Monday, October 6, 2008

ChemChina, Blackstone launch Beijing joint venture

China National Chemical Corporation announced Monday that China Bluestar Co. Ltd., its joint venture in Beijing with the Blackstone Group, has officially launched.

Bluestar, one of ChemChina's subsidiary company groups, will be transformed into a Sino-foreign joint venture. U.S.-based Blackstone is putting 600 million U.S. dollars into the project for a 20 percent stake in the new company.

ChemChina and Blackstone signed the cooperation agreement in September 2007. It was ratified by the government in December.

A ChinaChem spokesman said the joint venture aimed at internationally-advanced technologies and would build high-tech chemical new materials equipment with self-owned intellectual property. It will draw on Blackstone's successful experience in the global chemical industry and its advanced management ideas.

ChemChina is one of the country's state-owned giant enterprises and a leading player in the global chemical industry. It ranked 28th among China's top 500 enterprises and 19th in global chemical enterprises.

Bluestar has three subsidiary companies listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges.

Source: Xinhua

Hong Kong stocks tumble 4.97% amid global financial worries

Hong Kong stocks nose-dived 878. 64 points, or 4.97 percent, to close below the 17,000 mark on Monday, as the passage of the 700-billion U.S. dollar bailout plan failed to lift the market sentiments around the world.

The benchmark Hang Seng Index lost 526.19 points, or 2.98 percent, to open at 17,156.21 on Monday and moved between 17,241. 78 and 16,790.86. The index widened its losses in the afternoon to close at 16,803.76.

Analysts had previously said they expected further uncertainties ahead in the global financial market and that the Hang Seng Index may face continued -- and probably accelerated -- downward pressure if it failed to hold above the 17,000 level.

Turnover on Monday also went down to 47.33 billion HK dollars from Friday's 53.28 billion HK dollars .

Hong Kong-based power supplier CLP Holdings turned out to be the only gainer among the 43 blue chips, as financial services institutions rated the company high, sending its share prices to rise 0.85 HK dollars, or 1.36 percent, at 63.6 HK dollars.

The China Enterprises Index also moved down 596.37 points, or 6. 62 percent.

Market heavyweight HSBC, widely recognized as resilient amid a generally weak market, went down 2.7 HK dollars, or 2.19 percent, at 120.5 HK dollars, while its local unit Hang Seng Bank tumbled 5. 7 HK dollars, or 4.61 percent, at 118 HK dollars.

China Mobile, the leading mobile carrier on the Chinese mainland and one of the three telecom giants after an ongoing industry restructuring, lost 4.5 HK dollars, or 5.84 percent, to close at 72.6 HK dollars, near its support level.

ICBC, one of the leading mainland state-owned commercial lenders, went down 0.23 HK dollars, or 5.28 percent, at 4.13 HK dollars.

Mainland insurance giant Ping An tumbled 4 HK dollars, or 8 percent, at 46 HK dollars, upon its disclosure of huge losses expected from a major investment in the European financial group Fortis.

Source: Xinhua

Four Chinese steel mills set to cut production on slump demands

Several leading Chinese steel mills are set to cut production to cope with the pressure of weak demand hanging over their iron-smelting furnaces.

Shougang Group and three other big domestic iron and steel manufacturers will slash 20 percent of their production this month amid slack domestic demand and dropping steel prices, according to Monday's China Securities Journal.

These major steel makers included Hebei Iron and Steel Group, Shandong Iron and Steel Group and Anyang Iron and Steel Group.

Hu Kai, a senior industry analyst with the website, told Xinhua on Monday the sagging price was the main cause of the production reduction.

"There is no signal that the steel product price would be ratcheted up in the near future, as some steel product prices remain high compared to previous years, construction-use steel products in particular."

China's real estate sector was currently in its nadir, which also pulled down steel product consumption, he added.

Steel prices on the domestic market dropped 5 percent in the week preceding the weeklong National Day holiday that started Sept. 29, according to the newspaper citing Xu Xiangchun, a analyst.

These steel mills would endeavor to further reduce the purchasing price of raw materials, adjust product mix and enhance communication among the companies respective management, according to the Beijing-based newspaper.

