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中国需求放缓打压国际大宗商品价格

Charles P. Wallace 2011年12月26日

虽然亚洲经济放缓可能损及全球经济增长,但公司财务主管们和消费者肯定有一件事情可以聊以慰藉,那就是主要大宗商品价格下跌。

    由于亚洲重要的出口市场——欧美地区经济放缓致使出口需求受抑,亚洲表现最好的几个经济体最近几个月以来也感受到了寒意。但亚洲经济降温也并不全然是坏消息:未来几个月石油、铜等主要大宗商品的价格可能会下跌,将帮助一大批美国公司改善盈利数据。

    世界银行(World Bank)上月末发布对亚洲经济的最新预期时表示,今年中国经济增速预计将降至9.1%,低于2010年的10.6%。该行预计接下来经济增速将继续下滑,2012年为8.4%,随后几年也将维持这样的水平。

    “中国的原材料需求量很大,中国需求下降、对华出口减少对美国公司是个好消息,”武汉大学(Wuhan University)经济学家雷晨(音译)说:“中国经济增长放缓,这意味着我们将减少石油、铜和铁矿石等大宗商品的进口。大宗商品的市场价格将继续下行。”

    但具体跌幅是多大,目前尚无定论。马萨诸塞州温彻斯特原油研究机构战略能源用经济研究所(Strategic Energy and Economic Research)的总裁迈克尔•林奇预计到明年夏季原油价格将下跌约20%,国际市场油价降至85美元/桶,而美国西德克萨斯中质原油价格将降至75美元/桶。油价目前为96美元/桶。

    “我们预计供应状况将发生改变,包括巴西石油供应将增加,美国页岩油产量增加,以及伊拉克和利比亚的前景看好,”林奇表示。“结合亚洲需求前景疲弱因素,石油市场将走软。”

    林奇称,不仅美国公司将从油价下跌中获益,消费者也能节约更多的钱,惠及全美零售行业。

    下面这个例子可以说明大宗商品价格对美国大型公司盈利的影响之大。福特汽车(Ford Motor)今年10月报告称,由于公司对未来阶段的大宗商品套期保值进行了估值调整,导致第三季度税前营运利润减少3.50亿美元。这些套期保值原本是为了保护福特免遭大宗商品价格上涨的冲击;但事实上,目前大宗商品的价格下跌了。但在未来的季度中,福特汽车应能受益于大宗商品价格的普遍下跌。

    铜是另一个见证中国需求放缓的大宗商品市场,美国制造公司也将受益于此。今年迄今,铜价已经下跌了28%,最近几个月跌幅尤其显著。2010年12月铜价曾达到10,190美元/吨的高点,今年10月一度低至 6,600美元,目前略有反弹。

    Asia's top-performing economies have suffered in recent months as a slowdown in Europe and stalled growth in the United States hobbled key export markets. But there may be one silver-lining to Asia's hardship: prices for key commodities like oil and copper are likely to decline in coming months, helping the bottom line at many U.S. companies.

    When the World Bank released its latest projection for the Asian economy late last month, it said that growth in China is expected to decline to 9.1% this year, down from 10.6% in 2010. Growth is expected to continue to fall, reaching 8.4% in 2012 and stay at that level for the next several years, the bank said.

    "Because China has such a high demand for raw materials, when exports from China decline, that will be good news for U.S. companies," says Lei Chen, an economist at Wuhan University. "The growth rate in China is slowing down and that means we will be importing less commodities like oil, copper and iron ore. Prices will continue to come down."

    By how much is still up for debate. Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, a Winchester, Mass.-based petroleum research firm, predicts the price of crude oil could fall by about 20% by next summer, bring the price of a barrel of oil down to around $85 on world markets and $75 for WTI crude in the U.S. It's now at $96.

    "What we're seeing is a change in the supply situation, with Brazilian oil coming up, shale oil in the U.S. growing and Iraq and Libya looking very positive," Lynch says. "Combined with the bearish demand outlook from Asia, that is going to leave the market on the weak side."

    Not only will U.S. firms benefits from lower energy costs, Lynch says, but consumers will have more cash in their pockets thanks to lower gas prices, benefitting retailers across the country.

    As an example of how much commodity prices affect profits at big U.S. companies, Ford Motor (F) reported in October that pre-tax operating profit was reduced by $350 million in the third quarter because of adjustments to commodity hedges for future periods. The hedges would have protected Ford if commodity prices went up; instead they went down. But the company should benefit in future quarters from the cheaper commodity prices prevailing now.

    Copper is another area where a slowdown in China will help U.S. manufacturing firms. Copper prices are down 28% so far this year, falling dramatically in the last couple of months. The metal reached a high of $10,190 a ton in December 2010 and fell to $6,600 in October, from where it has rebounded marginally.

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