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News from China
Liquidity pledge as PBOC rejects strong stimulus
22nd August 2018

 China’s central bank said yesterday that it will not resort to strong stimulus to support the economy but will keep liquidity reasonably ample and offer more help to companies which are having trouble obtaining financing.

 
Officials also reiterated that China will not use the yuan as a weapon to deal with trade frictions.
 
Policies will be made more forward looking, flexible and effective, the People’s Bank of China said in a statement issued at a briefing in Beijing.
 
Smaller companies, in particular, are having a tough time securing loans and are grappling with rising borrowing and operating costs, fueled in part by a lengthy official clampdown on riskier lending like shadow banking.
 
“For companies facing temporary difficulties, we encourage financial institutions not to cut off loans,” said Ji Zhihong, the head of the PBOC’s financial markets department, when asked about support measures for exporters impacted by rising trade protectionism.
 
“If the product has a market or future, we support banks to provide reasonable support.”
 
The PBOC said it will “effectively ease” companies’ financing problems and improve coordination with other agencies to ensure monetary policy measures are being transmitted into the broader economy.
 
Though it did not give details, analysts expect further cuts in corporate taxes and fees. The central bank has also specified that some funds freed up from reductions in banks’ reserve requirements should be earmarked for loans to smaller businesses.
 
PBOC Vice Governor Zhu Hexin also told the briefing that authorities will stay the course in their multi-year campaign to reduce risks in the financial system.
 
“The direction of structural deleveraging won’t change,” said Zhu.
 
The campaign is already paying dividends, with the macro-economic leverage ratio stabilizing and growth in the household debt ratio slowing, he added.
 
“The effectiveness of deleveraging needs to be improved. It’s the bad, inefficient leverage that needs to be gotten rid of. Some departments with high efficient leveraging can still add more debt.”
 
Analysts at Julius Baer agree Beijing is unlikely to repeat its large-scale stimulus of the past, predicting it will opt for a more measured response.
 
“We doubt that this (heavy spending) is in the government’s interest, as it is aware of the risk that its massive mountain of debt presents and will likely not want to jeopardize deleveraging and reform efforts made over the past two years,” they said in a note yesterday.
 
As for the recent fluctuations of the yuan exchange rate, Li Bo, a senior PBOC official, said at the press briefing that the yuan exchange rate is mainly decided by market supply and demand, and its flexibility has improved notably since last year.
 
“China will let the market play a bigger and more decisive role in exchange rate formation, and refrain from competitive currency devaluation and using the yuan exchange rate as a tool to cope with trade disputes,” said Li, adding that the country’s stable and positive economic fundamentals will provide strong support for the yuan.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, August 22, 2018
Officials questioned on house price rises
21st August 2018

 Leading officials of five cities were questioned by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development on whether they had strictly followed the tightening policies on the property market, indicating that the central government won't loosen its grip on the housing market in order to prevent excessive price hikes and other irregularities.

 
Officials from Haikou and Sanya in Hainan province, Yantai in Shandong province, Yichang in Hubei province and Yangzhou in Jiangsu province addressed questions from the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development last Friday, according to a report in People's Daily.
 
The officials from the cities were asked to explain whether they had strictly followed the central government's guideline in tightening the real estate sector, carried out measures to combat speculation and rectify the irregularities in the market, and prevent house prices from rising too rapidly.
 
This is the second time that Haikou and Sanya's leading officials were questioned by the ministry in four months. The two cities took the lead in home price growth in the past six months, with Haikou ranking as one of the top three cities for month-on-month new house price growth for four consecutive months.
 
In its latest report on 70 cities' home prices, the National Bureau of Statistics said Sanya topped the new home price ranking with month-on-month growth of 3.7 percent in July, and Haikou ranked ninth with 2.3 percent.
 
Haikou's new house prices rose 2.1 percent in March from a month ago, 0.7 percent higher than second-ranking Qinhuangdao in Hebei province.
 
During the May Day holiday, leading officials from Haikou and Sanya, along with their counterparts from Chengdu, Taiyuan, Xi'an, Changchun, Harbin, Kunming, Dalian, Guiyang, Xuzhou and Foshan were questioned by the ministry.
 
In April, Haikou and Sanya both ranked second for new house price growth from the previous month with a rise of 1.9 percent; and the two were in third and second place in May with month-on-month growth of 2.1 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively.
 
In June, Haikou again became the city with the greatest single monthly growth from May of 3.9 percent, and Sanya was ranked fourth with growth of 3.2 percent.
 
