Hong Kong November business activity shrinks the most in 21 years: PMI By Reuters



HONG KONG (Reuters) – Business activity in Hong Kong contracted at the fastest pace in 21 years in November, dragged down by anti-government protests and softening global demand, an IHS Markit survey showed on Wednesday.

Increasingly violent demonstrations have disrupted the Chinese-ruled city for nearly six months, battering its retail and tourism sector and plunging its economy into recession for the first time in a decade.

The seasonally adjusted headline Hong Kong Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI) fell to 38.5 in November, down from 39.3 in October and signaling the steepest private sector downturn since the SARS epidemic in early 2003.

A survey reading above 50 indicates expansion, while a figure below 50 denotes contraction on a monthly basis.

“Escalating political unrest saw business activity shrinking at the steepest rate since the survey started in July 1998,” said Bernard Aw, principal economist at IHS Markit.

“The average PMI reading for October and November combined showed the economy on track to see GDP fall by over 5% in the fourth quarter, unless December brings a dramatic recovery.”

Demand from mainland China shrank for a nineteenth straight month in November, although the pace of contraction eased from October.

Companies also continued to scale back their purchases of raw materials and other inputs, with 38% of survey respondents predicting weaker activity in the year ahead, citing political unrest and the protracted U.S.-China trade war.

Hong Kong’s retail sales fell the most on record in October, sinking 24.3% from a year earlier, government data showed on Monday. Tourist arrivals plunged nearly 44%.

Protesters are angry by what they see as Beijing’s tightening grip over the city’s cherished freedoms promised under a “one country, two systems” formula when Britain returned it to Chinese rule in 1997.

China denies interfering and says it is committed to the “one country, two systems” formula put in place at that time and has blamed foreign forces for fomenting unrest.

The crisis has heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing, complicating the two sides’ efforts to negotiate a trade deal.

Economists at ING said Hong Kong is sliding into a hard-landing recession.

“No one is expecting a sudden end to the violent situation. We’re forecasting GDP growth at -7% for the fourth quarter, and full-year growth will be -2.25% in 2019, which is close in scale to 2009’s recession of -2.5%,” they said in a note on Monday.

The economy could shrink 5.8% in 2020, assuming trade war uncertainty and violent protests drag on through the year, ING said.

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.

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China wants to speed up business reforms, investment to boost slowing economy: premier By Reuters



SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China will speed up reforms to help build a market-based, globalized business environment and break investment barriers for all kinds of companies, Premier Li Keqiang was quoted as saying during a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Economic growth slowed to 6% year on year in the third quarter of 2019, the weakest pace in more than 25 years, with the economy hit by a punishing trade war with the United States.

China has already drawn up new measures to start on Jan. 1 to “optimize” the business environment aimed at improving productivity and competitiveness.

Li was also quoted as saying in a summary of the Cabinet meeting published on China’s official government website (http://www.gov.cn) that taxes would continue to be cut as part of efforts to stimulate the slowing economy.

China aims to reduce administrative barriers, lower industry entry thresholds, eliminate discriminatory practices and decentralize investment decisions, the summary said.

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.



UK business services profits down by most in 8 years: CBI By Reuters



LONDON (Reuters) – Profits at British professional and business services firms dropped by the most since 2011 for a second quarter running and businesses are cutting back on investment, the Confederation of British Industry said on Thursday.

CBI surveys have regularly painted a downbeat picture of Britain’s economy as businesses face political uncertainty created by Brexit and, more recently, a national election on Dec. 12.

“The current economic climate is holding back UK services firms, which are reporting falling sentiment, declining volumes and weaker profitability. Neither is the outlook expected to improve,” CBI chief economist Rain Newton-Smith said.

The professional and business services profitability gauge held at August’s level of -25, the lowest since November 2011, while plans to invest in vehicles, plant and machinery were the weakest since 2010.

Overall optimism for consumer services firms fell again albeit at a slightly slower pace of -25 in November compared with -28 in August, while for business and professional services companies it picked up to -20 from -31.

Britain’s services sector accounts for about 80% of the economy which grew by 1.0% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2019, the weakest since early 2010, official figures showed earlier this month.

The services sector grew 1.4%, but depended more on government spending than at any time since early 2013.

The CBI’s survey was based on responses from 179 business and professional services firms and 62 consumer service firms between Oct. 29 and Nov. 13.

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.



Exclusive: Hedge fund Citadel’s commodities business up about $1 billion for the year – sources


FILE PHOTO: Ken Griffin, Founder and CEO, Citadel, speaks during the Milken Institute’s 22nd annual Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Citadel’s commodities investments are up at least $1 billion for the year, according to three sources familiar with the matter, helping to drive strong overall performance at one of the world’s largest hedge funds.

