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Japan PM Fights for Political Survival

CNBC Asia Pacific
Thursday, 26 Aug 2010 | 7:18 AM ET

This is a transcript of top stories presented by China's CCTV Business Channel as produced by CNBC Asia Pacific.

Hello to our viewers all over China.

You're watching Asia Market Daily, co-produced by CCTV Business Channel and CNBC, first in business worldwide.

I am Saijal Patel and here are the top stories across Asia this Thursday.

First stop in Japan, where the Prime Minister will have to fight for his job next month when the ruling party holds its leadership election.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan will face a leadership contest from his party's most powerful politician, undermining a two-month-old administration that's struggling to combat deflation and a surging currency.

Senior law maker, Ichiro Ozawa says he will run against Kan.

Former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has pledged support for Ozawa.

The challenge comes as Japan grapples with a slowing economy and a stronger Yen, and the government looks set to throw it a much needed lifeline.

The Nikkei reports that the government will call on the Bank of Japan to ease monetary policy further when it outlines a draft stimulus plan at the end of this month. That's sooner than originally planned.

(SOT) Johanna Chua, Chief Economist, Asia Pacific, Citi

"There's a lot of expectations that there could be an emergency meeting sometime before the next monetary policy meeting on September 6 and 7 where BOJ may do something. We've seen some news about further liquidity provision and more term funding. There's also been talk about some supplementary budget. But having said that, given the fiscal constraint of Japan, I really don't think they can do that much fiscal stimulus at this point."

BOJ's governor Shirakawa is currently en route to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where he will attend the Fed meetings.

Top of the agenda -- holding back the yen.

And now on to Asian financial markets.

Stocks mostly gained - despite growing worries about U.S. growth.

Latest data show extremely weak economic numbers.

Durable goods orders minus the volatile transportation sector tumbled 4% in July.

New home sales are now at their lowest on record.

Those numbers fueled concerns the U.S. economy could be headed for a double dip.

We'll find out just how weak the economy is on Friday with a revised reading of Q2 GDP numbers.

Forecasts have been revised down to growth of 1.5%, that's from the Commerce department's first estimate of 2.4%.

(SOT) Len Blum, Managing Director, Westwood Capital

"What's probably the most likely outcome is very slow growth, which is going to feel like a recession, because very slow growth. If you don't burn off the high end employment and all the bad things that happen because of the recession, and you don't get the capital spending
that gives you the velocity to move forward. So, that's very probable, but there's also the possibility of a double dip."

Asian markets mostly shrugged off the weak U.S. economic data and marched on to positive ground.

In Japan the benchmark Nikkei 225 clawed up from 16 months low to close the day up by 0.7 percent.

Stocks climbed for the first time in five days as the yen pulled away from 15 month highs against the U.S. dollar.

Over in South Korea, KOSPI finished lower by 0.3 percent weighed down by crude oil refiners and banking stocks.

A media report of a visit by North Korean leader, Kim Jong-Il to China did lift sentiment at one point, but not enough to break away from losses.

Further south in Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.8 percent.

The market buoyed by a series of positive corporate earnings that beat expectations.

Santos is the standout -- with a 94 percent jump in its first half net profits.

Woolworths, Amcor and Fortescue Metals saw their full year numbers beat expectations.

While Virgin Blue, Australia's second-largest airline had full-year earnings swing back to profit.

Meantime, BHP has come out to say it's not ruling out a higher bid for Canada's Potash, but promises it will not overpay for the world's biggest fertilizer maker despite talk of competing offers, but the company promises it won't overspend.

The Australian miner dampens expectations it will sweeten its $39 billion hostile takeover bid for Potash Corp.

(SOT) Marius Kloppers, CEO, BHP Billiton

"Potash Corp's assets would further diversify us. It is a product that we feel has got a lot of room ahead of it. We would like to own this company. But you know, we're always going to be disciplined and think about our shareholders, our own shareholders value first of all."

Potash Corp had rejected last week's $130-a-share bid from BHP, but analysts think it's fairly priced.

(SOT) Todd Horwitz, Chief Strategist, Adam Mesh Trading Group

"I think right now it's an extremely fair price, base on at $350 metric ton, that will come up to $145 a share, that would be right. It looks like this is going to grow further, and there's talk that the fertilizer will grow to $500 a metric ton which will make Potash worth over $200 a share. There's been talk that maybe Rio Tinto, or some of the other one or maybe Monsanto could step up. But, right now, they certainty have the upper hand based on the fact that they are going to pay for in cash."

A new round of tightening seems to be happening in China.

Agbank will reportedly stop all lending to property developers for the rest of the month according to Reuters.

That's not a directive from regulators but Agbank's own initiative.

The aim -- safeguard its loan-to-deposit ratio and lending is likely to resume only in September.

The move by China's third largest lender could lead to a new round of tightening for the property sector.

And earlier this morning, the CEO of global consultancy Stratfor told Squawk Box there are numerous problems dogging China, which could cause the economy to collapse within the next decade.

(SOT) George Friedman, CEO, Stratfor

"They are hiding very low rates of return on capital, hiding a banking system that was lending money to cover bad loans. and hiding a massive bubble in its real estate market. So China and Japan are extremely comparable. I think one of the reasons Western observers make and looking at countries in Asia is looking at the growth rate and thinking that represents health."

One of the intended theme on the balancing act in China is to rely less on selling stuff to the whole world and generating more internal demand.

One company is doing just that - focusing on the domestic market.

Chinese department store chain PCD Stores recently came out with its first half numbers for this year, with revenue rising 17.3 percent to $62 million.

PCD says it is optimistic about its business outlook going forward and sees growth being driven by the high-end and luxury market despite the government's tightening measures.

(SOT) Alfred Chan, Chairman, PCD Stores

"We are seeing not just in the major cities, not just Beijing, also in the inner cities like Guizhou and so on, and I think this spending boom for affluent Chinese will last quite a while longer. The Chinese economy is a very diversified economy, property and the real estate market is only one of the many channels of wealth formation. You can look at the manufacturing the retail segment, and investment banking segment. I think all these are opportunity to create wealth for the population."

Well, that wraps up today's business highlights.

I'm Saijal Patel from CNBC.

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