Asia 8

The eight must-reads from the world's most dynamic region


Michael Walker: Tech helps in fight against money launderers

Car production cuts far from over as parts makers signal woes
Seat manufacturer Lear lowers production forecast to 9% rise, from an up to 12% forecast at start of the year, while Magna and BorgWarner warn of reduced output
Covid jab maker to boost supplies with new Singapore factory 
BioNTech will build its first manufacturing site outside of Europe as it eyes producing more than 3 billion doses annually of its high-tech mRNA-based vaccines 
Cathay Pacific plots flight plan back to health with US bond issue 
The Hong Kong carrier is to launch its first US dollar bond in 25 years and investors have been told it will be of 'benchmark size' and at least $500 million 
Fears chip shortages will put brakes on Japanese automakers recovery 
The country’s car firms are all poised to report profit drops this week but that won’t be a surprise to analysts who are more worried about how the next year will pan out  
Sustainability-linked bonds launched to boost China’s green finance
A Green Debt Catalogue (2021) has been issued to help wean the country off coal power and achieving its goal of carbon neutrality; it is backed by the central bank, the National Development and Reform Commission, and the China Securities Regulatory Commission
Move over, bitcoin and dogecoin, as ethereum takes spotlight
Cryptocurrency has second-largest market capitalisation, but not as much cache and perhaps more operational challenges 
Star spurs casino bidding war with proposal to merge with Crown
Australia’s Star Entertainment Group has unveiled a merger proposal with rival casino operator Crown Resorts, triggering a bidding war and a Competition Commission probe
SpaceX to accept dogecoin as payment for moon payload
Geometric Energy, a Canadian intellectual property, manufacturing and logistics firm, will use the cryptocurrency to fund a lunar mission next year
The Savage Take: Despite wobble, China remains full of promise 
The investment case for the stock markets of the world’s second-largest economy remains strong in spite of recent volatility  
Disappointing April jobs data pose new challenge for Biden agenda
'We knew we were facing a once-in-a-century pandemic and once-in-a generation economic crisis. We knew this wouldn't be a sprint, it'd be a marathon’
Dogecoin crashes as Musk fails to send it to the moon
Laughs are limited as failure to pump his favourite altcoin sees investors pull out in their droves   
Markets this week: Inflation still in focus despite dismal jobs data
“The labour data could be understating the underlying strength in labour markets, given other stronger labour-market indications, but this is unlikely to drive asset markets in the near term”
How To Split a $6 Trillion Bill With 300 Million Friends
In the second of a two-part examination of the extraordinary stimulus measures planned by US President Joe Biden, wealth adviser Tariq Dennison looks at the impact of the spending on individual Americans
Myanmar's junta approves $2.8 billion investment, including gas power plant
Other projects approved included for livestock, manufacturing and services sectors
In fight against Covid variants some firms target T cell jabs
New wave of research seeks to find a universal immunisation therapy. The first could be released early next year
'Biden’s Trillions' Have Investors Bracing For Inflation And Higher Taxes
In the first of a two-part examination of the extraordinary stimulus measures planned by US President Joe Biden,  wealth adviser Tariq Dennison  puts the measures in economic perspective
US Senate China bill would create 'chief manufacturing' post in research boost
'Endless Frontier' bill would authorise about $95bn over five years to invest in basic and advanced research, commercialisation, and education and training programs in key technology areas
Australia funds three commercial-scale clean hydrogen projects
‘Our hydrogen industry is in its infancy, so the lessons learned from these three projects – and the entire funding round – will be important in driving our future hydrogen economy'
China tensions, Brexit, and RCEP pull-out spur closer India-EU cooperation
India and the EU were expected to restart long-stalled trade talks today as tensions with China, Covid and the fallout from Brexit push both to turn to each other after years
China-Australia tensions lift aluminium prices to 3-year high
Beijing's indefinite suspension of economic dialogue with Canberra deepens a crisis in relations with a major producer of bauxite and alumina
13% of Myanmar businesses shut up shop after coup, poll finds
Norwegian telco Telenor writes off $782 million after military ordered it to shut down internet service in a bid to quell massive public opposition to the takeover
Why Taiwan’s high-tech firms haven’t run dry despite epic drought 
The usually rainy island’s government has made sure its vital chipmaking enterprises have all the water they need - ahead of even the factories’ residential neighbours 
