Chinese car sales stalling. China for years has been the big flame for the world’s car maker moths, promising and delivering big sales and profits. But in the past month or so that candle has dimmed as the weak economy, the corruption crack down, the property bust and now the sharemarket slide have come together to deliver some unwelcome news: falling sales and profits. For the first time since September 2012, Chinese car sales in June fell compared to the same month a year earlier. The Chinese car makers association said total sales were 1.51 million, down 3.4% from a year earlier and much weaker than the 1.2% rise in May and solid 3.7% rise in April. And the combination of weak demand and flagging interest has caused the association to halve its estimate for car sales growth this year from 7% to 3% (not good news for Australia, as cars use steel, copper, lead and zinc and use oil and petrol, all produced in Australia). –Glenn Dyer

Stop, damn oil, stop. World oil supply is growing much faster than demand this year, thanks to OPEC, and especially thanks to Saudi Arabia, which has boosted output to an all-time high of 10.56 million barrels a day. So much for all those bulls who reckoned that oil prices would rise and go on rising once OPEC and the US shale oil industry had fought themselves to a draw and thrown in the towel. Far from it. The shale mob are maintaining production at levels well above 9 million barrels a day (bpd), rig use has started rising, and prices have slumped for a third time in a year. And OPEC is pumping more and more of the oily stuff. It estimated overnight that oil output rose 283,000 bpd to 31.38 million bpd in June, led by Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. It said Saudi Arabia had told it that it pumped 10.56 million bpd last month, up 231,000 bpd from May, and the highest ever on record. US oil analysts reckon the Saudis could produce 11 million barrels of oil a day later this year (it needs the money, the Financial Times reported on Monday that the Saudis had borrowed US$4 billion in local money markets over the past year). Troubled Iraq’s output topped 4 million barrels of oil a day for the first time in June. That’s all good news for US consumers (but not in Australia with our dollar slowly sliding). — Glenn Dyer

Streaming dope? There’s Uber taxis, pizzas, burgers, grog, music, video, Asian food, books and appliances — these days anything is capable of being home delivered. And in the US there’s an addition to this long list: dope, or rather, medicinal cannabis. US media websites and techo blogs report there are a number of these start-ups in and around Silicon Valley and San Francisco. The most notable is Marvina, which started last November and will deliver your cannabis needs for US$95 a month (after a US$30 sampler kit). The Californian government estimates that medicinal dope sales are valued at between US$700 million and US$1.3 billion a year. Marketwatch reported at the weekend:

“Marvina hand delivers an assortment of cannabis strains to your door from a local boutique dispensary. Each box comes with a detailed tasting note to provide guidance for the customer. [Co-founder Dane] Pieri compared the service to a wine club, saying his primary customers are those ;who enjoy cannabis, but it’s not the most important thing in their life, it doesn’t define them.'”

Up in Washington state they seem to have a better handle on cannabis sales. The state government said last week that legit dope sales totalled just on US$260 million in the year to June 30, according to state regulators, generating a tasty US$64 million in new tax revenue for the government. Washington State Liquor Control Board, which oversees the distribution of cannabis in the state, approved measures legalising the personal possession and consumption of marijuana in 2012. The board said retailers sold more than 23,000 pounds of marijuana (more than 10 tonnes) of the 31,000 pounds produced in Washington during the year.  — Glenn Dyer

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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