Following is a summary of major news and comments in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of EJ Insight, on Thursday, Feb. 6:
Gaming plays slide on disappointing January revenue
Macau gaming counters tumbled on Wednesday after the city’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau unveiled revenue data for January that missed market expectations. Blue chips Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd.(00027.HK) and Sands China Ltd. (01928.HK), both slid over 7 percent and saw short-selling worth HK$495 million (US$63.77 million) and HK$474 million respectively, the second and the third largest short-selling amounts among other stocks. The sector posted combined revenue of 28.7 billion Macau patacas (US$3.59 billion) in January, up just 7 percent year on year. Analysts had been expecting revenue growth in the range of 11 to 14 percent.
No plan for back-door listing, Alibaba says
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has denied that it intends to float its assets through back-door listing via Citic 21CN Co. Ltd. (00241.HK), a company the e-commerce giant has agreed to acquire jointly with chairman Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Fund last month for HK$1.33 billion to become its largest shareholder. Alibaba’s vice president for finance Ren Bingzheng said the group does not have plans to inject any assets into the listed company in the short term. He added that the deal has yet to be completed and new management yet be appointed. The target company’s share price slid 8.5 percent to close at HK$3.44 amid the denial.
China interest rates seen rising amid cash squeeze
Interview: Interest rate levels in mainland China are likely to climb in general this year amid constant liquidity squeeze and tightened control over shadow banking activities, said Hong Hao , managing director for research and chief strategist at BOCOM International Holdings Co. Ltd. Hong expects the central bank to limit the growth of broad money supply M2 at 13 percent and new loans at 9.5 trillion yuan (US$1.57 trillion). With less flexibility in sourcing funds through shadow banks, lenders may raise one-year deposit interest rates to 5 percent from 3 percent, Hong added.
Hong Kong govt mulls tobacco tax hikes, official says
Deputy health minister Sophia Chan Siu-chee has revealed the Hong Kong government’s plans to raise tobacco taxes and widen the area of no-smoking places. Speaking to legislators ahead of the Feb. 26 release of the 2014/2015 Budget, Chan said the government may also seek more funding for non-profit-taking bodies to promote anti-smoking education in kindergartens.
Democrats’ bid to join Occupy Central disrupted by radicals
The Democratic Party has vowed to go ahead with their plan to join the civil disobedience Occupy Central movement after their event to support the movement yesterday was disrupted by the radical People Power. More than 40 Democrats took an oath to support the movement at a ceremony presided by the movement’s organizers, Benny Tai and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming. A group of People Power activists blocked the Democrats, accusing them of betraying democracy and hypocrisy. They referred to the Democrats’ compromise over the 2012 Legislative Council electoral arrangements in 2010.
Worries about the world’s top three economies cast shadow over 2014
Global markets have slumped amid worries about the world’s three major economies, namely the United States, China and Japan. In view of the ongoing exit of the US quantitative easing, structural deficiencies of emerging economies have aggravated the outflow of capital and the fluctuations of stock and monetary markets. The optimistic mood of expectation of a slow recovery of the world economy has dampened considerably. Fears about the risk of uncertainty have grown.
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(First posted: 08.30)