Chinese president invites Ahmadinejad for SCO summit [presstv.ir]

Chinese President Hu Jintao has invited Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to attend the 12th summit of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in China due in early June.

Iran

The leaders of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan and Afghanistan have also been invited to the event, scheduled for June 6-7 in Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Weimin said in a Thursday news conference.

The participants in the SCO summit would discuss current regional and international developments during the meeting.

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As Draghi Fiddles And Madrid Burns, China Buys [Zerohedge]

 

The move marks State Grid’s latest effort to expand into more lucrative areas than its tightly- regulated home market. State Grid oversees China’s power network over all but some southern portions of the country, giving it nearly nine tenths of the country.

Beijing also tightly controls the power market, limiting State Grid’s ability to seek terms from power suppliers or pass on costs to customers.

Beijing’s leaders over the past few years have pushed State Grid as well as other state-run behemoths to invest overseas as part of a broader effort to use China’s financial firepower to strike deals.

The pressure has been especially strong on China’s energy companies, which are seen as potential national champions in an increasingly competitive global market.

 

Perhaps this is why Greece is failing? Because China has realized it could buy Spain (and soon Portugal and Italy) for the same price, or even cheaper: remember – these are asset, not stock, purchases: one assumes liabilities as well. So $1 of equity value should be sufficient. And once China is done with the PIIGS, it can proceed to control the rest of the Europe… Which incidentally will still have to rely on Russia for its energy.

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China’s SHFE silver futures contracts expected to have impact on global market []

The Shanghai Futures Exchange’s silver futures contracts, the first of their type to be offered in China, give Chinese investors a new way to bet on the precious metal.

MUMBAI (MINEWEB) -

In a move that will make the silver market more liquid, the Shanghai Futures (SHFE) has begun trading in silver contracts. The contracts are expected to be bullish for silver prices, with traders stating that it could make market manipulation more difficult.

Although the country is a main producer and consumer of silver, it has remained on the sidelines in silver trading. By initiating silver futures, traders say China clearly wants more control over the precious metal’s pricing policy.

Chinese investors have been showing an increasing interest in the white metal amidst surging inflation and the sluggish performance of the stock and property markets. In March, about 134 billion yuan ($21 billion) in silver contracts were traded, more than 15 times the amount traded two years ago. More than gold, many retail investors prefer silver because the minimum requirement for investing in it is much lower in China.

The white metal is imbedded in the Chinese psyche. For long, it has been the basis of China’s currency. In 1935, the Shanghai-based biweekly Finance and Commerce reported personal hoards of the precious metal at 1.27 billion ounces.

With the Shanghai Futures Exchange gaining approval to begin trading silver futures, traders insist a significant shift appears to be in the making.

Wang Ruilei, an official with precious metals trader CGS Company told newswire agencies that the market would be bigger and more liquid with the advent of the futures contracts. Traders added the futures exchange would provide direct access to silver for Chinese investors.

It would also be beneficial to silver enterprises and industries as the metal would now be available for trading, hedging and buying at their local exchange and in the local currency.

Huo Ruirong, vice manager of the Exchange was quoted by newswires as saying that the new trading option would provide China with a pricing mechanism on silver and help readjust the silver industry structure.

This is at a time when China is believed to have exceeded Peru and Mexico to become the world’s leading producer of silver. The country is also the second-largest consumer of the precious metal after the United States.  It is also, of course, now the world’s leading producer of gold too.

Regulators in China are hoping to see more than just investors benefit from this new trading vehicle. At the inauguration ceremony, Liu Xinhua, Vice Chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, pointed out that this year, they were keen to implement the spirit of Premier Wen Jiabao’s 2012 missive to “secure introduction of …commodity futures and financial derivatives, in order to enhance our overall competitiveness and meet the real economy needs to provide more tools and instruments”.

He said the silver futures market would be conducive to optimising the silver price formation mechanism and provide low-cost, efficient means of risk management.

