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    Gavekal Research

    Hong Kong Seminar — April 2018

    At Gavekal’s seminar in Hong Kong this week, Arthur Kroeber, Rosealea Yao and Nick Andrews presented their latest views on the brewing trade war between the US and China, Chinese growth and the property market outlook, and how to capture European growth.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    How Steel Survived The Battle For Blue Skies

    It’s been a wild winter for China’s steel industry, with huge swings in output and prices. The main culprit is the aggressive official campaign to reduce air pollution—and the industry’s creative responses to it. Their back-and-forth has not hurt underlying growth much, but the resulting volatility in steel prices is not going away.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Pain Of Power Producers

    The rebound in commodity prices since 2016 has been a boon for much of China’s industrial sector—but coal-burning power plants have been big losers. Coal prices cannot go much higher without causing serious financial distress. This means that policy should now be shifting to favor power producers, by ensuring coal prices do not climb further.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Cold Weather, Hot Data

    China’s first data release of 2018 delivered a couple of surprises, with a big jump in industrial value-added and a pickup in real-estate investment. But neither amounts to a convincing signal that the economy is actually re-accelerating. The most likely outcome is still a moderate growth slowdown driven by a shallow downcycle in property.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Property Tax Is Back

    A property tax is back on the Chinese government’s agenda: after being postponed in 2017, the long-discussed tax was brought up again at this week’s legislative session. The draft law could come in 2018, with actual taxes being levied by late 2019 at the earliest. But Rosealea expects this to be largely a non-event for the property market.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Is Construction Preparing An Upside Surprise?

    Since markets reopened after the Chinese New Year holiday, the prices of commodities tied to China’s construction cycle have been picking up. This optimism could be justified: construction fundamentals are solid and policy interventions are mostly positive. In this piece, Rosealea explains the upside risks for construction activity in early 2018.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Local Infrastructure Feels The Chill

    China’s financial crackdown is now extending to the funding tricks that local governments use to pay for infrastructure projects, which have long been tolerated in the name of economic growth. This report explains why this crackdown will put more of a chill on infrastructure spending—but also why public-works investment is unlikely to collapse.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Fewer Surprises From Supply-Side Reform

    China’s “supply-side reform” in coal, steel, and other products been a major swing factor for markets over the past two years. And Chinese officials started off 2018 by doubling down on their rhetoric about supply-side reform. But as Rosealea explains, there are good reasons to think the upside risk to commodities prices will be low this year.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    After The Bounce In Coal Demand

    After three straight years of decline, China’s consumption of coal rose 1% in 2017, and prices are rallying. But in this piece, Rosealea argues that this bounce in demand is unlikely to persist. With the property market cooling and official efforts to switch away from coal continuing, coal use should resume its decline in 2018.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Rental Housing Solution

    China’s government has a new priority for the housing market: boost the quantity and quality of rental housing. As more middle-class Chinese are priced out of top-tier cities, promoting rentals is a new attempt to address housing affordability. In this piece, Rosealea explains the latest policy push and how it will affect property developers.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Mixed Report From Steel Country

    This winter's anti-pollution campaign in north China is for real, but will have a mixed impact on the steel industry. The campaign also involves a suspension of many construction projects, which will reduce demand. Rosealea's recent field trip to the steel hub of Tangshan suggests both the supply and demand cuts are beginning to bite.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing & Construction Review 2017

    In her annual overview, Rosealea summarizes the outlook for the housing market and construction activity in China. This concise chartbook reviews the drivers of growth in 2017, digs into the key indicators and explains the core scenario for 2018: a modest correction in housing sales and prices, and a gradual slowdown in construction activity.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    A Restrained Boom In Land Sales

    Even as China’s housing market has cooled, the market for land has been heating up. Land sales to developers are up 10% so far in 2017, after declining for the past three years, and prices are up 50-100%. In this piece, Rosealea argues that such signs of froth are deceptive: land sales are still historically low and developers quite conservative.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Capacity Cuts Won't Hold Up Metals Prices

    To reduce air pollution, China says it will run northern steel mills at just half their capacity this coming winter. Prices of steel and other metals initially rallied on the news, but now are coming off. In this piece, Rosealea argues that metals prices have seen the top of their range, and explains why capacity cuts won’t push prices higher.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Housing Prices Set To Slowly Cool

    Housing prices have had a wild ride in China this year, but with sales now cooling, prices are also losing steam. In this piece, Rosealea argues that the coming correction in housing prices will be a moderate one—probably about half of the 10% nationwide decline in 2014—as inventories are still low and policies are not particularly tight.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Oil Import Deregulation Put On Hold

    China’s market for gasoline, diesel and other oil products has gotten increasingly competitive since the government started allowing private-sector refiners to import their own crude oil. But the government has now put additional liberalization on hold, which will halt gains for independent refiners and benefit big state enterprises.

    0
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    Gavekal Research

    Fade The Latest Commodity Rally

    China’s property market is once again running hotter than expected, pushing prices of iron, steel and coal up by 15%-40% over recent weeks. But the gradual downward trend in property has not changed. And with high prices and government intervention both stimulating more commodity supply, the potential for further price gains is limited.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    Government Becomes A Home Buyer

    It’s no secret that managing the housing market is a core part of China’s economic policy. But as Rosealea explains in this piece, government’s role in supporting housing sales is now even greater than most realize. The government is buying millions of unsold housing units directly from developers, and the scale of the program is only increasing.

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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Central Pillar For Housing Sales

    China’s housing market is proving quite resilient this year, with sales growth perking up in May. In this piece, Rosealea argues the current sales recovery is broad-based: growth is strong in both central and coastal provinces. While restrictions on speculative purchases are spreading to some smaller cities, this should have only a moderate impact.

    0
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    Gavekal Dragonomics

    The Iron Ore Slump Nears Its End

    China’s iron ore price is now down by about a third from its peak in February. In this piece, Rosealea reassesses the market in light of this correction, and argues that the price is unlikely to stay substantially below US$60 per ton for long. That’s because domestic miners responding to low prices by cutting output, helping rebalance the market.

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