WTO talks to waive patents on Covid vaccines 'will take months'
Germany, Switzerland and other wealthy nations oppose push to waive intellectual property rights to ramp up production of vaccines; but drug companies say shortage of raw materials and qualified personnel are key issues holding up output
A wave of Chinese companies seek US IPOs as delisting concerns ease
Chinese companies raised around $4.4 billion in the first quarter in 20 separate IPO deals; And about 60 Chinese companies plan to go public in the US this year, the New York Stock Exchange has said
Activists accuse BlackRock of palm oil hypocrisy
Fund giant supports shareholder protest against Procter & Gamble’s sourcing of commodity from an Indonesian company in which the company holds a significant stake
Thai cabinet signs off $8.2bn relief package as third Covid wave hits 
Bangkok has acted quickly to boost the country’s economy with soft loans, utility subsidies and cash transfers to lift demand, despite a surge in online payments  
US carmaker Tesla and China's Nio boost EV innovation
Elon Musk's company is developing platform to allow car owners to access data generated by their vehicles while Chinese maker expands showrooms to Europe
Nintendo forecasts Switch sales drop as chip crisis comes into play 
The Japanese firm’s signature console benefited from a pandemic sales boost – but now the five-year-old device is nearing the end of its life cycle and the continuing global semiconductor shortage is hitting production too 
Japan's Nissan sells Daimler stake in bid for reinvention
Carmaker has been trying to become profitable again and recover from reputational damage caused by departure of former leader Carlos Ghosn amid scandal
China plans new real estate tax regime 
Finance minister Liu Kun has written three articles flagging the new legislation in the current five-year plan in recent months, but there has been no indication yet when it will be launched
Telecoms frown as India clears 5G trials without Chinese gear
India's decision to allow local telecom operators to run 5G trials with non-Chinese equipment vendors will create delays and add to costs, say critics
Australia set to reject Japan Airlines Qantas tie-up over competition
Regulator says deal between two major carriers that would allow them to coordinate fares and schedules is unlikely to help consumers
Minerals bottleneck threatens clean energy transition, says IEA
Vital materials - including lithium, nickel, cobalt, manganese, graphite and rare earth elements - face demand and supply problems, according to a new report
Chinese May holidays break records as masses get out and about
Some 230 million people travelled over the five-day holiday break and they provided a long overdue boost to the tourism industry, while those who stayed home boosted cinema proceeds and also spent well
US trade chief backs vaccine patent waivers, may meet Liu He
US Trade Representative Katherine Tai backs a waiver for patents on Covid vaccines, sending down drug maker shares; expects to meet China's Liu He in the “near term” 
Tencent bids to keep stakes in US video game makers
Washington investigates whether Chinese company's holdings in developers of 'League of Legends' and 'Fortnite' constitute a national security risk
China suspends economic agreement with Australia
NDRC said the move was 'based on the current attitude' of the Australian government; Canberra said the decision was 'disappointing'
EU turns anti-competition guns on China SOEs
27-member bloc to mull measures that will block state-subsidised companies making takeovers or bidding for contracts 
RBI rolls out virus response to stem growth contraction
India’s central bank has unveiled an array of measures aimed at mitigating the economic impact of the country's virus crisis as the Australian government's travel ban on its own citizens returning home from the Covid-hit country is challenged in court
Covid-19 crisis in India slams energy demand
Use of diesel, gasoline, jet fuel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) all fell in April amid the huge spike in infections, data from state-run refiners shows
Dancing to the tune of inflation
Global recovery hopes and production cuts have helped oil prices rise to their highest  in more than a year; For EM sovereign energy producers and exporters, this should help by lowering fiscal funding needs and improving their current account position
Washington intensifies pressure on Taiwan chipmakers
US Commerce secretary laments the lack of domestic semiconductor production as she sets target of 30% 'because that matches our demand' 
'Barrage culture' dominates China’s new media
'Barrage' is the term for the growing trend of users responding to online broadcasts; When a person watches a video, they can send their thoughts and opinions to the video screen in the form of a "text + emoji" in real time; This creates a unique interactive experience
Smart move! China sets up second AI pilot area in port city 
