According to a new report on global arms sales, China has surpassed the United kingdom as the world's fifth-largest exporter of weapons. Issued Monday by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the report shows that Chinese arms exports rose some 162 percent between 2008 and 2012, mainly due to escalating orders from Pakistan. The news marks the first time China has been in the top five of global arms exporters since the end of the Cold War, and is the first time England has fallen outside of the top five since SIPRI began issuing the report in 1950.
Peoria, Illinois-based Caterpillar Inc issued its second-quarter results Wednesday, posting a surprise 67 percent increase in profit from the same period a year earlier while also expressing optimism about the rest of this year and the start of 2013. “We're playing for growth,” noted CEO Doug Olberhelman, even though a number of analysts expressed concern about the effect a looming global slowdown would have on the world's largest producer of construction and mining equipment. Caterpillar's quarterly results are often viewed as a bellwether for the overall economy because they are impacted by weakness in many areas of the industrial sector.
In a troubling sign for the global economy, the Chinese Bureau of Statistics on Friday reported that the powerhouse economy grew at its slowest pace since early in 2009, near the height of the global recession. The agency said the Chinese economy, second largest in the world behind the US, grew 7.6 percent in the second quarter, down from a growth pace of 8.1 percent in the January to March period. While a 7.6 percent expansion clip sounds massive in the US, whose economic growth came in at just 2 percent in the second quarter. But China's economy has surged at an average of 10 percent for some thirty years.
The US Federal Reserve announced on Thursday it has given its approval to three Chinese banking firms to increase their operations in the US by becoming holding companies through the purchase of American banks or the opening of a new branch. The move is believed to be the first time a Chinese institution has gotten approval to acquire a bank in the US, and experts say it could spur an increase in M&A activity as Chinese firms begin looking to get a foot in the door of the lucrative US banking sector while they know it's open.
General Motors announced on Monday it will open 600 new dealerships in the Chinese market this year, nearly doubling its production in an effort to regain momentum in the world's largest market for auto sales. China is easily the world's largest area for automakers but sales growth has slowed from 35 percent growth from 2010 to 2011 to a year-over-year increase of just 2 percent in the first quarter. Demand for vehicles in China, analysts say, has been tempered somewhat by government action aimed at slowing economic growth in the world' second-largest economy.
According to a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the US economy has joined Japan's and China's economies as the biggest drivers of global economic growth in the world. Europe's economy remains stagnant, dealing with a sovereign debt crisis, while emerging economies continued to grow, according to the OECD report, issued Tuesday. The group's index of leading economic indicators showed that the economy has grown for five straight months in the US through February, and has grown for four straight months in China.
China's National Bureau of Statistics reported on Monday that inflation in the world's second-largest economy accelerated in March, though it remained below the nation's annual target rate. The report showed that consumer prices rose 3.6 percent year-over-year last month, slightly higher than the 3.2 percent inflation rate in the previous month but below the government's target rate of 4 percent and just over half of the inflation rate of 6.5 percent seen last July, which set a new three-year high at the time.
Starbucks unveiled an ambitious growth strategy for the Chinese market on Tuesday which involves increasing its number of stores from 500 to 1,500 by 2015. In just two years, Starbucks believes that China will become the world's biggest market for coffee drinks behind the US. The world's largest coffee house chain has already enjoyed tremendous growth in the Chinese market, opening an average of one new store every four days last year, exceeding the expectations of even its most bullish prognosticators.
It's been a rough few months for ExxonMobil. Two months ago, the massive oil company lost its place as the world's most valuable company when tech giant Apple Inc surpassed it for good in market capitalization. The two companies had jockeyed back and forth for several months prior, but Apple's market cap is now more than $150 billion more than Exxon's. On Thursday, Exxon was dealt another status blow when China's PetroChina announced that it produced 2.4 million barrels of oil a day last year, bumping Exxon to second in terms of daily production among publicly traded oil companies.
Cessna Aircraft Co. announced on Friday it has reached an agreement with Chinese state-owned Aviation Corp. of China and the municipal government of China's western province of Chengdu to begin building business jets in the country. Based in Chengdu, the new joint venture will produce midsize Cessna jets at the onset, with discussions being held about adding new models to the venture in the future.