In Brief – N.7 – February 22, 2015

China’s largest nuclear power plant operator, China National Nuclear Corporation, will export its third-generation technology to Argentina under a new bilateral agreement worth nearly $13 billion. This is the first time for China to export nuclear technology to Latin America.

The total trade volume of China‘s foreign trade stood at $341.16 billion in December 2014, down 10.8 percent year on year, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said.

“It is the irrevocable decision of our government to honor the mandate of the Greek people and negotiate an end to the European Union’s austerity,” reaffirmed Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. “We need an honest negotiation with our partners that does not condemn the Greek economy and society to unending recession,” added Tsipras.

China‘s January 2015 inflation hit a five-year low, with the CPI rising just 0.8 percent from a year before, adding pressure on policymakers to inject more stimulus to underpin growth.

“I don’t see (the problems of the euro area) being resolved without Greece leaving the Eurozone,” former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said. “It’s just a matter of time before everyone recognizes that parting is the best strategy.”

As producers take an axe to their spending, the IEA wrote, oil supply will grow far more slowly than previously projected, but global capacity is still forecast to expand by 5.2 million barrels per day by 2020.

In 2015, world oil demand is projected to rise by 1.17 mb/d slightly higher than in the previous OPEC monthly oil market report, mainly to reflect expectations of an uptick in oil requirements in OECD Americas.

Despite some supply disruptions and security threats, Iraq was the second-leading contributor to global oil supply growth in 2014, behind only the US. Iraq accounted for almost 60% of production growth among the OPEC.

Apple set Wall Street record and became the first company worth over $700 billion, twice as big as Google. Several analysts said Carl Icahn may be right finally since he said Apple’s stock (now at $122) is worth more $200.

“I strongly support the G20‘s call for action to implement the policy commitments of the Brisbane Action Plan which can raise global growth by at least 2 percent and create millions of new jobs over the next four years,” said IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde.

Through a new Clean Energy Investment Initiative, the Obama Administration seeks to catalyze $2 billion of expanded private-sector investment in solutions to climate change, including innovative technologies with breakthrough potential to reduce carbon pollution.

According to Reuters, New York’s financial regulator has sent subpoenas to Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, BNP Paribas and Société Générale, expanding its probe into the possible rigging of foreign exchange rates through computer programs, people familiar with the matter said.

Tesla Motors missed sales targets and racked up a fourth-quarter 2014 loss of $107.6 million. However Elon Musk said all is well and predicted brighter days in 2015.

Can a Finance Minister celebrated like a pop star help Greece solve her debt issues? That is the question Deutsche Welle tried to answer about Yanis Varoufakis, a “minister of uncommon elan.”

China-Russia cooperation will play an important role in the world’s development of satellite navigation, according to the first meeting of the China-Russia related Committee.

US exports in 2014 set a record for the fifth consecutive year, reaching $2.35 trillion, up more than $760 billion since 2009. In 2014, the largest export markets for U.S. goods were Canada, Mexico, and China.

An experimental vehicle to develop an autonomous European reentry capability for future reusable space transportation has completed its mission, announced the ESA.

Germany‘s economy increased by a robust 0.7 percent in the last quarter of 2014, well above forecasts, totaling a +1.6% increase for the whole year of 2014 while France continued to weaken only increasing 0.1% in the last quarter of 2014 and rising by 0.4% over the year 2014, official data showed.

Bad news for legendary investor Warren Buffett who could be losing up to $780 million since Costco will stop accepting American Express (AmEx) next year. According to the Wall Street Journal, Costco cards account for one out of every 10 AmEx cards in circulation.

ArcelorMittal Europe reported 122 million euros operating profit for Q4 2014. “For 2015, we are forecasting steel demand growth of 1.5 to 2.5%, for Europe, with the effects of a weak Euro and low oil prices helping to boost confidence within the Eurozone,” CEO Aditya Mittal said.

The Kaspersky Lab study Financial Cyberthreats in 2014 reports that 28.8% of phishing attacks in 2014 were intended to steal financial data from users. While carrying out their scams, cybercriminals have shifted their focus from bank brands to payment systems and online shopping sites.

“Now prices are in the direction of conventional electricity. This is a game changer,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said about solar power. “We have no option but to make a quantum leap in (solar) energy production and connectivity,” Modi added.

The recovery in China’s property market remains fragile, said Bloomberg Business, with new-home prices rising in only one of 70 cities tracked by the government last month and recording their biggest year-on-year decline ever.

“It’s not a bluff, because it’s the only option we have,” Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said of his government’s position after refusing the terms of the rescue deal from the Eurozone and the IMF. “It’s plan A, there is no plan B,” Varoufakis added.

Islamic State (IS) activists have sabotaged one of Libya’s most important oil pipelines, said French and Lybian officials, connecting the El Sarir field – the country’s largest with reserves of around 12bn bbl – to the port of Hariga.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde said the IMF team in Kiev has reached agreement with the Ukrainian government on a new economic reform program that would be supported by an IMF loan of about $17.5 billion, and by other resources from the international community.

Brent crude oil prices slipped below $59 a barrel, said Reuters, after another big weekly build in US crude inventories and a possible rise in Saudi output stoked worries about oversupply.

“The weak growth dynamics in the euro area over recent quarters had mainly reflected weak investment, mirroring continued weak corporate profits, (…) and concerns about the growth outlook in a context of weakening reform momentum in a number of euro area countries,” said chief economist Peter Praet in the latest account of the ECB’s monetary policy meeting.

Greece is determined not to be “treated as a debt colony that should suffer what it must. The principle of the greatest austerity for the most depressed economy would be quaint if it did not cause so much unnecessary suffering,” Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis wrote in a New York Times op-ed.

Germany has rejected a request by Athens to extend its 172 billion euros bailout. “The letter from Athens is not a substantive proposal for a solution, (…) the text does not meet the conditions agreed on Monday in the eurogroup,” Martin Jäger, a spokesman for Germany’s finance ministry said.