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EU Governments Signal Support to Complete China Investment Deal – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — European Union governments signaled support on Monday for completing work on a long-sought agreement with China to open the Chinese market further to EU investors, bringing closer a major economic and political victory for both sides.

EU member-country envoys urged the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, to complete negotiations with the Chinese government within days, according to a European official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deliberations in Brussels were confidential. Another official said the commission could announce a draft deal imminently.

A successful conclusion of talks that began in 2013 on an EU-China investment accord would be a salvo against the “America First” challenge to the multilateral order by outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump.

For the EU, the deal would expand access to the Chinese market for foreign investors in industries ranging from cars to biotechnology. Furthermore, the pact would tackle underlying Chinese policies deemed by Europe and the U.S. to be market-distorting: industrial subsidies, state control of enterprises and forced technology transfers.

EU-China Relations

For China, the agreement promises to bolster the country’s claim to be a mainstream geopolitical force and may limit risks resulting from a tougher EU stance on Chinese investments in Europe. It also would strengthen Beijing’s longstanding call for the start of negotiations on a free-trade accord with the EU, which has insisted such a move depended on an investment deal being reached first.

The expected achievement highlights global cross currents after Trump shook the post-war system over the past four years by sidelining the World Trade Organization, starting a tariff war against China and hitting or threatening U.S. allies in Europe with controversial import duties.

EU-China relations themselves have been strained this year. A recent Chinese law curbing Hong Kong’s autonomy has sparked sharp criticism across Europe, while the EU has accused Beijing of spreading disinformation about the coronavirus and targeted China-based operators with the bloc’s first-ever sanctions over cyber attacks.

And while the EU and China pledged in April 2019 to strike an investment accord by the end of 2020, the European side spent recent months downplaying the prospect of a deal this year on the ground the Chinese government needed to make more concessions.

Climate Goals

Through all the ups and downs, the EU has criticized Trump’s confrontational tactics toward China and urged western engagement with Beijing on everything from fighting climate change to overcoming the pandemic.

The bloc helped prod the Chinese government three months ago to commit to a more ambitious climate-protection goal and, when it came to the investment-pact talks, the EU ended up saying significant progress was made across the board.

The planned deal also signals the EU’s determination to assert itself and focus on economic opportunities in Asia even while reaching out to U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to revive transatlantic cooperation. China ranked as the EU’s second-largest trading partner last year (behind the U.S.), with two-way goods commerce valued at more than 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) a day.

The final parts of the investment accord have been put into place in recent weeks in the shadow of higher-profile EU negotiations with the U.K. on a post-Brexit trade agreement and of a hard-fought deal among member countries on a new European budget and pandemic-recovery fund.

While the Brussels-based commission has negotiated the investment pact for the EU, the imminent breakthrough marks another result for Germany during the country’s six-month presidency of the bloc ending Dec. 31. Berlin has long championed the goal, stressing the importance of more balanced and deeper European economic ties to China.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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More China coal investments overseas cancelled than commissioned since 2017

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More China-invested overseas coal-fired power capacity was cancelled than commissioned since 2017, research showed on Wednesday, highlighting the obstacles facing the industry as countries work to reduce carbon emissions.

The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) said that the amount of capacity shelved or cancelled since 2017 was 4.5 times higher than the amount that went into construction over the period.

Coal-fired power is one of the biggest sources of climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions, and the wave of cancellations also reflects rising concerns about the sector’s long-term economic competitiveness.

Since 2016, the top 10 banks involved in global coal financing were all Chinese, and around 12% of all coal plants operating outside of China can be linked to Chinese banks, utilities, equipment manufacturers and construction firms, CREA said.

But although 80 gigawatts of China-backed capacity is still in the pipeline, many of the projects could face further setbacks as public opposition rises and financing becomes more difficult, it added.

China is currently drawing up policies that it says will allow it to bring greenhouse gas emissions to a peak by 2030 and to become carbon-neutral by 2060.

But it was responsible for more than half the world’s coal-fired power generation last year, and it will not start to cut coal consumption until 2026, President Xi Jinping said in April.

Environmental groups have called on China to stop financing coal-fired power entirely and to use the funds to invest in cleaner forms of energy, and there are already signs that it is cutting back on coal investments both at home and abroad.

Following rule changes implemented by the central bank earlier this year, “clean coal” is no longer eligible for green financing.

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s biggest bank by assets and a major source of global coal financing, is also drawing up a “road map” to pull out of the sector, its chief economist Zhou Yueqiu said at the end of May.

 

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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Bank of Montreal CEO sees growth in U.S. share of earnings

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Bank of Montreal expects its earnings contribution from the U.S. to keep growing, even without any mergers and acquisitions, driven by a much smaller market share than at home and nearly C$1 trillion ($823.38 billion) of assets, Chief Executive Officer Darryl White said on Monday.

“We do think we have plenty of scale,” and the ability to compete with both banks of similar as well as smaller size, White said at a Morgan Stanley conference, adding that the bank’s U.S. market share is between 1% and 5% based on the business line, versus 10% to 35% in Canada. “And we do it off the scale of our global balance sheet of C$950 billion.”

($1 = 1.2145 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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GameStop falls 27% on potential share sale

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Shares of GameStop Corp lost more than a quarter of their value on Thursday and other so-called meme stocks also declined in a sell-off that hit a broad range of names favored by retail investors.

The video game retailer’s shares closed down 27.16% at $220.39, their biggest one-day percentage loss in 11 weeks. The drop came a day after GameStop said in a quarterly report that it may sell up to 5 million new shares, sparking concerns of potential dilution for existing shareholders.

“The threat of dilution from the five million-share sale is the dagger in the hearts of GameStop shareholders,” said Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management. “The meme trade is not working today, so logic for at least one day has returned.”

Soaring rallies in the shares of GameStop and AMC Entertainment Holdings over the past month have helped reinvigorate the meme stock frenzy that began earlier this year and fueled big moves in a fresh crop of names popular with investors on forums such as Reddit’s WallStreetBets.

Many of those names traded lower on Thursday, with shares of Clover Health Investments Corp down 15.2%, burger chain Wendy’s falling 3.1% and prison operator Geo Group Inc, one of the more recently minted meme stocks, down nearly 20% after surging more than 38% on Wednesday. AMC shares were off more than 13%.

Worries that other companies could leverage recent stock price gains by announcing share sales may be rippling out to the broader meme stock universe, said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Cresset Capital.

AMC last week took advantage of a 400% surge in its share price since mid-May to announce a pair of stock offerings.

“It appears that other companies, like GameStop, are hoping to follow AMC’s lead by issuing shares and otherwise profit from the meme stocks run-up,” Ablin said. “Investors are taking a dim view of that strategy.”

Wedbush Securities on Thursday raised its price target on GameStop to $50, from $39. GameStop will likely sell all 5 million new shares but that amount only represents a “modest” dilution of 7%, Wedbush analysts wrote.

GameStop on Wednesday reported stronger-than-expected earnings, and named the former head of Amazon.com Inc’s Australian business as its chief executive officer.

GameStop’s shares rallied more than 1,600% in January when a surge of buying forced bearish investors to unwind their bets in a phenomenon known as a short squeeze.

The company on Wednesday said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had requested documents and information related to an investigation into that trading.

In the past two weeks, the so-called “meme stocks” have received $1.27 billion of retail inflows, Vanda Research said on Wednesday, matching their January peak.

 

(Reporting by Aaron Saldanha and Sagarika Jaisinghani in Bengaluru and Sinead Carew in New York; Additional reporting by Ira Iosebashvili; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Shounak Dasgupta, Jonathan Oatis and Nick Zieminski)

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