BUSINESS NEWS

Banc of California plans corporate reform in wake of Sugarman departure

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 23:30
The once high-flying company could also face higher legal costs tied to an SEC probe into recent disclosures.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Beyond robo-compliance: How bots will soon permeate banking

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 22:40
Banks are becoming more comfortable with robotic process automation and could use it overhaul everything from the payroll functions to advising customers.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

CFPB clearing decks with slew of lawsuits as Cordray battle looms

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 22:40
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is ramping up enforcement actions ahead of a possible political showdown between President Donald J. Trump and the agency’s director, Richard Cordray.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Index of Banking Activity: September IBA at 56.1

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 22:20
Postpone the memorial service — the expansion is still alive. For one month at least, business conditions improved for the banking sector.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

CFPB orders Citi units to pay $28.8M for servicing flaws

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 22:20
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered two units of Citigroup to pay a combined $28.8 million for failing to help borrowers with foreclosure relief.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Debt to the Penny for 01/20/2017

US TRESURY DEBT DAY-TO-DAY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 22:15
Debt Held by the Public: 14,403,704,176,388.94
Intragovernmental Holdings: 5,543,600,378,823.55
Total Public Debt Outstanding: 19,947,304,555,212.49

Old Point to take over control of mortgage joint venture

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 22:04
The Virginia bank has agreed to buy Tidewater Mortgage’s majority stake in Old Point Mortgage.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Credit card giants in a delicate balancing act of costs, rewards

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 21:45
Credit card issuers usually reserve their richest rewards for customers at the higher end who are willing to pay steep annual fees. But a recent surge in credit card rewards deals targeting mainstream consumers signals a key strategy shift for issuers.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Pinnacle to become small fish in the Carolinas with latest acquisition

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 21:28
To succeed, the Tennessee company must build on momentum created by BNC, the bank it just agreed to buy.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Index of Banking Activity: November IBA at 55.9

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 21:11
The month of November could prove to be a turning point for banking as monthly activity indicators broadly improved, led by a sharp increase in loan pricing.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

HCBF agrees to buy Jefferson Bankshares in Florida

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 20:48
HCBF, once an aggressive acquirer, hadn't announced a deal in nearly two years.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Blue Gate Bank opens in Southern California

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 20:31
The bank is among a handful of de novos to have its charter approved since 2009.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Banks don't get what they pay for with digital advertising

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 19:42
The ad tech industry is so fraught with misleading and deceptive data that it's difficult for marketers to make smart advertising choices. Even the most reputable of firms spew unreliable data.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Strong state economy boosts Bank of Hawaii

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 18:34
Expanded lending across a broad range of categories and extremely low unemployment in Hawaii pushed up the Honolulu bank's quarterly profit.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Davos in the spotlight

THE ECONOMIST - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 18:00

China's President has addressed the World Economic Forum, the first Chinese head of state to do so. We assess his message to Donald Trump.  Plus the author of the “Second Machine Age” Erik Brynjolfsson on why governments are failing to address the downsides of automation. And Harvard’s Ken Rogoff examines the The Curse of Cash and why  reducing our dependency on it might be a good thing.

Continue reading

Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Banks post fall in bad loans and NPL ratio

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 17:01
BANKS in Shanghai saw outstanding bad loans and non-performing loan ratio drop last year as lenders curtailed their loans to certain sectors such as property to control financial risks, the local banking regulator said yesterday. The NPL ratio of lenders in Shanghai shed 0.23 percentage points from the beginning of last year to 0.68 percent at the end of December, when outstanding bad loans shrank 7.6 billion yuan (US$1.1 billion) to 40.4 billion yuan, the Shanghai Office of China Banking Regulatory Commission said in a report. The improved loan quality was mainly due to “prevention of risks and strengthening of services,” the report said. As Shanghai raised down payments for first-time buyers and tightened their eligibility for mortgages in November, banks in the city conducted a so-called “diversified credit policy” on mortgage applicants and squeezed credit in the property sector. “The policy should be strictly carried out to curb speculative house buying frenzy to avoid risks,” the regulator emphasized. Shanghai lenders grew their total assets by 11.3 percent to 14.42 trillion yuan last year, according to the report.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Microsoft and startups share tech

