pacific

 
 

Hong Kong unions urge Cathay Pacific to end ‘white terror’

HONG KONG, Aug 23 — Cathay Pacific Airways , which is caught in the crosswinds between authorities in Beijing and anti-government protesters in Hong Kong, must put an end to “all forms of white terror”, trade unions in the Chinese-ruled city…


Asians stocks struggle ahead of Powell’s speech; yuan at fresh 11-1/2 yr low

TOKYO: Asian shares struggled to make headway on Friday as uncertainty over how much further the U.S. Federal Reserve would cut interest rates added to investors’ worries over slowing global growth.

With a trade war between the United States and China dragging on, and political tumult in Hong Kong, Italy and Britain adding to the tense backdrop, investors were keenly awaiting Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s speech at a gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, later in the day (1400 GMT).

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged 0.1% higher and was up 0.8% for the week, on track to break a four-week losing streak.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei added 0.3% and Australian stocks rose 0.3%.

The Shanghai Composite and the blue-chip CSI300 were up 0.5% and 0.7%, respectively, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 0.5%.

Business surveys on Thursday suggested further slowing in advanced economies in August, but service sector activity remained resilient, offsetting some of the drag from weak manufacturing.

“It’s going to be another wait-and-see day for traders ahead of Powell’s Jackson Hole speech. Investors are hoping for some soothing words from him,” said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities.

Wall Street stocks were mixed on Thursday, with the S&P 500 closing little changed, while the Dow was up 0.2% and the Nasdaq falling 0.4%.

In the U.S. bond market, the closely watched two-year, 10-year Treasury yield curve briefly moved back into inversion overnight, a shift that also occurred last week and sent financial markets into a tailspin amid worries of a sharp global downturn.

An inversion in the U.S. yield curve has presaged several past U.S. recessions, raising fears the decade-long expansion in the world’s biggest economy might be nearing its end.

While markets overwhelmingly expect the Fed to follow up its first rate cut in a decade with more stimulus at its meeting next month, some policymakers disagree.

Kansas City Fed President Esther George, who dissented against the decision to ease in July, and Philadelphia Fed President Patrick Harker, who said he “reluctantly” supported the cut, both said the U.S. economy does not need more stimulus at this point.

Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan said the businesses had become much more cautious due to surprises on trade policy and he was “going to at least be open-minded about making some adjustment” if he sees continued weakness.

All of that has made Powell’s speech in Jackson Hole pivotal for markets as they look for any clues on future easing, after the Fed last month cut rates for the first time since the financial crisis.

Any indications of hawkishness in the Fed chief’s comments might hurt riskier assets, though the dollar stands to benefit.

The greenback slipped on Thursday, but moved within narrow ranges. In early Asian trading, the dollar was up 0.1% against a basket of major currencies to 98.293.

The euro also was little changed against U.S. currency at $1.1073. A survey showing a surprise uptick in euro zone business growth for August was offset somewhat by trade war fears knocking future expectations to their weakest in over six years.

The pound jumped to a three-week high of $1.2273 overnight after traders interpreted comments from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to mean that a solution to the Irish border problem could be found before Britain leaves the European Union on Oct. 31.

Merkel on Wednesday challenged Britain to come up with alternatives to the Irish border backstop within 30 days, but French President Emmanuel Macron cautioned there would be no renegotiation of the Brexit deal. Sterling last quoted at $1.2234, 0.1% weaker on the day.

China’s yuan extended losses, threatening to stoke trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Spot yuan slid to as low as 7.0992 per dollar, its weakest since March 2008, although the central bank set the midpoint rate at 7.0572, its weakest level in 11-1/2 years, but was much stronger than traders had expected.

Washington labelled China a currency manipulator early this month after a sharp slide in the yuan.

Concern about China’s economy is growing because U.S. tariffs on roughly $150 billion of Chinese goods will take affect from Sept. 1.

Oil prices weakened overnight, with both Brent crude and U.S. West Texas Intermediate down 0.6% each, on worries about the global economy.

Brent crude was last up 0.3% at $60.11 per barrel and WTI crude added 0.2% to $55.46.

