Body blow for mining heavyweights as China growth expected to slow to near decade low

The mining sector's bellwether companies were all beaten down on Monday after China's premier Wen Jiabao delivered a downbeat outlook for the world's second largest economy adding that there were "new problems" to deal with.

China will grow by 7.5% this year Jiabao said at the opening of the country's parliamentary session adding that the economy is experiencing "downward pressure" and that "internationally, the road to global economic recovery will be tortuous, the global financial crisis is still evolving and some countries will find it hard to ease the sovereign debt crisis any time soon."

China recorded GDP growth of 9.2% in 2011 and annual growth has averaged 10.4% since 2001, peaking in 2007 at 13%.

The last time expected growth was pegged at below 8% was 2004.

The FT puts the numbers in perspective saying China likes to underpromise and overdeliver on GDP expansion: "As with previous years, the real figure is likely to be somewhat higher – most economists predict China will grow 8.5 per cent this year – but the lower official target is highly significant all the same, for China and the rest of the world that increasingly relies on it to drive global growth."

Trade growth is set to slow dramatically sliding from 20% last year to a 10% expansion of imports and exports expected for this year.

China dominates the global trade in just about every commodity including iron ore (representing 47% of world trade), copper (38%), coal (47%), nickel (36%), lead (44%), zinc (41%) and the country is also expected to overtake India as the largest importer of potash in the near future.

The downbeat assessment sent mining stocks reeling: American depository receipts of world number one miner BHP Billiton had given up 2.5% by around 1:00pm Monday afternoon.

It was one of the better performers among the resource titans. Brazil's Vale gave up 3.5% in New York trade, Rio Tinto shed just over 4%, Anglo-American declined 3.3%, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold traded down 4.4% and Xstrata's ADRs lost 4.8%.

Xstrata was also punished after fellow Swiss-based resource giant Glencore, locked in takeover talks with Xstrata, gave no indication that it will be improving on the 8% premium it is offering for the miner.

Glencore, down 2.5%, on Monday released its maiden annual results as a listed entity, showing net income up 7% to $4 billion and a 28% increase in revenues to $186 billion.

It will pay a total dividend for the year of 15 cents a share. Management and staff own the bulk of the company's shares and its CEO, Ivan Glasenberg, who owns over 15% of the commodities trader, enjoyed a $110 million pay day on Monday.

 

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