Liu Xinhua stressed that the silver futures play, from the listing to mature and play features, would require a gradually cultivated stance, and was no overnight decision. He added the move would help the Shanghai Futures Exchange strengthen market surveillance and effectively guard against market manipulation and other illegal activities.

INVESTMENT INTEREST

Investment in silver has been booming in China. An early indication was the trading volume of silver forwards on the Shanghai Gold Exchange, China’s only exchange for the precious metal, which surged 751% in 2010 as compared to a year earlier. Also, the volume in September last was more than six times that of the same period in 2010.

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Gold Bar Demand in China Surged 51% to 213.9 Tons In 2011 [goldcore]

Gold’s London AM fix this morning was USD 1,579.00, EUR 1,255.67, and GBP 1,006.63 per ounce. Friday’s AM fix was USD 1,560.50, EUR 1,240.66, and GBP 996.04 per ounce.

Silver is trading at $28.65/oz, €22.86/oz and £18.33/oz. Platinum is trading at $1,442.50/oz, palladium at $592.60/oz and rhodium at $1,275/oz.

Gold rose $13.30 or 0.85% in New York on Friday and closed at $1,572.80/oz. The higher close Friday was not enough to prevent a lower week for gold which was down 1.2% for the week.

Asian trading started out flat and then gold climbed to about $1,583/oz and pulled back a bit and is now trading in Europe near $1,580/oz.  US markets are closed for Memorial Day today which means that volumes may be low and illiquidity could result in sharp price movements.


Cross Currency Table – (Bloomberg)

Gold is higher in all currencies today as some buyers view the recent price falls as overdone and are buying the dip. There is some relief that Greek opinion polls showed pro bailout conservatives in the lead for elections. This has alleviated fears of a disastrous Greek exit from the euro, but uncertainty still remains and ‘Grexit’ remains likely.

The risk of contagion in the Eurozone appears to increase by the day as the news from Spain shows that it is following fast in the footsteps of Greece and this will support gold. Bank runs in Greece and the risk of bank runs in Spain and elsewhere are a scenario which could lead to contagion.

As long as the short term panacea of using quantitative easing, the modern euphemism for the creation of trillion of units of currency (dollars, euros, pounds etc) is embraced by global policy makers – gold’s bull market is assured.

The day or reckoning has been postponed for now but economic recovery is not coming and indeed there is now the real risk of a global recession and even a  global Depression – especially if there are widespread global electronic bank runs.

While gold and silver fell marginally last week, the very large weekly returns in the gold mining sector may signal we are close to a bottom. The XAU and HUI gold mining indices rose 6.8% and 7.9% respectively. Strong gains in the XAU and HUI have often preceded market bottoms for gold and silver.

This week investors will look to China’s PMI and US non-farm payrolls to gauge the health of the world’s two largest economies.


XAU/USD Currency Chart – (Bloomberg)

A reminder of the sharp increase in demand for gold and silver, particularly store of wealth demand, in recent years was seen in the figures released by the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association in Shanghai today.

China’s gold consumption rose 33% to 761 tons in 2011 and China’s silver consumption rose 6.8% to 6,088 tons last year.

China’s gold consumption rose 190 metric tons last year to 761 tons, Wang Shengbin, China Gold Association Vice Chairman, said in a speech in Shanghai as reported by Bloomberg.

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China responds to economic weakness by letting RMB depreciate [SoberLook]

by Walter Kurtz

Further signs of economic slowdown in China have shown up in the HSBC China PMI index.

WSJ: – The preliminary May reading marks the seventh straight month the index has been in contractionary territory. A reading below 50 indicates contraction from the previous month, while anything above that indicates growth.

“China’s real economy is getting weaker,” Citi Investment economist Ding Shuang said following the release of the PMI.

“The likelihood that May industrial production and fixed-assets investment, two major gauges of economic activity, will improve is slight. The data are likely to stay weak,” he added.

Ding expects growth in China’s gross domestic product to slow to 7.5% in the second quarter from a year earlier, slowing from the first quarter’s 8.1% expansion, which was the weakest in more than three years.


