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News from China
Intel set to invest US$5.5b in Dalian
22nd October 2015

INTEL Corp said it may invest up to US$5.5 billion in making semiconductors in China, lifting efforts to improve ties with the country as it seeks new revenue streams while demand for its core computer processing chips falters.
The US firm said it would convert a facility in Dalian, its first plant in China, for memory chip production. It didn’t disclose a time period for the investment, but said it will start making advanced memory chips that can store data without using up power, called 3D NAND chips, in the second half of 2016.
The move follows a flurry of deals in the global semiconductor industry, highlighting growing importance of the memory chips used to store data in increasingly popular mobile devices. Researcher TrendForce predicts China will consume US$6.67 billion worth of NAND chips this year, or 29 percent of global NAND industry revenue.
Building its own chip industry has been deemed strategically important by China in its drive to modernize its economy. Intel’s new investment follows a deal last year to buy 20 percent stake of two mobile chipmakers owned by state-backed Tsinghua Holdings Co.
Tsinghua recently unveiled a plan to buy a 15 percent stake in US data storage company Western Digital Corp for US$3.8 billion.
In separate deals, Western Digital said yesterday that it would buy SanDisk Corp for about US$19 billion, giving it better access to flash memory storage chips used in smartphones and mobile devices. Tsinghua is also trying to acquire Micron.
Intel’s latest move raises concerns that new memory supply from the chipmaker could undercut margins for leading industry players.

Source: Shanghai Daily
Record funds in VC-backed firms
21st October 2015

 Global investment in venture capital-backed companies hit a record high in the first nine months of 2015, with surging numbers of Chinese investors a key driver, new analysis has shown.
In the first three quarters, there were 5,640 investment deals worth a total US$98.4 billion in VC-backed companies globally, breaking the record of US$88.7 billion through 7,687 deals in the whole of 2014, according to a quarterly global report on VC trends jointly published by KPMG International and CB Insights.
Global funding in the third quarter surged from the same quarter of last year by 82 percent to US$37.6 billion, with Asia, particularly China, fueling the growth. During the period, Chinese VC-backed companies raised US$9.6 billion, an increase of 315 percent from a year earlier.
However, China’s slowing economy has had some impact.
“We’ve seen a shift in China in the past quarter. Downward pressure on the economy has led a lot of companies to shift their focus from purely burning capital to gain market share toward building efficiencies and driving profit,” said Lyndon Fung, a partner at KPMG China in charge of its US Capital Markets Group.
The report also highlighted a trend in Asia — and in China in particular — toward more conservative investments.
Increasing Chinese investment has come on the back of the government’s encouragement of startups. For example, central authorities announced last month that they will work with other investors to set up a 60 billion yuan (US$9.5 billion) fund to finance small and medium-sized firms in their early stages.

