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Millions of Chinese Firms Face Collapse If Banks Don’t Act – Yahoo Canada Finance

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Millions of Chinese Firms Face Collapse If Banks Don’t Act

(Bloomberg) — Brigita, a director at one of China’s largest car dealers, is running out of options. Her firm’s 100 outlets have been closed for about a month because of the coronavirus, cash reserves are dwindling and banks are reluctant to extend deadlines on billions of yuan in debt coming due over the next few months. There are also other creditors to think about.

“If we can’t pay back the bonds, it will be very, very bad,” said Brigita, whose company has 10,000 employees and sells mid- to high-end car brands such as BMWs. She asked that only her first name be used and that her firm not be identified because she isn’t authorized to speak to the press.

With much of China’s economy still idled as authorities try to contain an epidemic that has infected more than 75,000 people, millions of companies across the country are in a race against the clock to stay afloat.

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A survey of small- and medium-sized Chinese companies conducted this month showed that a third of respondents only had enough cash to cover fixed expenses for a month, with another third running out within two months.

While China’s government has cut interest rates, ordered banks to boost lending and loosened criteria for companies to restart operations, many of the nation’s private businesses say they’ve been unable to access the funding they need to meet upcoming deadlines for debt and salary payments. Without more financial support or a sudden rebound in China’s economy, some may have to shut for good.

“If China fails to contain the virus in the first quarter, I expect a vast number of small businesses would go under,” said Lv Changshun, an analyst at Beijing Zhonghe Yingtai Management Consultant Co.

Despite accounting for 60% of the economy and 80% of jobs in China, private businesses have long struggled to tap funding to help them expand during booms and survive crises.

President Xi Jinping over the weekend pledged a greater focus on reviving the economy, with a more proactive fiscal policy, accelerated construction projects and freer reserves for commercial lenders to unleash more funding.

Support from China’s banking giants in response to the outbreak has so far been piecemeal, mostly earmarked for directly combating the virus. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the nation’s largest lender, has offered relief to about 5% of its small business clients.

In an emailed response to questions from Bloomberg News, ICBC said it has allocated 5.4 billion yuan ($770 million) to help companies fight the virus. “We approve qualified small businesses’ loan applications as soon as they arrive,” the bank said.

As a group, Chinese banks had offered about 794 billion yuan in loans related to the containment effort as of Feb. 20, according to the banking industry association, with foreign lenders such as Citigroup Inc. also lowering rates. To put that into perspective, China’s small businesses typically face interest payments on about 36.9 trillion yuan of loans every quarter.

Stringent requirements and shortlists restrict who can access special loans earmarked by the central bank for virus-related businesses, while local governments and banks have imposed caps on the amounts, according to people familiar with the matter. A debt banker at one of China’s largest brokerages said his firm opened a fast lane to ease debt sales by businesses involved in the containment effort, with borrowers required to prove they will use at least 10% of the proceeds to fight the disease.

That’s of little help to a car dealership. Brigita, whose firm owes money to dozens of banks, said she has so far only reached an agreement with a handful to extend payment deadlines by two months. For now, the company is still paying salaries.

Many of China’s businesses were already grasping for lifelines before the virus hit, pummeled by a trade war and lending crackdown that sent economic growth to a three-decade low last year.

At most risk are the labor-intensive catering and restaurant industries, travel agencies, airlines, hotels and shopping malls, according to Lianhe Rating.

Yang, a property manager of a seven-story mall in Shanghai, says a tenant who runs a 150-room hotel that’s usually busy has called asking for a month’s rent waiver after business dried up. She expects the massage parlor that rents space in the mall is also struggling and is open to extending some help.

A deputy financing director at a small developer in central Anhui province said his firm is even being denied loans under existing credit lines. A drop in sales has hurt the company’s credit profile and a dearth of new projects means there’s no collateral to put up. Without access to credit, the business can survive for about four months, or maybe longer if some payments can be delayed, he said.

Banks are hardly any better off themselves. Many are under-capitalized and on the ropes after two years of record debt defaults. Rating firm S&P Global has estimated that a prolonged emergency could cause the banking system’s bad loan ratio to more than triple to about 6.3%, amounting to an increase of 5.6 trillion yuan.

Wu Hai, owner of Mei KTV, a chain of 100 Karaoke bars across China, took to the nation’s premier outlet of discontent, social media platform WeChat, to voice his despair.

