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News from China
New home sales fall amid historically low supply
2nd November 2017

 NEW home sales plunged in Shanghai last month amid historically low supply, suggesting extremely sluggish sentiment among both home buyers and real estate developers as tightening measures continued to bite.

The area of new homes sold, excluding government-funded affordable housing, dropped 36.9 percent from September to 335,000 square meters, Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Co said in a report released yesterday. Year on year, that saw a dive of 61.4 percent.
“It must be the worst performing October in history and probably the lowest monthly volume registered in the city since 2012,” said Lu Wenxi, senior manager of research at Shanghai Centaline. “That was roughly equivalent to the weekly volume in 2016, hindered most by extremely slack new supply.”
Around the city, only one project totaling 7,400 square meters of new houses were released in October, down 96.7 percent from September. That was partly caused by the Mid Autumn and National Day holidays, which both fell last month.
The new homes were sold for an average 48,171 yuan (US$7,246) per square meter, a month-on-month rise of 5.3 percent.
Nine of the 10 most sought-after projects cost between 30,000 yuan and 60,000 yuan per square meter, with the remainder priced at below 30,000 yuan per square meter, according to Centaline data.
In addition to sluggish new supply, a lackluster existing property market also affected transactions in the new housing market.
“As rein-in policies to curb speculation remained unchanged, the local existing home market also suffered a major retreat,” said Zhang Yue, chief market analyst at Shanghai Homelink Real Estate Agency Co. “Many buyers seeking new houses won't be able to enter the market until their old properties are sold.”
The city’s new home inventory now stands at around 5.11 million square meters, or over 33,000 units, down from 6.03 million square meters, or about 40,000 units, by the end of June, according to Homelink data.
Source: Shanghai Daily, November 2, 2017
Waymo ready to put driverless vehicles on roads
1st November 2017

 GOOGLE’S self-driving car spin-off is accelerating efforts to convince the public that its technology is almost ready to safely transport people without any human assistance at all.

Waymo, hatched from a Google project started eight years ago, showed off its progress on Monday during a rare peek at a closely guarded testing facility located 193 kilometers southeast of San Francisco. That’s where its robots complete their equivalent of driver’s education.
The tour included giving more than three dozen reporters rides in Chrysler Pacifica minivans traveling through faux neighborhoods and expressways that Waymo has built on a former Air Force base located in the Californian Central Valley city of Atwater.
The minivans smoothly cruised the roads — driver’s seat empty and passengers in the back — at speeds of up to 56 kph. By contrast, the Waymo-powered minivans that have been driving volunteer riders in the Phoenix area still use safety drivers to take over control if something goes wrong.
But Waymo’s real goal is to get to the point where people in cars are nothing but passengers.
Waymo CEO John Krafcik said the company will be making some cars and freight trucks totally driverless fairly soon, though he didn’t provide a specific timetable.
“We are really close,” he said. “We are going to do it when we feel like we are ready.”
Since Google began working on self-driving cars in 2009, dozens of established automakers such as General Motors and Ford Motors have entered the race, along with other big technology companies, 
including Apple and ride-hailing service Uber. The competition is so fierce and the stakes so high that Waymo is currently suing Uber, alleging that one of its former managers stole its 
trade secrets and took them with him when he joined Uber in 2016 as part of an elaborate scheme. The trial in that high-profile case is scheduled to begin in early December.
Source: Shanghai Daily, November 1, 2017
China’s big 4 state banks post profit growth in Q3
31st October 2017

 CHINA’S big four state-owned banks yesterday reported profit growth across the board in the third quarter.

Net income at the four lenders — the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Bank of China, China Construction Bank, and Agricultural Bank of China — all grew in the low single digits for July-September year on year, according to filings with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
ICBC, the world’s largest bank by assets, reported a net profit of 75 billion yuan (US$11.3 billion) for the third quarter, up 3.35 percent anually.
Quarterly results for BOC were hurt by impairment charges and it reported the lowest net profit growth of the four, up just 0.10 percent year on year to 41.82 billion yuan
Net earnings for CCB climbed to 62.9 billion yuan for the quarter, up 4.1 percent annually.
AgBank’s net profit rose 4.89 percent year on year to 51.42 billion yuan.
Lending income at CCB, BOC and ICBC all grew more than 10 percent for July-September compared to the same period last year. BOC led the pack, with growth in lending income for the three months up 15 percent.
“This quarter represents the banks’ efforts to boost results to complete full-year targets,” Hao Hong, chief strategist and head of research at Bocom International Holdings Co in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg News. “Banks are loosening credit despite all the talk about deleveraging.”
BOC was the only one of the big four banks to see its non-performing loan ratio tick upwards for the quarter, rising to 1.41 percent at the end of September, from 1.38 percent at the end of June.
The ratio is a focus for analysts worried about the rapid rise of debt in the Chinese economy.
AgBank has the highest non-performing loan ratio of the four banks, standing at 1.97 percent at the end of the third quarter, down 0.4 percentage points compared to the end of 2016.
AgBank, ICBC and BOC published their earning reports yesterday, while CCB released its results last week.
Source: Shanghai Daily, October 31, 2017
Chinese luxury market seen to rise 15% annually
30th October 2017

 CHINA’S luxury market is the fastest growing in the world, set to rise an astounding 15 percent annually thanks to renewed confidence, middle class acceleration, and consumer sophistication.

This comes amidst accelerating growth in the global luxury market, which is expected to add 5 percent to an estimated 1.2 trillion euros (US$1.4 trillion) in 2017, a recent study shows.
Chinese consumers, who are increasingly fashion-savvy, are boosting sales in local markets, which are expected to reach 20 billion euros this year, with contribution to global luxury buying by them estimated to represent 32 percent of the overall market in 2017.
The core market for personal luxury goods reached a new record high of 262 billion euros, boosted by a return of Chinese buying both at home and abroad as well as stronger purchasing trends in other regions, according to the “Bain & Company Luxury Study” released in collaboration with Fondazione Altagamma, the Italian luxury goods manufacturers’ industry foundation.
“We started to see stronger momentum in the first half of the year, and this has continued in recent months, allowing the market for personal luxury goods to really regain its luster,” said Claudia D’Arpizio, a Bain partner and lead author of the study.
“The growth in this market is more robust, driven by increases in volumes rather than prices and a rediscovered balance between tourist purchases and re-ignited local consumption,” she added.
The positive growth in the global market is set to continue at around 4 to 5 percent annually in the next three years, with the personal luxury goods market seen to reach 295 to 305 billion euros by 2020.
Bain estimates online sales for personal luxury goods to take 25 percent of the market by 2025, with stores still accounting for 75 percent of purchases.
Source: Shanghai Daily, October 30, 2017

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