U.S. stock funds lose $3.6 billion in week: Lipper


(Reuters) – U.S. equity funds saw $3.6 billion in outflows in the week ended on Wednesday, according to data released on Thursday by Lipper.

U.S. taxable bond funds attracted $12.4 billion, the 15th straight inflow, while U.S. money market funds shed $25.3 billion during the period, the largest outflow since mid April, Lipper data showed.

Reporting by Alden Bentley; Editing by Sandra Maler



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Australia to fast-track $2.6 billion worth of infrastructure spending in bid to revive economy By Reuters



By Colin Packham

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s conservative government will fast-track A$3.8 billion ($2.59 billion) in infrastructure spending, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday – a fillip to a stalling economy.

Australia’s economic growth has slumped to its lowest in a decade, led by weakness in consumer spending and home building.

Desperate to reinvigorate the economy, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has chopped interest rates by 75 basis points to an historic low of 0.75%, though it has repeatedly said increased government spending on infrastructure was required.

Heeding those calls, Morrison will use to a major speech on Wednesday to promise an injection of government spending on road and rail projects across the country, two sources familiar with the plans told Reuters.

Nearly half of A$3.8 billion to be invested over the next four years will be spent over the next 18 months, Morrison will say.

Speaking ahead of the speech in Brisbane, Morrison confirmed the infrastructure plan.

“All these projects will provide important extra support to the economy,” Morrison told Australia’s Channel 7.

Morrison has for several months since his unexpected re-election in May dismissed calls for accelerated infrastructure spending, insisting the government was focused on delivering Australia’s first budget surplus in more than a decade.

But with iron ore prices hitting new highs, Morrison’s conservative government has more fiscal firepower to prop up the country’s struggling economy.

The infrastructure spending plan is also a boost to the RBA, which discussed cutting interest rates again this month, though it decided to assess the impact of the three cuts already delivered since June.

Analysts generally assume the central bank would not want to take its cash rate below 0.5% and would have to resort to other stimulus steps such as asset purchases or lending to banks at super-low rates.

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ArcelorMittal Allowed to Complete $5.8 Billion Essar Deal By Bloomberg


© Reuters. ArcelorMittal Allowed to Complete $5.8 Billion Essar Deal

(Bloomberg) — ArcelorMittal won approval from India’s top court to complete its $5.8 billion purchase of a bankrupt steel mill, clearing the way for tycoon Lakshmi Mittal to enter the world’s second-biggest market.

The Supreme Court allowed Arcelor to make the payment for Essar Steel India Ltd. and set aside a bankruptcy appellate tribunal’s order that had given secured and unsecured creditors equal right over the sale proceeds. The lenders’ panel of a bankrupt company has discretion in the distribution of funds in insolvencies, a three-judge bench headed by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman said Friday.

The acquisition of Essar Steel India Ltd. will make Arcelor the fourth-biggest producer in a nation where the government is investing trillions of rupees in infrastructure. The verdict is likely to be the final approval in a more than yearlong battle by Arcelor to take over Essar. While companies can seek a review of decision by the same bench of judges, the success of review petitions is rare.

The world’s largest steelmaker, ArcelorMittal SA (AS:) and its partner Nippon Steel Corp. had offered to pay 420 billion rupees ($5.8 billion) in cash to creditors and pump another 80 billion rupees in the mill last year. While that offer was approved by a bankruptcy tribunal in March under the insolvency process, the payment was kept on hold by the Supreme Court after a dispute arose between lenders on the distribution of funds.

The ruling will set a precedent for other insolvencies that are awaiting resolution over the distribution of funds between different class of creditors.

India’s rupee, and creditors to Essar extended gains after the ruling. The rose 0.3% at 11:06 a.m., while State Bank Of India (NS:) added 4.2% and Canara Bank Ltd (NS:) surged as much as 7%.

The Supreme Court on Friday also said the timeline for insolvencies can be extended in exceptional cases.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Mercedes-Benz Cars to slash 1 billion euros in costs by 2022 By Reuters



FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Daimler (DE:) shares fell sharply on Thursday after the German carmaker said tougher emissions rules will hit earnings in 2020 and 2021 forcing it to seek more than 1 billion euros in personnel cuts at Mercedes-Benz Cars by end of 2022.

The company said it expects to achieve a return on sales from operating activities at Mercedes-Benz Cars & Vans of at least 4% in the year 2020 and at least 6% in 2022.

Earlier this year, Daimler had said it hoped to achieve a return on sales of 3% to 5% at Mercedes-Benz Cars.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Alibaba’s Singles’ Day sales hit record $38 billion; growth slows


HANGZHOU, China (Reuters) – Chinese retailer Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s sales for its 24-hour Singles’ Day shopping blitz hit a record $38.4 billion, more than U.S. rival Amazon.com Inc’s haul last quarter from online store sales.

