- China’s GDP Grows 6.7% as Expected
While concerns are growing over China’s growing debt and the risks to its financial system.
China‘s economy expanded at a steady 6.7% in the third quarter and looks set to hit Beijing’s full-year target, fueled by stronger government spending, record bank lending, and a red-hot property market that are adding to its growing pile of debt.
Wednesday’s data painted a picture of an economy that is slowly stabilizing but increasingly dependent on government spending and a housing boom for growth, as private investment and exports remain stubbornly weak.
Some economists believe Beijing has had to “double down” on stimulus this year to meet its official growth range of 6.5 to 7%, and say the government’s obsession with meeting hard targets may hurt both planned reforms and the long-term health of the world’s second-largest economy.
“So far this year they have clearly chosen to do everything they can to meet the growth targets, and now there is a little bit of an upward surprise from the housing market which actually will help them with GDP growth this year,” said Louis Kuijs, head Of Asia economics at Oxford Economics in Hong Kong.
“The question really is, is the leadership willing to move to somewhat lower growth targets in order to put growth on a more sustainable footing, or will it feel obliged to continue to hang on to those very high growth targets.”
The economy grew at the same clip in the third quarter year-on-year as in the first and second quarters, as analysts polled by Reuters had expected. Government infrastructure projects and the property boom have spurred prices and demand for raw materials and goods from cement and steel to furniture.
On a quarterly basis, it grew 1.8%, again in line with expectations but easing slightly from the previous period.
PROPERTY MARKET BIGGEST RISK FOR NOW
Economists believe the greatest near-term risk for China is a possible correction in the high-flying property market, which accounts for about 15% of GDP.
Real estate investment accelerated in September and home sales soared, highlighting persistent investor demand even as more cities tighten measures to curb prices.
Property investment growth ticked up to 7.8% in September on-year, and property sales surged 34%, though new construction starts fell 19.4%, suggesting sentiment among builders may be shifting as the government looks to cool the buying frenzy.
A wave of restrictions imposed on buyers in major cities since early October has resulted in a sharp drop in sales and authorities are stepping up pressure on speculators.
Shanghai said on Tuesday it had punished some property agencies for falsifying contracts and had launched probes into some developers suspected of raising prices without authorization.
Most economists do not expect house prices to collapse, arguing the market is supported by steady migration to bigger cities, but memories are still fresh of authorities’ heavy-handed attempt to cool surging stock markets last year, which triggered a crash and an unprecedented government rescue.
The property craze has also heightened concerns about China‘s growing debt and the risks to its financial system, as much of the record loan growth has been driven by mortgages.
China‘s debt has soared to 250% of GDP and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) warned in September that a banking crisis was looming in the next three years.
“We think that the cooling measures in property market will weigh on China‘s economy over the coming quarters,” Commerzbank economist Zhou Hao in Hong Kong said in a note.
But statistics bureau spokesman Sheng Laiyun said “the impact (of property adjustment measures) on the economy will not be very big” in the short-term.
Brent Crude Oil Approaches $70 Per Barrel on Friday
Nigerian Oil Approaches $70 Per Barrel Following OPEC+ Production Cuts Extension
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $69 on Friday at 3:55 pm Nigerian time.
Oil price jumped after OPEC and allies, known as OPEC plus, agreed to role-over crude oil production cuts to further reduce global oil supplies and artificially sustain oil price in a move experts said could stoke inflationary pressure.
Brent crude oil rose from $63.86 per barrel on Wednesday to $69 per barrel on Friday as energy investors became more optimistic about the oil outlook.
While certain experts are worried that U.S crude oil production will eventually hurt OPEC strategy once the economy fully opens, few experts are saying production in the world’s largest economy won’t hit pre-pandemic highs.
According to Vicki Hollub, the CEO of Occidental, U.S oil production may not return to pre-pandemic levels given a shift in corporates’ value.
“I do believe that most companies have committed to value growth, rather than production growth,” she said during a CNBC Evolve conversation with Brian Sullivan. “And so I do believe that that’s going to be part of the reason that oil production in the United States does not get back to 13 million barrels a day.”
Hollub believes corporate organisations will focus on optimizing present operations and facilities, rather than seeking growth at all costs. She, however, noted that oil prices rebounded faster than expected, largely due to China, India and United States’ growing consumption.
“The recovery looks more V-shaped than we had originally thought it would be,” she said. Occidental previous projection had oil production recovering to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of 2022. The CEO Now believes demand will return by the end of this year or the first few months of 2022.
“I do believe we’re headed for a much healthier supply and demand environment” she said.
Oil Jumps to $67.70 as OPEC+ Extends Production Cuts
Oil Jumps to $67.70 as OPEC+ Extends Production Cuts
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $67.70 per barrel on Thursday following the decision of OPEC and allies, known as OPEC+, to extend production cuts.
OPEC and allies are presently debating whether to restore as much as 1.5 million barrels per day of crude oil in April, according to people with the knowledge of the meeting.
Experts have said OPEC+ continuous production cuts could increase global inflationary pressure with the rising price of could oil. However, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said “I don’t think it will overheat.”
Last year “we suffered alone, we as OPEC+” and now “it’s about being vigilant and being careful,” he said.
Saudi minister added that the additional 1 million barrel-a-day voluntary production cut the kingdom introduced in February was now open-ended. Meaning, OPEC+ will be withholding 7 million barrels a day or 7 percent of global demand from the market– even as fuel consumption recovers in many nations.
Experts have started predicting $75 a barrel by April.
“We expect oil prices to rise toward $70 to $75 a barrel during April,” said Ann-Louise Hittle, vice president of macro oils at consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “The risk is these higher prices will dampen the tentative global recovery. But the Saudi energy minister is adamant OPEC+ must watch for concrete signs of a demand rise before he moves on production.”
Gold Hits Eight-Month Low as Global Optimism Grows Amid Rising Demand for Bitcoin
Gold Struggles Ahead of Economic Recovery as Bitcoin, New Gold, Surges
Global haven asset, gold, declined to the lowest in more than eight months on Tuesday as signs of global economic recovery became glaring with rising bond yields.
The price of the precious metal declined to $1,718 per ounce during London trading on Thursday, down from $2,072 it traded in August as more investors continue to cut down on their holdings of the metal.
The previous metal usually performs poorly with rising yields on other assets like bonds, especially given the fact that gold does not provide streams of interest payments. Investors have been jumping on US bonds ahead of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, expected to stoke stronger US price growth.
“We see the rising bond yields as a sign of economic optimism, which has also prompted gold investors to sell some of their positions,” said Carsten Menke of Julius Baer.
Another analyst from Commerzbank, Carsten Fritsch, said that “gold’s reputation appears to have been tarnished considerably by the heavy losses of recent weeks, as evidenced by the ongoing outflows from gold ETFs”.
Experts at Investors King believed the growing demand for Bitcoin, now called the new gold, and other cryptocurrencies in recent months by institutional investors is hurting gold attractiveness.
In a recent report, analysts at Citigroup have started projecting mainstream acceptance for the unregulated dominant cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.
The price of Bitcoin has rallied by 60 percent to $52,000 this year alone. While Ethereum has risen by over 660 percent in 2021.
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