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Market Watch
Business> Market Watch
UPDATED: December 24, 2010 NO. 52 DECEMBER 30, 2010

BRIDGING THE BAY: Construction of the Qingdao Gulf Bridge, the world's longest cross-sea bridge, was completed on December 22. The project is expected to facilitate transportation in Qingdao, east coastal Shandong Province (ZHAO LUYING)

Numbers of the Week

842 million

China's mobile phone users totalled more than 842 million at the end of November, said the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

16 billion yuan

China's lottery sales for November rose 36.9 percent year on year to 16 billion yuan ($2.4 billion), said the Ministry of Finance.

TO THE POINT: China's vehicle sales continue to pick up, putting the country on track to retain its position as the world's largest auto market this year. Chinese companies flock to U.S. stock markets in hope of hitting the jackpot with successful IPOs. China remains the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities, after adding $23.3 billion in October. State-owned enterprises harvest handsome profits. The newly established Guoxin Asset Management Co. will be engaged in accelerating state-owned assets restructuring. The aviation industry is getting back on the recovery track.


Speeding Right Along

China's auto market remains bullish, dispelling worries over a possible slowdown.

Vehicle sales across the nation grew a robust 26.9 percent in November from a year ago to reach nearly 1.7 million units, said the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). The November figure brought sales in the first 11 months to 16.4 million units, compared with 13.65 million for the entire year in 2009.

The CAAM expects China to retain its crown as the world's largest auto market this year, with sales totaling 18 million units, beating the world record of 17 million set by the United States in 2005.

Buyers are heading for showrooms before the favorable tax policy expires at the end of this year, said Zhu Yiping, Associate Deputy Secretary General of the CAAM.

China allowed buyers to pay only a 7.5-percent tax for purchases of cars with small engine displacements (less than 1.6 liters) in 2010.

But it is likely that the incentive continues into next year as policymakers pin hopes on consumption as a source of growth, said Rao Da, Secretary General of the National Passenger Cars Association.

IPO Craze

Chinese companies are scrambling to list on the U.S. stock markets in a bid to replenish their capital.

The latest example is Beijing-based technology outsourcer iSoftStone that on December 14 debuted on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), raising $141 million from its sales of 10.83 million American depositary receipts. Before this, the Hangzhou-based Sky-Mobi, operator of China's largest mobile application store, on December 10 raised $58 million from its initial public offering (IPO) on Nasdaq.

By December 19, 40 Chinese companies, the largest number of companies since 2007's record of 37, had raised a total of $3.5 billion from their IPOs in the United States. Among the 40, 22 listed on the NYSE, 17 on Nasdaq and one on the American Stock Exchange.

"Given that the U.S. economy is not growing very fast, if it is growing at all, U.S. investors are naturally drawn to China," said Nick Einhorn, an analyst with Renaissance Capital, an IPO research and investment fund based in Greenwich, Connecticut.

"Chinese IPOs are here to stay. They are performing well because investors are looking for high-growth companies with strong margins and a clear business model."

Many capital-hungry Chinese companies chose the U.S. stock markets in part due to the much lower threshold for IPOs, said Li Daxiao, Director of the Yingda Securities Research Institute.

Loading U.S. Assets

China in October increased its holdings in U.S. Treasury securities for the fourth consecutive month by $23.3 billion to $906.8 billion, said the U.S. Department of Treasury.

China remains the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities, ahead of Japan, which increased its holdings by $12.8 billion in October to $877.4 billion. Total holdings of Treasury securities by all foreign countries amounted to $4.3 trillion, an increase of 1.1 percent from the previous month.

China resumed net purchases in July after two consecutive months of net sales, which should help dismiss worries that Washington's largest creditor was moving away from dollar assets.

Economists say there is a wide investor recognition of good values in the U.S. assets despite the sluggish economic recovery in the country.

For China, there are two ways to fend off risks about its asset safety—slow accumulation of foreign exchange reserves and diversifying government bonds from other countries, said Zhang Bin, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Profitable SOEs

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are faring well, reaping juicy returns so far this year.

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