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||Asean Affairs 25 January 2013
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Loans to the Chinese property sector accelerated in the fourth quarter of 2012 as the industry showed signs of recovering, according to official figures released Thursday.
Outstanding yuan-denominated lending from Chinese and foreign financial institutions to the property sector increased 12.8 percent year on year to 12.11 trillion yuan (1.93 trillion U.S. dollars) at the end of 2012, the People's Bank of China (PBOC), the country's central bank, said in a statement.
The growth rate was 0.6 percentage points higher than that recorded at the end of the third quarter, the PBOC said.
Such loans rose 1.35 trillion yuan over the whole of 2012, accounting for 17.4 percent of the total annual increase of all borrowing, up 2 percentage points from the level of the first three quarters of the year.
Outstanding lending to low-income housing construction went up 46.6 percent year on year to 571.1 billion yuan at the end of 2012, growth that was 15.1 percentage points slower than a quarter earlier, the PBOC data showed.
China's property market cooled after the government imposed control measures in 2010 but prices and sales have rebounded in recent months.
In December 2012, 54 of a statistical pool of 70 major Chinese cities, up from 53 in November, recorded higher new home prices than a month earlier, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. This marked a third consecutive month of such increases.
The total area of new housing sold in 30 major cities in 2012 rose to 198 million square meters, up 34.1 percent from a year earlier, data from the Hong Kong-based real estate agency Centaline Group show.
Analysts attributed the rebound to discounts offered by developers, local governments' fine-tuning of property regulation and consumers' expectations for further price rises.
Bumi in the Clear
Bumi Plc said an independent probe had not been able to prove misuse of funds at its Indonesian units, as documentary evidence had been obtained illegally and key witnesses had refused to cooperate.
Bumi said investigators from London law firm Macfarlanes had met with resistance from unnamed individuals at Bumi Resources — long a jewel in the Bakrie empire, but one in which the London group has only a 29 percent stake. The board also accused Rothschild, 41, of failing to cooperate by refusing to disclose details of the source of documents that led to the probe.
The board did not publish the full findings of the investigation, due to the citing uncertainty around the origin of the whistleblower documents that triggered the inquiry last year, and which it believes came from hacked email accounts.
Under Indonesian law, Bumi said, it is a criminal offense to disseminate information that has been obtained illegally.
Bumi is now, however, in talks with both Indonesian authorities and Britain's Serious Fraud Office and Nat Rothschild may find himself in serious trouble.
Bumi, one of the world's largest thermal coal exporters, was set up in 2010 by Nat Rothschild, Indonesia's Bakrie family. But the two sides are at loggerheads over the future of the company.
The Bakries aim to pull out of the venture and take back operational assets they brought in to the deal.
In recent months, the battleground for the founding investors has been the independent investigation into allegations of misuse and misappropriation of funds at Bumi's Indonesian operating assets, primarily Bumi Resources.
The peso fell slightly on Thursday amid market’s expectation that the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas would keep its key policy rates at record lows.
The local currency closed at 40.63 against the US dollar, down by 1.5 centavos from the previous day’s finish of 40.615:$1.
Intraday high hit 40.615:$1, while intraday low settled at 40.66:$1.
Volume of trade amounted to $772.2 million from $605.7 million previously.
BSP officials earlier shrugged off concerns that the Philippines may be facing risks of asset price bubbles and overheating. The BSP said investments have been rising, and so the growing demand for goods and services might be sufficiently met by supply.
Given this backdrop, officials earlier said key policy rates were still appropriate.
Keeping such a view, the BSP indeed decided to keep its key policy rates steady on Thursday during the meeting of its Monetary Board.
With the decision, the key policy rates, which affect commercial interest rates, still stand at 3.5 percent for overnight borrowing and 5.5 percent for overnight lending. With the move, yields on peso-denominated financial instruments are expected to remain relatively the same as well.
Bangkok's SET index also extended its gain for a second session, rising 0.7 percent to 1,449.09, the highest close since July 14, 1995. PTT Global Chemical Pcl gained 1.3 percent on hopes of quarterly results.
Foreign investors had bought Thai shares over the past eight sessions to Wednesday worth a combined $287 million, further strengthening the Thai baht this week which also boosted corporate demand for dollars.
"With the strengthening Thai baht, we are looking to buy dollars in a high volume which will be for our investments over five years," PTT Exploration and Production Pcl's CFO Penchan Charikasem told reporters.
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