Following is a summary of major news and comments in the Hong Kong Economic Journal, the parent publication of EJ Insight, on Monday, March 31:
Hong Kong second-hand home prices fall 0.5 percent in first quarter
Property prices in Hong Kong have dropped for two quarters in a row as market curbs remain in the city even as the United States Federal Reserve has begun tapering its bond purchase programs, affecting the interest rate outlook and clouding the prospects of the real estate sector. Home prices in the second-hand market have fallen 0.5 percent in the first quarter, after a 0.8 percent decline in the preceding three months, according to the Centa-City Leading Index. Observers say the market can be deemed as having moved into a downward cycle if the February Private Domestic Price Index due to be released by the Rating and Valuation Department drops below 240, the level of the same month last year.
Gold price, US dollar exchange rates change on Yellen’s remark
United States Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen’s indication of an early hike in the fed funds rate, possibly in the first half next year, has changed the course of gold price and exchange rates of certain foreign currencies. The increase in the price of the precious metal has narrowed to 7 percent while the US dollar index has edged up 0.2 percent as the quarter nears the end. Exchange rates of Australian, New Zealand and Canadian dollars all started picking up pace in the race. Analysts expect the retreat in gold price will continue if there is no further geopolitical risk of the scale of the one in Ukraine.
ENN Energy says profit margins squeezed as explorers raise tariffs
Interview: Tariff hikes of non-residential natural gas by explorers PetroChina Co. Ltd. (00857.HK) and China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. (00386.HK) have added pressure onto the profit margins of suppliers in the downstream, squeezing some players out of business, said ENN Energy Holdings Ltd. (02688.HK) vice chairman Cheung Yip-sang. Cheung said his firm’s gross profit margin dropped 3.1 percentage point to 23.8 percent last year although the company managed to reach costtransfer agreements with 96 percent of its commercial and industrial clients after upstream tariff was raised in the summer.
Legco chief again calls on pan-democrats to join Shanghai trip
Legislative Council President Tsang Yok-sing has urged pan-democrat legislators to seize the opportunity to talk to mainland officials on political reform during a Legco trip to Shanghai next month. Civic Party chairperson Audrey Eu said they would leave the decision to lawmakers, adding Beijing has not yet responded to their demands about the trip. Occupy Central movement organizer Benny Tai said although the practical effect of the trip would be limited, it would be a good thing for pan-democrats to join to show they were willing to talk.
Hong Kong rally held in support of Taiwan protests
More than 1,200 people, including Hong Kong students and Taiwan students studying in the city, took part in a “sunflower” rally to lend their weight to student protestors in Taiwan. Occupy Central organizer Benny Tai has revealed that the group has invited one of the Taiwan student leaders to visit Hong Kong to share his experience.
China, Japan head towards showdown in relations
The sharp criticism by Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a speech during a visit to Germany, against the revival of militarism in Japan and the immediate rebuttal by Tokyo show both sides are heading towards a showdown in their relations. The chance for an easing of tensions is getting slimmer. This year marks the 120th anniversary of the Sino-Japanese war of 1894. Any military conflict in East China Sea may become more difficult to be resolved. Worse, it may sow the seeds of feud between the two nations in the long run.
– Contact us at [email protected]