Monthly Archives: July 2012

Six months of intense pressure from Washington to persuade Turkey to reduce its oil imports from Iran have apparently paid off.

Figures released on Tuesday by Turkey’s state statistics office TUIK indicate that of the 1.87m tonnes of crude Turkey imported in June only 684,000 tonnes – 37 per cent came from Iran. This is a significant drop on last year when Turkey sourced 51 per cent of its crude from Iran, and on March this year when imports from Iran peaked at 68 per cent of total imports. Read more

It’s very exciting to get out from under a massive pile of debt. Just ask Argentina.

On the second floor of the economy ministry, three large screens count down the minutes to 10:15 a.m. Friday morning alongside the slogan “Without debt, we are more free”. The economy ministry’s website sports an even more exact count, down to the second. Each day, under the hashtag #independenciaeconomica (“economic independence” in English), economy minister Hernán Lorenzino chimes in with tweets about the upcoming good news. And to top it off, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will commemorate the event at the Buenos Aires stock market on Thursday afternoon. Read more

Both leaders looked delighted. But while Dilma Rousseff may simply have been gleefully glimpsing the bounce in trade with Venezuela that is likely to follow its formal entry on Tuesday into the Mercosur trade bloc, Hugo Chávez was positively fizzing with excitement.

Almost reverting to a child-like state, he grabbed the model of the Embraer 190 that he had just agreed to buy from Brazil, gliding it through the air with his hand – from television images it was unclear whether he was making an accompanying “nnneeaoowww” sound. Read more

The average Czech’s financial conservatism is legendary – and Tuesday’s first-half results from Erste Group Bank perfectly illustrate this.

The Austrian bank, which together with Raiffeisen Bank International and UniCredit Group, make up the triumvirate of emerging Europe’s largest lenders, reported first-half operating profit down 11 per cent to €1.75bn as the bank was unable to cut costs at a fast enough rate to make up for the 6.7 per cent decline in revenue. Read more

Russian beer drinkers in Moscow centreNo one knows how to make blue chips plummet quite like Vladimir Putin.

Meeting with Russian youth on Tuesday, the president signaled that the state might crack down further on Russian beer consumption – and the markets did the rest. Carlsberg fell 5.4 per cent and SABMiller ended the day down 1 per cent. Anheuser-Busch InBev (which was also reporting second-quarter earnings on Tuesday) dropped 3.2 per cent. Read more

Russia’s agriculture ministry has revised downwards its forecast for the grain crop this year as farms in the Volga River region and Siberia sizzle in a heatwave and drought.

Analysts warn that the problems , coinciding with a disastrous harvest in the US Mid-West, will leave Russia with only a small surplus of grain for export just when world markets need supplies most. What worries traders even more is that the Kremlin will repeat past practice and impose export restrictions that would drive world grain prices higher. Read more

A shrinking economy, threats of fiscal crisis, appeals for international financial support and limited hope for growth any time soon. It’s become a wearisomely familiar story in Europe, and Serbia is no exception.

The Balkan country’s economy contracted by 0.6 per cent in the second quarter of this year, following a 1.3 per cent drop in Q1, according to a flash estimate from Belgrade’s statistics office issued on Tuesday. The National Bank of Serbia, the central bank, had forecast 0.7 per cent growth. Read more

Halwani Bros, a Saudi food producer, seems to think it has a recipe for labour market transformation – beyond the dense, sesame halawa dessert, for which it is famous. The 60-year-old, Riyadh-listed company has set a minimum wage of SAR3,000 ($800) per month for Saudi employees, according to a report in Arab News.

The move may only benefit 80 nationals employed at food production plants across the kingdom, as well as 50 more that the company plans to hire – but the decision could have far-reaching ramifications for other Saudis. Read more

Four mostly Philippine groups, including one which counts a British company as member, submitted bids on Tuesday to look for oil and gas in three energy exploration blocks covering 1.6m ha of waters west of the Philippines in the South China Sea.

