China In-Focus — Shanghai stocks up; EV makers post weaker April sales; Services activity falls

China In-Focus — Shanghai stocks up; EV makers post weaker April sales; Services activity falls
China’s services sector activity contracted at the second-steepest rate on record in April, as COVID-19 curbs halted the industry. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 05 May 2022

China In-Focus — Shanghai stocks up; EV makers post weaker April sales; Services activity falls

China In-Focus — Shanghai stocks up; EV makers post weaker April sales; Services activity falls
  • Three of China’s most prominent electric-car makers posted a steep drop in April sales after strict measures to combat COVID-19 disrupted production and deliveries

BEIJING: Shanghai stocks rose in a holiday-shortened week, with consumers leading the gains on Thursday after the central bank pledged support to ensure ample liquidity.

However, sentiment was weak as surveys showed China’s economic activity had shrunk last month.

The Shanghai Composite Index closed 0.7 percent higher at 3,067.76 points, while the blue-chip CSI300 index fell 0.2 percent to 4,010.21.

Chinese EV makers post weaker April sales due to Covid disruptions

Three of China’s most prominent electric-car makers posted a steep drop in April sales after strict measures to combat COVID-19 disrupted production and deliveries, dampening one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for the vehicles.

Xpeng Inc., NIO Inc. and Li Auto Inc. plunged by 41.6 percent, 49 percent and 62 percent respectively in April versus March, data released by the companies this week showed.

Li Auto said its manufacturing took a major hit in April because 80 percent of its part suppliers are in Shanghai and surrounding areas, where the resurgence of COVID-19 disrupted the supply chain, logistics and production.

NIO said it had paused production at its factory in Hefei on April 9 because of supply chain disruptions.

Xpeng fared better than its rivals because its factory is in China’s southern province of Guangdong, where the COVID-19 situation has been stable and restrictions lighter than in Shanghai and Jilin.

But Xpeng Chief Executive He Xiaopeng warned last month that automakers across the country might have to suspend production if suppliers in Shanghai and surrounding areas were not able to resume work.

The Chinese government has said it is trying to solve transportation bottlenecks. Shanghai authorities have drafted a list of nearly 2,000 firms, including Tesla Inc. and SAIC Motor Corp. that have priority to resume production under so-called “closed-loop” management where workers are housed at the factory sites.

However, the output from firms on the Shanghai list remains low because of a lack of workers, said Chen Yudong, the president of auto supplier Bosch China.

Toyota Motor Corp. is due to release its April sales data from China on Monday, while Tesla’s China sales are set to be disclosed next week through industry association data.

China's services activity falls at second sharpest rate on record 

China’s services sector activity contracted at the second-steepest rate on record in April, as COVID-19 curbs halted the industry, leading to sharper reductions in new business and employment, a private-sector survey showed on Thursday.

The Caixin services purchasing managers’ index stood at 36.2 in April, the second-lowest since the survey began in November 2005 and down from 42 in March. The index hit a record low of 26.5 in February 2020 during the onset of the pandemic.

The 50-point mark separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.

The pessimistic findings from the survey, which focuses more on small firms in coastal regions, are in line with the government’s official PMI, pointing to the fast deterioration in a key sector that accounts for about 60 percent of the economy and half of the urban jobs.

A sub-index for new business stood at 38.4, also the second-lowest on record and down from 45.9 the previous month, with services firms reporting the escalation of measures to contain the spread of COVID cases weighed heavily on customer demand at the start of the second quarter.

Employment also declined for the fourth straight month in April, although the drop was marginal, compared with sizeable falls in activity.

Input costs meanwhile rose at a solid pace but efforts by services firms to attract more business amid lacklustre demand drove a drop in prices charged, highlighting rising cost pressures facing services providers.

“Demand was under pressure, external demand deteriorated, supply shrank, supply chains were disrupted, delivery times were prolonged, backlogs of work grew, workers found it difficult to return to their jobs, inflationary pressures lingered, and market confidence remained below the long-term average,” said Wang Zhe, senior economist at Caixin Insight Group.

Caixin’s April composite PMI, which includes both manufacturing and services activity, slumped to 37.2 from 43.9 from the previous month.

The Caixin PMI is compiled by S&P Global from responses to questionnaires sent to purchasing managers in China.

