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Source: The Straits Times, 22 February 2012
China's manufacturing activity continued to contract in February as export orders weakened in a further sign that the eurozone crisis and US weakness are hurting demand. "With a meaningful rebound of domestic demand not in sight, external weakness is starting to bite, adding more downside risks to growth," HSBC Chief Economist Qu Hongbin said.
Qu urged the government to step up efforts to ease credit restrictions, which would boost lending and spur activity in the export-driven economy. On Saturday, China's central bank cut the reserve requirement ratio for banks, effectively increasing the amount of money they can lend, for the second time in three months as officials moved cautiously to open the credit valves. The world's second largest economy expanded by an annual 9.2 per cent last year, narrowing from 10.4 per cent in 2010, and is widely expected to slow further this year, but most analysts do not expect to see a sharp reduction.
Source: Channel News Asia, 20 February 2012
Caterpillar said on Friday it was shifting production of small tractors and excavators from its Sagami, Japan plant to the United States.The world's leading construction equipment maker said it will build a new $200 million facility near Athens, Georgia, that will produce small track-type tractors and mini hydraulic excavators.
The news came on the heels of announcements by Japanese automakers that they were expanding production in the US as a mega-strong yen makes Japan-made exports more expensive, squeezing profit margins. The new plant will become Caterpillar's global source for small track-type tractors. Ground-breaking is expected by the end of March, with production starting in late 2013 and ramping up to full production over five years.
Source: Channel News Asia, 23 February 2012
China has called for greater use of rare earths for its own domestic manufacturing, as Beijing seeks to limit exports of the sought-after resources vital for everything from iPods to missiles.China is the world's largest producer of rare earths – 17 elements critical to manufacturing a range of high-tech products – and its moves to dictate production and exports have raised a global outcry.
China has angered its trade partners by restricting overseas shipments of rare earths, which critics say is aimed at driving up global prices and forcing foreign firms to relocate to the Asian country to access the metals. But Beijing says the restrictions are necessary to conserve the natural resource, limit harm to the environment from excessive mining and meet domestic demand.The government has set its 2012 export quota for rare earths at around 30,000 tonnes, the same level as 2011. However, exporters only filled roughly half the quota last year.
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