China, the world's top oil importer, rising to the top, investment firm reports

The United States has lived beyond its means, leaving China to challenge the No. 1 spot in the global economy.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Oct. 3, 2017 at 9:34 AM
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Oct. 3 (UPI) -- China, the largest importer of oil in the world, is on pace to challenge U.S. dominance after years of heavy spending from Washington, a commodities group said.

Danish investment firm Saxo Bank said in an emailed report that China is trying to increase its leverage by putting more of its currency into global trade flows. That comes as the value of the U.S. dollar continues to lose ground against other currencies.

"China is the world's largest oil importer and a successful transition to transacting oil in yuan and maintaining a stable currency would be a first key step towards the long-term deepening of Chinese capital markets and importing the global demand for its currency," John Hardy, the head of foreign exchange strategy at Saxo Bank, said.

On currency values, the U.S. dollar is on pace to decline further through the fourth quarter, while currencies like the euro gain ground. The value of the U.S. currency influences internationally traded commodities like gold and crude oil. When the value falls, commodity prices increase because more dollars are required to purchase the same quantity as when the value was higher.

Igor Sechin, the head of Russian oil producer Rosneft, said recently that the decline in the value of the U.S. dollar was having a greater impact on the price of oil than the effort by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to balance the market with coordinated production declines.

The price for Brent crude oil spiked 11 percent in September.

China has the second largest economy in the world after the United States. In a September report, the Asian Development Bank said Chinese growth in the first half of the year was stronger than expected. Expansion of 6.7 percent is expected this year, an increase of 0.2 percent from the previous forecast. By contrast, The Conference Board said the U.S. economy should grow by about 2.7 percent for the rest of the year.

The latest second quarter estimate from the U.S. Commerce Department found real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the second quarter, the strongest level in years. In a nod to efforts by President Donald Trump to favor the domestic side, the department attributed the GDP growth to a deceleration in imports and an upturn in federal government spending.

"As the world's largest economy and owner of the world's global reserve currency, the United States has, for better or worse, lived beyond its means as it exported currency to the rest of the world in the form of treasury debt," Saxo Bank's report read. "Now, a rising China is eyeing the benefits of having its own currency play a larger role and to supplant the U.S. dollar's role in global trade."

The ADB said growth across the region was supported by stronger trade levels. Using the value of the U.S. dollar as a metric, the bank said the regional export value increased 11 percent during the first five months of the year when compared with the same period in 2016. That follows two straight years of a contraction in export values.

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