The move could potentially add to Manila’s rising tense relations with China which is claiming ownership of most of the body of water. Read more

One thing at least is certain about Taiwan’s economy. An advance estimate of Q2 GDP released by the government on Tuesday was a big disappointment: a contraction of -0.16 per cent, compared with a Bloomberg consensus for expansion of +0.5 per cent.

But what will happen next? Taiwan is heavily dependent on exports of high value-added, hi-tech goods. Global uncertainties make further disappointments likely. Read more

The stream of dispiriting economic news from South Korea shows no sign of abating. On Tuesday the country’s industrial production survey for June showed a 0.4 per cent monthly decline – undershooting the consensus forecast of a 0.1 per cent increase – and economists say the picture is likely to darken further.

The massive contribution of manufacturing exports to South Korea’s economy is, many would argue, the main factor in the country’s dizzying increase in prosperity over the past 50 years. But it also makes the country’s institutions and corporations particularly powerless in the face of an economic slowdown in its key markets: China, Europe and the US. Read more

* India hit by second major blackout

* GIC favours cash amid global uncertainty

* Beijing pushes to improve air pollution Read more

More than 10 states in north and east India faced power outages as the main electricity grids serving the regions collapsed again on Tuesday, leaving nearly half the country without power for a second day.

On Monday, the country’s worst black-out in a decade left more than 300m people without electricity and brought trains, offices and hospitals to a standstill. The region’s biggest power plants were online again by the middle of the day. But the effort was short-lived as an overload of capacity dragged down the eastern and north-eastern power grids in addition to the northern grid that was the first to be crippledRead more

Tuesday’s picks from the BB team: HSBC results show its increasing reliance on emerging markets; metal prices have been tumbling as China’s producers cut their production costs; The Russian media’s take on the Syria conflict; plus, proposals for reform of the Indian power grid, and the rise and rise of the Indonesian convenience store. Read more

You may not have noticed, but the London 2012 Olympics have begun.

So this week, chart of the week looks at the EM stars – which countries out-performed at Beijing, and which should be ones to watch in London? Read more

The Reserve Bank of India kept benchmark interest rates on hold on Tuesday, in a widely expected bid to contain persistently high inflation, while leaving the growth revival agenda in the hands of the government.

India’s central bank kept the repo rate – the rate at which it lends to commercial banks – at 8 per cent even as markets hoped for a much-needed cut to stimulate borrowing and get growth back on track after a recent nosedive to its lowest level in nine yearsRead more

* Wary Asia awaits central bank meetings

* Chinese swimmer at centre of doping storm

* Taiwan GDP unexpectedly shrinks

* Singh’s power plan gains urgency as grid collapses Read more

Mrs Watanabe is back. The fabled Japanese housewife investor, burned by her love affair with the Brazilian real, appeared to have rediscovered a taste for the carry trade.

The object of her affection this time? The Turkish lira.

The appetite for Turkish and lira-linked assets from yield-hungry Japanese retail investors has grown by leaps and bounds since the start of the year. From just $136m in 2010, lira-denominated Uridashi bond issuance – as foreign-currency debt sold to Japanese retail investors is called – reached nearly $2bn in the first six months of this year. Read more

Amistad is a nice word. It means friendship in Spanish. Now it seems Ecuador has found a new friend for its oil sector: Russia’s Gazprom.

The Ecuadorean government has signed a “memorandum of understanding” with the energy giant to explore the Amistad natural-gas field in the Gulf of Guayaquil, in the coastal south of the country. “Gazprom wants to explore natural gas in all offshore available areas,” Jorge Glas, Ecuador’s minister of strategic sectors, said late last week. Read more

What’s an emerging market got to do to convince the rating agencies that they are investment grade? In Turkey’s case, quite a lot.

As Bloomberg reports today, of 19 emerging market bonds it has tracked over the past month,Turkey’s performed the best of all. Yields on benchmark two year lira-notes fell 69 basis points to 7.78 per cent, adding to falls of 323bp so far this year. This involved foreign investors taking their holdings of Turkish debt to a record $50.6bn. Read more