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China stock market closed in the red amid protests in China

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China stock market

The Chinese stock market chart closed in the red, recording its worst session in a month, as recent measures to ease monetary policy could not offset investor concerns about protests against tight covenant restrictions in the world’s second-largest economy.

China once again recorded record numbers of coronavirus infections on Monday following protests across the country against strict covid restrictions.

Amid concerns, investor sentiment on China’s stock market couldn’t be much affected by the People’s Bank of China, which said on Friday it will lower requirements on the amount of funds banks must hold as reserves for the second time this year, freeing up about 500 billion yuan ($69.8 billion) of long-term liquidity to support the slowing economy.

In turn, consumer and tourism-related stocks rose, as some investors bet that the recent COVID-19 outbreaks and social unrest could push China to end its “zero tolerance” COVID-19 policy earlier.

Earlier we reported that the gold price was showing moderate gains in reaction to the US Federal Reserve meeting minutes.

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U.S. dollar index moved to decline

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US dollar index

The U.S. dollar index fell on Thursday after the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled to the market that the end of the central bank’s rate hike campaign was near, Reuters wrote.

Investors were upbeat about Fed Chief Jerome Powell’s hint on Wednesday that the world’s biggest economy had begun to deflate, though he signaled that interest rates would continue to rise and that no rate cut was in sight for now.

The dollar index today fell to a new 9-month low of 100.80 following the Fed’s announcement Wednesday after officials agreed to raise rates by 25 basis points at the end of its two-day meeting, the first explicit acknowledgement by the central bank of a slowdown in inflation.

It was last down 0.07% to 100.88, ending a decline of more than 1% on Wednesday. The Australian dollar rose to an eight-month high of $0.7158 in early Asian trading Thursday and last traded at $0.7150 after rising 1.2% in the previous session.

The New Zealand dollar also hit a new eight-month peak of $0.65365 after rising more than 1 percent Wednesday. Against the Japanese yen the dollar fell more than 0.5 percent to a low of 128.17.

Today the European Central Bank and the Bank of England will announce their interest rate decisions. Each rate is expected to rise 50 basis points. The Euro/U.S. Dollar rose to about a 10-month peak of $1.1034 on Thursday and was last up 0.3% to $1.1023, while the pound rose 0.14% to $1.2392.

Inflation in the euro area fell for the third straight month in January, data showed Wednesday. But underlying price growth remained steady despite falling energy prices.

Earlier we reported that Toyota remains the world leader in auto sales

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Toyota remains the world leader in car sales. Toyota Motor Corp stock prices rise

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toyota motor corp stock price

Toyota Motor Corp (TYO:7203). remained the world leader in auto sales in 2022, widening its lead over its nearest competitor, Volkswagen (ETR:VOWG) AG. Toyota’s sales fell 0.1% last year to 10.48 million vehicles, the Japanese company said in a press release issued Monday. Toyota Motor Corp stock prices are rising on the back of positive reports. 

Volkswagen said earlier this month that its 2022 sales fell 7 percent to 8.3 million vehicles, an 11-year low.

Toyota has outpaced Volkswagen in sales for three years in a row, Bloomberg notes. At the same time, both companies, like other global automakers, may face a decline in demand as global economic growth slows.

Toyota hasn’t complained about the drop in demand so far, saying it still can’t cut delivery times for customers who have to wait months or even years for some models. This demonstrates that the Toyota Motor Corporation business model is working. 

The Japanese company aims to sell 10.6 million vehicles in the next fiscal year, which begins in April. At the same time, it warns that deliveries could be 10% lower than expected if shortages of individual components, particularly chips, persist.

S&P Global Mobility experts believe Toyota will continue to widen its sales gap with Volkswagen in 2023, predicting the Japanese automaker’s deliveries of 10.4 million vehicles versus 7.99 million units for Volkswagen.

Volkswagen sales will begin to recover in 2024, S&P Global Mobility predicts. At the same time, sales of passenger cars of Toyota by the end of this decade, according to experts, will reach 11 million per year.

Earlier, we reported that spot prices for LNG in Asia are significantly higher than in the U.S. and Europe.

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Spot LNG prices in Asia are significantly higher than in the U.S. and Europe

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LNG prices today

Spot LNG prices in Asia jumped to record highs in January due to low stocks of this fuel, cold weather, global disruptions in production and delays in shipment. Asian LNG prices today are significantly higher than LNG prices in the U.S. and Europe, which creates arbitrage opportunities for sellers, writes Euractiv.

The winners in this situation are large oil and gas companies that have access to different sources of fuel as opposed to traders and non-integrated producers, experts say.

Shell and TotalEnergies (NYSE:TTE) could divert tankers with U.S., Nigerian and Qatari LNG bound for Europe to Asia.

“Some of our long-term contracts provide for a change of direction. Where possible, we divert LNG shipments to premium markets,” a top executive at a major company told the publication on condition of anonymity.

The difference in regional gas prices, excluding transportation and related costs, is quite significant, Euractiv says. For example, the cost of contracts with delivery in February at the U.S. Henry Hub is $2.6 per million British thermal units (BTU), at the Dutch TTF – about $10 per 1 million BTU, in Asia – about $30 per 1 million BTU.

Most of the LNG in the world is sold under long-term contracts, and only about 10% of all deals are on the spot market. The current price hike has mainly affected the spot segment of the market.

“LNG in the spot market in Asia right now is like rolls of toilet paper in a pandemic – you look at the empty shelves and grab the last one at any price,” says another industry senior executive.

Rising LNG prices could give an impetus to Qatar to rapidly expand its projects in this area, and it also supports many of the U.S. fuel production facilities, experts say.

At the same time, the current situation poses a threat to the formation of a flexible spot LNG market, as it is likely to push many sellers to enter into long-term contracts, Euractiv writes.

Earlier we reported that the dollar index returned to growth.

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