While America Slept. Friday, December 12, 2008
Congress sends Asian stock market to crapper: When Asia heard of the Detroit debacle in Congress, everybody called their broker and placed sell orders. Hong Kong was down 5.5 percent. Tokyo stocks fell 5.56 percent. Hardest hit were autos with Toyota down 10 percent, Honda lost 12 percent, The Nikkei (sub) reports. Investors fled the dollar for the safety of the Japanese Yen. The greenback fell to a 13-year low versus the yen Friday afternoon. This doesn’t make exporters happy, as their wares get more expensive in dollar terms.
Changan stock halted, pending “unprecedented” news. Changan, Ford Motor’s China partner, said on Friday it will continue to suspend trading in its shares “pending announcement of a major issue,” Gasgoo reports. In a statement, Changan did not specify the nature of an “unprecedented” issue, which it said the company’s management was still discussing. Its A shares, traded in Shenzhen, were suspended on Oct 10, a day after news of a possible purchase of Ford’s Volvo unit hit the wire.
Sweden bails out Volvo and Saab: At least for the time being. Sweden’s government approved a care-package of $3.4b for the two formerly Swedish makers, das Autohaus reports. They also reiterate: “Both brands are for sale.” Most of the money will be loans by the European Investment Bank, guaranteed by the Swedish government. Sweden’s finance minister Borg rules out a takeover by Sweden’s government.
Sarkozy meets Dalai Lama, Chinese boycott Citroen: France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy met the Dalai Lama last week. It will turn into a very expensive meeting as far as China is concerned. According to China Daily, “China has delayed the final phase of negotiations with Airbus for the purchase of 150 planes.” Citroen China will be next. Talk of “boycotting France” spreads over China’s Internet. This “will unavoidably strike a further blow to the Chinese business of French automaker PSA Peugeot Citroen, which is already struggling with a protracted sales slump this year,” writes Gasgoo. PSA Dongfeng Peugeot Citroen Automobile Co. was never very successful in China, and now they have their own Prez to blame.
Honda has nothing to say in Detroit. Honda decided to cancel the usual media event to introduce new models to reporters at the Detroit auto show in January, the Nikkei (sub) says. Honda will unveil the latest model of its “Insight” hybrid in Detroit, but that will be it as far as new model announcements go.
Toyota prepares for learner 2009: Toyota plans to sell less than 7.5 million vehicles globally in 2009, down 10%, the Nikkei (sub) says. This would be the second down year of mighty ToMoCo. Toyota is bracing for sales to drop 5% to roughly 8 million units this year, the first decline in a decade.
It’s official now: China’s car sales down 15 percent in November: After a series of conflicting numbers from the land of conflicting numbers, here is the last word, straight from the China Association of Automobile (CAAM.) China’s vehicle sales in November plunged 14.56 percent from a year earlier, Gasgoo reports. Passenger vehicle sales for the month fell 10 percent, while commercial vehicle sales fell a whopping 26 percent.
Dongfeng slims down investments, mum on Volvo: China’s third-biggest carmaker, Dongfeng has decided to slow down its investments, Gasgoo says. The company declined to comment on the report that Dongfeng has halted its talks on joint venture with Volvo. All they said was: “No more information is available now about the joint venture project between Dongfeng and Volvo.” Highly appreciated, xie xie.
Japan reinvents the motor: Japanese carmakers are rethinking their engine strategies, the Nikkei (sub) reports. Suzuki, which produces 12 different engines with displacements of 2 liters or less, plans to cut this number to about four. Mazda will begin designing parts so they can be used in engines of different sizes. The use of common parts is expected to lower costs by sharply reducing the overall parts count. All companies want to use the savings for R&D into greener technologies.
Lose weight, gain money: Losing weight is easier when there is money on the line, Reuters reports. Dr. Kevin Volpp of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine was looking for an effective way to treat obesity. He found that weight-loss programs that reward people with money provided a powerful incentive to lose weight compared with more conventional approaches. Supposedly, his method is currently being used in Congress.
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