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    China GDP: five things to watch

    China’s National Bureau of Statistics will release its estimate for first-quarter gross domestic product growth on Friday, with banner figures expected one year after the Covid-19 pandemic brought the world’s second-largest economy to a halt.The country recorded a historic year-on-year contraction of almost 7 per cent in the first quarter of 2020, setting the stage for a dramatic rebound this year. Exports in March were the most recent example of this “low base” effect, soaring more than 30 per cent compared with the same month last year, when China was under lockdown to contain coronavirus.Here are five things to look out for in Friday’s release.How big will the first-quarter bounce be?Larry Hu, chief China economist at Macquarie, said first-quarter economic output was “on track to [expand] 18 per cent” year on year.But this “first into the pandemic, first out” momentum will slow over the rest of 2021. China’s economy grew 6.5 per cent in the fourth quarter and 2.3 per cent for the entire year — making it the only major economy to expand in 2020.Premier Li Keqiang announced a full-year growth target of “at least 6 per cent” at the annual session of the National People’s Congress, China’s rubber-stamp parliament, held last month in Beijing. Why not aim higher?Chinese financial officials, led by Liu He, vice-premier and the country’s most powerful financial official, are eager to rein in some of the stimulus measures that cushioned the economy but also reversed their success in stabilising China’s overall debt levels.Liu’s team is determined to restore financial discipline. It has refused to embrace the “helicopter money” and other demand-side stimulus measures unleashed by major western economies such as the US.The seriousness of their intent was highlighted in February, when the People’s Bank of China quietly instructed domestic and foreign lenders to keep first-quarter new loan growth flat compared with the same period last year.Will they succeed?Issuing diktats to China’s state-controlled banking system is often ineffective, even for powerful officials such as Liu.President Xi Jinping has declared that “homes are for living in, not speculating on”, and China’s top banking regulator has singled out the property sector as the economy’s biggest “grey rhino” risk to stability.But the country’s property boom has not abated. Real estate-related investment and loan growth were up 38 per cent and 14 per cent year-on-year in the January-February period, respectively.Steel production also increased 6 per cent last year to a record 1.1bn tonnes. Government efforts to rein in the sector, which has exacerbated air pollution levels across northern China this spring, led to higher prices, which spurred more production.Will consumption and services rebound?China’s impressive economic recovery last year was driven by surging industrial production, while retail sales remained relatively weak. The service sector also bore the brunt of the pandemic.This is the opposite of what Beijing would like to see, as it tries to rebalance the economy away from credit-fuelled industrial activity towards consumption. But this is proving to be very difficult. China recorded consumer price deflation in November of minus 0.5 per cent for the first time in more than 10 years.What other constraints does Beijing face as it tries to rein in the recovery?Xi’s administration does not want to apply the brakes too hard ahead of the centennial of the Chinese Communist party’s founding, which will be celebrated on July 1.“The party will do ‘whatever it takes’ to prevent a downturn in the economy or a bad slump in the stock market from spoiling the run-up to [the] celebrations,” said Diana Choyleva at Enodo Economics. “After that, a renewed emphasis on reducing China’s debt burden will lead to tighter policy and liquidity conditions.” More

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    WTO chief lays out global action to increase vaccine access

    Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who became WTO director-general in March, called a closed-door meeting of producers, governments and others over inequitable access, with low-income countries administering just 0.2% of 700 million global doses.In her concluding remarks, Okonjo-Iweala said that concerns over cross-border supply chains, including export curbs and shortages of skilled personnel, had reinforced her view that the WTO must play a central role in the response to the pandemic.”In the coming weeks and months, we expect concrete follow-up action. These issues are not easy, but the political will and engagement from the private sector displayed today, suggests it is possible,” she said.WTO members, she said, needed to reduce export restrictions and work to ease logistics and customs procedures.They should also advance negotiations on a proposal by India and South Africa and backed by over 80 WTO members, to temporarily waive intellectual property (IP) rights of pharmaceutical companies.WTO members have discussed the issue eight times, without a breakthrough.Western nations argue protecting IP rights encourages research and that suspending those rights would not yield a sudden surge of vaccine supply.Okonjo-Iweala said she hoped a common goal would bring parties to the middle and find a solution acceptable to all.The WTO head urged vaccine makers to increase technology transfer to bring in new manufacturing capacity and to be transparent on contracts and pricing. Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech, Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) and AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) are among those producing the shots.U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told attendees the gaping divide between developed and developing countries’ access to medicines, seen previously during the AIDS crisis, was “completely unacceptable” and could not be repeated.”As governments and leaders of international institutions, the highest standards of courage and sacrifice are demanded of us in times of crisis. The same needs to be demanded of industry,” she said, adding that the “market has once again failed in meeting the health needs of developing countries.”The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said Tai’s comments were unfair given the rapid development of multiple vaccines over the past year, big boosts in production, and over 260 partnership agreements already in place for production and distribution.”Industry has been doing its part by investing in R&D for many decades,” said Patrick Kilbride, senior vice president of the Chamber’s Global Innovation Policy Center, adding that Tai “threw the industry under the bus” with her statement.He said the debate over the IP waiver was a distraction from the bigger problem of ensuring ways to quickly distribute and administer the vaccines in developing countries. The Chamber argues that waiving IP rights could allow China and other countries to unfairly benefit from U.S. development efforts. More

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    Price analysis 4/14: BTC, ETH, BNB, XRP, ADA, DOT, UNI, LTC, DOGE, LINK

    Sharp (OTC:SHCAY) movements in the price of Bitcoin (BTC) could also result in liquidations of leveraged positions in the derivatives market. The massive $27 billion in Bitcoin futures open interest and $8 billion in Ether (ETH) futures open interest indicate that a spike in volatility could chop several traders.Continue Reading on Coin Telegraph More

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    German software developer donated $1.2M in 'undeserved' Bitcoin to political party

    According to Hamburg-based news outlet Die Zeit, Moritz Schmidt, a software developer from the northeastern town of Greifswald, has sent one million euro — roughly $1.2 million — to Germany’s green party, known as The Greens or Alliance 90. A party spokesperson said Schmidt had made significant gains during the Bitcoin (BTC) bull run but wanted to contribute to causes related to environmental and climate protection rather than HODLing his crypto. Continue Reading on Coin Telegraph More

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    Hackers move 10,000 blacklisted BTC from 2016 exploit

    A combined 10,057 BTC valued at over $620 million moved today after being largely inactive since 2016. In the past hour, a total of 63 Bitcoin transfers between 50 BTC and 1,241.37 BTC have been reported by Whale Alerts. So far, the largest transaction was approximately 1,241.37 BTC, which is over $78 million at current market prices.The first transfer of 300 BTC was detected by the blockchain bot at 17:06:28 UTC. Coincidentally, the hacker began moving funds right at the heel of the Coinbase exchange listing on Nasdaq. The hacker has been largely silent since November 2020.As a backstory, the hacker(s) stole a whopping 120,000 BTC from Bitfinex in August 2016. The hacker has been struggling ever since to sell the blacklisted funds. In 2020, the hacker tried to dispose of 736 BTC via a Russian darknet market.According to several industry players, it will be almost impossible for the hacker to sell the stolen coins since no major exchange will accept the funds. Meanwhile, Bitfinex offered a $400 million reward last year for returning the stolen funds.Continue reading on BTC Peers More