(With input from Reuters) 


G7 joins EU on $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil

G7 joins EU on $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil
Updated 41 min 11 sec ago

G7 joins EU on $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil

G7 joins EU on $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil
  • US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement that the agreement will help restrict Putin’s “primary source of revenue for his illegal war in Ukraine while simultaneously preserving the stability of global energy supplies”

WASHINGTON: The Group of Seven nations and Australia joined the European Union on Friday in adopting a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil, a key step as Western sanctions aim to reorder the global oil market to prevent price spikes and starve President Vladimir Putin of funding for his war in Ukraine.
Europe needed to set the discounted price that other nations will pay by Monday, when an EU embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea and a ban on insurance for those supplies take effect. The price cap, which was led by the G7 wealthy democracies, aims to prevent a sudden loss of Russian oil to the world that could lead to a new surge in energy prices and further fuel inflation.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement that the agreement will help restrict Putin’s “primary source of revenue for his illegal war in Ukraine while simultaneously preserving the stability of global energy supplies.”
The agreement comes after a last-minute flurry of negotiations. Poland long held up an EU agreement, seeking to set the cap as low as possible. Following more than 24 hours of deliberations, when other EU nations had signaled they would back the deal, Warsaw finally relented late Friday.
A joint G-7 coalition statement released Friday states that the group is “prepared to review and adjust the maximum price as appropriate,” taking into account market developments and potential impacts on coalition members and low and middle-income countries.
“Crippling Russia’s energy revenues is at the core of stopping Russia’s war machine,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said, adding that she was happy the cap was pushed down a few extra dollars from earlier proposals. She said every dollar the cap was reduced amounted to $2 billion less for Russia’s war chest.
“It is no secret that we wanted the price to be lower,” Kallas added, highlighting the differences within the EU. “A price between 30-40 dollars is what would substantially hurt Russia. However, this is the best compromise we could get.”
The $60 figure sets the cap near the current price of Russia’s crude, which recently fell below $60 a barrel. Some criticize that as not low enough to cut into one of Russia’s main sources of income. It is still a big discount to international benchmark Brent, which slid to $85.48 a barrel Friday, but could be high enough for Moscow to keep selling even while rejecting the idea of a cap.
There is a big risk to the global oil market of losing large amounts of crude from the world’s No. 2 producer. It could drive up gasoline prices for drivers worldwide, which has stirred political turmoil for US President Joe Biden and leaders in other nations. Europe is already mired in an energy crisis, with governments facing protests over the soaring cost of living, while developing nations are even more vulnerable to shifts in energy costs.
But the West has faced increasing pressure to target one of Russia’s main moneymakers — oil — to slash the funds flowing into Putin’s war chest and hurt Russia’s economy as the war in Ukraine drags into a ninth month. The costs of oil and natural gas spiked after demand rebounded from the pandemic and then the invasion of Ukraine unsettled energy markets, feeding Russia’s coffers.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Friday that “the cap itself will have the desired effect on limiting Mr. Putin’s ability to profit off of oil sales and limit his ability to continue to use that money to fund his war machine.”
More uncertainty is ahead, however. COVID-19 restrictions in China and a slowing global economy could mean less thirst for oil. That is what OPEC and allied oil-producing countries, including Russia, pointed to in cutting back supplies to the world in October. The OPEC+ alliance is scheduled to meet again Sunday.
That competes with the EU embargo that could take more oil supplies off the market, raising fears of a supply squeeze and higher prices. Russia exports roughly 5 million barrels of oil a day.
Putin has said he would not sell oil under a price cap and would retaliate against nations that implement the measure. However, Russia has already rerouted much of its supply to India, China and other Asian countries at discounted prices because Western customers have avoided it even before the EU embargo.
Most insurers are located in the EU or the United Kingdom and could be required to participate in the price cap.
Russia also could sell oil off the books by using “dark fleet” tankers with obscure ownership. Oil could be transferred from one ship to another and mixed with oil of similar quality to disguise its origin.
Even under those circumstances, the cap would make it “more costly, time-consuming and cumbersome” for Russia to sell oil around the restrictions, said Maria Shagina, a sanctions expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Berlin.
Robin Brooks, chief economist at the Institute of International Finance in Washington, said the price cap should have been implemented when oil was hovering around $120 per barrel this summer.
“Since then, obviously oil prices have fallen and global recession is a real thing,” he said. “The reality is that it is unlikely to be binding given where oil prices are now.”
European leaders touted their work on the price cap, a brainchild of Yellen.
“The EU agreement on an oil price cap, coordinated with G7 and others, will reduce Russia’s revenues significantly,” said Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm. “It will help us stabilize global energy prices, benefiting emerging economies around the world.”
 

