News That Matters
Next up is China. By Trim Tab’s Biderman. The next big financial crisis we are likely to face will not come from Europe, which everyone already knows is in recession, but rather from China. China is in big trouble and most investors do not even think that is possible. Everyone still believes that China, even with a slower growth rate, will be the engine that pulls the globe out of economic distress.
European leaders put off any decisions on shoring up the region’s banks at a late-night summit on Wednesday despite rising concerns that instability in Greece was undermining confidence in the eurozone’s financial sector. Instead, the heads of the EU’s main institutions were given the task of drawing up proposals for closer fiscal co-ordination in time for another summit next month, including plans that could include a path towards a Europe-wide deposit guarantee scheme and, in the longer term, commonly-backed eurozone bonds.

Millions of Egyptians went to the polls to choose a president in a historic election intended to end army rule and usher in a new democratic era more than a year after the uprising which overthrew Hosni Mubarak. Lines formed in front of voting stations and a brisk flow of voters cast their ballots, though turnout in the first of two days of the election appeared lower than in the first post-Mubarak parliamentary poll held late last year.

The shale gas boom in the US has led to a big drop in its carbon emissions, as power generators switch from coal to cheap gas. According to the International Energy Agency, US energy-related emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, fell by 450m tonnes over the past five years the largest drop among all countries surveyed.

All news below.


US manufacturers have attacked plans by JPMorgan Chase to launch an exchange-traded fund backed by physical copper, arguing that the product would “grossly and artificially inflate prices” and “wreak havoc on the US and global economy”. Copper’s use in electrical wiring makes it essential to the manufacturing industry.

The US and five other world powers will on Thursday make a last-ditch attempt to persuade Iran to accept immediate restrictions on its nuclear programme, hoping that such concessions will begin to defuse fears that Tehran wants an atomic bomb. After a day of sometimes fraught negotiations over the nuclear programme in Baghdad, the six world powers will on Thursday meet once more with Saeed Jalili, the Iranian nuclear negotiator, to try and agree restrictions to Iran’s programme.
Asian markets were mixed on Thursday, while the euro resumed after falling overnight touching its lowest level since July 2010 as European leaders failed to produce a breakthrough to the region’s economic crisis. Investors had been waiting for the release of the latest manufacturing data from China Thursday, which fell to 48.7 in May compared with 49.3 in April, HSBC said.

The preliminary HSBC China Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index, fell to 48.7 in May from a final reading of 49.3 in April, stoking concerns the Chinese economy could slow sharply. The PMI, a key indicator of manufacturing activity, follows weak performance by the world’s second-largest economy in April in many areas, including industrial production, trade, fixed-asset investment, money supply and the property market.  Some economists said that the Chinese economy will bottom out in the second quarter, before rebounding in the third quarter due to stimulus policies.

Yields on haven government bonds fell to record lows Wednesday, as investors piled money into triple-A-rated debt amid mounting worries that Greece may exit the euro zone. The yield on the 10-year German bund came within a whisker of a record low, hitting 1.41%, while the yields on 30-year bonds fell to a record low of 1.995%.  Yields on the other members of the haven club also plunged into uncharted territory. Ten-year Dutch bonds fell to a record low yield of 1.89%, while 10-year Finnish bond yields touched a low of 1.73%, according to data from Tradeweb. In a sign of the high levels of distress in euro-zone bond markets, Germany sold €5 billion ($6.34 billion) of two-year notes with a zero-percent coupon, effectively raising money free. Fund managers are increasingly investing their money on “a return of capital over return on capital” basis as the euro-zone crisis reaches new heights.

The Spanish government will provide about €9 billion ($11.4 billion) to cover Bankia SA’s provisioning needs, Finance Minister Luis de Guindos said Wednesday, in the latest sign that Spain’s economic deterioration is forcing authorities to inject more public funds to bail out ailing banks. Since Bankia won’t be able to meet provisioning and capital needs, Spain’s Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring will be ready to inject capital into Bankia’s unlisted parent company, Banco Financiero & de Ahorros SA, which holds the company’s most toxic real-estate assets, Mr. de Guindos told legislators in Parliament.