Citadel, which manages more than $30 billion in assets, has profited from a strong performance in European natural gas and power trading, two of the sources said. Its flagship Wellington fund has gained more than 15% this year through October, one source close to the fund said.

A spokesperson for Citadel, led by Chicago billionaire Ken Griffin, declined to comment.

British and Dutch gas prices, benchmarks for Europe-wide gas sales as well as some liquefied natural gas (LNG) markets, lost half their value from September 2018 through October 2019. They hit 10-year lows in June, weighed down by an influx of LNG and gas supplies from Russia, the United States and others.

Citadel’s hedge funds invest across asset classes such as equities, fixed income and credit. Commodities, one of Citadel’s five core investment strategies, invests in both financial and physical markets.

Hedge fund industry returns have been muted in recent years prompting some big names to wind down operations, such as Jamison Capital’s macro fund, T. Boone Pickens’ BP Capital and Andy Hall’s main hedge fund at Astenbeck Capital Management.

Citadel is among a handful of multi-strategy funds that have performed well despite the challenging commodities trading environment.

Industry returns have averaged about 5%, according to the Hedge Fund Research (HFR) asset weighted composite index while returns in the HFR macro commodity index have averaged gains of about 4% year-to-date.

Earlier this month, Citadel named firm veteran James Yeh president and co-chief investment officer for Citadel’s hedge fund business, effective Jan. 1, 2020, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York; additional reporting by Lawrence Delevingne



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Euro zone business activity gloomy in November, scant hope for improvement By Reuters



By Jonathan Cable

LONDON (Reuters) – Euro zone business growth has almost ground to a halt this month as a downturn in the manufacturing industry appears to be increasingly affecting the bloc’s dominant services industry, a survey showed on Friday.

Worryingly for policymakers at the European Central Bank, who have so far failed to stoke demand and inflation, forward-looking indicators suggest the bloc’s economy is on shaky ground.

New ECB President Christine Lagarde reaffirmed on Friday that the central bank would do its part by continuing to support the economy and respond to future risks while monitoring the side effects of its easy money policy.

The ECB has resumed its bond-buying program and is purchasing 20 billion euros’ worth a month, and in September it lowered its deposit rate deeper into negative territory while keeping the door open to future reductions.

But so far those measures have not borne fruit.

IHS Markit’s flash November composite Purchasing Managers’ Index, seen as a reliable guide to economic health, slipped to 50.3 from October’s 50.6, moving to within a whisker of the 50 mark separating growth from contraction.

That was below all expectations in a Reuters poll and was only just shy of a more than six-year low reading in September.

November’s PMI points to GDP growth of 0.1% this quarter, IHS Markit said, slower than the 0.2% last quarter and the 0.2% prediction in a Reuters poll last week.

“It seems that growth is slowing to a snail’s pace in the fourth quarter. The winter months will, therefore, be a nail biter for euro zone growth,” said Bert Colijn at ING.

Still, strong exports and state and consumer spending helped the German economy avoid a recession in the third quarter, other data showed, although Europe’s biggest economy is going through a soft patch.

Business conditions there continued to deteriorate in November, although more slowly than recently, but its PMI showed the mood was still gloomy.

“There are signs that Germany’s industrial recession may have passed the worst. But this merely suggests that the pace of contraction is slowing,” said Andrew Kenningham at Capital Economics.

In France, business activity picked up slightly this month, as the euro zone’s second-biggest economy battles to keep growing while international trade disputes cloud the outlook.

Core European government bond yields edged lower after the PMI data but global stocks inched up, lifted by China’s renewed offer to work out a trade pact with Washington.

DOWNBEAT

Giving little hope for a big revival, new business fell for a third month in the currency union. The sub-index was 49.7, albeit just above October’s 49.6.

A PMI for the bloc’s dominant service industry dropped to a 10-month low of 51.5 from 52.2. That was also below all expectations in a Reuters poll.

Manufacturers produced slightly more positive news, but their PMI showed activity contracted for a 10th month. The factory PMI rose to 46.6 from 45.9, above the median forecast for 46.4.

An index measuring output, which feeds into the composite PMI, rose to 47.1 from 46.6. That contraction was despite factories cutting the prices of their goods for a fifth month.

Once more, with demand falling a chunk of that production was derived from completing backlogs of work and factories again reduced headcount and cut back on purchases of raw materials.

Also probably of concern for policymakers, services firms likewise filled old orders faster than new ones came in and curtailed hiring, suggesting there won’t be a turnaround anytime soon.

That meant optimism dwindled to its lowest since mid-2013. The services business expectations index dropped to 57.0 from 57.4.