 


As IMF funding delayed, Pakistan expects $3bn from friendly country

As IMF funding delayed, Pakistan expects $3bn from friendly country
Updated 10 sec ago

As IMF funding delayed, Pakistan expects $3bn from friendly country

As IMF funding delayed, Pakistan expects $3bn from friendly country
  • An IMF review for the release of its next tranche of funding has been pending since September
  • Pakistan's finance minister, Ishaq Dar, said all targets for the IMF's ninth review had been completed, adding that withholding a tranche despite that would not make sense

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan expects to secure $3 billion in external financing from a friendly country in two weeks, its finance minister said on Friday as the South Asian country awaits IMF funding.
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) review for the release of its next tranche of funding has been pending since September, leaving Pakistan in dire need of external financing.
Pakistan’s finance minister, Ishaq Dar, said on Friday in an interview with Geo News TV that all targets for the IMF’s ninth review had been completed, adding that withholding a tranche despite that would not make sense.
Pakistan secured a $6 billion bailout in 2019 under an Extended Fund Facility (EFF), that was topped up with another $1 billion earlier this year.
“We continue to engage in discussions with the government over policies to address the humanitarian and rehabilitation needs of the floods while promoting macroeconomic and fiscal sustainability,” the IMF’s resident representative in Pakistan, Esther Perez Ruiz, said in a statement.
Dar said Pakistan’s foreign reserves, which have dropped to $7.5 billion, will be shored up with a $3 billion financing from a friendly country in the next two weeks.
That is hardly enough for a month of imports for Pakistan, which has been facing a widening current account deficit and a balance of payments crisis.
“All the requirements for the ninth (IMF) review are completed,” Dar said, adding that the international lender was “behaving abnormal” by not completing the review.
Pakistan will make alternate arrangements in case of any delay from the IMF, he said.
“If the money doesn’t come, we will manage, no problem,” he added.

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Dubai’s Careem celebrates 1bn rides

Dubai’s Careem celebrates 1bn rides
Updated 02 December 2022

Dubai’s Careem celebrates 1bn rides

Dubai’s Careem celebrates 1bn rides
  • Family trip back home to India brings delight to employee
  • Super app had 10th anniversary in July 

 

DUBAI: Hailing app Careem has celebrated the completion of 1 billion rides across the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan.

The billionth journey was completed by Captain Razak Uppattil, who has completed 10,500 rides since joining Careem four years ago. 

To commemorate the milestone, the Dubai-based super app gave Uppattil a trip back home to visit his family in India.

He said: “It’s the people that I get to meet from all over the world that I really enjoy.

“I have three children back home in Kerala, India, and I am so excited I’ll see them soon.”

Genera Tesoro, who was Careem’s 1 billionth passenger, was given a year of ride-hailing trips to mark the milestone. 

Careem, which marked its 10-year anniversary in July, is now operating in more than 100 cities in 14 countries. It recently expanded its fleet in Qatar by more than 50 percent ahead of the World Cup.


Saudi Arabia’s PIF announces establishment of Aseer Investment Company

Saudi Arabia’s PIF announces establishment of Aseer Investment Company
Updated 02 December 2022

Saudi Arabia’s PIF announces establishment of Aseer Investment Company

Saudi Arabia’s PIF announces establishment of Aseer Investment Company
  • AIC will unlock a wide range of investment opportunities for domestic and international investors across number of sectors

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has established a company to operate as its investment arm in the Aseer region of Saudi Arabia.

The Aseer Investment Company will promote and stimulate local and foreign direct investment to develop and transform the region into a year-round tourism destination.

AIC will unlock a wide range of investment opportunities for domestic and international investors across number of sectors including tourism, hospitality, healthcare, sports, education, food, and many other fast-growing domestic industries.

The company will contribute to fostering public-private partnerships, creating jobs for the local community and promoting the region’s tourism and attractive investment opportunities.