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 17:01
MICROSOFT Corp has opened its first accelerator base in Shanghai, the software giant said yesterday. The company will use the accelerator base in Xuhui District, which will serve the first batch of 14 startups, to share advanced technologies, resources and experiences, and to help Shanghai develop into an international innovation and entrepreneurship platform, Microsoft said. Programs the base runs focus on technologies like cloud computing, Big data, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, which bring new challenges and opportunities to every industry, said Hsiao-Wuen Hon, corporate vice president of Microsoft and chairman of Microsoft’s Asia-Pacific R&D Group.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Shanghai consumers lose nerve in Q4

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 17:01
SHANGHAI consumers lost confidence in the fourth quarter amid global political worries and a yuan depreciation, a survey showed yesterday. The Index of Consumer Confidence in Shanghai, a quarterly gauge compiled by Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, fell 4.3 points from the third quarter to 111.9 in the October-December quarter. A reading above 100 points indicates optimism. Global political changes, delayed impact of an economic recovery, continued yuan depreciation and a weak stock market combined to hurt consumer confidence, said Xu Guoxiang, director of the university’s Applied Statistics Research Center. “Changeable international political and economic conditions in the last quarter aroused a sense of crisis among consumers, hurting consumer confidence to some extent,” Xu said. “The city’s economic indicators actually picked up, but it takes time to have an impact on the economy and consumers.” The component indexes showed people’s intention to buy homes and cars rose by 9.5 points and 4.8 points respectively from the previous quarter, while their intention to buy durable goods fell 12.4 points. The city’s retail sales rose 8 percent to 1.09 trillion yuan (US$159 billion) last year, with online sales surging 15.8 percent to 125 billion yuan, Shanghai Statistics Bureau said last Friday. Another index measuring the city’s consumer satisfaction dipped to 71.83 points in 2016 from the record high of 72.03 points in 2015. The city’s GDP rose 6.8 percent last year, faster than the annual growth of China’s GDP for the first time since 2008.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

China’s job market stable in 2016

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 17:01
DESPITE a continued economic slowdown, China’s job market remained stable last year with the urban unemployment rate well under control, a human resources official said yesterday. The registered unemployment rate in Chinese cities stood at 4.02 percent at the end of 2016, down from 4.04 percent three months earlier, data from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security showed. The figure was below the government’s target of 4.5 percent set in the start of last year. China created 13.14 million new jobs for urban residents last year, exceeding the whole-year target of 10 million. “China’s employment generally held steady,” ministry spokesperson Lu Aihong said at a press conference. The government rolled out an array of pro-employment policies for college graduates, laid-off workers from glutted industries and migrant workers, while the country’s entrepreneurial wave has also helped job creation, Lu said, adding that China’s social security system has improved and benefited more people. China’s economy grew 6.7 percent year on year in 2016, down from the 6.9 percent rise seen in 2015 and marking the weakest annual growth in 26 years, which, along with the ongoing industrial restructuring, added to concerns over job losses this year. “The fundamentals for stable employment have not changed,” Lu said, citing favorable factors including China’s steady growth, advanced reform measures, urbanization, and strengthening innovation capacity. But he admitted that a huge workforce, a supply-demand gap for skilled workers and laid-off workers will continue to put pressure on the job market. To face the challenges, China will strive to ensure re-employment of workers made redundant during the country’s excess capacity cuts, help college graduates seek jobs, improve professional skill training, and support people to set up their own businesses.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Mobike ties up with Foxconn on bike output

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 17:01
SHANGHAI-BASED Mobike has joined hands with Foxconn to double the number of bikes it plans to make this year to 10 million, adding that the Taiwan-based manufacturing giant has also taken a stake in the bike-sharing startup. Mobike, which is backed by Tencent and Warburg Pincus LLC, said that this year it will manufacture 5.6 million with Foxconn and the rest at its own plants with unspecified partners — a huge jump over 2016 when it made more than 400,000. Terms of the deal with Foxconn, known formally as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, were not disclosed. Mobike, seen as one of the most aggressive Chinese firms that allows users to find and rent bicycles through a smartphone app, said it is hoping the move will help it expand faster by lowering the unit cost of each bicycle. The startup raised at least US$315 million in two funding rounds since October and says it is open to further investment. It has not disclosed valuations. Founded in 2015, Mobike now operates in 13 cities across China and has forged investor relationships with Huazhou Hotels Group and Chinese online travel site Ctrip.com International in a bid to reach travelers. It also has international ambitions and has opened an office in Singapore. The deal with Foxconn will see Mobike bicycles made in both new and existing Foxconn plants. Manufacturing bikes in the United States and Europe was also possible, Chief Executive Davis Wang said. “Right now we are working with Foxconn to evaluate the possibilities,” he said, adding that the company plans to meet demand in different markets with local manufacturing. Foxconn, which is one of China’s biggest employers and makes Apple’s iPhones among other products, said on Sunday that it may set up a display-making plant in the US in an investment that would exceed US$7 billion.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Spending outpaces revenue

