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China Will Avoid a Bank Crisis, Reach High Income Status: Morgan Stanley

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  • China Will Avoid a Bank Crisis, Reach High Income Status: Morgan Stanley

China will likely avoid a financial crisis and is on track to reach high income status by 2027, according to a new Morgan Stanley report on the nation’s longer-term prospects titled “Why we are bullish on China.”

The sweeping outlook comes amid growing concern over China’s surging debt levels, slow pace of reforms and the impact of a potential trade spat with the U.S. While acknowledging those concerns as legitimate, the analysts point to the country’s increasing shift into high value-added manufacturing and services that will play a central role in boosting per capita incomes to $12,900 over the next decade from $8,100 now.

If China manages to pull off that feat, it will join South Korea and Poland as the only large economies with a population of over 20 million to achieve that over the past three decades, Morgan Stanley said. The World Bank defines high-income economies as those with a gross national income of at least $12,476 per person.

There are other positives, too. Consumption and services are increasingly powering growth and proposed structural reforms such as the closure of uncompetitive state-owned enterprises will clear the way for new, high-value added industries in areas such as health care, education and environmental services, according to Morgan Stanley. That would spur the creation of a new generation of Chinese multinational corporations with significant presences both at home and abroad.

Low Risk

At the same time, the risk of a financial shock remains low even though overall debt soared to 279 percent of the economy last year from 147 percent in 2007. That’s because borrowing has been funded by China’s own savings and been used for investment. Strong net asset positions provide a buffer along with an ongoing current account surplus, high foreign reserves and the absence of significant inflationary pressures that would destabilize the financial system, according to the report.

A one-off devaluation of the yuan is also unlikely though the currency will likely weaken further, according to Morgan Stanley.

Indications that China’s leadership are shifting their focus from stimulating the economy to reining in financial risk bolsters their upbeat case, the analysts said.

“The most significant development on the policy front is that policy makers are now signaling a willingness to accept slower rates of growth, and place more focus on preventing financial risks and asset bubbles, indicating that they would not protect growth at all costs, often with the use of investment of a low return nature,” the analysts wrote.

Debt Pile

Still, there are risks. Much will depend on the commitment to tackling the debt pile and reshape state-owned enterprises.

It’s likely that China’s debt management will follow a path similar to Japan’s, although economic growth will compound at a much higher rate over coming years. Morgan Stanley sees growth at an average of 4.6 percent in 2021-2025. That’s less than half the 9.6 percent average growth rate over the past three decades.

“With a starting point of lower debt, (China’s debt to GDP today is where Japan’s was in 1980) and per capita levels (China’s per capita GDP (PPP) today is where Japan’s was in the mid-80s),” the analysts wrote. “By not allowing for a sharp appreciation of its currency as Japan did after the Plaza Accord, China today is arguably better positioned to still achieve growth rates that can outpace global growth.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Gold

Gold Steadies After Initial Gains on Reports of Israel’s Strikes in Iran

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Gold, often viewed as a haven during times of geopolitical uncertainty, exhibited a characteristic surge in response to reports of Israel’s alleged strikes in Iran, only to stabilize later as tensions simmered.

The yellow metal’s initial rally came on the heels of escalating tensions in the Middle East, with concerns mounting over a potential wider conflict.

Spot gold soared as much as 1.6% in early trading as news circulated regarding Israel’s purported strikes on targets in Iran.

This surge, reaching a high of $2,400 a ton, reflected the nervousness pervading global markets amidst the saber-rattling between the two nations.

However, as the day progressed, media reports from both countries appeared to downplay the impact and severity of the alleged strikes, contributing to a moderation in gold’s gains.

Analysts noted that while the initial spike was fueled by fears of heightened conflict, subsequent assessments suggesting a less severe outcome helped calm investor nerves, leading to a stabilization in gold prices.

Traders had been bracing for a potential Israeli response following Iran’s missile and drone attack over the weekend, raising concerns about a retaliatory spiral between the two adversaries.

Reports of an explosion in Iran’s central city of Isfahan further added to the atmosphere of uncertainty, prompting flight suspensions and exacerbating market jitters.

