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China's consumer and factory data miss expectations in July – CNBC

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Employees working on an air-conditioner production line at a Midea factory in Guangzhou, China.
Jade Gao | AFP | Getty Images

BEIJING — China reported data for July that came in well below expectations as the real estate slump and Covid controls dragged down growth.

Retail sales grew by 2.7% in July from a year ago, the National Bureau of Statistics said Monday. That’s well below the 5% growth forecast by a Reuters poll, and down from growth of 3.1% in  June. Within retail sales, catering, furniture and construction-related categories saw declines.

Sales of autos, one of the largest categories by value, rose by 9.7%. The gold, silver and jewelry category saw sales rise the most, up by 22.1%. Online sales of physical goods rose by 10% year-on-year, faster than in June, according to CNBC calculations of official data.

Industrial production rose by 3.8%, also missing expectations for 4.6% growth and a drop from the prior month’s 3.9% increase.

Fixed asset investment for the first seven months of the year rose by 5.7% from a year ago, missing expectations for 6.2% growth.

Investment into real estate fell at a faster pace in July than June, while investment into manufacturing slowed its pace of growth. Investment into infrastructure rose at a slightly faster pace in July than in June. Fixed asset investment data is only released on a year-to-date basis.

“This year, the property market overall has shown a downward trend,” Fu Linghui, spokesperson of the National Bureau of Statistics, told reporters in Mandarin, according to a CNBC translation.

“Real estate investment has declined, and may have had some impact on related consumption,” he said.

Young people’s unemployment climbs

While the overall unemployment rate in cities ticked lower to 5.4% in July, that of young people remained persistently high.

The unemployment rate among China’s youth, ages 16 to 24, was 19.9%. That’s the highest on record, according to Wind data going back to 2018.

Fu attributed the high level of youth unemployment to Covid’s impact on businesses’ operations and their ability to hire.

In particular, he noted how the services sector, where young people typically account for a greater number of jobs, has recovered rather slowly. Fu also pointed to was young people’s current preference for jobs with more stability.

Stable jobs in China typically include those at state-owned enterprises rather than positions at start-ups or smaller companies.

“The national economy maintained the momentum of recovery,” the statistics bureau said in a statement. But it warned of rising “stagflation risks” globally and said “the foundation for the recovery of the domestic economy is yet to be consolidated.”

Analyst forecasts for July were projected to show a pickup in economic activity from June, as China put the worst of this year’s Covid-related lockdowns behind it, especially in the metropolis of Shanghai.

Exports remained robust last month, surging by 18% year-on-year in U.S. dollar terms despite growing concerns of falling global demand. Imports lagged, climbing by just 2.3% in July from a year earlier.

However, China’s massive real estate sector has come under renewed pressure this summer. Many homebuyers halted their mortgage payments to protest developer delays in constructing homes, which are typically sold ahead of completion in China.

The deterioration in confidence puts developers’ future sales — and an important source of cash flow — at risk.

Statistics spokesperson Fu described the construction delays as specific to some regions.

He said the real estate market is “in a stage of building a bottom” and its impact on the economy will “gradually improve.”

Fu said in response to a separate question that once Covid is under control, consumers’ pent up demand will be released.

The potential for a Covid outbreak has remained another drag on sentiment. A surge of infections in tourist destinations, especially the island province of Hainan, stranded tens of thousands of tourists this month.

The local situation reflects the large gap between goals set at the beginning of the year and the ensuing reality. Hainan had set a GDP target of 9%, but was only able to grow by 1.6% in the first six months.

Similarly, at a national level, China’s GDP grew by just 2.5% in the first half of the year, running well below the full-year target of around 5.5% set in March.

When asked about the target Monday, Fu did not discuss it specifically. But he pointed to a host of challenges for growth at home and abroad, including growing uncertainties overseas.

Looking ahead, Fu said China’s economy “still faces many risks and challenges” in sustaining its recovery and maintaining operations in a “reasonable range.”