Gold prices dipped on Thursday but held near the pivotal level of $1,500 per ounce, underpinned by demand for the precious metal amid uncertainties around monetary policy, trade and geopolitical tensions. Spot gold was last down 0.2% at $1,494.99 an ounce. – Reuters


Asian stocks shaky before Powell's speech as growth woes weigh

TOKYO, Aug 23 ― Asian shares struggled to make any headway today as weak US manufacturing activity and uncertainty over how much further the Federal Reserve would cut rates added to the general air of caution in markets buffeted by global growth…


Dollar holds steady ahead of Fed speech, kiwi jumps on RBNZ comments

TOKYO, Aug 23 ― The dollar held steady in Asia today on expectations US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell would stick with his message that the central bank has not entered a prolonged monetary easing cycle. Powell gives a highly-awaited…


On the front lines: Trade war sinks North Dakota soybean farmers

COLFAX, Aug 22 — North Dakota bet bigger on Chinese soybean demand than any other US state. The industry here — on the far northwestern edge of the US farm belt, close to Pacific ports — spent millions on grain storage and rail-loading…


Asia shares sit still, await clarity on Fed policy

SYDNEY, Aug 22 — Asian shares went flat today as uncertainty over the outlook for both US interest rates and the chance of global fiscal stimulus sucked the life out of markets. Moves were miniscule, with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific…


Stocks rise with focus on stimulus; US yield curve briefly inverts

NEW YORK, Aug 22 — A global equities gauge rose yesterday for a third day in four as bets on more economic stimulus overcame, for now, worries over the rising prospect of a global recession. The brief inversion of the curve between 2-year and…


Alibaba said to have postponed Hong Kong IPO of up to US$15b

HONG KONG/NEW YORK: China’s biggest e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd has delayed its up to US$15 billion (RM62.6 billion) listing in Hong Kong amid growing political unrest in the Asian financial hub, two people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

Alibaba’s Hong Kong-listing plans are being closely watched by the financial community for indications on the business environment in the Chinese-controlled territory and provides a window into Beijing’s reading of the situation.

While no new timetable has been formally set, Alibaba could launch the Hong Kong deal as early as in October, seeking to raise US$10-US$15 billion, when political tensions ease and market conditions become favourable again, said one of the people.

The decision to postpone the deal, initially set for late August, was taken at a board meeting before Alibaba’s latest earnings release last week, the second person said.

The delay is due to the lack of financial and political stability in Hong Kong amid more than 11 weeks of pro-democracy demonstrations which have become increasingly violent and plunged the city into turmoil, the people added.

Tear gas has been used frequently by police while more than 700 people have been arrested, followed by an unprecedented airport shutdown last week. Hong Kong’s stock market fell to seven-month lows last week.

“It would be very unwise to launch the deal now or anytime soon,” the first person said. “It would certainly annoy Beijing by offering Hong Kong such a big gift given what’s going on in the city,” the source added.

Both people declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to media.

Alibaba declined to comment on its Hong Kong deal plans.

The deal, potentially the world’s biggest equity deal of the year and the largest follow-on share sale in seven years, would give Alibaba a war chest to keep investing in technology.

The company, however, views it as a way to “diversify its access to capital markets”, but not as core to its business, said the second source. Alibaba “does not see the postponement as a blow”, the person added.

Meanwhile, a listing by Alibaba is a big deal for the Hong Kong stock exchange, which is lagging behind its New York rivals in the annual battle to be the leading global listings venue.

Just last month, Anheuser-Busch InBev cancelled a planned up to US$9.8 billion Hong Kong IPO of its Asia Pacific unit.

The city loosened its rules last year specifically to lure overseas-listed Chinese tech giants to list closer to home. Alibaba would be the first to test the new system.

Asked last week whether Hong Kong’s turmoil would affect Alibaba’s listing, Hong Kong stock exchange CEO Charles Li avoided directly acknowledging the company’s application, which is still technically confidential.

But Li added: “I am confident that companies like that ultimately will find a home here, because this is home and I think they will come. I don’t know when though.”


Manufacturers cautious on business activities outlook for H2 2019, says FMM

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 21 — Members of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) remained cautious on the business activities outlook for the second half (H2) 2019 due to external factors such as the US-China trade tensions and Brexit. Citing the…


Asian markets drop as traders await Powell speech

HONG KONG, Aug 21 — Equities stuttered in Asia today as investors took a step back after recent gains, with focus now turning to a key speech by Federal Reserve boss Jerome Powell at the end of the week. Rising hopes for China-US trade talks have…