Popular support for Vladimir Putin’s government continues to erode and Russia could see a full-blown political crisis before he finishes his six-year presidential term, according to a new report from an influential Moscow think tank. “The erosion of confidence can’t be stopped,” Mikhail Dmitriev, director of the Center for Strategic Studies, said in an interview on the eve of the report’s public release on Thursday. The study is being closely watched because Mr. Dmitriev’s center was the only major one to accurately predict early last year that support for the regime was plunging and that it would face a crisis as early as December’s parliamentary elections.
The euro tumbled to its lowest level versus the dollar since July 2010 on Wednesday on mounting worries over the implications of Greece’s potential exit from the euro zone and as a meeting of European leaders is under way. The euro fell as low as $1.2544 before lately changing hands at $1.2578, down from $1.2688 in North American trading late Tuesday. The currency, down about 5% this month, hasn’t closed below $1.26 since July 2010, according to FactSet Research data.

European Union leaders stressed their desire to keep Greece in the euro zone but admitted a lack of agreement on if and when to introduce euro bonds, according remarks made late Wednesday in Brussels. Speaking after an informal leaders’ summit, both EU President Herman Van Rompuy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the union wanted to keep Greece within the euro, but with both adding that the next government in Athens must stick to previous agreements on fiscal discipline. Van Rompuy said: “We will ensure that European structural funds and instruments are mobilized to bring Greece on a path towards growth and job creation,” according to reports. Meanwhile, Merkel said that difference remained over the creation of euro bonds — bonds backed by Europe that would help lending terms for financially weaker members.
may have only a 46-hour window of opportunity should it need to plot a route out of the euro. That’s how much time the country’s leaders would probably have to enact any departure from the single currency while global markets are largely closed, from the end of trading in New York on a Friday to Monday’s market opening in Wellington, New Zealand, based on a synthesis of euro-exit scenarios from 21 economists, analysts and academics. Over the two days, leaders would have to calm civil unrest while managing a potential sovereign default, planning a new currency, recapitalizing the banks, stemming the outflow of capital and seeking a way to pay bills once the bailout lifeline is cut. The risk is that the task would overwhelm any new government in a country that has had to be rescued twice since 2010 because it couldn’t manage its public finances.

A Greek exit from the euro area would inflict heavy damage in Greece and throughout Europe. It could also be one of the best things that ever happened to the currency union. Greece’s repeat parliamentary election next month will serve as a referendum on whether the country should end its 12- year membership in the common currency. An affirmative answer would trigger a cardiac arrest of the Greek economy, as the banking system collapsed and foreign suppliers refused payment in drachmas. The financial system of the euro area, by far Greece’s biggest international creditor, would suffer hundreds of billions of euros in losses.

Carlos Slim sees Europe’s debt crisis as a “good moment” to apply his strategy of investing in times of turmoil, said the billionaire’s son, America Movil SAB (AMXL) Co- Chairman Carlos Slim Domit.America Movil, controlled by the elder Slim, announced a $3.4 billion bid to increase its stake in former Dutch phone monopoly Royal KPN NV earlier this month. While the acquisition would be Slim’s first major European foray, it follows a longstanding pattern, his son said. America Movil tries to stay as efficient and financially sound as possible so that it can quickly capitalize on fresh opportunities, he said.

The new leaders that will take over China in the next year may find themselves forced to open the country’s economy and political life as they try to maintain its economic growth, said Jon Huntsman Jr., a former U.S. ambassador to China and Republican presidential hopeful. “Their opening to the rest of the world will require a certain standardizing of the way business is done,” Huntsman said yesterday at an event in New York organized by the National Committee on United States-China Relations. “You just can’t make decisions behind the velvet curtain.” China is in the midst of a once-in-a-decade political transition to its fifth generation of leaders since its People’s Republic was established in 1949, with Vice President Xi Jinping set to succeed President Hu Jintao, who has served in that role since 2003.