Reuters
: – … the government had asked for project proposals by the end of June, even for those initially earmarked for the end of the year, said the China Securities Journal, one of the country’s top financial papers.To address this slowdown, we’ve already seen China accelerating infrastructure projects approvals.

Citing government sources, the article said Beijing did not rule out bringing forward next year’s projects, if it thought more investments would be needed to stimulate the economy.

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Is China Really Liquidating Treasuries? [Azizonomics]

From http://azizonomics.com/

The news that China has become the first sovereign to establish a direct sales relationship with the U.S. Treasury (therefore cutting out the middleman and bypassing Wall Street ) raises a few interesting questions.

From Reuters:

China can now bypass Wall Street when buying U.S. government debt and go straight to the U.S. Treasury, in what is the Treasury’s first-ever direct relationship with a foreign government, according to documents viewed by Reuters.

The relationship means the People’s Bank of China buys U.S. debt using a different method than any other central bank in the world.

The other central banks, including the Bank of Japan, which has a large appetite for Treasuries, place orders for U.S. debt with major Wall Street banks designated by the government as primary dealers. Those dealers then bid on their behalf at Treasury auctions.

China, which holds $1.17 trillion in U.S. Treasuries, still buys some Treasuries through primary dealers, but since June 2011, that route hasn’t been necessary.

The documents viewed by Reuters show the U.S. Treasury Department has given the People’s Bank of China a direct computer link to its auction system, which the Chinese first used to buy two-year notes in late June 2011.

The biggest Chinese outflows in U.S. Treasuries occurred in the months following the establishment of this relationship:

Which begs the question for some analysts — was China really selling? Or was China stealthily buying direct from the U.S. Treasury (unrecorded) and selling back into Wall Street (recorded)?

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U.S. lets China bypass Wall Street for Treasury orders [Reuters]

By Emily Flitter

(Reuters) – China can now bypass Wall Street when buying U.S. government debt and go straight to the U.S. Treasury, in what is the Treasury’s first-ever direct relationship with a foreign government, according to documents viewed by Reuters.

The relationship means the People’s Bank of China buys U.S. debt using a different method than any other central bank in the world.

The other central banks, including the Bank of Japan, which has a large appetite for Treasuries, place orders for U.S. debt with major Wall Street banks designated by the government as primary dealers. Those dealers then bid on their behalf at Treasury auctions.

China, which holds $1.17 trillion in U.S. Treasuries, still buys some Treasuries through primary dealers, but since June 2011, that route hasn’t been necessary.

The documents viewed by Reuters show the U.S. Treasury Department has given the People’s Bank of China a direct computer link to its auction system, which the Chinese first used to buy two-year notes in late June 2011.

China can now participate in auctions without placing bids through primary dealers. If it wants to sell, however, it still has to go through the market.

The change was not announced publicly or in any message to primary dealers.

“Direct bidding is open to a wide range of investors, but as a matter of general policy we do not comment on individual bidders,” said Matt Anderson, a Treasury Department spokesman.

While there is been no prohibition on foreign government entities bidding directly, the Treasury’s accommodation of China is unique.

The Treasury’s sales of U.S. debt to China have become part of a politically charged public debate about China’s role as the largest exporter to the United States and also the country’s largest creditor.

The privilege may help China obtain U.S. debt for a better price by keeping Wall Street’s knowledge of its orders to a minimum.

Primary dealers are not allowed to charge customers money to bid on their behalf at Treasury auctions, so China isn’t saving money by cutting out commission fees.

Instead, China is preserving the value of specific information about its bidding habits. By bidding directly, China prevents Wall Street banks from trying to exploit its huge presence in a given auction by driving up the price.

It is one of several courtesies provided to a buyer in a class by itself in terms of purchasing power. Although the Japanese, for example, own about $1.1 trillion of Treasuries, their purchasing has been less centralized. Buying by Japan is scattered among institutions, including pension funds, large Japanese banks and the Bank of Japan, without a single entity dominating.

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