Hu said to some extent these companies had overreacted to the sluggish market as the output cutback exceeded the actual market demand decline.

Beijing-based Shougang Group declined to comment on the news report when reached by Xinhua. Its shares shed 5.31 percent to 3.39 yuan per share on Monday trading.

Source: Xinhua

China, Vietnam to open direct transport between border cities

China and Vietnam will open a direct transport service between their respective border cities of Pingxiang and Lang Son by year end, according to a Chinese official on Monday.

Irregular shuttle buses, government vehicles and private cars would be allowed to pass the shared Friendship Gate Port and drive in each other's city, said Song Jian, director of the International Road Transport Administration under the China Friendship Gate Port.

Freight trucks could only drive into the designated logistics parks in the two cities, Song said, citing an agreement of the transport authorities from the two countries.

During their meeting late last month, the two sides agreed transport authorities would start issuing permits to the vehicles of the direct transport service.

According to the plan, transport officials will meet again late this month to discuss further details. This will also involve officials from various authorities, including customs, border inspection and quarantine, public security, transport businesses and insurance.

"The direct transport service is expected to greatly boost bilateral cooperation in transport, trade, tourism and other areas," Song said.

Over the past few years, no direct transport has been allowed through the port of the Friendship Gate, which is rendered into Youyi Guan in Chinese and Huu Nghi Quan in Vietnamese. The highway port is about 17 km from Pingxiang, a small city in the southern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and 18 km away from Lang Son, capital of north Vietnam's Lang Son Province.

More than 200,000 vehicles pass through the border each year, according to Chinese government statistics.

Source: Xinhua

China Netcom removed from Hang Seng Index constituent after merger

The announced removal of China Netcom from the list of Hang Seng Index constituent stocks took effect after market close on Monday.

The merger between China Unicom and China Netcom, recently approved by their shareholders, was an ongoing Chinese mainland telecommunications restructuring that was expected to create one of the three integrated services providers.

The listing of China Netcom will be withdrawn on Oct. 15, subject to the expected approval of the merger in due court hearing, with the number of Hang Seng Index constituents dropping accordingly from 43 to 42, the Hang Seng Index Company said.

The changes to the Hang Seng family of indices, which had previously been scheduled for Oct. 15, had been moved forward to "facilitate the rebalancing activities performed by market participants and smooth the impact to portfolios tracking" the indices.

China Netcom will also be removed from the Hang Seng China- Affiliated Corporations Index and the Hang Seng Composite Industry Index-Telecommunications constituents.

Among other changes, the stock will be replaced by HKC Holdings as a constituent of the Hang Seng Composite Index, the Hang Seng Mainland Composite Index, the Hang Seng Free float Composite Index and the Hang Seng Mainland Free float Index.

Source: Xinhua

Wall Street turmoil tests China's foreign trade

The disillusionment of Wall Street myth has further endangered the already downward global economy, and posed a fresh threat to China's foreign trade, which is already on the verge of collapse.

'The year 2008 has thus far proved to be the most arduous year for China's foreign trade exports since its entry into the WTO,' predicted in the beginning of the year by international authorities. The latest statistics suggested that, from January through to August this year, China's foreign trade exports went up by 22.4 percent, while it was 27,7 percent the same period last year, showing a dim prospect for China's foreign trade.

One of the basic point used to judge the general tendency of China's foreign trade is nothing but the U.S economy. Currently, the sub-prime mortgage crisis is far from conclusion, and the U.S economy has been obviously on the decline. Even worse, the financial storms set up by Frannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both suffering severe bad debts, has been extending all the way from the financial institutions to the economic entities, leading to the weakness of the individual consumption growth, which accounts for 2/3 of the U.S GDP, and the shrinking demands for imports.

Meanwhile, China and the U.S. have been crucial trade partners to each other. But compare with last year, the bilateral trade volume dropped by 3.1 percentage points in the first eight months of the year. In particular, the orders placed for Chinese toys and garments, which used to enjoy a bulky share in the U.S market, turned to a sharp decline. Lehman Brothers, together with another four major investment banks, went bankrupt almost overnight. The 'Domino' effects induced by the precarious U.S economy have already sent many other major economic entities swaying and drifting. More over, the economic growth in the Euro Zone has so far produced no good results in sight.

