Business Maverick

November 11: Five Things You Need to Know to Start Your Day

By Bloomberg 11 November 2019
Caption
Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., left, gestures while speaking during a fireside interview at the Viva Technology conference in Paris, France, on Thursday, May 16, 2019. Donald Trump’s latest offensive against China’s Huawei Technologies Co. puts Europe in an even bigger bind over which side to pick, but France's President Emmanuel Macron is holding the line. Photographer: Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg

Alibaba’s Singles’ Day is off to a flying start, the Hang Seng Index is showing signs of strain, and only those loyal to Beijing need to apply for Hong Kong’s chief executive position. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

Single Ambition

Alibaba’s Singles’ Day shopping bonanza got off to a scorching start, logging more than 114 billion yuan ($16.3 billion) of purchases in less than 90 minutes. That’s the equivalent of more than half of last year’s record haul for the 24-hour event. An estimated half-billion shoppers from China to Russia to Argentina are expected to swarm the e-commerce giant’s sites, scooping up everything from iPhones and refrigerators to cashew nuts. The world’s largest shopping binge has become something of an annual ritual for Asia’s largest company, a 24-hour marathon that’s part showcase of commercialism and part publicity blitz — even Taylor Swift was involved in the company’s marketing efforts. The whole event will be closely watched by investors keen to gauge how willing Chinese consumers are to spend as economic growth threatens to slip below 6%.

Markets Mixed

Stocks in Asia looked set for a mixed start as investors parsed the latest developments in the trade conflict and kept an eye on Singles’ Day for a gauge of consumer health in China. Equity futures rose in Japan and Australia, while contracts dipped in Hong Kong. The S&P 500 eked out another record high on Friday, as Treasuries continued to sink — the 10-year yield ended the week at 1.94%. Veterans Day in the U.S. means no Treasuries trading. President Donald Trump said trade talks with China are moving along “very nicely” and Beijing wants a trade deal “much more than I do”, and the offshore yuan was steady after five weeks of gains. Elsewhere, crude oil added 0.2%, and gold fell 0.7%.

Only Patriots

Beijing will ensure only people loyal to it will become Hong Kong’s chief executive, damping the hopes of pro-democracy activists as tensions rise after five months of historic unrest in the city. The majority of representatives in Hong Kong’s cabinet, judiciary and legislative bodies should also support the central government, Zhang Xiaoming, China’s top official overseeing Hong Kong affairs, said in a post on the agency’s website. The city’s inability to implement Article 23 — a law that prohibits acts of treason and subversion against the Chinese government — and its failure to set up units to follow through were the main reasons separatist movements are on the rise, Zhang said. The city is due to hold elections next September for members of its lawmaking body, the Legislative Council.

With All Due Respect

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly tried to undermine Trump’s decisions because they said the president didn’t know what he was doing, former U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley said in excerpts of a new book. By their account, though, “they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country,” Haley said, according to the Washington Post. She added that Tillerson and Kelly tried to enlist her in their effort to work around Trump, but she refused. Her book, “With All Due Respect,” is due to be published Tuesday.

Rally At Risk

Hong Kong’s equity traders have made half a trillion dollars from a global risk rally, but they’ll have little to fall back on when the exuberance fades. What worries pundits is that the $530 billion rebound has been driven by a liquidity-fueled global risk rally, and that Hong Kong’s bleak economic situation has yet to fully filter through to stocks. The Hang Seng Index is up 9% from an August low — alarmingly though, it is also near levels that signal it is overbought. Faced with its worst business outlook since the 2008 financial crisis and a plunge into recession, a chill may be coming for Hong Kong’s corporate earnings.

What We’ve Been Reading

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

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