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News from China
Home price rise moderates in May
20th June 2016

 CHINA’S property sector continued to recover but at a slower pace in May, with fewer cities reporting month-on-month rises in new home prices, an official survey has showed.

Of 70 large and medium-sized cities surveyed last month, new home prices climbed month on month in 60 of them, down from 65 in April, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

Meanwhile, four cities reported month-on-month price declines, down from five in April, according to the bureau data.

For pre-owned homes, 49 cities said prices rose month on month in May and 13 posted lower prices, compared with 51 and 10 in April.

Overall, the home price growth has slowed, with the average month-on-month increase for new homes narrowing 0.3 percentage points and that for existing homes contracting 0.4 percentage points, said Liu Jianwei, the bureau’s senior statistician.

Both top-tier cities and smaller cities saw milder month-on-month growth in May than in April, but the year-on-year data remained upbeat, Liu said.

On an annual basis, 50 cities posted new home price gains and 18 reported falls in May, compared with 46 and 23 in April.

New home prices soared 54 percent year on year in Shenzhen, the sharpest increase last month among all the major cities.

Prices in the top-tier cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou rose 33.8 percent, 21.4 percent, and 19 percent year on year, respectively.

The northeastern city of Jinzhou saw the steepest price drop of 3.2 percent over a year earlier.

While top-tier cities posted slower year-on-year price increases, second and third-tier cities saw average growth accelerate from April, Liu said.

China’s housing market started to recover in the second half of 2015 after cooling for more than a year, boosted by government support, which included interest rate cuts and lower deposit requirements.

But the sector’s recovery has been uneven from city to city, with economically strong areas reporting sharp price rises, and less developed areas still seeing huge stocks of unsold houses.

The contrasting picture has prompted local authorities to take different approaches: Shenzhen and Shanghai have tightened policies to curb speculative buying, while third and fourth-tier cities are eying new ways to spur sales.

Source: Shanghai Daily, June 20, 2016
Ctrip posts US$240m loss in Q1 on Qunar buy
17th June 2016

 CTRIP.COM Inc posted a net loss of 1.58 billion yuan (US$240 million) in the first quarter after acquiring loss-making Qunar, the country’s No. 1 online travel agency said yesterday.

The travel platform’s net loss of 1.58 billion yuan in the January-March period beat analysts’ expectations of a 3.62 billion yuan loss. Ctrip’s revenue surged 80 percent from the same quarter a year ago to 4.18 billion yuan.

Ctrip’s loss was due to a one-off compensation payment to former senior executives of Qunar after Ctrip acquired the Baidu-invested firm in a share swap with Baidu in October.

Excluding share-based compensation charges, Ctrip’s net profit was actually 257 million yuan, compared with 33 million yuan a year ago.

Nasdaq-listed Ctrip is expected to post a net profit of above 100 million yuan in the second quarter, the firm said during a phone conference yesterday.

In the first quarter, Ctrip boosted revenue from hotel accommodation by 70 percent year on year to 1.6 billion yuan. Revenue from transport ticketing surged 106 percent to 1.9 billion yuan.

Source: Shanghai Daily, June 17, 2016
Yuan funds for forex decline US$8.2b
16th June 2016

 CHINA’S central bank saw its yuan funds outstanding for foreign exchange drop 53.7 billion yuan (US$8.2 billion) to 23.7 trillion yuan in May, data showed yesterday.

The fall was below the 54.4 billion yuan decline in April, suggesting less pressure of capital flight.

As the yuan is not freely convertible under the capital account, the People’s Bank of China has to purchase foreign currency generated by China’s trade surplus and foreign investment in the country, adding funds to the money market. Such funds are an important indicator for foreign capital flow in and out of China as well as domestic yuan liquidity.

Concerns about capital outflows had been on the rise as the economy slowed, and the Chinese currency had fallen since China revamped its forex mechanism last year.

Stability in international financial markets and positive signs in the domestic economy have reduced the pressure of capital outflow since the start of this year.

Source: Shanghai Daily, June 19, 2016
Alibaba eyes transactions to nearly double by 2020
15th June 2016

 E-COMMERCE giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said it expects to nearly double its transaction volumes by 2020, even as it signaled its intention of shifting away from that measurement as it faces an investigation into its accounting.

At an investor conference at its headquarters in Hangzhou, Alibaba said it expects to record 6 trillion yuan (US$910 billion) in gross merchandise volume in fiscal 2020, nearly double 3.09 trillion yuan in fiscal 2016.

From now on it would report GMV only annually, rather than quarterly, Chief Financial Officer Maggie Wu said.

Alibaba’s astronomical GMV — the value of goods sold on its platforms — has wowed some observers and raised suspicion among others because of the way it is calculated. By comparison, China’s total retail sales of consumer goods in 2015 was 30.1 trillion yuan, according to government statistics.

"GMV is still a very important metric,” Wu said.

But earlier, Executive Chairman Jack Ma noted that it was not “the only metric.”

Last month, Alibaba said that the US Securities and Exchange Commission had launched a probe into its accounting practices to determine whether they violated federal laws.

Questions about Alibaba’s growth rate and its relations with affiliated companies have dogged the firm for years.

Mentioning the investigation, Wu said the company wanted to be cooperative and transparent.

One of the issues the SEC is probing is the accounting for Cainiao, a logistics data company that is around 47 percent-owned by Alibaba and run by Judy Tong, an Alibaba partner.

Cainiao, started jointly in 2013 by Alibaba, Yintai Holdings, Fosun Group, Forchn Holdings and five major delivery companies, has in the past been unconsolidated in Alibaba’s financial statements, raising questions among some investors and analysts.

Source: Shanghai Daily, June 15, 2016

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