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Tokyo shares end higher as Nintendo soars on China report

TOKYO, April 19 — Tokyo stocks closed higher today following healthy gains on Wall Street, with Nintendo jumping more than 14 per cent on reports its games and popular Switch console will soon be available in China. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index…


Uber wins $1bn investment from Toyota, SoftBank fund

TOKYO: Japanese car giant Toyota and investment fund SoftBank Vision Fund on Friday unveiled an investment of $1 billion in US company Uber to drive forward the development of driverless ridesharing services.

The latest cash injection, expected to close in the third quarter this year, came amid fevered anticipation of Uber’s public share offering which is expected to be the largest in the tech sector for years.

Toyota has already invested $500 million in Uber as the firm races Google-owned Waymo and a host of other companies, including major automakers, to develop self-driving vehicles.

The latest investment, which also involves Japanese parts maker DENSO, will go to Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group in a bid to “accelerate the development and commercialisation of automated ridesharing,” the firms said in a statement.

Toyota and DENSO are stumping up $667 million and SoftBank Vision Fund, the investment arm of Japanese tycoon Masayoshi Son’s SoftBank, will pour $333 million into the venture. It is already the top shareholder in Uber, holding 16 percent.

The Japanese car firm said it would also contribute “an additional $300 million over the next three years to help cover the costs related to these activities.”

Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said driverless cars would “transform transportation as we know it, making our streets safer and our cities more liveable.”

His firm is aiming to go beyond car rides to becoming the “Amazon of transportation” in a future where people share, instead of own, vehicles.

If all goes to plan, commuters could ride an e-scooter to a transit station, take a train, then grab an e-bike, share a ride or take an e-scooter at the arriving station to complete a journey — all using an Uber app on a smartphone.

Uber is also seeing growing success with an “Eats” service that lets drivers make money delivering meals ordered from restaurants.

‘Sharing economy’

Last week, Uber filed official documents for its much-anticipated public share offering.

The filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission said it operates on six continents with some 14 million trips per day and has totalled more than 10 billion rides since it was founded in 2010.

The filing contained a “placeholder” amount of $1 billion to be raised but that figure is expected to increase ahead of the initial public offering (IPO) expected in May.

The Wall Street Journal said earlier this month that Uber was seeking to raise $10 billion in what would be the largest stock offering of the year.

Media reports said the ride-hailing giant was likely to seek a market value of close to $100 billion.

Uber is the largest of the “unicorns” or venture-backed firms worth at least $1 billion to list on Wall Street, and is one of the key companies in the “sharing economy” based on offering services to replace ownership of cars, homes and other commodities.

Its revenue grew 42 percent last year to $11.2 billion but it continued to lose money from its operations. A net profit was reported for the year from a large asset sale, but operational losses were more than $3 billion.

And some analysts have voiced caution over the forthcoming IPO given a relative lacklustre debut for Lyft, the main US rival.

Khosrowshahi has promised greater transparency as he seeks to restore confidence in the global ridesharing leader hit by a wave of misconduct scandals.

In October, Toyota and SoftBank announced the creation of a joint venture to create “new mobility service” including driverless vehicles for services such as meal deliveries.

The new company — called “Monet”, short for “mobility network” — is majority owned by SoftBank.

SoftBank started as a software firm but has increasingly been pushing into investments under tycoon Son, one of Japan’s richest men.


Tech startups Pinterest, Zoom soar in Wall Street debut

NEW YORK, April 19 — Pinterest got off to a flying start on Wall Street yesterday in the market debut for the San Francisco-based visual discovery service, a positive sign for the wave of Silicon Valley firms planning stock listings. Pinterest…


Wall Street closes slightly higher, industrials lead

NEW YORK, April 19 — Industrials led the S&P 500 and the Dow moderately higher yesterday after robust US economic data and some healthy corporate earnings reports. All three major US stock indexes closed in positive territory heading into the…


