Daily Archives: Aug 20, 2012

In Brazil there are more signs that the wintry economic conditions in the southern hemisphere giant are giving way to spring. First, there were stronger retail sales and jobs growth. Then, there were  signs of an expansion in gross domestic product in June and now a thawing of the blighted industrial sector. 

Brazil and Argentina must be green with envy. Economists are increasingly downbeat on Brazil’s growth, cutting their 2012 forecast again (to 1.75 per cent). Argentina’s latest official data, showing flat activity in June was only good because it was not as bad as expected. And then here comes Chile with expansion of 5.5 per cent in the second quarter and 5.4 per cent in the first half, better than market expectations, and the fourth straight quarter of growth.  

Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, the world’s third-biggest shipbuilder by sales kicked off the week with a $1.9bn order to build five production platforms for an unidentified African-based customer.

This is almost a quarter of  its revenue from offshore platform deals last year. The news of the contract, which ends in 2016, on Monday sent DSME’s share price up 1.8 per cent and left observers puzzling who might be the client. 

China is speeding up tax reforms to boost its weak service sector after in which the system has been skewed in favour of the country’s manufacturing industry.

Under the current taxation system, the country’s service sector pays business tax of 3-20 per cent on sales, which represents a heavier tax burden than faced by the manufacturing sector, which pays value added tax of 13-17 per cent on gross profit.  From September 1, things will be different. 

Bruce Bower of Verno Capital.

Market watchers have been preoccupied with a myriad of crises over the last three years, but it is still surprising that the world seems to have missed an important fundamental change in Russia’s economy.

Since 2009, Russia has abandoned fixed or managed exchange rates and moved towards a freely floating rouble. Monetary policy and interest rates, previously set by global financial markets, are now managed by the Central Bank of Russia (CBR) in an inflation-targeting system similar to most western central banks. The benefits are obvious: the economy now has a shock absorber to offset volatile movements in the price of oil and international capital flows. How will this benefit investors? 

A successful transition from cheap, contract manufacturer to high-end, consumer brand name is the holy grail for many Chinese companies. One company is making progress.

Goodbaby International Holdings, the world’s largest maker of baby strollers, has announced a 27 increase in its profit from core operations to HK$119.3m in the first half of the year as well as a 17 per cent increase in sales to HK$2.311bn.

“For us, it’s bright in the east and bright in the west. Sales of our own-brand products have gone up a lot in the US and in Europe despite those regions’ economic woes,” said chairman Song Zhenghuan. Investors seemed more than happy with the results, marking the shares up 10 per cent. 

Could emerging market borrowers’ appetite for cheap developed world credit be finally easing?

A slowing of  the huge growth in the EM’ foreign exchange reserves could point in that direction. So says Lars Pederson of fund manager Alliance Bernstein who says demand for foreign credit could be weakening because of concerns over possible local currency depreciation, worries about accumulated foreign debt holdings and a lack of suitable investment projects. Whatever the reasons, the easy money party is nearly over. 

* Gu Kailai guilty of Heywood murder

* Anti-Japanese protests sweep China

* Lonmin workers trickle back to mine after 44 deaths 

It may seem no bad thing that India Inc is sitting on a mountain of cash – over $167bn at the end of March for the top listed 500 companies, according to the Economic Times. With the economy slowing and earnings weak  – from State Bank of India to Bharti Airtel – the money might come in useful.

But in reality, the 26 per cent increase in net cash over the past three years is worrying evidence of the concerns India’s corporate leaders have over the economy. With industrial production flat, growth slackening, and inflation running high, these companies are unlikely to spend their reserves anytime soon. 

Monday’s picks from the BB team: the head of the fast-growing Asian agricultural commodity trader, Olam, on the benefits of spending time in tough geography; Caterpillar faces up to the China slowdown, but is staying for the long haul; why Correa is backing Assange; why China isn’t losing its competitive edge, and how India’s new finance minister is trying to get banks to lend. 

Taiwan’s HTC can’t get a break.

Sales are falling, low-cost mainland competitor Xiaomi just released a phone whose specs are competitive with a high-end HTC model, and on Monday the company announced a $40m write off on its stake in an internet gaming company. What’s a company to do? 

Another south east Asian economy has performed well despite the global slow down. Following Indonesia and Malaysia, Thailand on Monday reported stronger-than-expected second quarter GDP, with a 3.3  per cent increase over the first three months.

As elsewhere in the region it is the domestic economy that is powering ahead, in Thailand’s case driven by recovery and reconstruction following last year’s floods: the April-June figure following record growth of 10.8 per cent q-onq in the first quarter. 

By Valentina Romei and Stefan Wagstyl

Emerging market stock exchanges have seen their capitalisations soar over the past decade, even after allowing for the setbacks of the last four years.

But the often-explosive growth in valuations has not always been matched by big expansions in the numbers of listed companies. While some exchanges have indeed seen healthy increases in listings – notably Seoul, Shenzhen and Mumbai – others have seen little change or decline, as in Mexico City, Sao Paulo and Johannesburg. Why? Chart of the week takes a look. 

* Call to limit China’s UK nuclear stake

* Economists weigh a Chinese hard landing

* Pussy Riot sentences split Russian society