Tue, Jan 02, 2018 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take

Agencies

GAMBLING

Top-end punters boost Macau

Gaming revenue in Macau rose for the first time in three years last year as high-end punters’ appetite for gambling recovered after a protracted government campaign against shows of wealth among public officials and slowing economic growth. Figures from Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination bureau yesterday showed revenues for last year rose 19 percent to 265.7 billion patacas (US$33.13 billion). Analysts had expected full-year growth of 18-20 percent to US$33 billion to US$34 billion. Macau is clambering back after revenue plunged to five-year lows in 2014, but revenue is still far off the highs hit ahead of 2014, hovering only around monthly tolls seen in 2011, data from Thomson Reuters Datastream showed. Monthly gambling revenue last month was up 15 percent to 22.7 billion patacas.

COMMODITIES

Cotton streak set to continue

The longest winning streak in two decades propelled cotton to last year’s biggest increase among crop commodities, and hedge funds are ready for more gains this year. Of the nine components tracked by the Bloomberg Agriculture Subindex, only cotton and wheat contracts posted gains last year. The fiber led the way with an 11 percent advance as demand grew for US exports. Prices capped last year with 10 straight weekly gains, the best streak since 1998. Cotton was also one of the few crops about which hedge funds became more positive during the course of the year. Money managers held a net-long position, or the difference between bets on a price increase and wagers on a decline, of 102,402 futures and options as of Dec. 26, up from 76,052 at the end of 2016, according to US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released on Friday.

ENTERTAINMENT

Bar offers bitcoin party

A Singapore bar that bills itself as the world’s highest cryptocurrency club offered a New Year’s Eve package that included a limousine pick-up and butler service — but it cost a whole bitcoin. Skyline, on the 45th floor of a skyscraper overlooking the waterfront, promised a luxury-filled night out, with Champagne and oysters and caviar, but it was not cheap, with the price of bitcoin hovering around US$13,000 on Sunday. The party at Skyline is called “Bianco,” with revelers dressed in white enjoying a night of drinking and dancing before watching the New Year’s fireworks display over the waterfront. While the club has run the night before, it was the first time it offered a bitcoin deal, and customers could also pay in regular cash.

SINGAPORE

Growth beats estimate

Singapore’s economy expanded 3.5 percent last year, more than double the initial government forecast as the country benefited from the global economic upswing, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍) said in his New Year message on Sunday. Lee said the city-state would press on with economic restructuring and infrastructure projects such its fifth airport terminal as well as review healthcare policies to prepare for an aging population. “All these are essential investments in our future. They require time and resources, and will stretch way beyond this term of government. We have to plan well ahead for them,” Lee said in a statement released by his office. Singapore’s growth comes at the top end of the most recent trade ministry prediction of 3 to 3.5 percent and compares with the median 3.3 percent forecast in a Bloomberg survey. The government is to release preliminary GDP figures for the fourth quarter today.

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