China's imports grow 17.6% in September, missing expectations


CNBC 12 October, 2021 - 10:53pm 21 views

BEIJING — China reported disappointing growth in imports in September, while exports beat expectations, according to data released Wednesday by the customs agency.

Imports in U.S. dollar terms rose 17.6% last month from a year ago to $240 billion. That's less than the 20% estimated by analysts polled by Reuters.

China's sales of goods to other countries remained a bright spot for the economy. Exports in U.S. dollar terms surged 28.1% year-on-year in September to $305.74 billion, beating the 21% growth figure expected by the Reuters poll.

China's trade surplus with the U.S. rose to a monthly record of $42 billion — exports surged by about 30% from a year ago, while imports climbed by just under 17%. The U.S. remained China's largest trade partner on a single-country basis.

The volume of Chinese imports of soybeans, of which the U.S. is the largest supplier, fell 30% in September from a year ago, although the value in U.S. dollar terms rose by about 10%.

China's imports of coal and related products surged 76% from a year ago in September to 32.9 million tons — the highest monthly level since December. The value of those coal imports more than tripled year-on-year to $3.91 billion.

Prices for thermal coal, the primary fuel for electricity production, have more than doubled this year, according to futures traded on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange. A shortage of coal has forced power cuts at factories, and prompted authorities to call for more coal imports, including from Russia.

Chinese imports of natural gas rose 21.8% year-on-year to 10.6 million tons in September, at a value that more than doubled to $5.19 billion.

However, purchases of crude oil declined by 15.2% from a year ago to 41.1 million tons last month, while the value of those imports surged by 35%. The U.S. was the largest producer of crude oil last year, and China was the top destination for U.S. exports of the commodity, accounting for 15% according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

A breakdown of China's coal imports by country wasn't available as of midday Wednesday.

Australia was once China's largest source of imported thermal coal. But China stopped its purchases of Australian coal in late 2020 as political tensions escalated after Australia supported an investigation into how Beijing handled the coronavirus pandemic.

Customs data Wednesday showed Chinese imports from Australia surged about 50% year-on-year to $15.04 billion in September, while exports climbed nearly 24% year-on-year to about $6 billion.

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Netflix gets Walmart to sell merchandise from 'Squid Game' and other shows

Reuters 11 October, 2021 - 11:59am

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Netflix Inc. will sell merchandise from several of its most popular shows on Walmart Inc.’s website, the largest deal the streaming service has ever made with a national retailer.

Walmart will sell toys from Netflix’s kids' show “Cocomelon,” baking kits from its reality franchise “Nailed It!” and t-shirts from its latest hit, “Squid Game.” Many of the items sold will be exclusive to Walmart. The partnership starts with seven shows and could expand over time, Netflix said.

After years of focusing all its energies on driving customers to its streaming service, Netflix is trying to turn its most popular shows into franchises that span merchandise, in-person experiences and video games. The company is betting that a sweatshirt or a festival will help market its service and create a more lasting connection between its customers and individual programs. 

Netflix created a shopping boutique earlier this year focused at a young, urban clientele. The partnership with Walmart is aimed at middle- and working-class families. While the “Nailed IT!” kits are in physical stores, most of the items will only be available online at first.

“They serve over 150 million customers a week and have more than 125 million monthly visitors on,” John Simon, Netflix’s VP of consumer products, said in an email. Simon joined Netflix last year to accelerate its consumer products business.

A relative newcomer in Hollywood, Netflix trails most of its biggest competitors when it comes to selling merchandise for its biggest shows. The company has dabbled in toys and other merchandise around “Stranger Things” and a couple of other shows.

Some rivals and partners have questioned whether Netflix’s binge release model, in which shows are released all at once, will limit sales. It’s easier for a kids’ TV show to drive toy sales when it is on every day or every week.

Netflix hadn’t focused much on the business line until recently, concentrating instead on developing TV shows and movies all around the world to draw new customers outside the U.S. The Walmart deal is a sign of its growing ambitions and the willingness of major retailers to work with the company.

One of Netflix’s biggest competitors in streaming video is Amazon, which is the biggest threat to Walmart in retail.

 “Walmart is now the official one-stop shop to bring you favorite Netflix series home,” Jeff Evans, an executive VP in charge of entertainment and toys at Walmart in the U.S., wrote in a blog post.

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