But sales growth for the annual shopping festival eased to 26%, the weakest since the event started in 2009, held back by a slowing e-commerce industry in China as the country’s economic expansion heads toward a historic low.

The event tmsnrt.rs/2WTFm7V, a gauge of Chinese consumer sentiment, has also become a shop window this year for Alibaba as it plans to sell $15 billion worth of shares in Hong Kong this month. The U.S.-listed firm has spent big to diversify its business yet still earns over four-fifths of revenue from e-commerce.

Alibaba turned China’s informal Singles’ Day into a shopping event in 2009 and built it into the world’s biggest online sales fest, dwarfing Cyber Monday in the United States which took in $7.9 billion last year. The name is a play on the date, Nov. 11, rendered 11/11 – or Double Eleven, as the event is also known.

The event has since been replicated at home and abroad, with Singles’ Day promotions found at rivals such as China’s JD.com Inc and Pinduoduo Inc as well as South Korea’s 11thStreet and Singapore’s Qoo10.

Alibaba said on Monday its gross merchandise volume or GMV for the whole event came in at 268.4 billion yuan ($38.4 billion), up 26% from last year but below Citic Securities’ forecasts for a 20-25% expansion.

In 2018, it posted a 27% sales increase.

CELEBRITY START

The Chinese retail juggernaut, with a market value of $486 billion, kicked off this year’s 24-hour shopping bonanza with a live performance by U.S. pop star Taylor Swift followed by live-streamed marketing of over 1,000 brands.

The firm said 84 brands including those of Apple Inc, L’Oreal SA and Fast Retailing Co Ltd’s Uniqlo each made over 100 million yuan in sales in the first hour.

Over half of merchants on its Tmall marketplace used live streaming to sell products during the event, and sales generated through the medium surpassed 10 billion yuan at 8.55 a.m. (0055 GMT), Alibaba said.

“Nearly all our brands have opted for livestreaming promotions some time this year,” says Josh Gardner, who helps overseas companies sell products on Tmall as CEO of Kung Fu Data.

A screen shows the value of goods being transacted during Alibaba Group’s Singles’ Day global shopping festival at the company’s headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

“It’s more entertaining than browsing through a product detail page. Traffic from livestreaming is easy to convert into transactions, and Tmall has supported stores that run livestreaming activities with resources.”

One vendor, New Zealand-based nutritional supplement maker Clinicians, broadcast livestreams from a booth set up on Alibaba’s campus. According to Carlos Zhao, China market manager, the company has seen a 40% jump in sales after it started livestreaming in China six months ago.

“This is a product form from new Zealand, everything is in English, and so many people are selling similar products, so customers wonder, ‘Which one do I choose from?’” he told Reuters. “Having a livestreamer can help to break those barriers.”

Tmall has said it expects over 500 million users to make purchases this year, about 100 million more than last year. It has also put more emphasis this year on promotions targeting areas outside of China’s massive first- and second-tier cities.

“The younger generation is buying more, and the customer from rural areas, the customers from lower-tier cities, they are buying imported products,” Tmall General Manager Alvin Liu told reporters.

Singles’ Day is known to be a stressful time for Alibaba employees with workers sleeping at the office to keep up with orders.

This year, at Alibaba’s campus in Hangzhou, workers bustle around in red t-shirts with the slogan ‘Make 11 happen’.

Slideshow (14 Images)

Percussion echoes through halls as departments bang large drums each time a sales record is broken. Pink rice cakes – dingshenggao, or ‘victory cakes’ eaten by Yue Army soldiers during the Song Dynasty – fill the office snack bars.

This is the first time Alibaba’s Singles’ Day is being held since its flamboyant co-founder Jack Ma resigned as chairman in September to “start a new life”.

Reporting by Josh Horwitz in Hangzhou; Additional reporting by Brenda Goh in Shanghai and Cheng Leng in Beijing; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Himani Sarkar



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A Record $173 Billion Is Flowing From Korea Into Riskier Assets By Bloomberg



(Bloomberg) — A hunt for yield is prompting South Korean investors to pile tens of billions of dollars into unconventional assets abroad, raising risks of losses on unfamiliar products.

Holdings of overseas alternative assets such as real estate, infrastructure, private equity and debt, and hedge funds by investors in Asia’s fourth-largest economy rose to at least about 201 trillion won ($173 billion) this year, a record, according to data compiled by Samsung (KS:) Securities Co. and Korea Investors Service Inc. That compares with 158 trillion won held by fund managers, pension funds, insurers and brokerages at the end of 2018 and 118 trillion won in 2017.

