Uh-oh. Beijing might want to consider spending a bit more than the US$3 billion it said it would splurge on a medley of base metals. According to an analyst at a government-owned research unit, China’s demand growth for aluminum could fall as low as 3%, down from 8.5% in 2008 and 30% (!) in 2007. That sounds like bad news for the country’s aluminum smelters. Encouragingly, more details are emerging about the government’s stimulus package that’s supposed to get everything going again. China Construction Bank has now said it plans to provide US$72.6 billion in loans as part of that package, focused on everything from infrastructure to education.
Most other numbers today seem to be lower. The China National Tourism Administration said that inbound tourism numbers in the first 10 months of 2008 were down by 1.9% from 2007, Olympic boost (cough) notwithstanding. Even multinational accounting firms aren’t immune, and have been reportedly cutting staff. Whether the same will happen at internet portal Baidu may hinge on the outcome of a new lawsuit being brought against the company under everyone’s favorite Anti-Monopoly Law.
There may be a small bright light in the purchase of Beijing-based ad agency W&K Communications, whose clients include Air China and Tsingtao, by France’s Publicis. Publicis reportedly expects to see continued strength in advertising in China despite the economic troubles.
Lastly, and sadly, the government has raised the official toll from the tainted milk scandal; it now says nearly 300,000 infants fell ill after consuming tainted milk powder, and six have died.