Tianjin’s Binhai New Area will see funds pour into its tech sector as China boots up its ambitions to rival the US in artificial intelligence development 
Australia to build its first dual hydrogen-gas power plant
The A$83-million project is vital infrastructure needed to provide electricity capacity to replace a coal-fired power station, officials say
EU-China deal skids to a halt over sanctions
Beijing would gain political and economic benefits, as agreement would improve international cooperation, potentially promoting transparency and fairness
China behind Amazon, global forest destruction, reports claim
Surging beef exports from Brazil and bank lending to woodland-felling businesses raise concern
Regional lender comes under fire over fossil-fuel loans
Non-governmental organisations call on Asian Development Bank to swiftly end financing for polluters and help build climate-resilient economic recovery
Study into rare earth uses, smelting 'plays key role in success' 
Baiyun Obo Laboratory in Inner Mongolia now regarded as a national-level entity for the role its researchers have played in the sector; Minmetals outlines outlook for year ahead
Chinese plunder rare earth mines in northern Myanmar
Civil strife in Myanmar has opened the door to further plunder of resources in Kachin State, activists in the northern state claim; But many say the current fighting between the army and the Kachin is over control of another highly precious ornamental mineral
Fidelity halves its valuation of Ant Group shareholding
Embattled Chinese online platform's restructuring as a financial holding company could dent its appeal to investors, analysts say
Corn futures hit 8-year high on China demand and low supplies
Rising crop prices increase costs to feed livestock herds, especially pigs in Asia, which translates to meat inflation for consumers
Asian countries vow to tighten post-pandemic cooperation
China, Japan, South Korea and ASEAN pledge 'to achieve inclusive recovery, preserve long-term fiscal sustainability and maintain financial stability'
UK company enters electric car market with landmark Uber deal
British electric van maker's agreement with US-based ride-hailing giant offers competition for Chinese carmakers in lucrative global fleet sector
China's southwest reports strong recovery
Kunming's regional GDP in the first quarter of 2021 was 175.46 billion yuan, an increase of 8.2% over the first quarter of 2019
Covid stops play. India halts money-spinning IPL as virus peaks 
Cricket's star-studded Indian Premier League has been called off with coronavirus cases crossing the 20 million mark and no sign yet of a downturn in its spread 
China’s Suning looks for partner to finance Inter Milan
Suning is looking for €250 million to finance Italian soccer club Inter Milan after the failure of the European Super League to provide a boost; founder Zhang Jindong looking for ways to cut its huge debt load
Bill and Melinda Gates to divorce, but charitable foundation to go on
Launched in 2000, the nonprofit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation ranks as the largest private philanthropic foundation in the United States with net assets of $43.3 billion at the end of 2019
World's biggest coal port takes ‘behaviour-based’ $398m loan 
Australia's Port of Newcastle is to borrow A$515 million with the interest rate linked to emissions goals – and even its commitment to mental health first aid, diversity and inclusion 
Complacency and mismanagement spiralling India’s Covid crisis
Lack of foresight, planning and flexibility in its pandemic response have led to India’s overwhelming surge of infections, say experts
Taiwan’s TSMC backs European Union push to build chip hub
US competitor Intel's chief executive demands $8 billion in subsidies before committing to semiconductor development programme
India in talks to fast-track Pfizer vaccine with virus running amok 
The American drug giant is pressing for 'expedited approval' for its Covid-19 vaccine in a bid to help New Delhi get on top of its domestic disaster with record daily deaths being recorded 
HK bounces back from longest recession
GDP boost attributed to vaccinations, lifted Covid restrictions and improving global economic prospects  
Oil majors are gushing cash again
But they still face challenges as demand grows for them to do more to reverse global warming 
Fortnite vs Apple in looming tech battle royal
Epic Games takes on iPhone behemoth over stringent rules covering app download payments 
Ether steals the crypto limelight to outshine big brother bitcoin 
Ethereum – the world’s second biggest cryptocurrency – broke past the $3,000 barrier to quadruple in value in 2021 with some analysts predicting it will be a significant rival to bitcoin in the future 
 Elon Musk needs to learn Jack Ma lessons in China
Tesla founder Elon Musk could see his surging net worth go into reverse if he encounters more serious problems with Chinese authorities
China’s e-commerce revolution gathers pace with fifth of sales online  