U.S. to extend license for its companies to continue business with Huawei: sources


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is set to issue a two-week extension of a license allowing U.S. companies to continue doing business with China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, two sources familiar with the deliberations said.

FILE PHOTO: A Huawei company logo is pictured at the Shenzhen International Airport in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

The extension of around two weeks is far shorter than the prior 90-day extension and a longer extension is in the works but has not yet been finalized due to regulatory hurdles, said one source who was briefed on the matter.

After adding Huawei to an economic blacklist in May citing national security concerns, the U.S. Commerce Department has allowed it to purchase some American-made goods in a move aimed at minimizing disruption for its customers, many of which operate networks in rural America.

The extension will be announced on Monday, when the earlier reprieve is set to expire, the sources said, declining to be identified as the extension has not been publicly announced.

A spokesman for Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of telecom network equipment, said the company does not comment on rumors and speculation. The Commerce Department declined to comment.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business Network on Friday that some rural carriers need the temporary licenses and are dependent on Huawei for 3G and 4G networks.

“There are enough problems with telephone service in the rural communities – we don’t want to knock them out. So, one of the main purposes of the temporary general licenses is to let those rural guys continue to operate,” Ross said.

The development comes amid discussions between the United States and China aimed at coming to an initial agreement to resolve a trade war that has lasted for over a year.

In blacklisting Huawei, the U.S. government said it had a “reasonable basis to conclude that Huawei is engaged in activities that are contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interests”. Huawei has repeatedly denied the accusations.

Attorney General William Barr said on Thursday Huawei and ZTE Corp (000063.SZ) “cannot be trusted,” as he backed a proposal to bar U.S. rural wireless carriers from tapping an $8.5 billion government fund to purchase equipment or services from them.

In May, President Donald Trump also signed an executive order declaring a national emergency and barring U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by companies posing a national security risk. The Commerce Department was due to draw up an enforcement plan by mid-October but has yet to publish one.

The Commerce Department is also considering whether to grant individual licenses for U.S. firms to sell components to Huawei after receiving more than 200 requests.

Reporting by Steve Holland and David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and Kenneth Li in New York; Editing by Sandra Maler and Edwina Gibbs



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U.S. business inventories unchanged; retail stocks revised down By Reuters


U.S. business inventories unchanged; retail stocks revised down

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – U.S. business inventories were unexpectedly flat in September as stocks at retailers were not as large as initially thought.

The Commerce Department said on Friday that the unchanged reading in business inventories followed a 0.1% dip in August. Inventories are a key component of gross domestic product.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast inventories edging up 0.1% in September.

Retail inventories rose 0.2% in September instead of increasing 0.3% as estimated in an advance report published last month. That followed a 0.2% drop in August.

Motor vehicle inventories gained 0.2% in September as previously reported. Retail inventories excluding autos, which go into the calculation of GDP, increased 0.2%, instead of climbing 0.3% as reported last month.

The pace of inventory accumulation has been slowing after stocks surged from the third quarter of 2018 through the first quarter of this year. The inventory overhang has led to businesses placing fewer orders at factories, contributing to a downturn in manufacturing activity.

The government reported last month that inventory investment subtracted a marginal 0.05 percentage point from GDP growth in the third quarter. The economy grew at a 1.9% annualized rate in the July-September quarter, driven by consumer spending.

Wholesale inventories dropped 0.4% in September, while stocks at manufacturers increased 0.3%.

Business sales fell 0.2% in September after edging up 0.1% in the prior month. At September’s sales pace, it would take 1.40 months for businesses to clear shelves, unchanged from August.

Motor vehicle sales declined 1.3% in September after advancing 2.0% in August. The auto inventory-to-sales ratio rose to 2.35 months from 2.31 months in August.

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.



UBS wealth management co-head Khan unveils plans to grow business: paper


FILE PHOTO: Iqbal Khan, CEO International Wealth Management of Swiss bank Credit Suisse, smiles as he speaks during “The Wealth Management Industry – Into the next decade” at the Reuters Global Wealth Management Summit, Park Hyatt hotel, Zurich Switzerland, June 13, 2016. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

ZURICH (Reuters) – UBS (UBSG.S) executive board member Iqbal Khan wants to expand credit to rich clients as a way to grow the Swiss bank’s wealth management business, it was reported on Sunday.

Khan, the former Credit Suisse star manager who is now co-head of wealth management at UBS, said in a memo to staff he wanted to see “quick wins while working on long-term strategic solutions,” Sonntagzeitung wrote on Sunday.

“Financing is definitely an area where we could do more,” Khan said in the memo, according to the newspaper.

“We must make sure that we not only keep our competitors at a distance, but we also increase the distance to them,” the executive wrote.

In the memo to staff, Khan said he also wants to grow UBS’s private equity, private debt, infrastructure and other unspecified asset classes.