European leaders clashed over joint debt sales as they called on Greece to stick with the budget cuts needed to stay in the euro and offered no immediate relief for recession-wracked Spain. The 18th summit in more than two years of crisis fighting was marked by new French President Francois Hollande’s challenge to the German-dominated deficit-cutting orthodoxy that has failed to stabilize the euro area and led to speculation that Greece might be forced out. “We had a not unheated discussion on euro bonds,” Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker told reporters in Brussels early today after six hours of talks. Joint borrowing “didn’t find much support, particularly in the German speaking area but found a certain enthusiasm in the French speaking area.”
Yuan traders are reconsidering a widely-held assumption that the currency would appreciate 2-3 percent this year as an unexpected worsening of global economic conditions and a slowdown in China drives investors toward safer havens. A debt crisis in the euro zone has of late developed into a political problem as well, with risk aversion driving the dollar index to its highest since September 2010 on Wednesday, casting doubt on whether Beijing can afford to let the yuan to continue to strengthen against the dollar. More significantly, China posted a stream of weak economic data for April, which caused the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) to hastily reduce banks’ reserve requirement ratios, injecting liquidity into the economy. The news and the ensuing cut exacerbated concerns over the health of the world’s second-largest economy.
The World Bank said a slowdown in China will drag on growth in the entire East Asia-Pacific region. The bank, an international organization that helps to fund projects in the developing world, said in a report released Wednesday that growth in the East Asia-Pacific region should slow to 7.6% this year from 8.2% in 2011 and 10% as recently as 2010. The slowing regional growth is due to China, which has seen its exports fall due to economic weakness across the developed nations that are its primary customers. Chinese growth is projected to fall to 8.2% this year from 9.2% last year, according to the World Bank’s forecast.
The United States is much closer than generally thought to full employment and it is time for the Fed to shift away from its ultra-easy monetary policy stance, said Narayana Kocherlakota, the president of the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, on Wednesday. In a speech in Rapid City, S.D., Kocherlakota noted that, in the wake of a financial crisis in the early 1990s, Sweden saw a sharp, and lasting, spike in the maximum rate of unemployment, or the level of joblessness sustainable over the long-term without causing inflation to rise. Kocherlakota said the U.S. inflation rate is signaling a similar spike in the maximum employment level in the U.S. and the Fed should “be responsive to such signals.”
The Indian rupee has continued its downward slide of the past few days and hit an all-time low against the dollar in early trade on Wednesday. The Indian currency fell to 55.82 rupees against the US dollar, from 55.39 on Tuesday. The slide comes amid concerns that slowing growth and a high rate of inflation may hurt India’s economy. Analysts said worries about a global economic slowdown had fanned those fears further.
Pressure on Greece increased dramatically on Wednesday night after Germany’s central bank called for a suspension of financial support to Athens and eurozone finance ministries agreed to draft contingency plans for a Greek exit from the euro. In a blunt warning to Athens, the Bundesbank said a Greek withdrawal from the eurozone would be disruptive but “manageable”, undermining claims by Greece’s radical anti-austerity leader, Alexis Tsipras, that Europe would not dare pull the plug. “When the Eurosystem provided Greece with large amounts of liquidity, it trusted that the programmes would be implemented and thereby ultimately assumed considerable risks,” said the bank. “In the light of the current situation, it should not significantly increase these risks.”

The Bank of England has dropped a heavy hint that it is ready to restart quantitative easing this summer if the economy continues to falter. Minutes to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee showed that “several members” of the nine-strong group believed the decision was “finely balanced”. The minutes were released before deputy governor Charlie Bean told the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF): “If conditions do deteriorate significantly, we may need to restart the programme.” Economists said the language was designed to prepare markets for more QE imminently, particularly after the 2.3pc slump in retail sales in April – the weakest performance in two years – and the 0.2pc fall in first-quarter GDP, which the ONS is expected to reconfirm today.
The precarious state of the high street was underlined when official figures showed that last month saw the biggest plunge in spending for two years and experts predicted that many more shops will go bust this year. Wet weather throughout April contributed to a worse-than-expected 2.3% fall in sales volumes. The grim headline figure was blamed on a sharp drop in demand for fuel after panic buying in March distorted the normal buying pattern, but the Office for National Statistics data also reflected a collapse in demand for clothing and shoes as the wettest April since records began saw frugal Britons postpone buying their new summer clothes.

