The United States and China this week wrapped up a two-day meeting on trade that was aimed at cooling rising tensions between the two nations. Still, despite the progress, currency valuations and trade tariffs will continue to be a fixture of both countries' foreign policies.
The U.S. trade deficit with China this year could top $270 billion, surpassing the 2008 record of $268 billion. U.S. policymakers blame China's undervalued currency and government subsidies for the imbalance. China's disregard for intellectual property rights and bias towards its own domestic companies are also major points of contention.
In a rare show of conciliation, China during Wednesday's trade talks agreed to loosen some of its trade restrictions and better enforce intellectual-property rights on the Mainland -especially to curtail rampant software piracy that costs software makers an estimated $7.9 billion a year in lost revenue.
Chinese IPOs Making Waves in the Market, but Beware of Bubbles
Record fundraising activity in the market for initial public offerings (IPOs) is pushing valuations for Chinese companies to sky-high levels, raising concerns about a possible bubble.
IPOs are likely to raise more than $300 billion for issuers worldwide in 2010, exceeding the previous record of $295 billion in 2007, despite the sluggish economic recovery in Western markets.
In the first 11 months of 2010, IPOs worldwide already raised $255.3 billion in 1,199 deals, according to a "Year-end Global IPO Update" report from Ernst & Young.
And the red-hot Asian markets, led by China, continued to lead the recovery, raising the most capital ever. Asian issuers have raised $164.5 billion so far this year - already surpassing the $98.2 billion raised in the peak fundraising year of 2006 and accounting for 64% of total global IPO value so far in 2010.
That's more than four times the $40 billion in IPOs completed by the second-ranked North American market. Europe was third, raising $32.8 billion, far outdistancing the Middle East and Africa's $5 billion.
Uranium Prices Surge on China's $511 Billion Investment in Nukes
China's push for energy security is igniting a boom in the country's nuclear power plant construction, rekindling demand for uranium and leading its price higher.
China held its first International Nuclear Symposium on November 24-25 in Beijing. The meeting was packed with nuclear industry heavyweights scrambling for new contracts after the Red Dragon announced its intentions to spend $511 billion to build as many as 245 reactors in the next two decades - nearly doubling previous plans.
"Money is not an issue, which is different from the rest of the world. The Chinese have the capacity to deliver and they are deadly serious about achieving it," Steve Kidd, director of strategy and research at the London-based World Nuclear Association (WNA), told Bloomberg News.
President Hu Jintao said China aims to generate at least 15% of its energy from non-fossil fuels by 2020. Although the Chinese have invested heavily in wind farms and solar arrays, nuclear power is the only source of energy that could reach his goal.
Chinese Investors Drive Gold Imports Five Times Higher on Inflation Fears
The gold rush in China accelerated during the first 10 months of 2010 as investors seeking protection from looming inflation drove imports of the yellow metal up nearly five times more than the amount brought in all of last year.
Gold imports rose to 209 metric tons compared with 45 tons for all of 2009, Shen Xiangrong, chairman of the Shanghai Gold Exchange told a conference held in Shanghai yesterday (Thursday).
"The government hasn't officially said that China is encouraging private gold investments, but we in the industry suspect it. And you can see the big jump in the delivered gold imports through the exchange has to be approved by them," Albert Cheng, managing director of the World Gold Council's Far East department, told Bloomberg News in an interview.
China Banks Rein in Lending but Economy’s Growth Prospects Remain Strong
As if the stock market hadn't received enough bad news yesterday (Tuesday), reports surfaced that China's banks have nearly hit their lending quotas for the year - meaning the world's fastest growing, and second-largest, economy will cool considerably over the next few months.
However, the news - out of China at least - might not be as bad as it seems.
Political strife resonated throughout the investing world yesterday as North Korea and South Korea exchanged fire over Yeonpyeong Island and Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen pledged to dissolve that country's government and allow for an early election in January.
Strictly economic headlines weren't any consolation as it was revealed that China's banks are unlikely to extend many new loans as 2010 draws to a close.
Three Ways to Profit as China Dumps Japanese Debt
As a veteran trader, I have a tendency to look past the day's top headlines. That's why a recent Bloomberg News story - which stated that China sold a net total of 769.2 billion yen ($9.24 billion) worth of Japanese debt in September - really caught my eye.