The Japanese economy has been bogged down in stagnation, and the growth rate of emerging economies have suffered a severe setback, serving as an indication of an impending expansion of the financial crisis from the developed countries into the developing countries, which will unavoidably deliver a harsh blow to China's exports.

On top of that, the exacerbation of the global inflation and the untamed price hike in energy and resources have directly jacked up the production costs; besides, the international ocean freight has also gone up by more than 30 percent. Consequently, the costs gap between the developed countries and the emerging economies will have been narrowed, causing the possible return of international manufacturing industries to the developed countries and their neighboring regions. In a long run, the relative advantages of 'made-in-Chinas' would possibly be offset, and China's competitiveness in exports would be dulled. Additionally, the global geopolitics is getting increasingly complex, neo trade protectionism is looking up, and in future, the trade barriers against China would increase rather than decrease.

From the perspectives of China's domestic situation, with the rise in costs and the revaluation of RMB, as well as the monetary policies, many export-oriented and labor-intensive industries and enterprises cannot run profitably and efficiently in the country's bustling business areas lying along the Yangtze Delta and the Pearl Delta. But generally speaking, the challenges facing China's foreign trade are mostly from outside uncertainties instead of coming within China. At present, the difficulties from both outside and inside are interweaving and accumulating, and the foreign demands continue to shrink. It is expected that in the second half of the year the growth rate in China's exports would see no bounce-back, even though no cascading fall is predicted.

Fortunately, the turning point in China's foreign trade development does not loom ahead. Compared with others, China's present growth rate in exports still remains higher. The basic facets of China's economy stay intact, and its development quality and efficiency tend to look up. Moreover, the 'three carriages' for economic development run more steadily, and the fiscal revenues grow by leaps and bounds; priorities of the macro-economic policy have been shifted from 'two prevents', namely, prevent the economic development from overheating, and prevent the prices hike from evolving into the evident inflation, to 'one guarantee, one prevent', so to speak, besides the prevention of prices hike, the steady and smooth economic development must be guaranteed. As regards China's export economy, there is still enough room for manoeuvre.

Beyond doubt, foreign trade acts as a strong driving force for China's economic growth, and the global economic turbulence could also hit China. But as Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was quoted as saying in his official visit to the U.S, 'in history, the world economy has gone through ups and downs, but it survived and gained the new momentum for development,' China's economy is now at the stage of restructuring and transformation, and thereby, being cautious and prudent is not only a matter of practical attitude, but more a chance for further development.

It is hard to take omens from Wall Street storm, as it could recur in future, but it is by no means the calamity of exterminating the world. The linchpin for recovery is the ability to convert 'risks' into 'opportunities,' and the confidence, which is considered more valuable than gold when crisis breaks out. It is convincing that China's foreign trade will scale new heights by braving the U.S born financial storms.

By People's Daily Online

Beijing hosts booming tourists after Olympics

Beijing registered an increase of 35 percent tourists during the past week-long National Day holiday, many of whom visited the Olympic venues.

At least 8.02 million people made tours in Beijing between Sept. 29 to Oct. 5, including 2.35 million incoming visitors, the municipal bureau of tourism said in a notice released Sunday evening.

The city, which had just hosted the Olympics and Paralympics during August and September, harvested 5.25 billion yuan in tourist revenue, up 27 percent as against the National Day holidays last year.

The bureau attributed much of the tourist surge to "the Olympic effect", as Olympic venues and relative cultural activities became an outstanding attraction among traditional tourist sites.

The Olympic Park, home to the Bird's Nest and Water Cube, attracted 2.17 million visitors during the first six days of the holiday since it was open to the public on Sept. 29. The figure accounted for 25 percent of the city's total tourist arrivals.

In addition, many must-see historic scenic sites remained their attraction. The Forbidden City received 625,000 visitors, 78 percent more than the same period last year, and 396,000 people packed Badaling section of the Great Wall, an increase of 58 percent.

Star-level and non-star hotels reported an average room renting ratio of 63 percent and 70 percent respectively during the past week, up 5 percent and 10 percent than that of the same period last year.

Source: Xinhua