China

China Continues Game-Changing Energy Moves with Sinopec's $7 Billion Brazil Buy

Chinese state oil company China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) (NYSE ADR: SNP) said Friday that it would invest $7.1 billion in the Brazilian unit of Spain's Repsol YPF S.A. (NYSE ADR: REP) to form one of the largest private energy companies in Latin America.

The investment is the second-largest overseas purchase by a Chinese company and drives the market capitalization of Repsol's Brazilian arm up to $17.8 billion. Analysts estimated the company's value at $10.7 billion earlier this year. Sinopec's investment gives it a 40% stake in Repsol's Brazil business, and access to the highly valued Brazilian offshore sub-salt oil fields.

The move highlights South America's importance to China as the Asian powerhouse goes on a spending spree to meet its fast-growing energy demand.

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Controversial House China Tariff Bill Will Take America Down the Wrong Road

The U.S. House of Representatives this week overwhelmingly passed a bill that would enable the Obama administration to impose punitive tariffs on almost all Chinese imports into the United States - a controversial move that's intended to punish China for refusing to revalue its currency.

The House China tariff bill faces opposition in the Senate and from the Obama administration and isn't expected to become law. Let's hope that reluctance continues to hold: This bill is little more than a political con job and is quite possibly the stupidest thing that Washington could do right now.

Not only will this touch off a war the United States literally cannot afford to fight, but it's going to hamstring millions of already cash tight Americans by raising the cost of living dramatically while further eviscerating our already fragile gross domestic product (GDP).

Let me show you why...



To understand the hidden costs of the China tariff bill, please read on...

Japanese Economy Threatened by China Rare Earth Metals Ban

Japanese authorities last Friday released from detention the captain of a Chinese fishing boat that was found in disputed waters. However, China continues to withhold exports of rare earth metals to its island neighbor.

Rare earth metals are crucial to Japan's high-tech industry, and the ban on shipments from China, which has been in place since Tuesday of last week, could cripple the country's economy.

There are 15 different types of rare earth metals, which are used in high-tech devices like computer display screens, smart bombs, and hybrid-car batteries. However, the metals are scattered across the globe and very difficult to extract. They are in increasingly short supply as world demand surges, with industry officials predicting a global shortfall of 30,000 to 50,000 metric tons by 2012.

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U.S.-China Tension Evident in Futile House Currency Bill

The U.S. House of Representatives today (Wednesday) will vote on legislation that would let the U.S. government take punitive actions against countries that undervalue their currencies.

The bill isn't likely to have any tangible impact on U.S. policy, but it's yet another manifestation of the growing friction between the world's two greatest economic powers.

The Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act (HR 2378) is the apparent result of increasingly harsh rhetoric towards China's currency policy, which U.S. lawmakers say keeps the yuan undervalued. It is a relatively toothless measure that will likely have no effect on U.S. policy, but instead serve as a rallying cry for Congressional lawmakers looking to win votes ahead of November's midterm elections, and perhaps, U.S. officials heading to a Group of 20 (G20) summit the very same month.

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China Steps Up Effort to Derail BHP Bid for Potash

China is attempting to derail BHP Billiton Ltd's (NYSE ADR: BHP) bid for Potash Corp. (NYSE ADR: POT), as Beijing frets over the long-term supply of resources, according to a report yesterday (Wednesday) by the Financial Times.

Fearing that it could have a negative impact on Chinese imports, the state-run Sinochem Group has hired Deutsche Bank AG (NYSE: DB) and Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C) to help disrupt BHP's bid for the fertilizer company, people familiar the matter told the FT. A Chinese bank, thought to be Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, was also part of the team.

Citigroup, which acts as joint corporate broker to BHP along with Bank of America Corp.'s (NYSE: BAC) Merrill Lynch unit, has asked to be relieved of its role in BHP's bid in order to advise Sinochem on a potential counter-bid.

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What's In a Name: Can the U.S. Afford to Call China a Currency Manipulator?

It seems like every six months the debate over China's currency, the yuan, reaches a fevered pitch: The Washington bureaucrats threaten to label China a "currency manipulator" and Beijing threatens to dump its U.S. debt holdings.

Then, with the imminent approach of a major inflection point - be it a key international summit or major financial report - both sides grudgingly agree that a modest appreciation of the yuan would be mutually beneficial.

However, things could be slightly different this time around. China has routinely ducked calls to revalue its currency, and in doing so greatly agitated the West.

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Record Breaking Contango Suggests Higher Oil Prices for 2011

ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP) is paying $41,000 a day to keep a storage tanker capable of holding 3 million barrels of oil floating in the Gulf of Mexico, according to international ship- and offshore broking firm RS Platou. And the TI Europe is just one of hundreds of oil tankers sitting idle in waters around the world, as energy companies and investment banks await higher prices for crude.

Oil prices have fallen precipitously since the spring, as optimism about "green shoots" of economic growth gave way to fears of a double-dip recession. Prices have fallen more than 12% to $75.81 a barrel, from a high of $86.54 a barrel in April.

