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News from China
Curbs cause mortgages to decline again
17th August 2016

 NEW home loans in Shanghai fell for a second month in July after the government acted to curb soaring housing prices in the city, the Shanghai headquarters of the People’s Bank of China said in a statement yesterday.

Banks in Shanghai lent 25.5 billion yuan (US$3.9 billion) in mortgages to individuals last month, down 10.3 billion yuan from June, said a statement on the central bank’s website. However, mortgages last month still rose 12.3 billion yuan from the same period last year, the statement said.

“Home loans have been declining for two straight months in a sign that government policies to cool the housing market have taken effect,” the statement said.

Over the past few months Shanghai has unveiled policies to curb the city’s overheated property market, including tighter restriction for non-local buyers and raising the down payment for certain second-time buyers.

Total loans to land and property developers fell 22.4 billion yuan last month, narrowing from a drop of 48.9 billion yuan in June. Loans for affordable housing development surged by 320 million yuan last month.

Source: Shanghai Daily, August 17,2016
Oil spurts on hopes of OPEC deal to freeze output
16th August 2016

 OIL rose further yesterday on hopes that OPEC producers would agree to freeze output next month and ease the global supply glut.

At 1130 GMT, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery added 24 cents to US$44.73 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for October rose 25 cents to US$47.22 per barrel.

Saudi Arabian oil minister Khalid al-Falih hinted last week that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries could discuss action to stabilize markets at a September gathering.

It helped prices rebound since tumbling into a bear market earlier this month.

Any agreement to curb production would help rebalance the crude oil market, where output has been running ahead of demand. Both oil contracts rose more than 6 percent last week following the Saudi minister’s remarks.

“Will there or won’t there be a credible meeting and should anything be expected of it? The one word answers are ‘maybe’ and ‘no’, but OPEC have absolutely nothing to lose from talking about having an informal discussion on production restraint,” said PVM analyst David Hufton.

“The meeting is unlikely to yield anything because OPEC are caught in a squeeze. On the supply side it is their own increase in production that is prolonging the price depression — but if they freeze or restrain production to lift prices they will stimulate competing non-OPEC supply and lose market share.”

Some analysts have cautioned against putting too much hope on an output freeze, because previous talks earlier this year have resulted in disagreement.

“An agreement is still improbable,” research house Capital Economics said in a market commentary.

Source: Shanghai Daily, August 16, 2016
Pingxiang chosen as pilot zone
15th August 2016

 CHINA’S State Council has approved Pingxiang, a city in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on the border with Vietnam, to be a new opening-up pilot zone, a statement said on Friday.

The plan for the new zone will be published by the National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planner.

Pingxiang is Guangxi’s second “key pilot zone for development and opening-up” after Dongxing, approved in August 2012.

Southwestern Yunnan Province’s Mengla bordering Laos, and Ruili, a major border crossing between China and Myanmar, as well as northern Inner Mongolia’s Manzhouli city and northeastern Heilongjiang Province’s Suifenhe-Dongning zone on the Russian border are also on the pilot zone list.

Source: Shanghai Daily, August 15, 2016
Cutting steel overcapacity on track
11th August 2016

 EFFORTS to reduce China’s steel production overcapacity are forging ahead according to plan, the top economic planner said yesterday.

In a medium-term roundup of the drive, the National Development and Reform Commission said, in an online statement, that the central government has rolled out general guidelines and the NDRC has also strongly guided local governments and major steel producers in drawing their own plans to cut capacity.

The State Council guidelines, issued on February 4, dictated that steel production capacity must be cut by 100 million tonnes to 150 million tonnes over the next five years, with 45 million tonnes cut in 2016.

Xia Nong, head of the NDRC industry department, said that the resolute measures have proven effective, the “People’s Daily” reported yesterday.

The drive will pick up speed in the second half of this year to achieve the goal, he said.

Inspection teams will be dispatched to local governments to oversee their work starting from mid-August, the report said.

Crude steel output posted a year-on-year fall of 1.1 percent in the first half of 2016.

China’s crude steel production capacity utilization rate of 71.2 percent in 2015 was higher than the global average of 69.7 percent, data from the World Steel Association showed.

In the first half year, China slashed steel capacity by 13 million tons, about 30 percent of the planned cuts for 2016, a figure in line with expectations, said Feng Fei, vice minister of industry and information technology.

The campaign gathered pace in July, when another 17 percent of the target was finished.

In the first half year, work focused on breaking down tasks so that they could be allocated to provincial-level regions, and on measures to support steel capacity cuts, Feng said.

In the second half, capacity cuts and supportive measures will gain speed, according to Feng.

Source: Shanghai Daily, August 11, 2016

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