China’s top leaders indicated at a meeting in late July the country might miss its GDP goal for the year. The meeting did not signal any forthcoming large-scale stimulus, while noting the importance of stabilizing prices.

The country’s consumer price index hit a two-year high in July as pork prices rebounded.

Ahead of Monday morning’s data release, the People’s Bank of China unexpectedly cut rates on two of its lending rates — both for the first time since January, according to Citi.

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US bear market deepens: What that means for you – Al Jazeera English

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United States stocks slumped further this week as investors navigated a barrage of bad news.

Central banks around the world have been scrambling to fight soaring high inflation by increasing the cost of borrowing without hurting long-term growth prospects. Adding to the uncertainty and fear are rising tensions between the West and Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

In the US, the S&P 500 – a proxy for the health of retirement and college savings accounts – this week fell to its lowest level in almost two years and was set for a monthly decline of nearly 8 percent.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 has dropped nearly 33 percent so far in 2022, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 20 percent while the world’s best-known cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, shed nearly 60 percent of its value. Home prices are also dropping as interest rates soar, making loans for potential buyers more expensive.

The Federal Reserve, the country’s central bank, is tasked with fighting the highest inflation in decades and has been doing that by raising interest rates. But can it increase the cost of capital to reduce demand and moderate prices without plunging the economy into a deep recession?

“It’s really a no-win situation at this point. Largely because of the number of shocks policymakers have had to deal with,” Cristian deRitis, leading economist at Moody’s, a research firm based in New York, explained to Al Jazeera.

How much further down can stocks go? What is a bear market exactly? And is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

Here’s the short answer.

I keep hearing that the US is in a bear market. What is that exactly?

A bear market occurs when a broad market index dips more than 20 percent from recent highs.

Why is the US currently in a bear market?

“Persisting concerns over inflation and the Fed’s ability to tame prices without a hard landing,” is how Peter Essele, head of portfolio management at Commonwealth Financial Network, a Massachusetts-based firm, explained it.

What’s the reason behind the high inflation and why are prices out of control?

Kenneth McLaughlin, professor of economics at Hunter College in New York, told Al Jazeera that one of the reasons is the federal government “injecting $5 trillion into the economy including through stimulus checks during the pandemic with kind of good intentions but with no plans to pay for it.”

In other words?

Think back to early 2020 when businesses shuttered and economies came to a standstill to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Millions of Americans found themselves under lockdown with nowhere to go and spend the fresh-off-the-press stimulus checks. That caused equity prices, be it stocks, Bitcoin and home prices across the US, to skyrocket. It also caused a surge in demand for goods and that, as we see now, has led to the highest rise in the cost of living seen in decades.

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S
The war in Ukraine and growing tensions between the West and Russia are expected to continue to spook investors and roil markets [File: Brendan McDermid/Reuters]

How does this cause the stock market to go down?

As the Fed raises rates, which is essentially increasing the cost of borrowing in order to bring down the price of goods and services, people start to fear a slowdown in the economy. This pushes down the price of stocks and other investments.

Are the current economic conditions really just the consequence of what happened in the last 2 years?

The last two years have been unprecedented in many aspects. But what we are seeing today can also be attributed to the extremely low interest rates of the last decade when, following the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the government made it cheaper for Americans to borrow, Essele told Al Jazeera.

Didn’t the markets just have a rally?

Stocks did experience a rally in August. Things were looking up when petrol prices, which had soared in earlier months, dropped sharply. Investors held on to the hope that perhaps the Fed would ease on the interest rate hikes if the inflation numbers for August showed that consumer prices had cooled. But despite cheaper petrol, food and other essential goods, prices remained high – surging 8.3 percent in August compared with a year earlier.

Where are we now?

“Inflation is becoming more structural and investors are now concerned about stagflation,” Essele explained to Al Jazeera, suggesting that price hikes may be here to stay for the long haul. Stagflation is a mashup of the words “inflation” and “stagnation” and refers to a situation when inflation is high even as the rate of economic growth slows down.

So what does the future hold? And how long will this bear market last?