Indeed, with the U.S. economy stuck in the mire, the global outlook for oil demand has diminished - at least in the near-term. Longer-term, however, traders expect prices to surge higher next year as growth solidifies. That's why contracts for crude set to be delivered six months from now are worth more than crude at its current prices - an anomaly known as "contango."

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China Trade Surplus Reignites Tensions Over the Yuan

China in August posted its third straight trade surplus of more than $20 billion, putting friction with the United States over the nation's currency back in the spotlight.

Exports rose 34.4% in August and imports climbed a greater-than-expected 35.2%, leaving the country with a $20.03 billion surplus, a customs bureau report showed Friday.

But a sustained trade gap with the United States could embolden American lawmakers who are pushing to penalize China for what they consider unfair trade practices.

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China Ousts U.S. as Most Attractive Market for Renewable Energy Investing

China for the first time has overtaken the United States as the most attractive country for renewable energy investment, according to a quarterly index ranking released yesterday (Wednesday) by accounting firm Ernst & Young.

As the world's biggest energy consumer, China set a goal to generate 15% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 - up from 9% in 2008 - and has been encouraging investment in its clean energy companies to make its target.

"China has all the benefits of capital, government will, and it's a massive market," Ben Warren, Ernst & Young's environment and energy infrastructure leader, told Bloomberg. "We would expect to see China retaining a dominant position."

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China Using Government Muscle to Turbo Charge its Auto Industry

Having already supplanted the United States as the world's largest auto market, China is on the fast track to becoming the global leader in hybrid and electric cars.

General Motors and Chrysler were forced into bankruptcy largely because they failed to pursue more fuel-efficient models. Indeed, GM and Chrysler looked wholly unprepared as gas prices soared over $4.00 a gallon in 2008.

As GM emerges from bankruptcy - having been bailed out by the U.S. government - it will put a renewed focus on alternative energy. Unfortunately, it's too late to make a difference. As U.S. car companies sputtered amid the country's economic collapse, carmakers in China raced ahead. And with billions of dollars in government backing, they are the companies that will set the pace for the global auto market.

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China Traffic Jam Just a Brief Bottleneck on the Road to Growth

Besides recently being crowned the world's second-largest economy, China now has the dubious distinction of spawning the world's longest traffic jam. And it's all directly attributable to China's voracious appetite for energy and automobiles.

A line of cars and trucks 60 miles long (100 kilometers) has snarled the road along the Beijing-Tibet 110 Expressway for the past nine days.

The bumper-to-bumper gridlock, which finally began to ease yesterday (Wednesday), was created by a surge in trucks carrying coal from the province of Inner Mongolia to the suburbs of Beijing, where power plants continue to suck up and incinerate millions of tons of the black rock.

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South Korea Moves on U.K. Energy Assets as Competition with China Increases

Korea National Oil Corp. (KNOC) on Friday made a hostile bid for the United Kingdom's Dana Petroleum PLC, marking the first time a state-owned Asian company has gone directly to shareholders.

The move underscores South Korea's determination to double its oil output by 2012 and increase its energy security. It also shows that South Korea will not be denied energy assets, despite being outbid by Chinese companies in several instances.

KNOC took the $2.9 billion (1.87 billion pound) bid to Dana's shareholders after the oil explorer rejected KNOC's previous offer of 1,800 pence a share offer. In a filing with the London Stock Exchange, KNOC said it had support from 48.62% of shareholders, putting the needed 50% approval target within close reach.

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Three Ways to Profit as China Causes Gold Prices to Spike

China's growing importance in the world economy is about to have ramifications for the entire commodities market. Specifically, for Gold. Find out why China will push gold prices through the roof - and how to profit now.

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China Dumps the Dollar as Yields Sink

China cut its holdings of Treasury notes and bonds by the most ever in June, instead favoring the debt of Europe, Japan and Korea. The move has fueled speculation that plummeting U.S. yields are driving away the Asian giant, which has ambitions for its currency, the yuan, to replace the dollar as the world's main reserve currency.

China's holdings of long-term Treasuries fell by $21.2 billion in June to $839.7 billion, a U.S. government report showed recently. Total Chinese investment in U.S. debt declined 2.8% to $843.7 billion, the smallest in a year, following a 3.6% slide in May.

The shift comes as President Barack Obama increases U.S. debt to record levels, making it harder to finance sales to sustain the U.S. economic expansion.

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This China Province Will Become a Global Oil-and-Gas Market Powerhouse

Like everything else, the balance of power in the global energy market is shifting toward China, where a little-known province is perfectly situated to become a global oil-and-gas market powerhouse.

Nestled in the far northwest of China, Xinjiang is the country's largest province and the primary domestic source for oil and gas. It is sparsely populated and as big as Western Europe. The name, Xinjiang, literally means "New Frontier." And recent decisions in Beijing are going to give that translation even more meaning - transforming this province into a "new frontier" for the global energy sector.

To understand how to profit from this development, please read on...

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