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Ratings agencies see China slowing down

Moderation comes as investors keep close tabs on the balance between oil supply and demand.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Ratings agencies see China slowing down
With investors watching supply and demand on the oil market, ratings agency point to moderation in the Chinese economy. File photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

BEIJING, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- As investors watch carefully the balance between oil supply and demand, ratings agencies said the Chinese economy was on pace to moderate in 2017.

Twin crashes on the Chinese stock market at the start of this year added momentum to a plummet in crude oil prices. Oil prices at one point this year dropped below $30 per barrel before an OPEC production agreement helped put a floor under crude.

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Moody's Investors Service one year ago "sharply" lowered its assumptions for oil prices for 2016 as production far outweighed consumption levels. In late December 2015, Goldman Sachs said crude oil prices may need to hit $20 per barrel before a balance between supply and demand returns.

Moody's said Monday that restructuring within Chinese corporate sectors meant one of the world's leading economies was starting to face headwinds. Christine Kuo, a senior vice president at Moody's, said the ratings agency was operating on the assumption that Chinese gross domestic product drops from 6.7 percent during the first three quarters of this year to 6.3 percent in 2017.

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"Fitch Ratings' outlook for the Chinese banking sector in 2017 is negative, reflecting our view that weak profitability and strong credit growth will keep capitalization under pressure," that ratings agency said in a separate statement.

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According to economists with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Chinese GDP will average 6.7 percent growth for 2016 and 6.2 percent in 2017. OPEC said the amount of crude oil held in storage in China increased slightly this year as the country diverted more oil into its strategic reserves. Higher oil prices, meanwhile, have discouraged China from importing more oil for storage, even as demand picks up.

The latest report from S&P Global Platts finds some signs of a decline in Chinese oil demand coming on the back of economic slowdown.

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OPEC last week agreed to curb production in an effort to pull the markets back into the balance. The cutback is about the same as what OPEC expects in demand growth.

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