Online retail sales were worth close to 3 trillion yuan in the opening quarter of this year as coronavirus lockdowns fuelled a boom in internet purchases 
Australia’s new 'clean' hydrogen move doesn’t go far enough, critics say
Clean Energy group says govt funding should be targeted at low-cost renewable hydrogen hubs, not at locking in expensive fossil fuel-based hydrogen for longer through the use of carbon-capture-storage
Online auctions open fine wine market to younger buyers
Analysts say part of the reason for strong demand has been the growth in online auctions to get around Covid-19 restrictions; they have allowed auction houses to tap into a younger generation of buyers and consumers all across Asia and other regions
Huarong solvency claim takes heat off SOE bonds
But Unigroup bankruptcy proceedings could add fuel to selloff that sent ATF index into negative territory for first time in two years
US-blacklisted China Telecom files for $4-bn listing in Shanghai
Telco plans to use the funds raised on 5G projects, cloud-network infrastructure, plus research and innovation, and is seeking 'strategic investors' in key growth areas
Asia Pacific real estate fundraising robust in 2020 despite Covid
Fund managers raised over $26 billion for real estate investments in the region last year despite the turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic, and surveys show the positive sentiment is likely to continue in 2021 and 2022
Covid lockdowns in India and Japan slow LNG momentum
Tankers diverting away from India or waiting at sea as demand for cargoes of gas 'dries up' amid the dramatic coronavirus surge; pandemic problems in Japan are also taking a toll on markets for the super-cooled fuel
Markets this week: Virus hotspot in focus; PMIs unveil Q2 start 
Investor optimism this week will be capped by the surging coronavirus infection spread in countries such as India, Japan and Thailand, where it has staged a comeback
Archegos makes clear why we need a new financial architecture
Open finance uses smart contracts on a blockchain to allow many to transact with many, distributing risk around a system instead of concentrating it in the hands of a few; Its decentralized architecture can help to make investing more accessible, cheaper and more transparent, says Alex Grebnev
Chipmaker Unigroup reportedly preparing to file for in-court bankruptcy
Chipmaker whose bond default helped spark a six-month selloff in SOE debt expected to announce in-court restructure application
China biggest market as gaming industry hits $300 billion
Sector is worth more than the combined markets for other visual entertainment forms, driven by gains in mobile phone development
5 themes that are underestimated by international equities investors 
Five global trends have the potential to shape the direction of markets — China, Japan, technology, value and the resiliency of international markets — may provide distinct opportunities, Justin Thomson, Head of International Equities at T Rowe Price, says
China and Europe fuel surge in electric vehicle ownership
But more government action is needed on charging stations and fossil-fuel vehicle bans to keep the momentum going, International Energy Agency says
Chip and container shortfalls drag China's factory output back
The country’s post-pandemic production surge lost some of its pace last month with supply bottlenecks and dampened overseas demand to blame 
Alibaba’s execs to pay the price after Beijing’s tech curbs 
The online retail specialist won’t be handing out wage rises to its top staff members this year – but will be rewarding its more junior employees instead in a bid to hold on to its talent 
Australian banks set for boom as bad loans are reined in
Substantial build-up of reserves - in anticipation of a much more severe economic downturn - puts them in good position to withstand future increases in bad debts
India’s second wave sparking fears of a global contagion
The escalating surge of Covid infections in India is showing no signs of abating – and has triggered growing concerns about its spill-over effect on the country's economy as well as on the rest of the world
German slump sparks eurozone double-dip recession
Slow rollout of vaccines and continued impact of pandemic blamed for latest contraction
UN agencies offer dire warnings on Myanmar
Chaos caused by the coup would wipe out all economic gains made during decade of democratic rule, the UNDP says; meanwhile, thousands of Karen are poised to flee across the border into Thailand if fighting intensifies in coming weeks, as many expect
Singapore and Thailand boost online payment links
A major resurgence of Covid-19 infections in the kingdom means travel between the two countries is unlikely to restart any time soon
Huawei’s carmaker move signals major EV gear shift  
The troubled Chinese tech giant is poised to take control of small automaker Chongqing Sokon’s electric car unit as it bids to become more than just an auto software provider and instead a vehicle producer in its own right 
Fed upgrades forecasts without alarming bond market