In addition to geopolitical tensions, gold’s rally in recent months has been underpinned by other factors, including expectations of US interest rate cuts, sustained central bank buying, and robust consumer demand, particularly in China.

Despite the initial surge followed by stabilization, gold remains sensitive to developments in the Middle East and broader geopolitical dynamics.

Investors continue to monitor the situation closely for any signs of escalation or de-escalation, recognizing gold’s role as a traditional safe haven in times of uncertainty.

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Commodities

Global Cocoa Prices Surge to Record Levels, Processing Remains Steady

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Cocoa futures in New York have reached a historic pinnacle with the most-active contract hitting an all-time high of $11,578 a metric ton in early trading on Friday.

This surge comes amidst a backdrop of challenges in the cocoa industry, including supply chain disruptions, adverse weather conditions, and rising production costs.

Despite these hurdles, the pace of processing in chocolate factories has remained constant, providing a glimmer of hope for chocolate lovers worldwide.

Data released after market close on Thursday revealed that cocoa processing, known as “grinds,” was up in North America during the first quarter, appreciating by 4% compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, processing in Europe only saw a modest decline of about 2%, and Asia experienced a slight decrease.

These processing figures are particularly noteworthy given the current landscape of cocoa prices. Since the beginning of 2024, cocoa futures have more than doubled, reflecting the immense pressure on the cocoa market.

Yet, despite these soaring prices, chocolate manufacturers have managed to maintain their production levels, indicating resilience in the face of adversity.

The surge in cocoa prices can be attributed to a variety of factors, including supply shortages caused by adverse weather conditions in key cocoa-producing regions such as West Africa.

Also, rising demand for chocolate products, particularly premium and artisanal varieties, has contributed to the upward pressure on prices.

While the spike in cocoa prices presents challenges for chocolate manufacturers and consumers alike, industry experts remain cautiously optimistic about the resilience of the cocoa market.

Despite the record-breaking prices, the steady pace of cocoa processing suggests that chocolate lovers can still expect to indulge in their favorite treats, albeit at a higher cost.

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Crude Oil

Dangote Refinery Leverages Cheaper US Oil Imports to Boost Production

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The Dangote Petroleum Refinery is capitalizing on the availability of cheaper oil imports from the United States.

Recent reports indicate that the refinery with a capacity of 650,000 barrels per day has begun leveraging US-grade oil to power its operations in Nigeria.

According to insights from industry analysts, the refinery has commenced shipping various products, including jet fuel, gasoil, and naphtha, as it gradually ramps up its production capacity.

The utilization of US oil imports, particularly the WTI Midland grade, has provided Dangote Refinery with a cost-effective solution for its feedstock requirements.

Experts anticipate that the refinery’s gasoline-focused units, expected to come online in the summer months will further bolster its influence in the Atlantic Basin gasoline markets.

Alan Gelder, Vice President of Refining, Chemicals, and Oil Markets at Wood Mackenzie, noted that Dangote’s entry into the gasoline market is poised to reshape the West African gasoline supply dynamics.

Despite operating at approximately half its nameplate capacity, Dangote Refinery’s impact on regional fuel markets is already being felt. The refinery’s recent announcement of a reduction in diesel prices from N1,200/litre to N1,000/litre has generated excitement within Nigeria’s downstream oil sector.

This move is expected to positively affect various sectors of the economy and contribute to reducing the country’s high inflation rate.

Furthermore, the refinery’s utilization of US oil imports shows its commitment to exploring cost-effective solutions while striving to meet Nigeria’s domestic fuel demand. As the refinery continues to optimize its production processes, it is poised to play a pivotal role in Nigeria’s energy landscape and contribute to the country’s quest for self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products.

Moreover, the Nigerian government’s recent directive to compel oil producers to prioritize domestic refineries for crude supply aligns with Dangote Refinery’s objectives of reducing reliance on imported refined products.

With the flexibility to purchase crude using either the local currency or the US dollar, the refinery is well-positioned to capitalize on these policy reforms and further enhance its operational efficiency.

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