KTV’s bars have been closed by the government because of the virus, choking off its cash flow. The special loans from the authorities will be of little help and no bank will provide a loan without enough collateral and cash flow, he said on his official WeChat account earlier this month.

Wu couldn’t be reached for a direct comment, but on WeChat he gave himself two months before he has to shutter his business.

(Adds details on economic measures in eighth paragraph, updates lending in 10th.)

–With assistance from Jun Luo, Emma Dong and Yinan Zhao.

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Evelyn Yu in Shanghai at yyu263@bloomberg.net;Ken Wang in Beijing at ywang1690@bloomberg.net;Zheng Li in Shanghai at zli698@bloomberg.net;Xize Kang in Beijing at xkang7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Candice Zachariahs at czachariahs2@bloomberg.net, Jonas Bergman, Michael Patterson

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Stock market news live updates: Stocks close mostly lower as selling pressure continues – Yahoo Canada Finance

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U.S. stocks extended this week’s downtrend Wednesday to close a choppy session with losses as the prospect of sustained higher rates and slowing growth continued to plague investor sentiment.

The S&P 500 (^GSPC) slumped 0.2%, ending a fifth straight day lower, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) capped trading at the flatline. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) declined 0.5%.

In commodities markets, oil extended losses to close around $72 per barrel after a decline of roughly 10% this week to the lowest level since January.

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“Fears are growing that economies are in for a rough time ahead as feverish inflation and the bitter interest rate medicine being used to bring it down take effect,” Hargreaves Lansdown senior investment and markets analyst Susannah Streeter said in a morning note, pointing also to recession warnings from U.S. bank bosses and gloomy trade data in China. “Despite today’s easing of restrictions, it’s clear China’s Covid nightmare is not at an end.”

A chorus of downbeat remarks from Wall Street leaders on Tuesday further weighed on already slumping sentiment this week as many expressed concerns over the toll of inflation and elevated interest rates on U.S. consumers.

JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said the $1.5 trillion in excess savings across Americans’ bank accounts were being eroded by rising prices, while warning the dwindling disposable cash may “derail the economy and cause this mild or hard recession that people are worried about.” Bank of America chief Brian Moynihan echoed a similar message, indicating that while consumers are still spending money, the pace is beginning to slow.

Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs (GS) CEO David Solomon projected stocks will barrel lower in 2023 and placed the probability of a soft landing at a mere 35% – a view at odds with in-house economists at his investment bank, who anticipate in their baseline forecast that the U.S. will narrowly avoid a recession next year.

“There’s a very reasonable possibility that we could have a recession of some kind,” Solomon said in an interview at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit Wednesday afternoon.

David Solomon, Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs, speaks during the Global Financial Leaders Investment Summit in Hong Kong, China November 2, 2022. REUTERS/Tyrone SiuDavid Solomon, Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs, speaks during the Global Financial Leaders Investment Summit in Hong Kong, China November 2, 2022. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

David Solomon, Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs, speaks during the Global Financial Leaders Investment Summit in Hong Kong, China November 2, 2022. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Reports that China’s government will scale back some zero-COVID rules appeared to underwhelm investors weighing easing restrictions against economic data out of the nation that showed falling imports and exports in November.

Back in the U.S., shares of Campbell Soup (CPB) rose nearly 6% after the canned goods producer reported earnings that beat Wall Street estimate and raised its full-year forecast. The company said sales of soup in the U.S. jumped 11% due to increases in demand for ready-to-serve soups, condensed soups and broth, reflecting a recent shift among consumers to value food purchases as inflation continues to weigh on households.

Shares of Apple (AAPL) sank 1.4%, one day after Bloomberg News reported the iPhone-maker scaled back ambitious self-driving plans for its future electric vehicle and postponed the car’s release data to 2026. Bloomberg also reported Wednesday morning that mobile industry bellwether Murata Manufacturing expects Apple will further reduce production plans for its iPhone 14 due to weakening demand.

Online used car retailer Carvana (CVNA) was also in the spotlight after plunging about 43% after the company’s biggest creditors reportedly signed an agreement to cooperate in potential restructuring negotiations as the company faces growing bankruptcy risk.

Investors await another round of economic data as the Federal Reserve’s final rate-setting meeting this year approaches. Readings on weekly jobless claims, producer price inflation, and consumer sentiment are due out later this week, but the most important data point for clues on the Fed’s direction for interest rates is the Consumer Price Index (CPI) out Tuesday, the same day U.S. central bank officials kick off their last two-day rate-setting meeting of 2022.

Alexandra Semenova is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alexandraandnyc

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Oil Markets Are Bearish But Downside Is Limited – OilPrice.com

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Oil Markets Are Bearish But Downside Is Limited | OilPrice.com


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Alex Kimani

Alex Kimani

Alex Kimani is a veteran finance writer, investor, engineer and researcher for Safehaven.com. 

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  • Oil prices fell to their lowest level this year on Wednesday morning, a clear sign of bearish sentiment in the oil market despite the recent price cap.
  • Despite bearish sentiment, Standard Chartered says that the downside to oil is limited as fundamentals are supportive and there are no major bearish catalysts looming.
  • Regarding the oil price cap, Standard Chartered has predicted that it will have little effect on oil prices as the main importers of Russian oil are not taking part.

Bearish

WTI and Brent crude oil prices fell for a third straight session on Tuesday, with the U.S. benchmark now at its lowest level in a year. Front-month Nymex crude for January delivery closed the day -3.5% to $74.25/bbl, its lowest in nearly a year, while February Brent crude finished -4% to $79.35/bbl, its weakest close since January 3. It’s now clear that the broader market selloff and worries about more aggressive monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve have overshadowed any positive effect from the new price cap on Russian oil sales. 

Oil traders have been anxiously waiting to see how the price cap on Russian oil will affect the market, but the measure is yet to impact prices. 

Meanwhile, data released on Monday showed the U.S. ISM service sector index climbed slightly to 56.5% in November from 54.4% in October, which “triggered red flashing signals the Federal Reserve may keep interest rates higher for longer, increasing the odds of a U.S. recession and less energy use,’’ Stephen Innes, managing partner at SPI Asset Management, has told Morningstar. The ISM surveys non-manufacturing (or services) firms’ purchasing and supply executives. The services report measures business activity for the overall economy; above 50 indicates growth, while below 50 indicates contraction.

Bearish Oil Price Sentiment

So, just how bearish has sentiment become in the oil markets? 

According to commodity analysts at Standard Chartered, speculative positioning in crude oil has been unremarkable through most of 2022, but has changed in recent weeks. The analysts have revealed that their proprietary crude oil money-manager positioning index that compares net longs across the four main New York and London-based crude contracts relative to open interest and historical norms is currently more negative than those for all other commodities they track. StanChart says that In recent months, crude oil has remained close to the bottom of the ranking of metals and energy in terms of implied positive speculative preference, while gasoline has been close to the top.

StanChart’s crude oil index currently stands at -70.3, the lowest since mid-April

2020 (about a week before WTI prices settled at a negative price). The index has now fallen

by 57.4 over the past three weeks marking the largest three-week fall since February

2020, just before the temporary collapse of the OPEC+ agreement.

Oil positioning

Source: Standard Chartered

However, StanChart says the situation this time around is very different from what it was during the historic oil price collapse of 2020, which is likely to limit the downside on oil prices. For one, the analysts note that oil market fundamentals are far more supportive this time than they were in early 2020; demand is not about to collapse due to a pandemic and no price wars by producers are present at the moment. 

The experts say that oil prices are caught in the backwash from top-down macro trades with both positive and negative news on the economic front triggering selloffs. 

According to StanChart, negative U.S. economic data points are triggering an oil price selloff due to recessionary fears; however, positive data points are, ironically, having a similar effect due to the strengthening of the U.S. dollar. 

Further, sentiment had been buoyed by hopes of China reopening, but as timescales dragged many traders have preferred to bet more in the metals markets instead. 

Luckily for the oil bulls, the commodity experts say the new shorts are relatively weak and will soon be covered, helping to shore up oil, though in the short-term the market is likely to accentuate the negative.

Regarding the price cap on Russian sea-borne oil, StanChart has predicted that it will have little effect on oil prices. The analysts note that China, India, and Turkey are the three key swing

consumers of Russian oil and none has yet suggested that they would consider signing up to the cap. Without the participation of those three countries, the amount of Russian oil likely to move subject to the cap would likely be small even if Russia agreed to sell oil under those terms (which it has repeatedly said it will not). 

The big question here in terms of market impact is then whether Russia can transport oil to its major consumers (including providing adequate insurance) without using EU or other G7 services. StanChart says that Russia has acquired a large enough ‘shadow’ tanker fleet since its invasion of Ukraine that it can use to move most of the displaced volumes; however, the analysts note that the insurance aspect is likely to cause significant issues. This has led analysts to predict that Russian crude output is likely to fall by 1.44 million barrels per day in 2023 thanks to a progressive shortage of high-quality equipment and a lack of access to international service companies as time goes by.

By Alex Kimani for Oilprice.com

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When Job Hunting Your Image is Everything (Part 1)

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Impress Your Interviewer with Your Questions — Part 1

This column is the first of a 2-part series discussing an aspect that most job seekers ignore, the image they project to employers.

Part 1: Getting noticed is your image’s job.

“Image is everything. You don’t spare any expense to create the right image. And word of mouth is critical. Once you get a good reputation, momentum will carry you.”

Haruki Murakami, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

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Four questions you should ask yourself as a job seeker:

  • Who am I?
  • What do I do, or what would I like to do?
  • Why does it matter?
  • How do I want others to perceive me?

 

In answering these questions with definitive answers, you’ll become more strategic regarding how you present yourself (physically and verbally), which influences the impression people have of you.

“Image” is one of the oldest forms of nonverbal communication used to attract others. A person’s appearance is often used to judge their integrity, credibility and level of professionalism. The right image can open doors, draw attention to strengths and qualities, and open doors to life-changing possibilities.

Since first impressions are everlasting, my first rule when job searching is: Image is everything.

(My second rule: Don’t look for a job. Instead, look for where you’ll be accepted. Think: “I’m not looking for a job; I’m looking for my tribe!”)

The notion that your image significantly impacts your career—actually, your image influences all aspects of your life—makes many uncomfortable. The majority of people would rather be heads-down, focusing on their work, with their fingers crossed that their work alone will propel them forward, not their image. However, as creatures of our environment, we form perceptions based on what we see. By being aware of this and how your image is directly correlated with how you’re perceived, you can craft an image that attracts opportunities rather than repels them.

People don’t have much imagination when it comes to other people. What you show them—what they see—is the only thing they’ll first know about you, which we all learn at an early age; thus, why “What I show is what they’ll know” is ground-zero social guidance. Hence, we have a fashion industry, sexy sports car models, plastic surgery, Invisalign, and multiple brands to self-identify with for essentially the same product (e.g., soft drinks, coffee, jeans, etc.).

The constant effort to create an image in the hopes of being noticed and accepted is why for many people, “approval nods” are essential to their self-esteem. Consequently, when employers don’t give approval nods, their egos and self-confidence suffer badly, and why heartbreak is a frequent occurrence when conducting a job search.

A stranger forms a first impression of you in about seven seconds. In today’s increasingly open and interconnected world, where employers can easily research you to determine if you’re interview-worthy, your overall presentation is increasingly important to your job search and career success.

Then there’s the initial meeting when the interviewer’s opinion of you will determine whether you advance in the hiring process. As much as it may offend you, your interviewer’s opinion of you will be based on your image.

When I was starting out, still trying to reach the first rung of the ladder, an advertising executive gave me this advice: “Create the image you want the world to see and constantly work at living up to it.” Then to emphasize his point, he mentioned Madonna, Norman Mailer, Tupac Shakur, and Mother Theresa as examples.

Your what I call “pre-screen image,” which includes your resume, LinkedIn profile, and other digital footprints, is what gets you in the door—in front of those who’ll judge your suitability for the job and your fit with the company’s culture. In other words, are you one of them? This “Are you one of us?” judgment is why I view employers as exclusive clubs. Afterward, once you’ve been selected for an interview, you must look at “the part.”

Forget facts and logic, especially at the initial stages of the hiring process. Recent research reveals that a person’s image and emotional projections far outweigh facts and logical conclusions about them.

According to studies, people understand images faster than words and remember them for longer periods. Whenever there is a discrepancy between what we see and hear, our brains tend to believe what we see. A potent image speaks to us on a symbolic level, feeding us information by intuition and association.

 

TRUTH BOMB: Seeing is believing.

Before you return to your job search, ask yourself this question: What does my image say about who I am? It’s common for me to hear a job seeker tell me they are this and that… blah, blah, blah, yet what I see contradicts what they’re trying to convince me to believe about them. In other words, their image makes it hard for me to believe what they’re saying about themselves.

Does your image work in your favor or against you?

In my next column, I’ll discuss the second hardest part of your image’s job, making employers fall in love with you.

______________________________________________________________

 

Nick Kossovan, a well-seasoned veteran of the corporate landscape, offers advice on searching for a job. You can send Nick your questions at artoffindingwork@gmail.com.

 

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