Nationwide Building Society has written a third of all the new mortgages taken out this year as traditional lenders scaled back in the moribund housing market. As the country’s largest building society announced a fall in profits for the year to 4 April to £203m from £307m, it also unveiled plans to move into the small business banking market next year, an area traditionally dominated by the big four clearing banks. The Swindon-based building society insisted that it had not relaxed its lending criteria as it admitted that its gross mortgage lending – the volume of new loans – was up 44% at a time when lending across the market was up 5%.
Homes across Australia are now at their most affordable in two years as falling interest rates and a slide in house prices put property ownership in reach of more households. A key housing affordability index that tracks the relationship between household income, mortgage costs and price of housing shows conditions are beginning to tilt back in favour of those trying to enter the housing market. The HIA-Commonwealth Bank housing affordability index recorded an improvement in housing affordability for the fifth straight quarter in March. The index rose to 61.8 points from 57.3 points two years earlier.

Oil has rebounded in Asian trade as investors bought into the market after prices fell below $US90 a barrel the previous day, analysts said. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for delivery in July was up 64 cents to $US90.54 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for July gained 92 cents to $US106.48 in morning trade. Prices had slumped a day earlier as the dollar rallied on eurozone debt worries, making dollar-denominated oil more expensive and denting demand. WTI crude fell to $US89.90 on Wednesday, its lowest level since October, while Brent tumbled $US2.85 to $US105.56.

Gold managed to recover most of the ground it lost in a brutal sell-off earlier on Wednesday even as sentiment and the euro remained fragile as European leaders met to discuss the deepening euro-zone debt crisis. Spot gold prices dropped as low as $US1534.25 an ounce, down over 2 per cent, as the euro slumped to its weakest against the dollar in nearly two years. The loss narrowed to down 0.41 per cent at $US1561.50 an ounce. US gold futures for June delivery settled at $US1548.4 per ounce, down 1.76 per cent from Tuesday, but off an intraday low of $US1532.
Nearly a million young Canadians were neither in school nor holding down a job last year, a proportion that has inched higher since the recession but remains lower than in most other G7 nations. New analysis by Statistics Canada — the first of its kind in the country — finds 13 per cent, or 904,000, of the 6.8 million Canadians between the ages of 15 and 29 weren’t in school nor at work last year.
Malaysia’s economic growth slowed to 4.7 per cent in the first quarter, the government said on Wednesday, due to weakening exports sparked by a stuttering global economy and debt woes in Europe. The slower expansion in the export-dependent South-east Asian country came after the economy grew at a 5.2 per cent clip in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Members countries of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) hope to adopt new rules aimed at easing entry for least developed countries, Canadian International Trade Minster Ed Fast said on Wednesday. ‘We’re hoping by the summer break that most of the work can be complete,’ Mr Fast said on the sidelines of an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ministerial meeting in Paris. ‘We’re talking about a revised system of rules under which LDCs could accede to the WTO,’ the minister said.
Hong Kong’s composite Consumer Price Index (CPI) in April rose 4.7 percent from a year ago, easing from March’s increase of 4.9 percent, the city’s statistics department said here Tuesday. A spokesman said with receding domestic and external price pressures amid a more difficult economic environment, and with a slowing local economy, inflation should ease further. Netting out the effects of the city’s government’s one-off relief measures, the year-on-year rate of increase in April’s CPI remained at 5.6 percent, matching March, mainly due to eased increases in food prices and private housing rents.

Trade with China, Australia and the Asia-Pacific region is a major driver of New Zealand economic growth, said Finance Minister Bill English Thursday when he delivered the government’s annual spending plan. After laying out the government’s three priorities of a more productive and competitive economy, better public services, and rebuilding earthquake-battered Christchurch and the surrounding Canterbury region, English said the economy had grown “modestly but steadily, despite significant headwinds.”