US retail sales, labour market data paint upbeat economic picture

WASHINGTON, April 19 — US retail sales increased by the most in 1-1/2 years in March as households boosted purchases of motor vehicles and a range of other goods, the latest indication that economic growth picked up in the first quarter after a…


Wall Street slips as healthcare slumps again

NEW YORK, April 18 — US stocks dipped in volatile trading today, ahead of a long Easter weekend, as another drop in healthcare stocks overshadowed gains from industrials after upbeat earnings. In a bright spot, US retail sales increased by the…


Stock markets ‘checked out’ ahead of Easter break

LONDON, April 18 — Stock markets were mixed today as investors wound down their positions before the Easter break, with positivity surrounding China-US trade talks and healthy Chinese growth failing to fire much buying activity. After Wall Street…


China says US trade agreement not yet settled

BEIJING, April 18 — China said today there is “still much work to finish” on the text of a trade agreement with the United States. US President Donald Trump yesterday held out hope the current trade talks with China will be a success, and said…


Pinterest prices IPO at US$19 to begin trading today

SAN FRANCISCO, April 18 ― Pinterest yesterday announced it would price its initial public offering at US$19 (RM78.58) a share to begin trading on Wall Street the following day. The online bulletin board popular among women is offering 75 million…


Yuan eases off 1-mth high, focus back on trade after upbeat GDP

SHANGHAI: China’s yuan eased off a one-month high against the U.S. dollar on Thursday, as some companies took advantage of a much stronger midpoint to load up on the greenback.

After strong gains in the previous session sparked by upbeat economic data, traders’ attention was returning to the progress of U.S.-China trade talks, with the Wall Street Journal saying a deal may be ready to be signed by late May or early June.

Prior to the market opening on Thursday, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) lifted its official yuan midpoint to 6.6911 per dollar, 199 pips, or 0.3 percent firmer than the previous fix of 6.7110. It was the strongest fixing since March 21.

In the spot market, yuan opened at 6.6860 and rose to a high of 6.6854 at one point, the firmest level since March 21. But, as of midday, it was changing hands at 6.6947, 67 pips weaker than the previous late session close and 0.05 percent softer than the midpoint.

The Chinese currency leapt on Wednesday as a raft of stronger-than-expected economic data suggested the slowing economy may be starting to stabilise.

Though analysts cautioned it was too early to call a turnaround, the numbers suggested the economy may be bottoming out a bit sooner than expected, and some market watchers bumped up their full-year economic forecasts.

Robin Xing, economist at Morgan Stanley, raised his growth forecast by 0.2 percentage point to 6.5 percent this year and 6.3 percent in 2020.

“(We) maintain our view of a growth upturn in 2Q-4Q19 as fiscal easing fully kicks in, trade tensions ease, and consumer confidence normalizes,” he said in a note on Thursday.

Traders many offshore institutions started building long yuan positions following the strong data on Wednesday.

But in the onshore market, a trader at a Chinese bank said supply and demand was “not in favor of a strong yuan” for now, noting most of the gains in the past two days were tracking the those in the offshore market.

“For now, (onshore) corporate client’s expectations do not seem to have changed much,” the trader said.

Economists at BNP Paribas China expect the yuan to remain in a tight range.

“While growth stabilization and a possible trade deal support the RMB, weak exports imply a strong currency is infeasible,” they said in a note on Thursday.

A CNBC report said Chinese officials were identifying travel dates on U.S. President Donald Trump’s calendar that might offer potential for a summit between leaders of the two nations.

“Our forecast for the USD/CNY of 6.75 by the end of the year essentially tracks the development of trade talks. But we need to closely monitor the yuan’s moves post-trade talks to determine if we need to revise up our yuan forecast in 2Q and 3Q,” ING’s Greater China economist Iris Pang said in a note.

The global dollar index rose to 97.052 at midday from the previous close of 97.009. The offshore yuan was trading at 6.6937 per dollar as of midday.

China’s foreign exchange regulator said on Thursday the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy stance will be favourable for the nation’s capital flows, and expected the cross-border capital flows to remain steady despite some uncertainties.