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 17:01
CHINA’S fiscal revenue grew slower last year due to tax cut measures and downward pressure on the economy while growth in fiscal spending continued to outpace revenue, data from the Ministry of Finance showed yesterday. Fiscal revenue rose 4.5 percent year on year to 15.96 trillion yuan (US$2.3 trillion) in 2016, the ministry said. The growth, however, was nearly half of the 8.4 percent annual increase in 2015. The slower growth was in line with the ministry’s expectation as it said in October that China would face a grim situation over fiscal revenue increases in the last quarter of the year, due to continued pressure on the economy. The ministry attributed the slower revenue growth to tax cuts, impact from the economic slowdown and a high base in 2015. China’s shift from a business tax system to value-added tax resulted in a cut of 500 billion yuan in tax income last year as the reform was expanded in May to cover all industries, the State Administration of Taxation estimated in December. China’s fiscal spending grew 6.4 percent year on year to 18.78 trillion yuan last year.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Pay a fee to trade Bitcoin from today

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 17:01
CHINA’S three largest Bitcoin exchanges said they will charge trading fees effective today. BTCC, Huobi and OkCoin said in separate statements that they will charge traders a flat fee of 0.2 percent per transaction. Each of the statements said assessing fees will “further curb market manipulation and extreme volatility.” The absence of trading fees has encouraged volumes and boosted demand at Chinese Bitcoin exchanges. The Bitcoin price soared to near-record highs in the first week of this year, drawing attention from Chinese regulators. During 2016, the yuan fell 6.6 percent against the US dollar, its worst performance since 1994. On January 11, the People’s Bank of China launched spot checks on BTCC, Huobi and OkCoin to look at a range of possible rule violations.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Notable rebound in sales of new homes

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 17:01
SALES in Shanghai’s new home market rebounded notably last week ahead of the national weeklong Spring Festival holiday that starts on Friday. The area of new homes sold, excluding government-subsidized affordable housing, jumped 44.1 percent to 141,000 square meters during the seven-day period ended on Sunday, Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Co said in a report yesterday. The new houses sold for an average 50,128 yuan (US$7,317) per square meter, a week-on-week gain of 6.4 percent. “The recovery was quite significant with improved momentum among both real estate developers and home buyers,” said Lu Wenxi, senior manager of research at Centaline. “Notably, three best-selling projects sold more than 100 units each while units in three medium to high-end projects in the top-10 list were sold at 60,000 yuan per square meter and above.” A housing project in the city’s outlying Baoshan District sold 203 units last week for nearly 61,000 yuan per square meter on average, followed by a development in Xuhui District where 109 apartments were sold for an average 81,333 yuan per square meter, Centaline data showed. Around 255,000 square meters of new homes in eight projects were released locally last week, the highest seven-day volume since October.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Star fund manager sent to jail for fixing

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 17:01
A former star fund manager has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for market manipulation, a court statement said yesterday. Xu Xiang, the founder and general manager of Shanghai-based Zexi Investment, was given a prison term of five years and six months, the Qingdao Intermediate People’s Court said on its official microblog account. Co-defendant Wang Wei was sentenced to three years in jail, and Zhu Yong received a two-year term with a three-year suspension. The trio were also fined but the court didn’t specify the amount. Between 2010 and 2015, Xu colluded with executives of 13 listed companies and fabricated non-public information either alone or together with Wang and Zhu to enrich themselves with huge profits, the court said in the statement. It said the executives’ cases were being handled separately. “The illegal activities sabotaged the normal order on securities trading, and posed bad influence and damage on the management system of securities transactions,” the statement said. Xu, who was reported to have a personal wealth of over 4 billion yuan (US$584 million), was detained by police in November 2015, five months after China’s stock market crashed in the summer. As the Shanghai Composite Index plunged 35 percent in three weeks during that period, five of Zexi’s fund products posted at least 20 percent growth in net asset value, listed firms’ quarterly reports and earlier reports of Caixin magazine said.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Nonferrous metals push shares higher