Myanmar has taken some urgent measures to ease power crisis in the wake of days’ peaceful demonstration against blackout staged in some townships in the country. According to Thursday’s official media, some 52 heavy-duty generators have been ordered from some foreign companies and they are to arrive Myanmar within a week to be put into use to calm the protest. These generators, bought from the United States’ Caterpillar Co. and General Electric Co, and from an unknown company from Singapore, range from 200 KVA to 6,315 KVA, while some range from 1 to 2 megawatts (mw) in addition to two gas turbines of 25 mw in capacity, said the New Light of Myanmar. Of the generators, eleven 3,895-KVA ones will be used in Yangon, while twenty 6,315-KVA ones will be for Mandalay, it said, adding that others of smaller capacity will be introduced in Pyay and Monywa.
On a day when the rupee hit a new low, petrol price touched a new high. Petrol in Delhi will now cost Rs 73.18 a litre effective midnight with the public sector oil marketing companies raising the prices by Rs 7.54 a litre. This is the steepest increase that the country has seen. Though petrol prices were deregulated in June 2010, there is an artificial control in place. This is evident by the fact that the increase came just a day after the Budget session of Parliament ended. After this increase, all eyes will now be on the Ministerial Panel headed by the Finance Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, on whether it will decide on the prices of the regulated products diesel, PDS kerosene and domestic LPG.

With rupee breaching 56 level against the dollar, the Chief Economic Advisor, Dr Kaushik Basu, today said the exchange rate problem is “bit of a bubble” and has nothing to do with domestic policies. “…the current exchange rate problem that you are seeing, the very sharp depreciation that is taking place, I don’t think it really has anything to do with our policy or policy mistakes being made over here, which is causing that,” Dr Basu told CNBC TV18. He pointed out that currencies of several emerging economies like South African rand, Brazilian real and Mexican peso all are moving very much like the rupee.
US banking group Goldman Sachs has agreed to take on lease 1.6 million sq ft of office space – an area the size of nine football fields – in Bangalore, in what is the biggest recorded commercial property deal to date in India. The two-step transaction, according to people familiar with the transaction, will see the New York-headquartered investment bank initially taking up one million square feet. Another 600,000 square feet will be taken up in the second step of the transaction. The space, housed in a purpose-built block of three buildings for Goldman, is located on Bangalore’s Sarjapur outer ring road. To be built on 14 acres by local builder Kalyani Developers, it will be ready in 2017 and house a bulk of the bank’s staff in Bangalore, now scattered across six offices in a city IT park.

Government is planning to start the phase 2 of its rural roads programme that will concentrate on road upgradation rather than new road connectivity. The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) launched in 2002 by the National Democratic Alliance ( NDA) government, has led to creation of 3, 50,000 km of roads that have connected 84,000 lakh rural habitations. While in many states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh the targets under the phase 1 of the scheme are yet to be achieved, increasing number of other states have either achieved the targets or are going to within the next year.
The eurozone’s fiscal troubles could seriously hurt South Korea’s exports and cause a slow down in economic growth, a private think tank said Thursday. The Hyundai Research Institute (HRI) said persistent fiscal troubles facing European Union (EU) countries such as Greece are affecting worldwide trade. “If the EU cuts back on imports, this will have direct bearing on South Korea and could even cause a hard landing or the country’s exports,” it said.Europe accounted for 9.5 percent of South Korea’s trade last year, with exports reaching US$55.7 billion. The total rises to around $69.3 billion if indirect shipments going through the United States, China and other countries are tallied.
Turkmenistan agreed Wednesday to supply natural gas to Pakistan and India, as it tries to free itself from reliance on gas exports to Russia. The deals offer major economic benefits to all three countries but depend on building and defending a U.S.-backed pipeline across chronically unstable Afghanistan. The route, particularly the 735-kilometer leg through the Afghan provinces of Herat and Kandahar, will need billions of dollars in funding. It presents significant security problems as the Western NATO alliance plans to hand control of Afghanistan to its own security forces by the middle of next year. Turkmenistan’s state gas company Turkmengaz signed gas sales and purchase agreements with Pakistan’s Inter State Gas Systems and Indian state-run utility GAIL.
Japan’s government may provide cover for tankers bringing in Iranian oil once a European Union ban on insurance takes effect in July, Japanese officials said on Wednesday.  Japan has been lobbying the EU to remain exempt from the ban on insurance and reinsurance of Iran’s oil exports, which is part of a raft of Western sanctions aimed at shrinking Tehran’s oil revenues to force it halt its controversial nuclear program.