China Makes Nice With Neighbors

By Justin Sharon  DEC 23, 2009 4:59 AM

World in Your Hands: An Overseas Update


Japan's Nikkei was closed today for the Emperor's Birthday, but there is no keeping China off the airwaves. Newspapers this morning are reporting on how the mainland and Taiwan are edging towards a contentious free trade agreement. Whether offering olive branches to its next door neighbors or cozying up with commodity cash cows continents away in Africa and Caracas, Beijing knows where its economic bread is buttered. By contrast, a tougher stance is being taken in its relations with both Europe and America even as we speak. The decade is ending, as it began, with China's role in the financial firmament hogging the headlines. This secular play is here to stay and American investors have a variety of options to capitalize, from closed end vehicles including The China Fund to single stocks such as China Life Insurance (LFC).

Speaking of China, it recently overtook the U.S. as the world's biggest automaker. Thus this news about Ford (F) selling its Volvo unit to a Chinese car company should come as no surprise.

You can now add heart drugs to cuckoo clocks and chocolate. Comes news this Wednesday that Swiss drug maker Novartis (NVS) is paying $120 million to buy a privately held U.S. biopharmaceutical firm called Corthera. The amount seems ample compensation for access to potential riches in "decompensated heart failure."

Decoupling is deemed to have decamped elsewhere. Not long ago it was all the rage but to see European markets reaching 14 month highs a day after our own exchanges did exactly the same is an eerie echo. Seems when we sneeze, the rest of the world still catches a cold and contrarily, America's relative return to financial health remains the best barometer for how overseas countries are faring.     

Unfortunately the high profile abduction in Columbia mentioned yesterday has ended in tragic circumstances. The rewards of investing in Latin America are real - and attracted Maria's attention only 24 hours ago - but its risks also loom large. Very large.  
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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