The executive, wants to integrate more closely the activities of UBS’s asset management business with its investment bank, the newspaper reported.

Khan, along with Tom Naratil, the other co-head of UBS’s wealth management business are due to report back to the bank’s CEO Sergio Ermotti during December with their plans for the unit.

The memo is one of the first signs of Khan’s plans for the business he joined in October after quitting as head of the international wealth management business at Credit Suisse following a feud with Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam.

“Financing is a high priority for our customers and therefore also for us, but our risk appetite and risk limits do not change as a result,” a UBS spokesman said on Sunday.

Reporting by John Revill; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle



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Essential Strategies for Securing Your Business’ Crypto Assets By Cryptovest


Essential Strategies for Securing Your Business’ Crypto Assets

Crypto assets are often associated with numerous advantages, including the transparency and security of transactions. However, these don’t mean that cryptographic assets have immunity from theft. They can be stolen by cybercriminals in more ways than one.

According to a report by cybersecurity firm CipherTrace, cryptocurrency theft amounted to $1.7 billion in 2018. This figure is more than 400% higher than the amount of stolen crypto money in the previous year. The bulk of the amounts stolen is attributed to thefts from cryptocurrency exchanges and cryptocurrency infrastructure services — online wallets in particular.

On the other hand, cybersecurity company Carbon Black reported that while the most common targets of cryptocurrency theft are exchanges (27%), businesses are a close second (21%). It only makes sense for cryptocurrency-owning businesses to put security measures in place as a growing number of businesses are already accepting bitcoins and other crypto assets as payments. These include Microsoft (NASDAQ:), Overstock, and Expedia (NASDAQ:). Even KFC-Canada, Virgin Galactic, and several branches of Subway already include cryptocurrency in their list of payment options.

The Nature of Crypto Asset Theft

How are cryptocurrencies and other cryptography-based assets stolen? Before going into the details of this topic, it’s important to know the basics of how the supposedly unbreakable encryption behind bitcoin and other cryptography-based assets is defeated. With all the lengthy strings of characters used to identify a transaction and the similarly kilometric private keys needed to access wallets, how come cryptocurrencies are still compromised?

A good way to answer this question is by comparing cryptocurrency to a fortress with indestructible walls. Attacks may not be able to pierce through the walls, but the fortress has openings intentionally added for the entry and exit of the users. These points of entry/exit are what hackers exploit. Cryptography, at least before quantum computers become viable, is still virtually impenetrable. That’s why it’s not what cybercriminals attack, it’s the specific accounts whose owners fail to take advantage of security measures.

One of the common ways to steal cryptocurrency is clipboard hijacking. This is done by introducing “clipper” malware to computers. These “clippers” copy and submit data stored in the clipboard, which may include the private keys for cryptocurrency wallets. Many of the malware used to steal crypto asset details are concealed as cryptocurrency trading add-ons, slack bots, and supposedly mundane apps laced with malicious codes.

Some attacks may be o…

This article appeared first on Cryptovest

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.



South Africa’s Taste Holdings to exit food business, sells Starbucks stores


FILE PHOTO: A Starbucks logo is reflected on a window at the shop in Rosebank, South Africa, November 27, 2018. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Taste Holdings (TASJ.J), owner of Starbucks and Domino’s Pizza franchises in South Africa, said on Friday it was abandoning the food business, and had already sold its 13 stores of the coffee chain to a consortium for 7 million rand ($464,000).

The company said it was also in discussions around the sale of Domino’s and its two other food businesses, restaurant chain Maxi’s and The Fish & Chips Co, as part of a new strategy to become a solely luxury retail group.

It had been trying to turn the Starbucks and Domino’s businesses around after putting their expansions on hold a year ago amid losses – making Taste one of a string of retail firms hurt by a troubled South African economy.

In a statement, it said that after months of canvassing potential partners and capital providers, it had become evident that the money required to fund its plan could not be secured with the current business structure and market conditions.

“Taste’s board of directors has therefore revisited the previous strategy and has decided that it is in the best interests of the Company and all stakeholders to exit the food business,” the statement said.

Consumer-focused firms from banks to retailers have been struggling in South Africa, where a stagnant or contracting economy, unemployment of near 30% and rising living costs have left many with little extra cash.

Taste said following the sale of the food assets, including the Starbucks stores and 48 Domino’s outlets, it would focus on its remaining luxury retail portfolio, including jewelers Arthur Kaplan and World’s Finest Watches. That, however, is also loss-making.

Its statement said the Starbucks outlets had been sold to a company called K2019548958 (South Africa) Proprietary Limited, a consortium whose members were not identified in full.

Reporting by Emma Rumney; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Muralikumar Anantharaman



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