Business Maverick

23 August: Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day

By Bloomberg 23 August 2019
Caption
Moon Jae-in, South Korea's president, gestures as he speaks during an event for the 74th anniversary of Korea's Independence Day in Cheonan, South Korea, on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019.Photographer: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Investors are increasingly worried about Hong Kong’s future. South Korea’s feud with Japan is getting deeper. And Asia’s richest 20 families are worth more than $450 billion. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Volatile Times

Hong Kong’s financial markets are in one of their most volatile periods in years, and signs of a turnaround are few and far between. “It’s still too early to call the bottom,” said Raymond Chen, a portfolio manager with Keywise Capital Management. “The local incident looks far from being resolved,” he added, speaking about the months of anti-government protests that have rocked the city. Meanwhile, most Hong Kong retailers saw sales plummet in August, according to the city’s Retail Management Association. If you’re planning on travelling to Hong Kong soon, here’s what you need to know to get around and avoid the flareups.

Deepening Feud

South Korea said it would withdraw from an intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, deepening their feud over trade measures and historical grievances. A South Korean security official cited Japan’s recent decision to remove South Korea from a list of trusted export countries, saying it “brought about a significant change to the environment of defence cooperation.” The pullout comes despite the urging of U.S. officials, including President Donald Trump, for the two allies to work together amid shared security challenges from China and North Korea. Here’s why Japan and Korea are locked in a trade war of their own.

Asian Stocks Mixed

Stocks in Asia looked set for a muted start after a lacklustre U.S. session that saw traders adopt a cautious stance before Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s address at the Jackson Hole summit. The S&P 500 Index closed flat amid weak volumes, while Treasuries were volatile, with the benchmark 10-year yield climbing as three Federal Reserve policymakers voiced their resistance to the notion that the U.S. economy needs lower interest rates, and a fourth saying he wanted to avoid taking further action “unless we have to.” The dollar was steady, while crude oil slipped.

Strong-Arming

China is taking “aggressive steps” to coerce Southeast Asian nations into halting work with international oil and gas firms in energy-rich waters off Vietnam, a State Department spokeswoman said. The deployment of a government-owned survey vessel with armed escorts “is an escalation by Beijing in its efforts to intimidate other claimants out of developing resources in the South China Sea,” she said.

Crazy Richest Asians

Asia’s 20 wealthiest families are now worth more than $450 billion combined, a testament to how the world’s economic growth engine is minting fortunes at an unprecedented level. Topping the list with a $50 billion fortune is India’s Ambani family, while the dynasties behind Samsung and Suntory also make the grade. Hong Kong clans make up 30% of the list. And where did all this cash come from? Most families on the list derive the bulk of their fortunes from property development or have holdings worth billions. See how Asia’s richest stack up against the wealthiest 25 families on the entire planet.

What we’ve been reading

This is what’s caught our eye over the last 24 hours.

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