Friday, 24 July 2009
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Wednesday, 8 July 2009
Most of the deaths were in Bac Kan and Lai Chau provinces, said the National Flood and Storm Control Committee, updating its previous figure of at least 22 deaths since heavy rains began on Friday.
Thanh Nien newspaper quoted Trieu Kiem Vang, a farmer in Bac Kan's Khen Len hamlet, as saying his two sons, their wives and two granddaughters were buried in a landslide.
There were also deaths in Cao Bang, Son La, Lao Cai and Ha Giang provinces, the flood committee said, listing three people as missing.
The storms destroyed nine bridges, flooded hundreds of houses and about 600 hectares (1,480 acres) of cropland, authorities said.
Security forces are assisting in the aid and rescue effort, state television reported.
Vietnam's flood and storm season generally starts in July and lasts until November.
Last year at least 550 people died in disasters triggered by bad weather, the national statistics office said earlier.
Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.
HANOI, July 8 (Reuters) - Vietnam's Sacombank STB.HM, 10 percent owned by Australia's ANZ (ANZ.AX), said its first-half gross profit reached 905 billion dong ($51 million), up 20 percent from a year earlier, thanks to strong lending.
Sacombank, the country's sixth-largest lender by assets, said in a statement on Wednesday that its loans totalled 47.64 trillion dong at the end of June, up 36 percent from the end of last year.
The Ho Chi Minh City-based lender said its bad debt fell to 0.71 percent of loans last month from 0.76 percent in April.
Sacombank's credit growth in the first half was nearly double that in the entire Vietnamese banking system, which the central bank estimated at 17.01 percent. [ID:nHAN357450]
The lender's total assets reached 82.76 trillion dong at the end of June, 21 percent higher than at the end of 2008.
The World Bank's International Finance Corp, Dragon Capital and ANZ Bank together own 30 percent of Sacombank, the ceiling for foreign ownership of listed banks in Vietnam.
Sacombank has forecast that its gross profit would rise 47 percent this year to 1.6 trillion dong after a fall in 2008. [ID:nHAN369575].
Sacombank shares closed up 0.85 percent at 35,300 dong. ($1=17,760 dong)
The economy has avoided a recession and is “in a growing trend,” Dung said in the statement posted late yesterday. Gross domestic product expanded 4.5 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier after gaining 3.1 percent the previous three months, the government said last week.
Dung said in April Vietnam plans stimulus measures that the government values at about $8 billion to bolster growth. Ministries and companies have to use the packages more effectively in the second half to help the country meet its targets, he said in yesterday’s statement.
Vietnam will try to prevent inflation from accelerating to more than 8 percent at the end of this year, government office chief Nguyen Xuan Phuc said in another statement, also posted on the government’s Web site late yesterday.
The nation’s banking system lent a combined 372.3 trillion dong ($21 billion) to businesses as part of the government’s loan-subsidy program as of July 2, the central bank reported July 3. Vietnam posted credit growth of 17 percent in the six months ended June compared with the end of last year, the central bank said yesterday.
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
Those concerns were highlighted Tuesday, when Fitch Ratings downgraded Vietnam's local currency rating, citing "a steady deterioration in the country's fiscal position" and a banking system that's "vulnerable to potential systemic stress" as the government floods the economy with credit.
Similar worries affect the U.S. and China, which are under pressure to prepare to pull in the reins of government stimulus. But the fears are especially pronounced in Vietnam, one of the most-closely watched emerging economies and an increasingly important magnet for foreign direct investment. Much of its economy is dominated by state enterprises that have a history of making ill-advised investments outside their core businesses, which have contributed to past speculative behavior and bouts of overheating.
Since the onset of the global economic crisis, state banks have poured at least $19 billion in loans into the economy, equivalent to about one-fifth of the country's annual gross domestic product, according to the government. The money is a key plank of a stimulus program in which the state provides interest-rate subsidies to banks so they can make more loans to help state enterprises and exporters.
The measures appear to be paying off in the short term, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting growth of 3.3% this year, while neighbors such as Thailand and Malaysia face steep contractions.
On Wednesday, the government said GDP expanded 3.9% in the first half of the year compared with a year earlier, with growth accelerating to 4.5% in the second quarter from 3.1% during the first quarter. Vietnam's economy expanded 6.2% in 2008 and 8.5% in 2007.
Stock market prices are also sharply higher, with Vietnam's benchmark index up 86% since the beginning of March. Residential property prices are climbing in many parts of Hanoi, the capital, and Ho Chi Minh City, the center of commerce and home to the stock exchange, economists say.
