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U.S, China truce boosts global market

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Global market on Monday experienced a boost following a truce reached between U.S. and Chinese leaders on trade tariffs.

The truce is fuelling a nearly one per cent surge on world stocks and pushing emerging currencies higher against the dollar.

European share benchmarks opened sharply higher, with Germany’s DAX .GDAXI – the most sensitive to China and trade war fears – leading the way with a 2.5 per cent rise to its highest level since Nov. 14, and Wall Street too was set for a stronger session.

The gains came after China and the United States agreed at the weekend to halt additional tariffs on each other. The deal prevents their trade war escalating as the two sides try to bridge differences with fresh talks aimed at reaching a deal within 90 days.

U.S. President Donald Trump also said “China has agreed to reduce and remove tariffs on cars coming into China from the U.S. Currently the tariff is 40 per cent”. That helped boost European autos more than 4 per cent .SXAP.

“We have a deal. That’s wonderful news for global financial markets and signaling the start for a year-end rally in risky assets,” said Bernd Berg global macro strategist at Woodman Asset Management.

“We are going to see a rally in emerging market and U.S equities, EM currencies and China-related assets like Australia. I expect the rally to last until year-end.”

MSCI’s all-country world index .MIWD00000PUS climbed 0.9 percent in its sixth straight day of gains and hit its highest level since Nov. 9. Emerging equities .MSCIEF rose 2.1 percent and were set for their strongest day in a month.

Asian shares kicked off the gains, with Chinese mainland markets .CSI300 .SSEC rising more than 2.5 percent while Japan’s Nikkei .N225 gained as much as 1.3 percent to a six-week high.

The risk-on mood drove the U.S. dollar 0.4 percent lower against a basket of currencies .DXY while against the euro it slumped 0.6 percent EUR=EBS.

The greenback has already come under some pressure from the recent subtle shift in the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy communication to a slightly more dovish stance. Comments by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell were interpreted by markets as hinting at a slower pace of rate hikes.

Market prices are reflected in a glass window at the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) in Tokyo, Japan, February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Powell was scheduled to testify on Wednesday to a congressional Joint Economic Committee but his hearing is expected to be postponed to Thursday because major exchanges will be closed on Wednesday in honor of former U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who died on Saturday.

Florian Hense, economist at Berenberg, said the market rally would not bring a return to a more hawkish Fed stance.

“We would need to see some rebound in economic activity to lift expectations of more rate hikes,” he said.

The Powell comments had sent U.S. Treasury yields lower but they pulled back from the over two-month lows hit on Friday as 10-year yields rose three basis points to 3.04 percent US10YT=RR.

Germany’s 10-year government bond, the benchmark for the euro area, was set for its biggest one-day yield jump in a month, rising four basis points to a high of 0.347 percent DE10YT=RR. Yields on riskier southern European bonds fell across the board, with Italian yields down around 10 bps to new two-month lows. IT5YT=RR, IT10YT=RR.

Emerging currencies were among the main beneficiaries of dollar weakness, with an MSCI index up 0.6 percent .MIEM00000PUS. It was led by China’s yuan which rose one percent for its biggest daily gain since Feb. 2016 CNY=CFXS.

“Such positive sentiment won’t fade very soon … (the 90-day) period is not short, it’s long enough to soothe market sentiment,” said a trader at a foreign bank in Shanghai.

Elsewhere, oil soared more than five percent, a positive start after it had posted its weakest month in more than 10 years in November, losing more than 20 percent as global supply outstripped demand. (Reuters)

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Governance

Alibaba takes control of film group in $160M share purchase

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A logo of Alibaba Group is pictured at its headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, October 14, 2015. REUTERS

BEIJING – 10 December 2018: Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) said on Monday it will increase its stake in Hong Kong-listed Alibaba Pictures (1060.HK) to 51 percent, taking control of the film unit’s board.

Alibaba Pictures will issue one billion new shares to Alibaba at HK$1.25, valuing the exchange at roughly HK$1.25 billion ($159.9 million), the e-commerce firm said.

Currently, Alibaba owns a 49 percent stake in the firm.

“The proposed share purchase is a vote of confidence in Alibaba Pictures, and we will continue to invest resources,” Alibaba chief Daniel Zhang said.

Alibaba Pictures, which listed in 2016, operates under Alibaba’s Digital Media and Entertainment business.

– Reuters

 

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Huawei CFO bail hearing to resume in Canada as Beijing piles pressure

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TORONTO – 10 December 2018: The CFO of Chinese telecom giant Huawei Technologies Co Ltd is set to be back in a Canadian courtroom on Monday, fighting for her freedom with the help of pressure from Beijing, while prosecutors argue she cannot be trusted.

Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou was arrested by Canadian authorities Dec. 1 at the request of the United States.

Meng, 46, faces U.S. accusations that she misled multinational banks about Huawei’s control of a company operating in Iran. This deception put the banks at risk of violating U.S. sanctions and incurring severe penalties, court documents said. U.S. officials allege that Huawei was trying to use the banks to move money out of Iran.

Canadian prosecutors argued against giving her bail while she awaits extradition to the United States.

Meng argued that she should be released on bail while awaiting an extradition hearing due to severe hypertension and fears for her health while incarcerated in Canada, court documents released on Sunday showed. In a sworn affidavit, Meng said she is innocent of the allegations and will contest them at trial in the United States if she is surrendered there.

She was detained while transferring flights in Canada and appeared in a British Columbia court on Friday for her bail hearing. After nearly six hours of arguments and counter arguments, the hearing was adjourned until Monday.

China has strongly criticized her detention and demanded her immediate release. Her arrest has roiled global markets as investors worry that it could torpedo attempts to thaw trade tensions between the United States and China.

Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, has been held in custody since her arrest. Her lawyer argues that this situation is untenable due to her health. Meng said in the sworn affidavit she was taken to a hospital for treatment for hypertension after being detained.

Meng also has sleep apnea and was treated for a carcinoma, lawyer David Martin told court on Friday.

At issue is whether Meng should be set free while her extradition case proceeds. The U.S. has 60 days to file a formal request; if its evidence convinces a judge the case has merit, Canada’s justice minister will decide whether to extradite Meng.

On Monday a judge could decide to set Meng free on any number of conditions, including high-tech surveillance, or to keep her in jail, according to some legal experts.

According to local media reports, Meng is being kept in Alouette Correctional Centre for Women, a Vancouver-area jail. Reuters could not independently verify these reports.

Meng’s wealth and power are undeniable as the financial chief of one of the biggest telecommunications companies in the world, which builds everything from networks to handsets and is seen as one of China’s best chances to change the global technology landscape.

Huawei is now China’s largest technology company by employees, with more than 180,000 staff and revenue of $93 billion in 2017.

– Reuters

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Europe’s Future Lies in the South and not the North, says Italian Finance Minister at Africa Conference

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“Africa is a continent of great change and opportunities. However, Europe finds it difficult to understand that its future lies in the South and not in the North,” said Giovanni Tria, Italian Minister of Finance and Economy. He was a speaking in Rome at a conference on Africa, challenges and opportunities: Italy and the African Development Bank.

Africa is currently  home to five of the world’s fastest growing economies, and only 4 African countries out of 54 will record negative growth in 2018, compared to 8 in previous years.

According to Tria, The current narrative about Africa is all wrong. He says, ‘Africa today has 5 distinctive advantages – a huge land mass of 30 million square kilometers, huge resources, a fast-growing population, fewer conflicts and major developments in education, and an economy that has consistently expanded over the last 15 years, even though it still only accounts for 3% of global GDP.

There is clear evidence of sustained demand growth across the continent. Consumer spending will reach $2.5 trillion by 2030, while business-to-business investments will reach over $3.5 trillion in the same period. “With a growing middle class and rapid urbanisation, consumer demand from a burgeoning middle class will turn the continent into a prime collective investment opportunity that cannot be ignored,” said Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank.

“This is proof positive of an Africa in the process of full transformation. Africa is the new international investment frontier,” he added. With $11.6 billion, Italy was the largest European investor on the continent in 2017, and the third largest after China and the United Arab Emirates.

Minister Tria commended the African Development Bank for its unique role in fostering a favourable investment environment and addressing Africa’s development challenges.

According to Adesina,  “The migration crisis in Europe is one of the biggest current social and political challenges that Italy and Europe have to deal with. I do not believe that the future of Africa’s youth lies in Europe. Neither does it lie at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. The future of Africa’s youth is in Africa helping to grow its economy and employment opportunities”.

The African Development Bank has launched a major initiative, the Jobs for Youth in Africa programme, aimed at creating 25 million jobs over a ten-year period. The Bank has also launched the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) to encourage banks and finance institutions in Africa to lend to female entrepreneurs and businesses run by women. Adesina points out that it is now “critical to change the lenses with which we look at Africa, from development aid to profitable investment,”

The evidence for this comes from the tremendous success of the Bank’s new mould-breaking initiative, the Africa Investment Forum, an event dedicated to investment transactions which took place last month in Johannesburg, South Africa. investment interests were secured in deals worth $38.7 billion in three days of transaction-dominated meetings between investors, the private sector and African countries.

Source: African Development Bank

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