The Federal Reserve upgraded its economic prognosis but a pledge to delay any policy changes helped to hold down Treasury yields
US not competing with Beijing on digital currency, says Fed chair
Critics express concern that Washington is worried that e-money backed by a large economy such as China poses a threat to the greenback's supremacy
US corporations and wealthy 'must pay a fair share'
US President Biden says "trickle-down economics has never worked – it's time to grow the economy from the bottom up and middle-out"; proposes American Families Plan to pour $1.8 trillion into early education, childcare and colleges; but like his infrastructure bill, it may struggle to pass the Senate intact
Chinese expert calls for urgent overhaul of interbank systems
The banking system in China operates on underlying transaction and risk management software developed mostly by foreign companies; some is considered outdated and a potential risk for a structure that is essentially the lifeblood of local banking networks
China suspends steel import tariffs to force industry to downsize
Import taxes cut on steel products on Wednesday as part of a multi-year campaign to force Chinese producers to shrink, be more energy efficient and profitable
Huawei hopes cloud computing surge will offset sanctions effect
Chinese telecoms equipment supplier sees revenue fall 16.5% in the first quarter, but its net profit margin rose 3.8 percentage points compared with a year earlier to 11.1%
Samsung takes a bite out of Apple to reclaim smartphones top spot 
The Korean firm accounted for a fifth of handset sales worldwide in the first quarter of this year while China’s Xiaomi put in its best ever three months selling 49 million phones 
Reliance joins Chinese investors in Saudi Aramco stake chase
The race to acquire a slice of Saudi Arabia's Aramco is about to hot up with Mukesh Ambani reportedly mulling a stake in the oil giant, even as major Chinese investors eye a slice too
Market shrugs off delivery giant Meituan’s anti-monopoly probe
Shares of China’s largest food delivery service provider rose as investors expect a limited impact from China's antitrust investigation into the company over alleged monopolistic business practices
Asia rebound stronger than expected, says multilateral lender
But Asian Development Bank warns that new outbreaks and delays in vaccine rollout could prolong disruptions to mobility and stall regional economic activity
Samsung in the picture as $11bn tax bill sparks shake-up fears
Besides donating rare artworks and giving millions to medical research, Samsung's ruling family may look to restructure to retain control after paying a massive inheritance tax bill
Google surges, Baidu lags for now
Google ad sales surged in the first quarter, helping parent Alphabet’s shares to rise +4.5%; Chinese rival Baidu’s US shares lag for now ahead of results on May 18 
SoftBank to retire treasury shares worth 16% of outstanding stock 
The Japanese investment conglomerate appears to have drawn a line now after spending $20 billion over a year on a buyback push to support its struggling share price 
China to ask tech giants to give user data to 'independent' agencies
Alibaba, Tencent and may be asked to set up agencies made up of 'external members' to supervise the handling of personal data amid push to expand privacy protection; analysts they say could be run with a state bank and may charge fees for information requests
Copper prices soar on Chinese demand for metals
London Metal Exchange benchmark reaches $9,965 a tonne - the highest level since March 2011 - boosted by a labour strike in Chile, the world's biggest producer
HSBC focus on China pays off with 79% profit leap
Bank’s results were strong in Asia, particularly in wealth and asset management, which recorded a collective $24 billion in net client money in the quarter
Toyota notches record sales despite semiconductor shortage
China deliveries were up 29.6% year-on-year, with new models of the Corolla, Levin, RAV4, and Wildlander, as well as the Lexus marque, among the best performers
Taiwan chipmaker UMC’s $3.6bn pledge to help reboot supplies 
United Microelectronics’ huge investment comes as car-makers, tech firms and even white goods manufacturers are struggling because of a worldwide semiconductor shortage 
Developers blocked as China tightens issuance of corporate bonds
Guidelines issued by Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges seek to limit investment companies and developers' access to funding and restrict the scale of local governments' hidden liabilities, amid concern pockets of excess debt could rock the financial system
Shanxi battles China's infamous north/south wealth divide
Officials in northern province have restructured dozens of local businesses operated by the state and battled to repay bonds since a coal company default created panic in the market last November; they have vowed to repay all debts

8 must-reads from the world's most dynamic region

The most important news, commentary, charts and TV that are moving markets in Asia today