Expect above-average price pressures. The war in Ukraine and growing tensions between the West and Russia add to the uncertainty and will continue to spook investors and roil markets.

“But we are likely in three-quarters of the way through the bear market,” Essele predicted.

I don’t own any stocks, why should I care about a bear market?

While stock investors are the ones most directly affected by a US bear market, there are spillover effects to the rest of the economy primarily due to the “wealth effect”. That is, as households see the value of their retirement and stock portfolios decline, they will pull back on their spending.

“Given how dependent the US economy is on consumer spending, this impact can be significant and widespread,” Moody’s deRitis told Al Jazeera. “Discretionary sectors such as travel, leisure, and hospitality may feel the most immediate effect but other industries such as housing and retail trade will experience reduced demand as households grow cautious.”

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Ontario Securities Commission files allegations of fraud in multimillion-dollar crypto offering – CP24

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TORONTO – The Ontario Securities Commission says it has filed allegations against Troy Richard James Hogg related to a crypto token offering that raised US$51 million.

The statement of allegations says that between May 2017 and June 2019, Hogg, an Ontario resident, promoted and sold a crypto asset named Dignity token, previously called Unity Ingot, to investors around the world.

The regulator alleges that Hogg and his companies – Cryptobontix Inc., Arbitrade Exchange Inc. and Arbitrade Ltd. – defrauded investors with false and misleading statements in promotional materials, including that gold bullion supported the value of the tokens.

The OSC alleges that Hogg and his companies further defrauded investors by spending a significant amount of invested funds on things unrelated to crypto security tokens, including buying real estate and making payments to companies controlled by Hogg.

The regulator also alleges that Hogg did not file a prospectus for the token or obtain the necessary registration with the OSC to engage in trading activities.

The OSC says it was assisted in its investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which ran a parallel investigation and has levelled charges against Hogg and several U.S. residents.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 30, 2022.

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Lululemon settles lawsuit with Peloton over allegations of ‘copycat’ clothing

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Two of North America’s biggest names in fitness have settled a lawsuit over allegations of “copycat” sports bras and workout tights.

Vancouver-based “athleisure” brand Lululemon has agreed to terms with American exercise bike company Peloton after negotiating a “mutually agreeable settlement” in the patent dispute, according to a notice of voluntary dismissal filed in a California district court on Friday.

The terms of that agreement have not been made public.

Lululemon filed suit in November, claiming Peloton’s Strappy Bra, Cadent Laser Dot Legging, Cadent Laser Dot Bra, High Neck Bra, Cadent Peak Bra and One Luxe tights were all rip-offs of its own products.

“Unlike innovators such as Lululemon, Peloton did not spend the time, effort and expense to create an original product line,” the Lululemon claim read.

“Instead, Peloton imitated several of Lululemon’s innovative designs and sold knock-offs of Lululemon’s products, claiming them as its own.”

Court documents show that the dispute dates back to a 2016 co-branding deal that allowed Peloton to put its logo alongside Lululemon’s on certain Lululemon products that were sold through Peloton stores.

In its own court filings, Peloton claimed the arrangement was “burdensome and time-intensive,” leading the company to end the partnership and develop “its own private label brand of fitness apparel.”

This image is included in a lawsuit filed by Lululemon against Peloton. Lululemon claimed the average customer would not be able to tell their products apart. (U.S. District Court)

Lululemon, in turn, claimed that Peloton had simply imitated some of its garments. The yoga wear firm sent Peloton a cease-and-desist letter on Nov. 11, 2021, asking the company to “immediately stop selling its copycat product.”

According to the Lululemon lawsuit, Peloton said it needed until Nov. 24 to respond to the accusations in the letter.

Instead, Peloton filed its own lawsuit in the Southern District of New York, alleging that Lululemon was making “baseless threats” and asking a judge to pre-emptively declare that Peloton had done nothing wrong.

News of the settlement in California comes just one day after a judge in New York dismissed Peloton’s lawsuit, ruling it “an improper anticipatory declaratory judgment action,” filed with the intention of beating Lululemon to the courthouse.

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