“Aseer Investment Company aims to become a leading facilitator of broad-ranging investment opportunities in Aseer, Raid Ismail, head of Direct Investments for the Middle East and North Africa at PIF said.  

“AIC will promote the region’s rugged mountains, stunning nature, and storied culture, preserve its ancient history and heritage, and transform it into a world-class tourist destination for visitors from across the globe in line with PIF’s strategy and Vision 2030,” he added.

The establishment of the company is in line with PIF’s strategy to unlock the capabilities of promising sectors in Saudi Arabia, support the country, and in line with Asir’s region position as a leading investment destination.

Saudi Arabia is offering investment opportunities worth $6 trillion in the travel and tourism sector through to 2030.

Speaking at the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 29, the Saudi Minister of Tourism, Ahmed Al-Khateeb said: “We built our tourism industry against the backdrop of a global disaster (COVID-19 pandemic). And we now have $6 trillion of investment opportunities through 2030,” said Al-Khateeb.

Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector will create 1 million jobs by 2030 and the Kingdom will welcome 100 million visitors, said Qusai Al-Fakhri, CEO of the Saudi Tourism Development Fund earlier this year.

The sector will create one of every three new jobs in Saudi Arabia in the next decade, as the nation focuses more on the growth of non-oil sectors, said Al-Fakhri.

Talking about the progress of the Saudi tourism sector at the Future Hospitality Summit in Riyadh, he said: “Last year, with the support of the tourism ecosystem, and the larger government ecosystem and enablers, Saudi Arabia achieved record levels of domestic tourism that is remarkable globally.”

Al-Fakhri also noted that the tourism sector is expected to contribute 10 percent to the Kingdom’s gross domestic product by the end of this decade.


TASI slips 74 points to close at 10,840 amid investor ambiguity: Closing bell

TASI slips 74 points to close at 10,840 amid investor ambiguity: Closing bell
Updated 01 December 2022

TASI slips 74 points to close at 10,840 amid investor ambiguity: Closing bell

TASI slips 74 points to close at 10,840 amid investor ambiguity: Closing bell

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s benchmark index on Thursday fell 74.26 points to close at 10,840.74 after touching a peak of 10,957.64 at 10:20 SAST, reflecting a sense of ambiguity among investors. 

The parallel market Nomu also finished its trail 497.85 points lower at 18,903.74 after snowballing to 18,778.82 at 11:53 SAST. 

The advance-decline ratio, however, bucked the trend, with 126 stocks of the listed 219 heading north and 75 turning south. The total trading turnover was SR4.86 billion ($1.29 billion). 

Sahara International Petrochemical Co., in a regulatory filing on Thursday, announced a 15 percent cash dividend or SR1.50 per share, resulting in a dole out of SR1.087 billion for the second half of 2022. The company’s share price picked the drift and closed 5.72 percent higher to SR37.90. 

Taiba Investments Co. on Thursday also announced that it awarded a construction contract worth SR283 million to Orient Construction Company Weavers Ltd. to build a four-star Novotel hotel project in Madinah. The stock closed lower at SR26.90 after peaking at SR27.10. 

Meanwhile, Arabian Internet and Communications Services Co. (Solutions) informed Tadawul just before closing about its agreement with Saudi Telecom Company worth SR372.92 million to provide technical, administrative and logistical services. The share closed slightly lower at SR246. 

The Capital Market Authority on Thursday also Saudi Arabian Amiantit Co.’s request to increase its capital through a rights issue worth SAR 346.5 million. 

There was a blip of a bullish wave in the Software & Services index, which closed up 401 points at 36,540.33. The Healthcare Equipment & Services index also increased 103.04 points to close at 9,380.2.  

However, some of Thursday’s biggest losers were the Saudi British Bank, the National Company for Learning and Education, Arab National Bank, The Company for Cooperative Insurance and Bank Albilad. 

The Diversified Financial index was under the weather in November as it recorded the steepest decline of 15.9 percent in the Gulf Cooperation Council in November. 

A Kamco Invest research report highlighted that the Saudi Stock Exchange witnessed the after all the constituents of the index reported declines. 

Barring the Consumer Service index, the monthly sectoral performance chart declined across the board.  

The Utilities and Capital Goods indices were next with a decline of 15.2 percent and 11.7 percent, followed by Consumer Durables & Apparel and Materials indices with declines of 10.8 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively.