China raised interest rates for the sixth time in less than a year as Asian nations step up efforts to damp inflation stoked by surging commodity prices, and the central bank signaled that it would do more.
The Bank of China increased the benchmark one-day bond repurchase rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 2.75 percent, China joins Thailand in tightening monetary policy this month after economic growth and oil at more than $100 a barrel helped drive inflation to a seven-month high. Interest rates are on a rising trend and the central bank still needs to bring
borrowing costs to “normal” levels as the economy is expanding,
Inflation is likely to further accelerate until the middle of this year in China, that means pressure on the central bank to keep raising rates will continue.
Consumer prices advanced 3.14 percent in March from a year earlier, the fastest pace since August last year. Core prices, which exclude fresh food and fuel, rose 1.62 percent, accelerating from a 1.45 percent pace in February. The central bank uses the core index to guide policy and aims to keep it below 3 percent.
The central bank raised rates by a quarter point each in July, August, December, January and March. Counterparts from India to South Korea also boosted borrowing costs last month, while China has lifted reserve ratios and increased its deposit and one-year lending rates this month.
If crude prices are not controlled then a slowing of most Asian economies is certain..
The International Energy Agency maintained its outlook for global oil demand in 2011, while warning that prices above $100 a barrel are hurting the global economy, including the US and Asian economies. Worldwide oil consumption will not increase by 1.4 million barrels a day, or 1.6 percent, this year as expected due to the inflated prices, the Paris-based adviser said today in its monthly Oil Market Report. Preliminary data “already show signs of oil demand slowdown” and global supplies are starting to look “thin” as the Libyan conflict strains spare production capacity held by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Crude futures climbed above $110 a barrel in New York for the first time in 30 months on April 7 as forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi launched strikes on the country’s oilfields. Oil traded around $109 today. Yesterday the International Monetary Fund lowered its 2011 forecast for U.S. growth, citing the strain from fuel costs, and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) said there are “nascent signs of oil demand destruction.” The U.S., the world’s largest economy and biggest consumer of crude, will expand 2.3 percent this year, down from the 3 percent projected in January, the IMF said. The IEA reported that preliminary January and February data suggest that persistently high oil prices have already started to dent demand growth. Societe Generale SA said yesterday that growth in U.S. demand “faded to zero” in March from 600,000 barrels a day in January. OPEC, responsible for about 40 percent of global oil supplies, has about an “effective” spare capacity of about 3.91 million barrels a day, the IEA estimated. This level “begins to resemble the thin flexibility margin” that helped drive the rally in prices during the last decade. The 11 members of the producer group bound by quotas pumped 26.51 million barrels a day last month, the lowest since May 2010, following supply losses arising from armed conflict in Libya, the agency said. Iraq is exempt from the quota system. All 12 members meet in Qatar next Monday 18-04-2011to decide on additional sales of crude to reduce their official selling prices.
Portugal has asked the European Union for a bailout after a domestic political crisis helped push borrowing costs to record levels, making it the third euro region country to seek a rescue. Socrates, who is presiding over a caretaker government with limited powers until June 5 elections, didn’t give details on the kind of package that Portugal needs. Portuguese bond yields have surged since Socrates offered to resign on March 23 following a parliamentary rejection of proposed budget cuts. His government has insisted for the past year that the country didn’t need help to meet its commitments and has engaged in the deepest spending squeeze in three decades to narrow the nation's deficit. That didn’t stop the yield on Portugal’s 10-year government bond rising to a euro-era high of 8.804 percent today. Portuguese government bonds due March 2012 were sold today at an average yield of 5.902 percent. That’s more than Germany pays for 30-year bonds. The premium that investors demand to hold Portuguese debt over German bunds reached a euro-era record of 544 basis points yesterday. Swift Processing “The President of the European Commission assured that this request will be processed in the swiftest possible manner, according to the rules applicable,” the European Commission said in a statement. “They’ve been able to raise a bit of money, but it’s still at rates that are clearly unsustainable,” Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief European Economist Erik Nielsen said in an interview from London on Bloomberg Television’s “Surveillance Midday” with Tom Keene today. Portugal is the latest country to seek an EU-led bailout after Greece sparked a sovereign debt crisis that threatened to splinter the euro region a year ago and engulfed Ireland in November. The International Monetary Fund contributed to both. Portugal has been trying to avoid requesting aid for the first time since 1983, when it received external help from the Washington-based IMF. Its credit rating was nevertheless cut by Moody’s Investors Service for the second time in three weeks yesterday, taking it to Baa1. That’s the same level as Ireland, Russia, Mexico and Thailand. Portugal has struggled to convince investors it can avoid a bailout partly because its economy has barely grown in the past decade. It has expanded at an average annual rate of less than 1 percent in the period, ranking among Europe’s weakest growth rates. Unemployment rose to 11.1 percent in the fourth quarter, the highest since at least 1998, as the economy contracted for the first time in a year. Portugal reported a budget deficit last week equal to 8.6 percent of the 2010 gross domestic product, higher than the 7.3 percent the government had previously forecast.
OPEC ministers will meet on Wednesday in Qatar to prevented a crash of most crude producing economies by agreeing to increase existing output targets due to the Libya conflict. The decision finally reflected concern for the world economy and a belief production curbs so far have begun to take away some of the over-supply from oil markets. Barack Obama, president of the world's biggest energy consumer the United States, called Saudi King Abdullah last week. The White House did not disclose the contents of the call, but analysts said the timing was significant. They predicted leading OPEC producer Saudi Arabia would not want to be seen to be destabilizing the world economy . The International Energy Agency (IEA), which advises consumer countries, in a report on Friday said the OPEC supply needs urgently to increase production or the world recessing will be aggravated, crude demand will fall more than 7% this will cause a OPEC "CRASH" from which the, cartell will never recover.
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