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China’s pork output in first half of 2019 falls amid swine fever

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A hired hand feeds a sow which recently gave birth to a new litter at the Grand Canal Pig Farm in Jiaxing, in China’s Zhejiang province.

STR | AFP | Getty Images

China’s pork output fell by less than expected in the first half as the country tackles a devastating disease outbreak, although official data showed conflicting figures on the size of the decline in the hog herd.

China produced 24.7 million tonnes of pork in the first six months of 2019, down 5.5% from a year earlier, according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics, amid a severe epidemic of African swine fever.

China’s hog herd — the world’s largest — declined 15% from a year ago to 347.61 million head, the bureau said, as pigs died from the virus and farmers held back from restocking.

But figures from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs on the same day said the herd had shrunk 25.8% in June from a year earlier, with the number of sows down 26.7%. The ministry does not publish total number of pigs.

Analysts were surprised at the fall in pork output, which showed the pace of decline little changed from 5.2 percent in the first quarter, even as swine fever has spread to every province in China.

“It’s much smaller than expected,” said Feng Yonghui, chief analyst at industry portal Soozhu.com. “The gap between this and the decline in pig herd is too big.”

Feng said pork output should have declined by more than 10%.

The number of slaughtered hogs in the first half fell 6.2% to 313.46 million head, the statistics bureau said.

Others have also questioned official data on China’s hog herd. Four people who supply large farms recently told Reuters as many as half of China’s sows have either died from African swine fever or been slaughtered because of the spreading disease.

African swine fever is not harmful to humans but kills almost all pigs it infects.

Live hog prices were steady through much of the second quarter but began rising “fiercely” in early June, said Feng. Average prices have hit 17.8 yuan ($2.59) per kilogram, up from 14.2 yuan at the end of May.

Retail pork prices reached 26.45 yuan per kg in the final week of June, up 33% on the year, according to weekly data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, but still some way off the record of 31.56 yuan in June 2016.

Rising pork prices are pushing overall food prices to their highest in years.

Beijing has urged poultry producers to boost output to help supplement the fall in pork production.

Output of poultry meat rose 5.6% in the first six months, while beef output increased 2.4% and lamb output rose 1.4%, the bureau said.

Total meat output including pork, beef, lamb and poultry fell 2.1% in the first half to 39 million tonnes.

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North Korea seen to have launched missile, Japan coast guard says

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North Korean leader Kim Jung-un inspects Galido outpost and Jangjedo defending force located in the far south of Southwest sea in North Korea in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 13, 2016.

KCNA | Reuters

North Korea was seen to have launched a missile, Japanese coast guard officials said Friday. The launch comes a week after another round of missile tests.

The Japanese Defense ministry confirmed to NBC that a projectile appears to have been launched from North Korea, but it has not reached Japanese territory or the Exclusive Economic Zone.

The Yonyap news agency, citing South Korean military, reported that North Korea fired two projectiles into the sea off its east coast. 

South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said North Korea fired them from around Sondok, South Hamgyong Province, according to Yonhap.

South Korea’s presidential office is holding a National Security Council meeting concerning North Korea’s projectile launch, the office said in a statement

Reuters and NBC News contributed to this report. 

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

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Bank of England Governor Mark Carney says trade war hurts confidence

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Mark Carney, Bank of England Governor, in an interview in Washington, D.C. on October 13, 2017.

Isabella Basco | CNBC

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said the world’s reliance on the U.S. dollar as a reserve currency is too risky and proposed a new digital currency to replace it.

“In a multi-polar world, you need a multi-polar currency,” he told CNBC’s Steve Liesman at the Federal Reserve’s annual conference in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Carney said a new digital currency based on a global basket of goods would provide equilibrium to a system where some countries have moved to zero or negative interest rates, while others, including the U.S., remain positive.

“The question is how do you get there,” he said. “You don’t just jump to something new over night.”

Carney also said the trade war is dampening business confidence around the world. Disruptions in supply chains in the auto, steel and technology sectors, for instance, and taking their toll even among nations that are not directly involved.

“Those effects are impacting all of the economies around the world,” he said. “Whether you’re directly involved or not it’s impinging on the outlook.

Carney, a banker and economist, was once thought to be the next head of the International Monetary Fund, but he didn’t get the required backing from European governments. He has headed England’s central bank since July 2013.

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Fed Vice Chair Clarida says the global economic outlook has worsened

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Federal Reserve Vice Chair Richard Clarida said Friday the global economy has deteriorated in the past month.

“Obviously, the global economy has worsened since our July meeting,” Clarida spoke to CNBC’s Steve Liesman on Friday from the Fed’s economic policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyo. “The global economy is slowing and there’s powerful disinflationary pressures.”

However, Clarida said the U.S. economy is “in a good place,” adding he doesn’t see a heightened recession risk.

“I think you have to look at a broad range of indicators, but the ones I focus on are not signalling an elevated risk of a recession,” Clarida said. “My guess is next year the economy will be at or above trend growth under appropriate policy.”

Stocks plunged on Friday as the high-stakes trade war between the U.S. and China deepened, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbling as much as 745 points. The critical spread between the 10-year Treasury yield and the 2-year yield also inverted amid the market turmoil, sending a recession warning.

Richard Clarida

Scott Mlyn | CNBC

China vowed to retaliate with tariffs on $75 billion more of U.S. goods and resume duties on American autos and components. President Donald Trump struck back at China’s countermeasure, saying he’s ordering American companies to immediately start looking for an alternative to China.

Trump also lashed out at Fed Chairman Jerome Powell yet again, this time questioning whether he is a “bigger enemy” to the U.S. than Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Powell said in his annual remarks at the symposium that the global economic outlook “has been deteriorating ” and there is no “rulebook” on trade wars. He promised that the Fed “will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion.”

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