June 28, 2018 / 4:00 PM / 3 months ago

China's top cement group unfazed by trade dispute, markets

PARIS (Reuters) - China National Building Material (CNBM), the country’s biggest cement group, is having a good first half and the sector should withstand pressures from a trade dispute with the United States and volatile markets, the chairman of CNBM told Reuters.

Stock markets in China and Hong Kong have been hit this week by lingering trade war fears and a depreciating yuan currency, but CNBM chairman Song Zhiping played down such concerns.

“Our first-half performance is very good in 2018,” said Song, speaking on the sidelines of the World Cement Association/Global Climate Change Forum in Paris.

He added that positive, underlying trends for the Chinese cement sector - namely strong, domestic demand as more cities and residences are developed - would help the industry cope with issues such as trade disputes with the United States and market slumps.

“Let me assure you, the U.S. trade dispute is having a very limited impact on the Chinese industry. The Chinese cement industry is a very regional one. We sell very few products overseas,” said Song, speaking through a translator.

“It is my opinion that the Chinese stock market is still very solid and in the near future the market is going to bounce back,” added Song, whose company reported a higher first-quarter profit in April.

The Chinese currency weakened beyond a psychologically key 6.6 per dollar level for the first time in six months on Wednesday. The yuan has also lost over 3 percent against the dollar this month alone, an unusually sharp move for the closely monitored currency.

Expectations have grown that Beijing will allow the yuan to weaken further to soften the impact of trade tariffs imposed by the United States.

Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Geert de Clercq/David Evans

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