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News from China
IMF: Premature to speak of Chinese crisis
24th August 2015

 CHINA’S economic slowdown and a sharp fall in its stock market herald not a crisis but a “necessary” adjustment for the world’s second-biggest economy, a senior International Monetary Fund official said over the weekend.

Fresh evidence of easing growth in China hammered global stock markets on Friday, driving Wall Street to its steepest one-day drop in nearly four years.

“Monetary policies have been very expansive in recent years and an adjustment is necessary,” said Carlo Cottarelli, an IMF executive director representing countries such as Italy and Greece on its board.

“It’s totally premature to speak of a crisis in China,” he told a press conference.

He reiterated an IMF forecast for a 6.8 percent expansion in the Chinese economy this year, below the 7.4 percent growth achieved in 2014.

“China’s real economy is slowing but it’s perfectly natural that this should happen ... What happened in recent days is a shock on financial markets which is natural,” he added.

China’s stock markets have fallen over 30 percent since mid-year. Following a slew of poor economic data, Beijing devalued the yuan in a surprise move this month.

Cottarelli said the IMF would discuss in coming months with Chinese authorities their decision to weaken the currency.

China is eager for the yuan to join the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket of currencies. But the IMF is considering extending the current SDR basket by nine months until September 30, 2016.

Turning to Greece, which is heading to an early election in September, Cottarelli said the IMF would decide in two or three months whether to join the latest international rescue efforts.

The IMF deems Greece’s debt unsustainable and has called for debt relief as a condition to participate in a third bailout.

Source: Shanghai Daily, August 24, 2015
Surprise rise in new US jobless filings
21st August 2015

 THE number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week, but the trend remained consistent with solid labor market momentum that could keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates this year.

Initial claims for state unemployment benefits increased 4,000 to a seasonally adjusted 277,000 for the week ended on Saturday, the Labor Department said yesterday.

Claims for the prior week were revised to show 1,000 fewer applications received than previously reported.

Economists had forecast claims slipping to 272,000 last week. A Labor Department analyst said there were no special factors influencing the data and no states had been estimated.

Minutes from the Fed’s July 28-29 policy meeting published on Wednesday showed the US central bank upbeat on improving labor market conditions, but worried about persistently tame inflation and a weak global economy.

Economists believe that policy-makers’ concerns about low price pressures have raised the bar for a September interest rate hike. Futures markets on Wednesday trimmed bets for monetary policy tightening next month.

The four-week moving average of claims, considered a better measure of labor market trends as it irons out week-to-week volatility, rose 5,500 to 271,500 last week.

It was the 21st straight week that the four-week average remained below the 300,000 threshold, which is usually associated with a strengthening labor market.

The claims data covered the week that the government surveyed employers for the non-farm payrolls portion of August’s employment report. The four-week average of claims fell 7,000 between the July and August survey periods, suggesting another month of healthy job gains.

Payrolls increased by 215,000 jobs in July. So far this year, job gains have exceeded 200,000 in five out of seven months. At a seven-year low of 5.3 percent, the unemployment rate is near the 5-5.2 percent range that most Fed officials think is consistent with full employment.

Source: Shanghai Daily, August 21, 2015
Yum Brands names new CEO of China division
20th August 2015

 YUM Brands, the parent of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, is naming a new CEO of its China division as it works to reverse a sales skid in a key market.

The company said Micky Pant, 60, is now the CEO of its China division. He replaces longtime leader Sam Su who is retiring. Pant has been the CEO of KFC since the beginning of 2014 and now takes over the business that Yum Brands describes as the single biggest contributor to its profits.

Yum Brands also named new CEOs of its KFC and Pizza Hut businesses in China.

Yum Brands has more than 6,800 locations in China, but the business has been damaged by bad publicity connected to poor food handling by a former supplier a year ago. In the second quarter, its revenue from China fell 4 percent to US$1.64 billion. Sales in China division restaurants open at least a year, a key metric of a retailer’s health, slid 10 percent in the quarter. That was the fourth straight quarter of double-digit declines.

But the company says it expects those sales to improve in the second half of the year and it also forecast bigger profits.

The company says KFC is the biggest quick service restaurant chain on China’s mainland and Pizza Hut is the biggest casual dining chain. The firm is also building restaurants in China rapidly, as it opened 700 new sites in China in 2014 and expects to do the same in 2015.

Su, 63, became president of the China unit in 1997 and has been chairman and CEO for five years.

Source: Shanghai Daily, August 20. 2015
New paper production line
19th August 2015

 FINNISH paper producer UPM has completed 60 percent of a 277-million-euro (US$307 million) investment in a new production line in China.

The new line, located in Changshu, Jiangsu Province, will produce 170,000 tons of release liners per year and help strengthen the company’s market share and production capacity in Asia.
Executive Vice President Kim Poulsen said yesterday that the company will hire about 150 employees to operate the new line.
A release liner is a paper or plastic-based film sheet, usually applied during the manufacturing process to prevent a sticky surface from prematurely adhering.
UPM now operates two major production lines at its Changshu plant and produces around 500,000 tons of stationery paper each year.
Source: Shangha Daily, August 19. 2015

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