Source: Shanghai Daily
Economic growth slows to 6.9%
20th October 2015

 CHINA’S economy beat market expectations in the third quarter by growing 6.9 percent, although that was the slowest in six years, National Bureau of Statistics data showed yesterday.
The country’s gross domestic product was 48.77 trillion yuan (US$7.7 trillion), up 6.9 percent year on year.
Sheng Laiyun, a bureau spokesman, said economic fundamentals remained stable.
“China’s economic growth still moved within a reasonable range, in line with the government target,” Sheng said. “Besides, the employment and people’s income expanded faster than expected, while the service sector also outperformed the overall growth, indicating an optimized economic structure.”
China has set a growth target of around 7 percent for this year, lower than the previous goal of 7.5 percent, after authorities proclaimed a “new normal” of slower expansion but higher quality.
Growth was led by the service sector, which gained 8.4 percent to 25.08 trillion yuan in the first nine months. The manufacturing sector added 6 percent to 19.78 trillion yuan, while agriculture rose 3.8 percent to 3.91 trillion yuan.
People’s disposable income gained 9.2 percent to 16,367 yuan, with rural earnings rising faster than those of urban residents by 1.1 percentage points. The country also achieved its full-year target of creating 10 million jobs by the end of September.
Some economists had expected growth to dip as low as 6.6 percent, after 7 percent in each of the first two quarters.
“China’s third-quarter growth surprised on the upside thanks to a robust service sector,” said Zhu Haibin, chief economist for China at JP Morgan. “But details of the activity data were mixed and somewhat disappointing.”
Industrial production increased 6.2 percent, down 0.1 percentage points to that in the first half of the year. Factories reported an expansion of 5.7 percent in September alone, decelerating from August’s 6.1 percent.
Fixed-asset investment grew 10.3 percent to 39.45 trillion yuan during the first nine months, weakening from the increase of 11.4 percent in the first six. Capital flowing into the property sector rose 2.6 percent, compared to the pace of 4.6 percent in the first half.
Retail sales, a broad gauge of domestic consumption, accelerated 10.5 percent to 21.6 trillion yuan in the first three quarters, slightly better than the first half’s 10.4 percent rise.
One highlight was the online spending, which surged 36.2 percent to 2.59 trillion yuan in the first nine months. In September, retail sales rose 10.9 percent.
Liu Ligang, chief economist for China at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, said the third-quarter growth did not alleviate concerns over China’s economy because domestic activity indicators remained low last month.
“We expect GDP growth to remain largely stable in the fourth quarter on the back of supportive policies. Funding constraints on investments have been relaxed as the central bank eased monetary policy and fiscal policy becomes more proactive,” Liu said.
“Meanwhile, continued warm-up of the property market should also help drive the economy back on track. We expect the fourth-quarter growth could be 6.8 percent, leading to a full-year growth of 6.8 percent,” Liu said.
Earlier data showed that China’s trade volume had contracted 7.9 percent in the first three quarters, far behind the government target of an increase of around 6 percent for the year.
The official Purchasing Managers’ Index, a gauge of conditions in the state-owned manufacturing sector, landed at 49.8 in September, pointing at weakening industrial activities for the second straight month.
The Asian Development Bank last month lowered its forecast of China’s 2015 economic growth rate to 6.8 percent.

Source: Shanghai Daily
Infrastructure spending key to stability in GDP growth
19th October 2015

 INCREASED infrastructure investment is key to stabilizing China’s economic growth, a top state advisor said yesterday, while calling on the central bank to lower the cost of financing for companies and increase overall credit.
“Keeping relatively high growth of infrastructure investment is key to stabilizing economic growth” since property and manufacturing investment remains weak, said Yu Bin, head of the micro economy research department at the State Council’s Development Research Center.
China needs to speed up its 172 hydropower projects, develop 53 million hectares of high-standard agricultural land and lift investment in rural roads, Yu said.
His comments, coming a day before the government is due to release third-quarter gross domestic product growth figures, were published in the government-owned Economic Daily yesterday.
Many economists expect China to report that July-September economic growth fell below 7 percent for the first time since the global financial crisis.
Premier Li Keqiang said on Saturday that with the global economic recovery losing steam, achieving domestic growth of around 7 percent is “not easy”.
President Xi Jinping also acknowledged “concerns about the Chinese economy” but sought to allay them in a written interview with Reuters.
The government has taken several measures in recent months to accelerate construction investment, in part by attracting private financing through the increased used of public-private partnerships.
The Ministry of Finance in September published details for 206 proposed PPP projects, worth a total of 659 billion yuan (US$104 billion), including an expressway in Beijing.
The ministry last month also launched a 180 billion yuan fund with China’s biggest banks and financial institutions to invest in PPP projects.
Yu also called for the central bank to be alert to macro-economic adjustments, lower the cost of finance for companies and allow for credit growth, while maintaining a prudent monetary policy.
“Given the short-term rising downward pressure, it does not benefit China’s structural adjustment if economic growth is too slow or too fast,” he said.
China has already launched several measures to drive economic growth since late 2014, including cutting interest rates five times since November and lowering bank reserve requirement ratio.

Source: Shanghai Daily

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