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  • Home > News > Details
    Digest
    2015-01-09

    A-share market starts new year with a bang

    China's A-share market began 2015 with its best start in 22 years on Jan 5, led by energy and property shares as investors remained confident that the leadership will do more to fuel economic growth.

    The Shanghai Composite Index rose by 3.6 percent to close at 3,350.52, its highest level since Aug 6, 2009. Turnover soared to 549.8 billion yuan ($88.7 billion; 74.5 billion euros), up from 432.3 billion yuan on the last trading day of 2014.

    In addition to expectations of more interest rate cuts, which would inject more liquidity into the equity market, a number of fresh positive signs lifted investor sentiment.

    PetroChina Co surged by 10 percent to lead a gauge of energy shares to the biggest advance since 2008.

    China Vanke Co soared by 7.3 percent and Poly Real Estate Group Co by 10 percent after the government loosened mortgage requirements for first-time homebuyers.

    Daqin Railway, which operates China's biggest coal transportation network, rose by 5.1 percent, while Guangshen Railway Co gained 5.3 percent as China canceled price controls on railway bulk cargo, packages and privately invested cargo.

    Seattle's homes attract Chinese buyers

    Some Seattle-area homes are being built or remodeled to improve their feng shui to attract Chinese buyers.

    Specialized brokers who are fluent in Mandarin and understand feng shui - the Chinese belief system that everyone must be harmonized with their surrounding environment - are seeing an advantage when working with buyers from China.

    "We are witnessing exponential increases of Asian homebuyer interest in the Pacific Northwest, especially from the Chinese mainland," said Dean Jones, president and CEO of Realogics Sotheby's International Realty at a real estate showcase in Shanghai at the Marriott City Center in December.

    The Hurun Report says a majority of millionaires in China want to invest in and plan to eventually live in North America. The Seattle-Bellevue metro area has been a hot destination for Chinese seeking real estate.

    Wealthy Chinese homebuyers have flocked to the United States, spending $22 billion on property, tops among all foreign purchasers from March 2013 to March 2014, according to the National Association of Realtors.

    Privately funded bank issues first loan

    With the press of the "enter" putton on a computer keyboard, Premier Li Keqiang finalized the first loan by WeBank, a new online bank and one of five privately funded banks given approval to open in China.

    During a Jan 4 visit to China's first Internet-based bank, Li said he placed high hopes on the online competition in the banking sector to cut costs and force state-owned financial giants to change outdated business models.

    "Internet-based banking is a significant step in China's financial reform," Li said, stressing that the government will provide a good environment for the development of private and online banks.

    The loan approved by Li during the bank's soft launch was for 35,000 yuan ($5,600; 4,700 euros) to Xu Jun, a truck driver in Shenzhen.

    According to their agreement, Xu will repay the principal and interest, an annual rate of 7.5 percent, in six months.

    Gu Min, chairman of the bank, said the 7.5 percent interest rate is a result of analysis that included the driver's gender, age, education, marital status and social network.

    Govt officials set to receive travel subsidies

    A new guideline to rein in vehicle expenses for the central government is causing many officials to rethink their commutes.

    Instead of having cars provided by the government, bureau-level officials will receive monthly traffic subsidies of 1,300 yuan ($209; 176 euros), while those at director and section levels will get 800 yuan and 500 yuan a month, according to the guideline that took effect at the beginning of the year.

    With the subsidy, a bureau-level official could travel 13 times by taxi from Beijing Capital International Airport to Guomao, one of Beijing's busiest areas.

    "I knew about the guideline and heard that the traffic subsidies had been enforced," said an official from a central government department. "Maybe the money will be given out gradually. I haven't received any so far."

    The official, who declined to be named, said all vehicles in her department paid for with public funds were taken back about two months ago, "and we were asked to think of ways to solve the traffic problem," said the 37-year-old, who commutes to work by bus.

    NDRC loosens price controls on tobacco

    China has announced that procurement prices for tobacco leaves will now be set by supply and demand in a country where one-third of the world's cigarettes are consumed but where sales of high-end cigarettes have dropped during an ongoing crackdown on corruption.

    The National Development and Reform Commission and China Tobacco Co released a notice to relax procurement prices on more than 160 types of tobacco leaves, which had been the last agricultural product under pricing regulation in China.

    With the announcement, prices for all of China's agricultural products have been liberalized since the country began relaxing procurement-pricing regulation on agricultural products over the past three decades.

    Tobacco companies are now allowed to independently set procurement prices on tobacco leaves based on companies' revenues and demands, instead of purchasing the leaves at prices set by the government, according to a government statement.

    Annual production of leaf tobacco in China is around 2.5 million metric tons per year, with a total value of less than 100 billion yuan ($16.1 billion; 13.6 billion euros).

    Beijing renews effort to reduce PM2.5

    Beijing witnessed an increasing number of days with blue skies in 2014, while the reduction in the concentration of PM2.5, a major air pollutant, barely failed to reach its annual goal, the municipal environmental watchdog said on Jan 4.

    This year, Beijing has vowed to continue to keep a tight rein on air pollutants. It aims to reduce the concentration of PM2.5 - airborne particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter that can penetrate the lungs and threaten health - by 5 percent.

    Last year, Beijing had 204 days with air quality exceeding the national standards, 20 days more than in 2013.

    In addition, there were 45 days with heavy pollution, with the average concentration higher than 150 micrograms per cubic meter, down from 58 days in 2013, according to a report by the Beijing Environmental Monitoring Center.

    "The increase in blue skies and decrease in pollution days show our measures on air pollution control are effective," said Fang Li, deputy director of the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau on Jan 4.

    Army's new website aims to attract suppliers

    The People's Liberation Army opened a procurement website (www.weain.mil.cn) on Jan 4 to help private enterprises bid on weapons and equipment contracts.

    The website is managed by the procurement information service center under the PLA General Armaments Department.

    The department will release procurement information and policy changes on the website on the first business days of January and July. Specifications of badly needed equipment will be published in a timely manner, according to a statement by the department.

    Businesses can register on the platform and then upload licenses and certificates to have their identities authenticated.

    The PLA Daily quoted an unidentified official from the planning office of the department as saying the PLA has realized the importance of including private enterprises in its supplier pool and is striving to speed up the reform of its procurement mechanism.

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