Hong Kong Posts HK$71.3 Billion Surplus for 2010/2011

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

A big hello to our viewers across China. I'm Saijal Patel and you're watching "Asia Market Daily".

The price of oil is hovering near 2.5 year highs, as the turmoil in the Middle East and Africa intensifies.

Libya has declared force majeure on shipments from some of its ports, disrupting the country's oil product exports.

In an attempt to dampen concerns, top oil exporter Saudi Arabia says OPEC is always ready to pump more oil, but added that step would only be taken when needed.

Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister says prices are currently being driven by fear.

But analysts say the concern is warranted, now that the unrest has spread further.

(SOT) Andre Julian, CFO and Senior Market Strategist, OpVest Wealth Management:
If you look back, go back in time a month ago, and you see it started in Tunisia, it went over to Egypt, and it spread over the Libya. And when it was in Tunisia and Egypt the concern was minor. But now that it's in the actual oil producing nations I think that there's a lot of issues that a lot of people have to understand about that region.

Andre Julian of OpVest Wealth Management warns we could be set for "some major problems in the Middle East" - which could threaten oil supplies.

(SOT) Andre Julian, CFO and Senior Market Strategist, OpVest Wealth Management:
You see the upheaval right now is from the Shiites and they actually work in the oil producing areas in Saudi Arabia, which is controlled by the Sunnis. Well if there's an upheaval there, and all of a sudden production is cut and stopped in Saudi Arabia, well how are they going to make up for the lack of production in Libya.

Meantime, Hong Kong has posted a budget surplus of HK$71.3 billion for the 2010/2011 financial year.

The surplus was remarkably better than the official government forecast of a consolidated deficit of 25.3 billion.

Financial Secretary John Tsang says the sharp turnaround was thanks to strong land sales income.

But his annual budget address was overshadowed by a lawmaker, who started throwing fruit at him during his speech.

And some analysts are feeling just as unimpressed with the latest budget measures - which include boosting land supply, and giving subsidies on electricity bills.

(SOT) Uwe Parpart, Chief Economist and Strategist for Asia, Cantor Fitzgerald:
There doesn't seem to be a real strategic framework. It's very reactive, and at the same time, strangely enough, still through the one-off measures, like relief for electricity bills and all the rest of it, actually presenting an expansionary budget at a time when inflation is really the key issue, as he himself said. So this is really quite a contradictory message I think.

And we also got figures out today showing the Hong Kong economy grew 6.8 percent in 2010.

John Tsang says an overall improvement in trade conditions - and economic integration with mainland China - helped boost GDP.

Tsang expects growth to moderate this year, to between 4 and 5 percent.

Elsewhere, the official death toll from yesterday's 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch has now reached 75 - and is expected to continue rising.

A state of emergency has been declared in the city, where thousands have been left homeless.

Prime Minister John Key says the economic cost of the quake will be more than NZ$4 billion.

He also added he can't rule out JP Morgan's estimate of a $16 billion damage bill.

Economists warn the tremor could prompt the central bank to cut interest rates, to prop up the economy.

(SOT) Gavin Stacey, Director, Australia and New Zealand Rates Strategy, Barclays Capital:

Clearly it's unknown the extent of the impact of the earthquake. But you certainly would expect a near term downturn in economic activity. The Canterbury region is around roughly 15 percent of Kiwi GDP. So yeah we'd expect something negative near term.

Gavin Stacey of Barclays Capital says the question now is whether the disaster will hamper New Zealand's economic recovery.

(SOT) Gavin Stacey, Director, Australia and New Zealand Rates Strategy, Barclays Capital:
The key issue there is, does this second earthquake in close succession to the first one. Does it negatively impact consumer and business confidence, and therefore elongate the economic slowdown.

Thanks for watching today's "Asia Market Daily".

I'm Saijal Patel from CNBC.

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