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 17:01
SHANGHAI shares rose to a two-week high yesterday, helped by a rebound in the nonferrous metal sector. The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.44 percent to end at 3,136.77 points. The China Nonferrous Metal Industry Association said in a report that the country’s nonferrous metal industry posted a better-than-expected rebound last year, “bolstered by a rally in demand” and reflected in infrastructure and transport industries. Sichuan Western Resources Holding Co jumped by the daily limit of 10 percent to 10.40 yuan (US$1.52), and Jiangxi Copper Co gained 5.7 percent to 18.25 yuan. The defense sector rose 1.3 percent, buoyed by news that President Xi Jinping will head a new commission for joint military and civilian development.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Samsung cites batteries for causing Note 7 fires

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 17:01
SAMSUNG Electronics said flaws in the design and production of batteries used in its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, not its hardware or software, made it prone to catch fire. Samsung said yesterday that it was responsible for not ensuring the design specifications given to its suppliers were failsafe but believed its investigation into the problem would help the entire industry counter overheating risks with lithium batteries. Analysts questioned if the world’s largest smartphone maker had really gotten to the bottom of the problem. The South Korean company delayed the launch of its next Galaxy phone — the Galaxy S8, which usually would come in February. It also unveiled tighter quality controls and more rigorous testing to ensure safety. During a two-hour press conference live-streamed in English, Chinese and Korean, Samsung said tests of more than 200,000 phones and 30,000 batteries showed different problems with each of the two kinds of batteries used in the Note 7. Some experts had speculated that the phones’ ultra-thin design or water-resistant features could have made them prone to overheat. Koh Dong-jin, president of Samsung’s mobile division, said the investigation found no such problems. The Galaxy Note 7 featured one of the biggest battery capacities so far for smartphones at 3,500mAh, or milliampere-hour, which gave it the highest energy density of all Samsung’s devices. But Koh said Samsung and outside inspectors found no evidence that the high energy density alone was to blame. Samsung unveiled the Note 7 on August 2 and weeks later recalled the first batch after reports emerged the phones were overheating and in some cases exploding. After replacement phones also started catching fire, aviation authorities banned them on flights, and the firm dropped the product for good.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Sugarman resigns from Banc of California as SEC probes recent disclosures

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 16:31
The company also admitted that certain details in an October press release were inaccurate.4�9x�6
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Lloyds said to suffer cyberattack on U.K. systems

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 16:31
Lloyds Banking Group was hit by a cyber attack that disrupted online services for customers two weeks ago, a person with knowledge of the matter said.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Reforming CFPB isn't enough. Eliminate it.

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 15:40
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is drunk on power. Let’s return the agency’s regulatory responsibilities to the states and those agencies covering the relevant industries.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Trump adds to his finance team; Gorman gets a raise

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 14:31
Several members of George W. Bush's second-term team are expected to get senior positions at Treasury; Gorman gets a 7% pay hike, while Goldman bonuses shrink.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Pinnacle Financial to buy Bank of North Carolina parent

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 13:40
The $1.9 billion deal – the largest announced in 2017 – will create a bank with nearly $20 billion in assets.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Shanghai’s property sales rebounds last week

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 10:42
SHANGHAI'S residential sales market witnessed a notable rebound last week, just a few days before the kick-off of a week-long Spring Festival holiday that falls on Friday nationally. The area of new residential properties sold, excluding government-subsidized affordable housing, jumped 44.1 percent to 141,000 square meters during the seven-day period ended on Sunday, Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Co said in a report today. The new houses sold for an average 50,128 yuan (US$7,261) per square meter, a week-on-week increase of 6.4 percent. "The recovery was quite significant with improved momentum among both real estate developers and home buyers," said Lu Wenxi, senior manager of research at Centaline. "Notably, three best-selling projects managed to register weekly sales of more than 100 units each while medium- to high-end projects were also popular among buyers during the period with three developments in the Top 10 list costing 60,000 yuan per square meter and above." Citywide, a housing project in outlying Baoshan District unloaded 203 units alone last week at an average price of nearly 61,000 yuan per square meter, followed by a development in downtown Xuhui District where 109 apartments were sold for an average price of 81,333 yuan per square meter, Centaline data showed. On the supply side, meanwhile, some 255,000 square meters of new houses spanning eight projects were released into the local market last week, the highest seven-day volume since October. Despite the recovery, Lu said he didn't expect the strength to extend in the market as the lunar New Year holiday is just around the corner while new supply over the past few weeks are not adequate enough to boost sales in a sustainable way.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Shanghai consumer confidence weakens amid uncertainties