Korean investors are joining peers around the world in putting more money in alternative assets as equity and bond returns sag. The global amount of such products under management has risen more than three-fold over the past decade to $9.5 trillion in 2018, and it’s forecast to grow to $14 trillion in 2023, according to Preqin data. The assets can expose buyers to bigger risks than conventional securities, because they are often less liquid with less information about them available to the public.

Some signs of trouble are already emerging.

  • An Australia real estate fund sold by KB Securities Co. is trying to retrieve its investments after a dispute with a local partner, according to a spokeswoman at the brokerage. Institutional investors put 236 billion won in the fund and retail investors parked 90.4 billion won in it.
  • Some derivative-linked securities tied to a German real estate fund sold by Shinhan Investment Corp. extended their maturities because of problems with the underlying assets, a Shinhan spokesman said. About 380 billion won of such securities were sold.
  • Lime Asset Management Co., Korea’s biggest hedge fund firm, said last month it had frozen $710 million in withdrawals from its funds, some of which invested in collateralized loan obligations repackaging trade finance assets.
  • Korean brokerages have more overseas alternative assets on their books that they haven’t been able to sell, and that could pose risks for them, a local ratings firm warned in September. Unsold assets that big brokerages have held for more than six months jumped to 1.3 trillion won at the end of June from about 500 billion won in 2018.

“We should learn from those examples and set up an adequate process to mitigate risks,” said Andy Kim, a credit analyst at Samsung Securities. “Selecting asset classes is getting more important among alternative assets due to fierce competition for the products and high valuations.”

Kim expects demand for infrastructure investment to rise further and recommended 5G facilities and European renewable energy projects because those assets are less affected by swings in the economic cycle.

Korean institutions need to boost returns on their investments to help provide for an aging population, and the national pension fund has 708 trillion won in assets. But with a global economic slowdown and sliding interest rates dragging down returns, there are signs that some investors have grown less cautious when opportunities to earn extra yield arise.

Skepticism Needed

Lee Do-yoon, chief investment officer at the Police Mutual Aid Association in Seoul, said that his staff recently suggested that the fund invest in a power plant in New York state because the potential return was high.

“I asked him if he visited the site or if he even knew where the plant was located exactly, and he said no,” said Lee, whose organization oversees about 2.6 trillion won in assets. Lee rejected the proposal.

Lee said he doesn’t think all alternative investments are bad but that fund managers should avoid indiscriminate investment in unfamiliar assets. He said it’s “just nonsense” that funds that avoid junk-rated bonds have no objections to putting their money in direct lending with no credit ratings because it’s considered an alternative investment.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.





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Alibaba says Singles’ Day sales hit 91.2 billion yuan in first hour


The logo of Alibaba Group is seen during Alibaba Group’s 11.11 Singles’ Day global shopping festival at the company’s headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, China, November 10, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Inc said on Monday that sales for its annual Singles’ Day shopping blitz hit 91.2 billion yuan ($13 billion) within the first hour, up 32% from last year’s early haul of 69 billion yuan.

Akin to Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the United States, Singles’ Day has been promoted as a shopping fest by Alibaba Chairman and Chief Executive Daniel Zhang since 2009, growing rapidly to become the world’s biggest online sales event.

Also known as “Double Eleven”, the festival’s name originates from the calendar date 11/11, with the four ones referencing being single. Alibaba saw sales worth $30 billion on its platforms on Singles’ Day last year, dwarfing $7.9 billion U.S. online sales for Cyber Monday. Yet the 27% sales growth was the lowest in the event’s 10-year history, spurring a search for fresh ideas.

The $486 billion Chinese retail juggernaut kicked off this year’s 24-hour shopping fest with performances by American pop star Taylor Swift and local celebrities like Jackson Yee.

This is the first time Alibaba’s Singles’ Day does not have flamboyant co-founder Jack Ma at its helm, after he resigned in September as chairman.

It also comes at a crucial time for the company, which is looking to raise up to $15 billion via a share sale in Hong Kong this month.

Alibaba continues to dominate the online shopping industry, but not without competition.

In addition to longtime rival JD.com, it now faces competition from upstart Pinduoduo, which surged in popularity in 2017 by targeting consumers in China’s lower-tier cities.

Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Jan Harvey



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AXA expects to book $3.1 billion gain from EQH exit By Reuters



PARIS (Reuters) – French insurer AXA (PA:) said it expected to book net proceeds of $3.1 billion from the sale of a 29% stake in AXA Equitable Holdings (EQH) (N:) as it exits its U.S. life insurance business.

AXA, the second-largest European insurer after Germany’s Allianz (DE:), has been gradually divesting from EQH to raise funds to pay for its $15 billion acquisition of Bermuda-based rival XL last year.

AXA said in a statement on Friday it had sold 144 million EQH shares at $21.80 per share to Goldman Sachs (N:), the sole underwriter in a secondary public share offering expected to close on Nov. 13.

