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Market Watch
Business> Market Watch
UPDATED: November 1, 2010 NO. 44 NOVEMBER 4, 2010

GREEN CABS: Dalian's first batch of new energy taxis hit the road on October 26. China is pushing forward a pilot program to promote new energy vehicles in 13 cities including Dalian, Liaoning Province (ZHANG CHUNLEI)

Numbers of the Week

4.1 %

China's urban unemployment rate stood at 4.1 percent at the end of September, down from 4.2 percent at the end of June, said the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

349.8 billion kwh

China's power consumption in September fell 12 percent month on month to 349.8 billion kilowatt-hours, said the National Energy Administration.

TO THE POINT: Export deals experience year-on-year increases at the Canton Fair, though uncertainties still linger. Soaring coal prices put cost pressures on thermal power generators. Fierce competition rocks the foundation of China Mobile's market dominance. Chinese automaker BYD goes on a bumpy ride as its sales go through a free-fall. The Export-Import Bank of China ties up with the Inter-American Development Bank to finance trade between China and Latin America and the Caribbean region.


Export Outlook

Are Chinese exporters faring well? The latest session of the China Import and Export Fair, known as the Canton Fair, a bellwether for the trade climate, could offer some clues.

The first phase of the Canton Fair's fall session witnessed export deals worth $21.15 billion, up 12.3 percent from the fair's last session in April, said Canton Fair Deputy General Secretary Liu Jianjun. The number of foreign buyers totaled 98,000, down 5.5 percent.

Despite showing signs of recovery, the hard-hit export sector has yet to fully regain its lost ground due to costs inflation, a stronger yuan, and simmering protectionism, said Liu.

The Guangdong Fenglu Aluminum Co. Ltd., for example, has suffered painful losses from restrictions imposed by the developed countries, Chen Nuansen, a marketing manager of the Chinese company, told the Nanfang Daily.

The U.S. Government is likely to slap 137-percent anti-subsidy duties on Chinese aluminum profiles, dealing a heavy blow to the exporters, he said.

"While our orders from the traditional Western markets dry up, the emerging markets in the Middle East and Southeast Asia are bursting with vitality," said Wu Jianfeng, export manager of Guangzhou Hongyu Group.

In addition, it is easier to gain a foothold in the emerging markets where distribution channels are not deeply entrenched and local competition is not insuperable, he said.

Thermal Power Pinch

China's thermal power generators are facing chilly headwinds as coal prices skyrocket.

The steam coal price at Qinhuangdao Port, an industry benchmark in the country, climbed around 7 percent in October, as a nationwide winter freeze pushed up demand.

There's no sign in sight that the price surge will slow in the fourth quarter, said Song Zhichen, an energy researcher at the CIC Industry Research Center. This means the thermal power generators will have to bear a heavier burden of costs, and even the risk of losses, he said.

The pressure has already been felt. Huadian Power International Co. Ltd. said it incurred a heavy loss of 384 million yuan ($57.3 million) in the third quarter due to higher costs. The company is a listed arm of China Huadian Group, one of the country's five largest electricity providers.

By contrast, coal miners are faring well. The Shandong Province-based Yanzhou Coal Mining Co. Ltd., for example, reported net profit of 3.68 billion yuan ($549.3 million) for the third quarter, soaring 227 percent year on year. Its coal prices averaged at 682.2 yuan ($101.8) per ton in the third quarter, up 25.3 percent from one year earlier.

In an attempt to soothe the profit woes, the National Development and Reform Commission in September proposed to raise on-grid tariffs in seven provinces by 15-25 yuan ($2.2-3.7) per megawatt-hour.

"Last year, the generators offset much of the pressure by turning to cheaper imports," said Song. "But that is no longer an option for this year since international prices are also hovering at a high level."

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