The balance between Saudi bank deposits and loans turns negative for the first time since at least 2013

Focus on China — Stocks fall; Premier African Minerals to ship lithium shipments to China

RIYADH: Chinese stocks fell on Monday as a rise in domestic COVID-19 cases rattled sentiment, while worries about policymakers exiting monetary easing in crisis mode also weighed.

The CSI300 index fell 1.9% to 4,344.26 at the end of the morning session, while the Shanghai Composite index lost 1.5% to 3,307.23.

The Hang Seng index fell 2.7% to 21,130.67. The Hong Kong Chinese Enterprise Index fell 3% to 7,324.46.

Auto sales jumped in June

Auto sales in China jumped 23.8% in June from a year earlier, the first increase in four months after authorities cut taxes and offered subsidies to encourage car purchases as COVID-19 restrictions have eased.

Sales in the world’s biggest auto market reached 2.5 million vehicles in June, data from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers showed on Monday.

Sales in the first half of the year, hit hard by strict lockdowns in Shanghai and other Chinese cities between March and May, were 6.6% lower than the same period in 2021.

June sales were up 34.4% from May, with sales of new energy vehicles such as electric vehicles, plug-in gasoline-electric hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles up 129.2 % compared to the previous year.

However, a slump in demand for commercial vehicles led China’s auto industry association to lower its sales forecast on Monday, as anti-pandemic measures weighed on the economy and its auto market, the largest in the world, according to Reuters.

Premier African Minerals ships spodumene to China

Premier African Minerals will begin shipping spodumene concentrate from its Zulu lithium mine in Zimbabwe to China by March 2023 after signing an off-take agreement with Suzhou TA&A Ultra Clean Technology Co., its CEO George Roach.

Zimbabwe holds some of the world’s largest hard rock lithium deposits, and Suzhou joins a growing list of Chinese companies that have invested in the southern African country’s battery mineral projects, including Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt and Sinomine Resource. Group.

Roach said Suzhou is injecting $35 million to build a large-capacity pilot plant in Zulu, with output of nearly 50,000 tons of spodumene concentrate per year.

The plant aims to ship the ore by March next year and increase production to around 48,000 tonnes of spodumene concentrate per year.

In March, Suzhou became a 13.38% shareholder in Premier through a private placement in which it injected 12 million pounds ($14.37 million) into the company.

The deal secures the supply of spodumene concentrate for Yibin Tianyi, China’s top producer of lithium chemicals, which Suzhou jointly owns with Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., the world’s largest maker of batteries for electric vehicles.

The prices of lithium minerals, critical components in the manufacture of electric batteries, have soared in recent months thanks to a growing demand for clean energy sources. Zimbabwe, deprived of investment for more than two decades, hopes its lithium resources will recharge its moribund economy.

(Contributed by Reuters)

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