Tue, Mar 20, 2018 - Page 10 News List

World Business Quick Take



Property cools further

Home prices rose in the fewest cities in five months in February as the government’s almost two-year campaign to curb property speculation started to bite. New-home prices, excluding government-subsidized housing, gained in 44 of 70 cities tracked, compared with 52 in January, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. Prices fell in 16 cities from the previous month and were unchanged in 10. Cities that saw rises were the fewest since September, Bloomberg calculations showed. The slower growth comes as authorities sent a stronger signal at the National People’s Congress on efforts to curb property speculation and tame runaway prices.


Bitcoin rallies from low

A weekend selloff of cryptocurrencies subsided, with bitcoin rallying from a six-week low before G20 finance ministers and central bankers discuss digital assets in Buenos Aires. Bitcoin traded at US$8,235 as of 11:20am in Hong Kong, up 12 percent from its low reached over the weekend, prices on bitstamp.net showed. Rival coins Ripple and Ether also pared weekend losses. Traders are watching this week’s G20 meeting for any signs of a coordinated clampdown by regulators, who have been stepping up scrutiny of digital assets in recent months amid concerns ranging from money laundering to tax evasion and fraud. While cryptocurrencies are currently too small an asset class to pose systemic risks to the financial system, that could change as the space continues its rapid evolution, G20 Financial Stability Board chairman Mark Carney said in a letter to G20 finance leaders published on Sunday.


Pollyanna Chu loses top spot

Kingston Financial Group Ltd (金利豐金融集團) chief executive Pollyanna Chu (朱李月華) has lost her title as Hong Kong’s richest woman after her listed company turned into Asia’s worst performer this year. Worth almost US$12 billion as recently as January, she has seen more than half of her wealth wiped out as the stock crashed. Kingston Financial, which operates businesses including Macau casinos and margin lending, has tumbled 52 percent since the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission in January warned investors that the company’s shares were overly concentrated among a small number of stockholders. Kingston Financial yesterday plunged 12 percent after FTSE Russell, one of the world’s most-followed index providers, removed the stock from its benchmarks. The firm relies largely on unsecured loans provided cheaply by Chu and her family, according to January analysis by activist investor David Webb.


Balance back to surplus

Japan’s trade balance returned to surplus in February, with strength in the global economy supporting export growth even as lunar new year holidays caused a drop in sales to China. The value of exports in February increased 1.8 percent from a year earlier. Imports grew 16.5 percent. The February trade balance was a surplus of ¥3.4 billion (US$32 million) versus a forecast of ¥89.1 billion. The continued growth in exports suggests that the global recovery remains firm and sales to China should bounce back after the decline caused by the holidays. Yet a stronger yen poses some risks to the Japanese economy by making exports less competitive and weighing on inflation by reducing the price of imports. The chances of a trade war breaking out due to US President Donald Trump’s tariffs is another potential source of downside for Japan.

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