Posted inAT Finance, China, Japan, North Korea, Northeast Asia, South Asia, South Korea

The Daily Brief for Tuesday, 2 May 2017

China’s Q2 slowdown: The spectacular start that China’s economy made during the first three months of 2017 is apparently transitioning into a much more muted second quarter, writes Steve Wang. Both official and private surveys show the factory sector grew at a weaker than expected pace in April, due to sluggish orders and output combined with weaker market conditions at home and abroad.

Facebook’s Asian quandary: Social media giant Facebook is grappling with rising state censorship pressure in South East Asia, one of its fastest growing business advertising market.
David Hutt reports that Southeast Asian nations have routinely prosecuted netizens under cybercrime or anti-state laws and observers are asking if Facebook is now starting to aid government censorship to protect its lucrative market positions.

China’s debt problem: Xu Zhong, the head of the People’s Bank of China Research Bureau, says government debt may have exceeded the 60% warning line, reports Asia Times’ China Digest. China keeps increasing its leverage by using project funds, public-private partnerships, trusts and other financial tools, with Xu stressing that strengthening corporate governance was the solution.

North Korean conundrum: In 1969, US president Richard Nixon considered an attack on North Korea after a US surveillance aircraft was shot down over the Sea of Japan. Writer Todd Crowell, who was then an Asia-based US air force lieutenant, recalls the episode and says Nixon’s conundrum – what force could the US use that would be tough but not too tough – is the same as the one Trump faces today.

Posted inBeijing, China, Shanghai

China Digest for Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Government debt may exceed 60% warning line

The head of the People’s Bank of China Research Bureau Xu Zhong says government debt may have exceeded the 60% warning line, which includes city investment bonds and other hidden debt. Governments have increased their leverage by using project funds, public-private partnerships, trusts and other financial tools. Xu stressed that strengthening corporate governance was key to deleveraging.

VAT reforms achieved US$98.59 billion in tax cuts in a year

State Administration of Taxation chief Wang Jun said tax cuts will reach 680 billion yuan (US$98.59 billion) by the end of April after value-added tax had been in place in all industries for a year, the Shanghai Securities Journal reported on Tuesday.

April PMI above 51% level for seventh consecutive month

The Purchasing Managers Index in April stood at 51.2%, the seventh consecutive month it has exceeded 51% and was 0.6% lower than in March, the National Bureau of Statistics said. The PMI of small enterprises increased to a two-year high at 50%. A statistics official said domestic industrial sectors had stabilized.

7 firms in second round of mixed ownership reform pilot program

A China Securities Journal report said seven out of 10 central enterprises had reached the second round in a pilot program on mixed ownership reform, which would be a priority at the provincial and municipal level in the future. Market observers said reform on State-owned enterprises would be accelerated this year, especially for military industrial firms, civil aviation and in telecoms.

More than half of A-share companies upbeat on earnings

Around 60% of the 1,099 A-share companies listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges are optimistic after reporting preliminary results for the first half of 2017 as of Monday. The 663 companies expect to post healthy profits.

CMB outperforms one of the Big Five giants for first time

China Merchant Bank has for the first time beaten one of the Big Five state-owned giants after posting a 19.977 billion yuan first quarter profit, a Shanghai Securities Journal report said on Tuesday. CMB is a joint-stock bank and the Big Five are state-owned banks.

Interest rates raised on home mortgages in Beijing

Beijing increased the prime interest rate from May 1 on first home loans to 4.5% for terms of five years or longer, while the interest rate on second mortgages was raised to 20% on top of the prime rate, reported. Almost 70% of sellers lowered prices in April before the increases. Market observers predict rate rises may be implemented in other tier one cities.

137 billion yuan from pension funds invested in equity markets

Pension funds have invested 137 billion yuan in stock markets, the Times weekly reported. The Ministry of Human Resource and Social Security said seven provinces had signed 360 billion yuan worth of contracts with social security fund committees as of March 31.

Oil reserves up by 7.15 million metric tons in a year

The National Bureau of Statistics said nine oil reserve bases had 33.25 million metric tons of crude oil in reserves as of June 2016, a 27.4% increase from a year earlier. Though the stockpile has risen by 7.15 million metric tons in a year, analysts in the National Business Daily said reserves were far from the safe level of 90 days of use.

Newcomer joins policy-making circle in Tibet

Fang Lingmin, the deputy chief and general secretary of the autonomous region’s government, has been promoted to the Communist Party of China Standing Committee of Tibet, Caixin reported on Monday. Fang, who is recognized as a “scholar official,” has worked in the education system in Tibet for more than 30 years. He is also the fourth member in the standing committee from Shandong province.