EQH has agreed to repurchase 24 million shares at the same price.

AXA said that proceeds from the deal would boost the group’s Solvency II capital requirements ratio by six points and that no significant net income impact was expected.

After the deal, the French group will retain only a 9.6% stake it needs to redeem an AXA bond maturing in May 2021 that has to be exchangeable in EQH shares.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Sudan needs up to $5 billion in budget support to prevent collapse By Reuters


© Reuters. Sudan’s Finance Minister Ibrahim Elbadawi speaks during an interview with Reuters in Khartoum

By Khaled Abdelaziz, Ulf Laessing and Michael Georgy

KHARTOUM (Reuters) – Sudan needs up to $5 billion in budget support to avert economic collapse and launch reforms after the ouster of veteran ruler Omar al-Bashir, its finance minister told Reuters.

The country, in crisis since losing most of its oil wealth with South Sudan’s secession in 2011, has only enough foreign currency reserves to fund imports for a few weeks, said Ibrahim Elbadawi, part of a transitional government formed in August.

Sudan has had some support for fuel and wheat imports but about 65 percent of its 44 million people live in poverty and it needs up to $2 billion in development funding along with a hoped-for $2 billion from Arab development funds, he said.

Outlining reform plans in detail for the first time, Elbadawi said public salaries would need to be increased and a social support network established to prepare for the painful removal of fuel and food subsidies.

Months of demonstrations over price hikes for fuel and bread and cash shortages triggered the uprising against Bashir, who was toppled in April by the military. Protests have continued since, with people killed in clashes with security forces.

“We have started the process (of reforms),” Elbadawi said in an interview on Thursday. “The people of Sudan deserve to be seen in a radically different prism than the international community used to see Sudan, as a country ruled by a pariah state.”

“Now we have a revolution,” he said. Asked how much budget support was needed for 2020 he said: “Some estimates say between three to four billion (US dollars), maybe even five billion.”

The civilian government Elbadawi is part of has taken over for three years under a power-sharing deal with the military. It has drawn slightly more than half of $3 billion in support for imports of wheat and fuel offered by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates in April, he said.

A “friends of Sudan” donor meeting is planned for December and the government had agreed with the United States it could start engaging with international institutions while still on a list of countries deemed sponsors of terrorism, Elbadawi said.

The designation, which dates from allegations in 1993 that Bashir’s Islamist government supported terrorism, makes it technically ineligible for debt relief and financing from the IMF and World Bank. Congress needs to approve a removal.

CURRENCY

The first experts from international institutions had arrived in Khartoum to help with reforms and a delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) would come this month for Chapter IV discussions, Elbadawi said. There was no immediate comment from the IMF, World Bank or U.S. State Department.

Part of a roadmap agreed with the IMF and World Bank was that Sudan did not have to pay back $3 billion in arrears from international institutions.

“We don’t need to pay anything. What we need to … deliver really is policy,” he said. Sudan is one of the most indebted countries, owing $60 billion, which needs to be settled separately.

Sudan would start to increase its tax base and overhaul the civil sector, Elbadawi said. Salaries — eroded by double digit inflation rates — could be raised as much as 100 percent by April.

In the second half of next year a social support network would be set up to allow the lifting of subsidies by June or later. Some donor funding would be used to collect data to allow cash transfers for the needy.

Sudan also wanted to produce bread based on sorghum, a local cereal, to import less wheat. He said he hoped a spread between official and black market would be ended by June. But this week the local pound dropped to 80 for a dollar on the black market versus the official rate at 45.

He said the 2020 budget would have sustainable development targets for education, health care and social spending, suggesting Sudan might move away from the dominant military spending choking development.





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Blackstone takes majority stake in ‘Bumble’ parent, values firm at about $3 billion


FILE PHOTO: The ticker and trading information for Blackstone Group is displayed at the post where it is traded on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) April 4, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) – Blackstone Group Inc (BX.N) is taking a majority stake in MagicLab, the parent company of dating app “Bumble” and “Badoo”, valuing the company at about $3 billion, the private equity firm said in a statement on Friday.

Following the deal, Andrey Andreev who is the founder of MagicLab, will sell his stake to Blackstone and be replaced as chief executive officer by Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble’s present CEO.

Bumble began in 2014 as a dating platform for women to start discussions with potential male partners and competes with Match Group Inc’s (MTCH.O) Tinder and Facebook’s (FB.O) dating service.

Shares of Match Group, which also owns dating platforms OkCupid and PlentyOfFish, were down 2.5%.

Citi Global Capital Markets is the financial adviser to MagicLab and Baker McKenzie is the legal adviser to the MagicLab’s majority shareholders. Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is the legal adviser to Blackstone.

Reporting by Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Shailesh Kuber



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