Money Matters - Simplified


U.S. markets close with slim gains

New York -- U.S. markets mustered few gains Wednesday with the dollar index extending its rise into the second trading session, climbing 0.18 percent to 80.

The dollar's gain weighed on commodities and U.S. firms that rely on exports. With no major reports on the U.S. economic calendar, Germany reported its trade surplus grew from $16.5 billion in October 2009 to $18.8 billion in October 2010.

The surplus is a reminder of the struggles of the euro, which is shared by countries with economies in decline, such as Greece and Ireland, and countries where an economic recovery has found traction, such as Germany and France.

German trade surplus reaches $23.3 billion

Berllin -- Germany said Monday its exports rose 22.5 percent in September from a year ago, while imports rose 18 percent, bumping its monthly surplus to $23.3 billion.

The monthly surplus in September a year ago stood at $16 billion.
Imports in the month came to $97.6 billion, while exports reached $121 billion, the Federal Statistical Office said
"Exports and imports showed diverging trends compared with the preceding month (as) exports rose by 3 percent on August 2010, imports fell by 1.5 percent," the report said.

Fed move sparks oil price jump

New York -- Crude oil prices topped $86 per barrel overnight as investors in Asia and Europe reacted to the U.S. Federal Reserves $600 billion Treasury purchasing program.

The Fed said it would spend $75 billion a month through June, a larger sum than many had anticipated. The move has the likely effect of weakening the U.S. dollar, which would help U.S. exporters and drive up prices of imports, like oil, which is priced in U.S. currency.

Russian, China swap loans for coal

Moscow -- China and Russia are swapping loans for coal, with China furnishing $6 billion for increased coal supplies from Russia, an Energy Ministry official said.

Russian Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky said the loans are being supplied with a Russian commitment to increase exports of coal to China.

China expects to import 15 million tons of coal from Russia by 2015 and to increase its purchases of Russian coal to at least 20 million tons through 2030, The Moscow Times reported Tuesday.

While rare for China to furnish loans for non-Chinese companies, Yanovsky did not identify the Russian firms that would receive the loans.

China said to be blocking vital exports

Washington -- U.S. trade officials say they're looking into reports that China is curtailing shipments of rare earths to the United States and Europe.

China mines 97 percent of the specialist metals vital to technologies ranging from hybrid cars to computer monitors, the BBC reported.

A New York Times report, citing anonymous industry sources, said Chinese customs officials had tightened export restriction on the rare earths, while the official China Daily said quotas would be cut 30 percent next year to stop over-mining, a report denied by China's commerce ministry.

"The report is completely false," the ministry said in a statement.

China's troublesome trade surplus shrinks

Beijing -- China Wednesday said its monthly trade surplus fell in September from $20 billion to $16.9 billion, although exports rose 25 percent in the month.

Imports jumped almost as high, climbing 24 percent, The New York Times reported.
Along with the trade figures, China said its foreign reserves reached a record $2.65 trillion with an additional $194 billion added in September.

UBS economist Wang Tao said, "The trade surplus is coming down, but it's still going to be $180 billion this year. And the reserve figure was $194 billion. That's huge."

Eurozone posted trade surplus in June

Brussels -- A rise in exports outpaced a rise in imports in the June in the eurozone, the European Union's statistical office said Friday.

The eurozone, comprised of 16 nations that share the euro as currency, posted a $3 billion surplus in the month with a 5.2 percent rise in exports and a 4.3 percent rise in imports compared to the previous month, Eurostat said.

The surplus is sharply lower than the $6.6 billion surplus of June 2009; however, it is a considerable step up from the $4.2 billion deficit posted in May.

For the larger, 27-member European Union, the trade deficit was $12.2 billion in June, Eurostat said.

Trade gap widens with exports in decline

Washington -- The U.S. trade deficit grew higher than expected in June, reaching $49.9 billion with exports falling by $2.3 billion, the Bureau of Economic Analysis said.

President Barack Obama set a goal in his State of the Union address in January to double U.S. exports within 5 years. Wednesday's report is a clear indication that such a goal has hurdles to overcome.

The bureau said the exports declined in capital goods by $1.4 billion, industrial supplies, down $1 billion, and foods, feeds and beverages, down by $300 million.
Exports of consumer goods and vehicles increased.

Victoria's Secret sued over Chinese shoes

New York -- Valley Lane Industries, an import and export shoe company, is suing lingerie giant Victoria's Secret for stealing their Chinese supplier, court papers say.

Court papers say Valley Lane of New York City has worked with a Chinese shoemaker for 25 years, the New York Daily News reported Tuesday.

However, Victoria's Secret "found out who the manufacturers were and they went to them and said, 'You have to sever your relationship with Valley Lane,'" attorney Neal Brickman said.

The company is "barely surviving," Brickman said.

Valley Lane is asking for $48 million in compensation, claiming revenues have dropped by $20 million since Victoria's Secret signed an exclusive contract with the Chinese supplier, the newspaper said.

Ford given $250M loan to bump up exports

Washington -- The White House said Thursday that U.S. automaker Ford Motor Co. would be given a $250 million loan guarantee to help it sell 200,000 cars abroad.

The White House said the loan from the U.S. Export-Import Bank would help Ford sell a variety of SUVs, pickup trucks and cars in Mexico and Canada, boosting Ford's sales by $3.1 billion, the Detroit Free Press reported.

Ford is expected to pay back the loan within a year. In the meantime, the loan is intended to preserve or add U.S. jobs, while helping manufacturers reach President Barack Obama's goal of doubling exports within five years.