Good Morning. The news greeting investors on Tuesday morning clearly wasn't good. There were problems in China, which in turn, meant problems for the global growth thesis. There were new worries about Greece (I know, how the heck is that possible?). There was a lot of chatter about Portugal becoming the next Greece and that EU leaders had best deal with this quickly before another round of debt restructuring begins. And with Shanghai, Hong Kong, and most of the European bourses down more than 1%, it looked like the bears might finally get back in the game yesterday.
Since China is the second biggest economy on the planet and the biggest consumer of energy in the world, any and all data relating to the growth outlook for the Chinese clearly warrants some attention. So let's run these stories down. First, there was word that China had increased gasoline and diesel fuel costs to its citizens. This caused concern about inflation and slower growth. Next there was a report that the Chinese equivalent of "corporate profits" had fallen for a second month in a row. Then there was deputy secretary general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, who said that Chinese vehicle sales are likely to miss their 8% growth target in 2012. There were even rumors on various blogs regarding a possible coup in Beijing.
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But the story that got the most attention was a PowerPoint slide in a BHP Billiton presentation. BHP, which is the world's biggest mining company, said in its presentation yesterday that growth in China's demand for iron ore will fall "to single digits, if it is not already there" as steel production is slowing and growth rates have flattened. Ian Ashby, the company's president of iron ore, also told reporters that "The big infrastructure build clearly will come to some end." Yikes, that can't be good, right?
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In addition to all the less than cheerful news out of China and Europe, a fairly strong earthquake rocked the shores of Mexico City. There was a report that the good data in the U.S. economy can be attributed to the record warmth we've enjoyed so far in the spring, which, of course, has caused consumers to speed up their consumption. In case you're not sure where this logic is heading, this means that demand has been "pulled forward" and as a result, the economy will surely stumble going forward.
And what would a day be without some news relating to Apple? Late in the session yesterday, we got a report that the third generation of the iPad, with its amazing retina display and faster processor gets hotter than the last version.