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China

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.

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Sorry Wall Street – Asia is the New King of the Global IPO Market

The United States – and Wall Street – is surrendering its mantle as the global center for intial public stock offerings (IPOs).

In fact, unprecedented demand for IPOs in Asia has reduced the U.S. share of the global IPO market to an all-time low.

With another $10 billion in IPO deals expected to be completed by the end of this year, the total amount raised worldwide for all of 2010 will approach $145 billion.

With $76 billion raised – including $22.1 billion from Agricultural Bank of China Ltd., alone – China topped the field by raising the most money of any single country.

No U.S. company raised more than $700 million.

This says a lot about the respective outlooks for the two countries' economies. And it also tells us a great deal about how we should be investing our money.

Let me explain.

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

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.

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Policymakers Panicked as China Rare Earth Ban Extends to the West

China for months has blocked shipments of rare earth metals intended for Japan in retaliation for a regional dispute. Now, China appears to have expanded its rare earth embargo to include Western countries – a move that has U.S. and European authorities scrambling to formulate a backup plan.

Rare earth metals are essential to the production of high-tech devices like computers, display screens, smart bombs, and hybrid-car batteries. And despite their name, rare earth metals aren't particularly rare. However, they are difficult to produce and many rare earth production companies have moved their operations to China to capitalize on cheaper extraction costs and the nation's commitment to growing its alternative energy sector.

China, which has one-third of the world's rare earth deposits, accounted for 97% of global production last year. Of course, the near-total monopoly China wields over the sector wasn't a major concern until just a few months ago when the country cut its production and export quotas.

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Currency War Carries On as G-20 Meeting Fails to Secure Specific Trade Targets

Despite securing an agreement from Group of 20 (G-20) officials to avoid weakening their currencies any further, the Obama administration failed to convince member countries to implement specific guidelines to measure compliance and monitor trade imbalances.

At a meeting last weekend in Gyeongju, South Korea, finance ministers from both developed and emerging economies agreed to try to maintain trade balances at "sustainable levels," which they left to be negotiated at a future date. They were unable to reach consensus on precise targets, as the United States proposed. G-20 members will meet again in Seoul on Nov. 11 and 12.

The G-20 was able to hammer out a deal to get China and the United States – as well as the other G-20 nations – to agree to "refrain from competitive devaluation of currencies," and to let markets set foreign-exchange values. China is widely seen as keeping its currency undervalued to boost its exports, while the United States has been accused of pursuing a weak dollar policy, also to increase its overseas shipments.

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Money Morning Mailbag: China Needs to Boost Domestic Demand to Continue Economic Recovery

China released data this week showing its economy grew 9.6% in the third quarter from a year earlier, slower than years past but still significantly ahead of other countries that are struggling to stabilize their economies.

A slight dip in growth is what China wanted. Its gross domestic product (GDP) has grown on average more than 10% annually since 2006. The country's central bank lifted rates this week by 0.25 percentage points for the first time since 2007 to further cool the risk of overheating.

While working to maintain a healthy level of growth, China now has to contend with other countries devaluing their currencies to compete against a cheap yuan that is fueling an export-driven recovery. However, the whole world can't depend on exports – somewhere along the line there must be growth in demand.

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How the U.S.-China Trade Spat is Jeopardizing Energy Sector Development

Usually, a government decision to subsidize clean energy alternatives would be applauded by others.

Not so when the government is Beijing, and Washington politicians halfway around the world are busy looking for votes.

This tiff could be filed away as just another tempest in a teapot… if it were not for the other important projects it could derail along the way. Those projects just happen to have a major impact for American natural gas technology and the companies likely to benefit from its foreign introduction.

If the two countries can get it together, it could mean profitable new opportunities for both.

To find out how the energy sector would benefit from U.S.-China cooperation, read on…

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Currency War: China Stands Firm on Yuan as Global Criticism Escalates

Germany and Japan are joining the U.S. in pressuring Beijing to let the yuan appreciate to prevent an international currency war from spiraling out of control. Still, China remains firm that a gradual rate change is all it will allow.

German Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle warned yesterday (Wednesday) that a trade war could erupt if China didn't float its currency for a more fair value. As the China-U.S. currency tensions have heated up, other countries are saying China's unfair trade advantage is threatening export-driven recoveries around the globe.

"We have to take care that the currency war doesn't become a trade war," Bruederle told German business paper Handelsblatt. "China bears a lot of responsibility for ensuring that it doesn't come to an escalation."

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CNOOC Creates Biggest China-U.S. Oil Deal For Stake in Shale Gas Industry

China's state-owned energy company China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC) (NYSE ADR: CEO) late Sunday announced it would invest $2.16 billion in U.S.-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE:CHK) to increase China's stake in unconventional gas resources like shale gas. It is the largest ever China-U.S. oil and gas deal.

CNOOC initially will pay $1.08 billion for a 33% stake in Chesapeake's Eagle Ford shale acreage in Southern Texas. China's third-largest oil company will invest an additional $1.08 billion by paying 75% of Chesapeake's drilling and completion costs in coming years, allowing Chesapeake to tap hard-to-extract shale gas deposits and boosting its weak balance sheet.

The deal highlights China's need to develop its shale-gas extraction techniques. The country has 26 trillion cubic meters of shale gas reserves that are largely unexplored due to a lack of drilling ability – and Chesapeake is a pioneer in the shale gas industry.

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You Heard it Here First: China's Plan to Dethrone the Dollar Continues to Unfold

The U.S. dollar is on the way out as the world's top reserve currency. And as Money Morning Chief Investment Strategist Keith Fitz-Gerald predicted more than a year and a half ago, the yuan could be set to replace it.

The greenback has served as the world's benchmark reserve currency since the mid-20th century, but soaring deficits and the U.S. Federal Reserve's loose monetary policy have drained the dollar's value. Meanwhile, emerging markets – many of which are vibrant manufacturing hubs, net creditors, and have rich caches of commodities – are more fiscally sound than the United States, which has a $1.3 trillion budget deficit.

"If you look at the fundamentals of a lot of these emerging markets, they are considerably better than developed markets," Kenneth Akintewe, a Singapore-based investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management PLC told Bloomberg in an Oct. 11 interview. "Who wants to be holding U.S. dollars at this stage?"

China, which leads the world with more than $2 trillion in currency reserves held mostly in U.S. Treasuries, is chief among the countries seeking respite from the dollar's decline. Beijing has long bemoaned the depreciation of the dollar, stating outright that it should be replaced as the world's main reserve currency.

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