By itself, this story probably wouldn't be a big deal. But this development is the start of an important new trend in the global currency markets. And the following three factors tell me that we should be taking a close look at why China has decided to dump Japanese debt. For instance:
- Given that the same thing happened in August, September marked the second straight month Beijing has sold more Japanese securities than it purchased.
- This marks the reversal of a seventh-month stretch of China being a net purchaser of Japanese debt.
- The two months of sales nearly wiped out the net surplus of 2.32 trillion yen ($27.86 billion) that China had amassed as a result of seven months of buying Japanese debt.
- Finally, the 2.02 trillion yen ($24.26 billion) worth of Japanese debt that China sold in August was China's single-largest monthly sale of Japan government bonds since 1995, when these statistics first started being recorded.
Let me explain....
To understand how to profit from this currency-market development, please read on...
In China, Record Hairy Crab Prices Point to Continued Strong Economic Growth Next Year
BEIJING, People's Republic of China – While other investors are busy rounding up all sorts of economic data, tea leaves and fortune cookies in an attempt to figure out China's economic situation next year, I'm heading out the door once again to take a look at
hairy crab prices.
Because of the timing of this trip, I'm a bit late in the season – but not enough that I won't be able to get a good reading on this surprisingly accurate indicator of China's economic health.
The delicious little morsels come into season each fall, and are regarded as a delicacy – not to mention as an important indicator of this Asian giant's wealth and prosperity. People flock to various restaurants to eat them. The tiny little guys are given as gifts to business partners, family members and others. Live hairy crabs are even being sold in vending machines in such big Chinese cities as Shanghai.
China's Continued Failure to Rebalance Growth Threatens Global Economic Stability
China announced yesterday (Wednesday) that its trade surplus grew 60.7% in October from the month before as efforts to rebalance its economic growth this year have failed. Furthermore, recent policy tightening measures mean domestic demand is unlikely to pick up in the near future.
"The rebalancing of China's economy has an awfully long way to go – in fact it's hardly even got started," Mark Williams, an economist at Capital Economics Ltd. who previously worked at the U.K. Treasury as an adviser to China, told Bloomberg. "In normal circumstances, the world might be willing to wait, but not when the likes of the U.S. are struggling with very high unemployment."
In a sign China's export-driven growth has not shifted to an increase in domestic consumption, China's trade surplus hit $27.15 billion last month, up from $16.9 billion in September. Exports rose 22.9% in October from the year before and imports climbed 25.3%. The trade surplus was slightly higher than expectations of $26.4 billion, according to a poll reported by Dow Jones Newswires.
China's Urban Migration Catapults Copper Prices to New Heights
The next phase of China's economic plan is fueling a relentless appetite for electricity, spiking demand for copper. That has moved investors to drive up the price of the metal, as well as the stocks of companies that mine it.
Copper has risen 14% this year, with contracts traded on the London Metal Exchange tripling since December 2008. The Bloomberg index of world mining stocks this year has climbed 16% to the highest level since Aug. 1, 2008, driven by miners like Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX), and Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. (NYSE: IVN)
"Copper is red gold," Jeremy Gray, global head of resources at Standard Chartered PLC in Hong Kong told Bloomberg News. "We're on the verge of the biggest commodities bull market we have ever see."
Gray predicts the metal could rise by 50% to $12,000 a metric ton in the next six to 12 months.
China Increases Domestic Buying as Manufacturing Drives Growth
China's economy continues to rocket ahead, showing evidence of new strength in manufacturing and domestic consumption and easing fears that slower growth there could hamper the global recovery.
Manufacturing in China surged at the fastest pace in six months in October after contracting briefly earlier this year and raising fears the engine of the global recovery was faltering.
China's official Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) increased to 54.7 in October from 53.8 a month earlier, the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said Monday. A PMI reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a reading below 50 signals contraction.
A China PMI index produced by HSBC Holdings plc (NYSE ADR: HBC) jumped to 54.8 from 52.9, one of the largest one-month rises since the bank started tracking it in 2004.
The strong report also showed that China is increasing domestic consumption and is increasingly insulated from the struggle in the world's advanced economies to recover from the Great Recession.
But it also raises the specter of overheating and the possibility of further measures to contain inflation.