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News from China
China's home prices remain stable in November
18th December 2017

China's property market held broadly steady in November with home prices edging down in major cities amid tough purchase restrictions and a tight liquidity environment, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Monday.

 
New residential house prices went down on a yearly basis in 11 of the 15 major cities, considered the "hottest markets." On a month-on-month basis, new residential housing prices fell in 7 of the 15 cities, while Beijing, Shanghai, Zhengzhou and Wuhan saw prices flat with October.
 
NBS statistician Liu Jianwei said that housing prices stayed generally stable in major cities as differentiated control policies continued to take effect.
 
In first-tier cities where the curbs are strictest, home prices continued to soften, with new residential housing and second-hand home prices down 0.1 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, from a month earlier.
 
In contrast, the property market in second- and third-tier cities is showing signs of picking up, with new residential housing prices gaining 0.5 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively, from October.
 
The data provides evidence that government cooling measures to prevent asset bubbles in the property market are producing the desired outcomes.
 
Since late last year, dozens of local governments have passed or expanded restrictions on house purchases and increased the minimum downpayment required for mortgages.
 
The property market was also cooled by relatively tightened liquidity conditions as the government moved to contain leverage and risk in the financial system.
 
Chinese authorities have constantly reiterated that "houses are built for living in, not speculation," pledging to step up housing system reform and foster a long-term market mechanism.
Source: Xinhua
China targets ‘gray rhinos’ in financial sector
18th December 2017

 GRAY rhinos” have become the most hunted species in China — not on the prairies but in the financial sphere.

 
Slow, heavy and easy to neglect, rhinos can suddenly charge flat out, delivering a fatal attack — as can financial risk across the country.
 
The term became popular after a 2016 book by US policy analyst Michele Wucker who used it to depict a highly probable, high impact financial threat that was often widely ignored.
 
The People’s Daily, the Communist Party of China flagship newspaper, picked up the metaphor in July to warn of financial risks, triggering widespread discussion.
 
In the past year, authorities have made notable progress in its bid to bring to heel some of the major “gray rhinos,” generally shadow banks that pose significant threat to the economy.
 
Global ratings agency Moody’s this month predicted a stable outlook for Chinese financial institutions through 2018, citing strengthening regulations and steady economic growth.
 
“China’s leaders have made financial stability one of their top priorities. Given the size and importance of the Chinese market, with the world’s largest banks and second-largest stock market, that is welcome news for China and the world,” said Ratna Sahay and James P. Walsh, two senior officials at the International Monetary Fund, in a blog post last week.
 
For years, banks seeking higher profits, depositors lacking decent investment returns and companies having difficulties in securing bank loans have combined to drive the fast growth of shadow banking, which takes place outside regulatory scope, causing risks to financial stability.
 
To curb shadow banking growth, authorities have tightened their grip on interbank activities and off-balance-sheet wealth management products. China’s 100 trillion-yuan (US$15.1 trillion) asset management business will also be put under stricter scrutiny.
 
Amid the clampdown, China’s total shadow banking assets barely grew during the first six months of 2017 and fell as a percentage of gross domestic product for the first time since 2012, Moody’s said in a report last month.
 
Both interbank assets and liabilities, major indicators for shadow-banking activities, dropped in the first 10 months, while wealth management product growth slowed sharply from a year earlier, the China Banking Regulatory Commission said.
 
“The government will remain keen on adopting coordinated policy measures to curb shadow banking and interbank activities and to address key imbalances in the financial system,” said Sherry Zhang, a Moody’s analyst.
 
After soaring property prices made housing affordability and risks of real estate bubbles a growing concern, authorities have reiterated that “housing is for living in, not for speculation.”
 
Since last year, dozens of local governments have passed or expanded restrictions on house purchases and increased minimum downpayments. Property developers, real estate agencies as well as Internet finance and micro-loan companies were prohibited from offering illicit downpayment financing for buyers.
 
The effort has paid off. Home-buying fever has cooled in hotspot cities, with both new and second-hand home prices in first-tier cities posting slower year-on-year growth for the 13th consecutive month in October.
 
Finance
Source: Shanghai Daily, December 18, 2017
Auto sales rise to slow next year
15th December 2017

 CHINA’S auto sales growth is set to slow to 3 percent next year, according to data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

 
“Total sales are set to rise 3 percent to 29.8 million units in 2018. China’s passenger car sales are expected to add 3 percent to 25.5 million units and commercial vehicles will climb 2 percent to 4.3 million units next year, “ said Xu Haidong, a spokesman of CAAM during a conference.
 
Data from CAAM showed that in the first 11 months, China’s auto sales rose 3.6 percent annually to 25.8 million units.
 
But that growth rate is below CAAM’s estimate of 5 percent growth for 2017. Last year’s auto sales surged 13.7 percent.
 
Xu Qian, China head of automotive practice at AlixPartners, attributed the slower growth to the “increase in purchase tax in 2018” and said “we don’t expect the sales growth next year to outperform this year.”
 
The purchase tax for vehicles with engines below 1.6 liters will be raised from 7.5 percent this year to 10 percent at the start of next year, the Ministry of Finance said.
 
David Zhang, an independent automotive consultant, said the growth of the automobile industry “will be affected by GDP and overall economic growth. Vehicle demand will be depressed by the slower economy.”
 
An auto industry report published by WAYS Consulting Co said that ride-hailing and car-sharing is rising in China.
 
“These mobility services also inhibit consumers’ willingness to buy cars,” the report said.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, December 15, 2017
Toyota eyes EVs for half of global sales
14th December 2017

 TOYOTA said yesterday it wanted half of its global sales to come from electric-powered vehicles by 2030, as the industry strives to meet toughening environmental regulations.

 
Electric-powered vehicles now represent around 15 percent of the roughly 10 million units Toyota sells annually — mostly hybrids such as its best-selling Prius.
 
“By 2030, we aim to have 50 percent or more of our total vehicle sales coming from electric-powered vehicles, such as hybrid, plug-in hybrid, EV and FCV (fuel-cell vehicle),” said President Akio Toyoda in a rare public appearance.
 
Toyoda said the target would mean selling a total of 5.5 million electric-powered vehicles by 2030.
 
Of these, 4.5 million units would be gasoline-electric hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles and one million units would be all electric vehicles and hydrogen-powered fuel-cell vehicles, he said.
 
The target came as Toyota began talks with electronics giant Panasonic over a possible tie-up to develop, produce and recycle automotive batteries.
 
“The global automobile industry is going through a sweeping change seen only once in a century,” Toyoda said. “The key to electrifying vehicles in the future will be batteries.”
Source: Shanghai Daily, December 14, 2017

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