Similarly, Yantai and Yichang's new house prices grew 2.9 percent from the previous month in July, and Yangzhou's rose 2.8 percent.
 
The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said at a work conference in Shenyang in Liaoning province in early August that all local governments should systematically analyze the problems and major risks in their property sector, and ensure the stabilization of house and land prices.
 
The ministry will create a market monitoring system to measure the fulfillment of local governments' property measures, and those failing to meet their targets will be held accountable.
 
Analysts said a mechanism for the ministry to question cities with higher house price growth is being formed, which will drive local governments to maintain strict controls to rein in house price growth.
 
"House prices will be at the center of the housing ministry's work in the second half of this year, and the questioning of the five leading officials is merely the start," Zhang Bo, chief analyst with Anjuke, was quoted as saying by Securities Daily.
 
More than 60 cities announced more than 70 real estate tightening measures in July, and more than 25 cities have followed suit so far in August.
 
"Cities with higher house price growth would all be under strong pressure, and it is highly likely for these cities to announce stricter tightening measures in the property market," said Zhang Dawei, chief analyst at Centaline Property Agency Ltd.
 
More severe policies such as setting a home price limit or capping growth of home prices could possibly be introduced, and a tightening policy environment will become the new normal for the housing market, added Zhang.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, August 21, 2018
China's non-finance ODI gains steadily
20th August 2018

 China’s non-financial outbound direct investment continued to grow steadily in the first seven months of the year, according to official data.

 
Chinese investors made US$65.27 billion of non-financial ODI in nearly 4,000 overseas enterprises in 152 countries and regions from January to July, the Ministry of Commerce said. It marked a 14.1-percent rise from the same period a year ago.
 
ODI in countries along the Belt and Road rose 11.8 percent from a year earlier to US$8.55 billion.
 
The structure of outbound investment continued to improve, with investment mainly in leasing and business service, retail and wholesale, manufacturing, and mining sectors. No new projects were reported in property development, sports and entertainment.
 
Chinese contractors signed more agreements for large projects abroad in the first seven months. Transport, power and construction projects accounted for more than two-thirds of the total contract value, and around 85 percent of new projects saw their contract value surpass US$50 million.
 
A ministry index that measures ODI activity each month remained stable at 192.93 in July, compared with the peak of 205.3 and low of 189.6 registered within the first seven months.
Source: Shanghai Daily, August 20, 2018
China promises new measures to boost private investment for steady growth
17th August 2018

 The Chinese government will step up reform and roll out a series of new incentives to better remove hurdles hampering private investment and businesses and boost economic vitality, the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Thursday.

 
The meeting decided on a host of measures to further facilitate private investment and boost the sound development of the private sector.
 
Premier Li stressed that further measures should be taken to unleash market vitality and boost private investment. A number of favorable projects should be identified as potential targets for attracting private investment.
 
"Our economy is showing a stable performance with good momentum for growth. Facing new circumstances and new challenges, we should step up reform, pay attention to emerging problems, plan ahead, and fine-tune policies as necessary to make sure that the economy performs within a proper range," Li said.
 
Recent years have witnessed the government's relentless efforts in encouraging private investment. In the first seven months of this year, the total value of private investment reached 22.26 trillion yuan (US$3.32 trillion), registering a year-on-year growth of 8.8 percent, 3.3 percentage points higher than overall investment growth. This amounts to 62.6 percent of total investment in the country, making private investment a major pillar of investment growth.
 
"The stability we aim for should be achieved in the context of continued progress and stability is in itself a step forward for the economy. It is vital to strengthen the financial sector to better serve the real economy," Li said.
 
The meeting called for greater efforts to encourage more private investment and to lower threshold for private investment to enter key areas. The meeting called for shoring up the weak links, boosting domestic demand, promoting employment and strengthening the impetus for long-term development.
 
Additional conditions hampering private investment entering fields such as health care and caring for the elderly will be reduced or lifted, and the government will make targeted efforts to remove hidden obstacles in land use, funding support and personnel training in these areas with stronger compliance regulation.
 
"The potential of consumption as a driver for growth need to be further unlocked. At the same time, more efforts need to be made to reduce business costs, support export, and make better use of foreign investment," Li said.
 
Tax and fee cutting measures for private businesses will be further implemented, while value-added tax reform will be deepened, the meeting decided. Financing transmission mechanisms will be improved to allow financial sector better serve the real economy. A risk compensation mechanism for lending to private businesses will be established to make financing more accessible and affordable for private businesses.
 
"This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up, which remains essential for China's social and economic development," Li pointed out.
 
Source: Shanghai Daily, August 17, 2018

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