Providing lots of credit is "a good strategy. Our stimulus measures force banks to lend productively," says Le Xuan Nghia, vice chairman of the National Financial Supervisory Commission, one of the country's main financial regulators.
But with so much money being funneled into the economy, many people on the street fear a return of inflation, which accelerated to 28% in mid-2008 before easing to 5.6% in May.
Many Vietnamese are responding by investing whatever cash they can scrape together as fears about inflation revive. In the dust-choked eastern suburbs of Hanoi, for instance, a property boom is in full swing. A series of state and privately owned companies are erecting an arc of satellite towns in the area to ease congestion in old Hanoi, where cars and delivery trucks struggle to squeeze past swarms of motor-scooters and bicycles.
Nguyen Thi Huyen, a broker for the Van Khe New Urban City project, says she is putting together 10 or more deals a month at the development, up from just two or three this time last year. Some units have changed hands five times or more and prices have risen six-fold since the project was launched at the peak of Vietnam's boom in 2007, she says.
Buyers are "worrying about inflation and want to invest their money somewhere safe," Ms. Huyen says, lighting a candle at a shrine in her office where several piles of facsimile $100 bills are stacked up for good luck.
Some economists in Vietnam fear the country's politicians are so enmeshed in their growth-oriented five-year economic plans that they won't be willing to turn off the stimulus tap until inflation has already reared its head again. In April, the government extended by two years a lending-stimulus program that pays four percentage points of interest on any loans by Vietnamese banks to the business sector, encouraging banks to lend more aggressively.
"They are trying to turn back the clock to 2006 and 2007, when the name of the game was exporting as much as possible to profligate Americans. But Americans might not resume spending again in the same way, and we could end up with a serious inflation problem again," says an economist with close knowledge of government thinking.
While the "government's been successful at stabilizing the economy" in recent months, officials "also need to consider the longer-term risks, such as excess liquidity in the banking system and its potential to spark inflation," says Tran Le Khanh, chief investment officer at Prudential Vietnam Fund Management, Prudential PLC's Vietnam fund business.
The World Bank cautioned the Vietnamese government in report last month that state-directed lending could be hampering overhauls at state enterprises, and Vietnam might instead want to focus on helping people who have lost their jobs in the downturn. "It might be good to pause and reflect whether sustaining economic activity should remain the single priority," the World Bank said.
Other analysts worry the lending spree could escalate bad debt problems in the banking sector. Officially, nonperforming loans stand at 2.6%, up from 2.2% at the end of last year. But Vietnam doesn't calculate bad-debt rates according to international standards. Fitch Ratings recently estimated the real figure may have been as high as 13% of total loans at the end of 2008. In its ratings downgrade Tuesday, it said the country's loan-subsidy program "is almost certain to make matters worse."
Copyright 2009 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved
* H1 loans up 14 pct versus end-2008
* Bad debt down to 4.1 pct of loans (Adds details)
HANOI, July 1 (Reuters) - First-half gross profit at Vietcombank VCB.HM, Vietnam's largest partly private lender by assets, reached 2.45 trillion dong ($138 million), 75 percent of its annual target, a state-run newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The assets of the lender, which made its domestic share debut on Tuesday, reached 222 trillion dong as of June 30, practically unchanged from 221.95 trillion at the end of 2008, Chairman Nguyen Hoa Binh was quoted by the Securities Investment magazine as saying.
Binh said loans totalled 129 trillion dong at the end of June, up 14 percent from the end of 2008, and profit from lending made up 70 percent of the bank's first half gross profit, he told the Planning and Investment Ministry-run magazine.
Shares in Vietcombank closed up 0.8 percent at 60,500 dong ($3.4) on Wednesday. The stock jumped by the maximum 20 percent allowed on its debut, but the small size of its listing limited the impact on the main index, which ended lower. [ID:nSP466389]
The Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange index .VNI fell further on Wednesday, losing 4.08 percent. However, the index has still risen 36 percent this year.
Vietcombank's credit growth in the first six months was below the 17 percent in Vietnam's banking sector as a whole, according to central bank reports.
Binh said the lender had cut bad debt to 4.1 percent of loans from 4.6 percent at the end of 2008, and its capital adequacy ratio stood at 9 percent, above the 8 percent rate considered safe by the central bank.
About 3 percent of loans in Vietnam's banking sector are bad, a rate higher than last year, Wednesday's state-run media quoted Le Xuan Nghia, vice-chairman of the National Financial Supervisory Committee, as saying. ($1=17,800 dong) (Reporting by Ho Binh Minh; Editing by Alan Raybould)