst at Shenwan Hongyuan Securities.
 
Pan Gongsheng, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, said China’s efforts to seek a balance between making the yuan exchange rate more flexible and keeping it more stable is good for the global community, avoiding negative spillover effects from the yuan’s disorderly adjustment or competitive currency devaluations.
Source: Shanghai Daily, May 29, 2017

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