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 10:36
CONSUMER confidence in Shanghai fell in the fourth quarter amid global political uncertainties and yuan depreciation, a survey showed today. The Index of Consumer Confidence in Shanghai, a quarterly gauge compiled by Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, fell 4.3 points from the third quarter to 111.9 in the fourth quarter. A reading above 100 points indicates optimism. Xu Guoxiang, director of the university’s Applied Statistics Research Center, said a series of global political changes, delayed impacts of economic recovery, continued yuan depreciation and a weak stock market all hurt consumer confidence. “Changeable international political and economic conditions last quater can arouse a sence of crisis among consumers, hurting consumer confidence to some extend,” Xu said. “The city’s economic indicators this quarter actually picked up, but it takes time to impact the economy and consumers.” The component indexes showed people’s intention to purchase homes and cars rose by 9.5 points, 4.8 points respectively from the previous quarter, while their intention to buy durable goods fell 12.4 points.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Samsung says faulty battery causes Galaxy Note 7 to catch fire

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 04:05
SAMSUNG Electronics said Monday that faulty battery caused its flagship Galaxy Note 7 to catch fire after discontinuing the fire-prone device more than three months ago. In a special press conference in its headquarters in Seoul, Samsung said the mix of thin battery design and other manufacturing issues caused the Note 7s to explode or set on fire, which led to property damages and injuries. The findings are based on two investigations by U.S.-based firms UL and Exponent, which examined batteries and one supply-chain analysis by a German company TUV Rheinland. The first group of the devices carried batteries with thin separators between the positive and negative layers that raise a possibility for internal short circuit, according to the UL's teardown examination. Aggressively thin battery had been estimated by experts as one of the main reasons the flagship Samsung phone was overheated. Insufficient physical room can induce the positive and negative electrodes to touch and spark. Sajeev Jesuda, one of the UL's executives, told reporters that higher energy density in batteries can exacerbate the severity of battery failure in "general" terms, falling short of the confirmation of one of reasons for explosions. Deformation was found especially from the upper right corners of the batteries, weakening a protection capability from internal short circuit, the UL president said. The second group of Note 7s was installed with batteries that have various manufacturing problems, including the missing insulation tape, irregular bumps and thin separators. Those factors led to internal short circuits. According to the Exponent's analysis, no hardware and software issues have been discovered from the fire-prone devices. The first group of phones showed deformation in upper corners of the defective batteries near a cathode tab. The second group had manufacturing issues, such as abnormally high bumps that can destroy an insulation tape and a separator. Kevin White, a principal scientist at Exponent, told reporters that the first group suffered unintended damages to the cathode windings in the corner closest to the negative tab, saying it was caused by the pouch design. The second group, he said, showed no deficiencies in the pouch, but welding defects in the positive electrode tab raised the short circuit possibility. Meanwhile, no factor was found in the logistics and assembly processes that damage battery safety, according to the TUV Rheindland's investigations into factories in South Korea, China and Vietnam. Holger Kunz, the German company's executive vice president, said its supply-chain analysis showed no specific defection of weakness, concern or obvious danger affecting battery safety integrity.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

China's job market remains stable in 2016

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 03:55
DESPITE a continued economic slowdown, China's job market remained stable last year with the urban unemployment rate well under control, a human resources official said. The registered unemployment rate in Chinese cities stood at 4.02 percent at the end of 2016, down from 4.04 percent three months earlier, data from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS) said on Monday. The figure was well below the government's target of 4.5 percent set in the beginning of last year. China created 13.14 million new jobs for urban residents last year, exceeding the whole-year target of 10 million. "China's employment generally held steady," MHRSS spokesperson Lu Aihong said at a press conference. The government rolled out an array of pro-employment policies for college graduates, laid-off workers from glutted industries, and migrant workers, while the country's entrepreneurial wave has also helped job creation, Lu said. Additionally, China's social security system has improved and benefited more people, according to the meeting. China's economy expanded 6.7 percent year on year in 2016, down from the 6.9-percent increase registered in 2015 and marking the weakest annual growth in 26 years, which, along with the ongoing industrial restructuring, added to concerns over job losses this year. "The fundamentals for stable employment have not changed," Lu said, citing favorable factors including China's steady growth, advanced reform measures, urbanization, and strengthening innovation capacity. But he admitted that a huge workforce, a supply-demand gap for skilled workers and laid-off workers will continue to put pressure on the job market. To face the challenges, China will strive to ensure re-employment of workers made redundant during the country's excess capacity cuts, help college graduates seek jobs, improve professional skill training, and support people to set up their own businesses.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

China's urban unemployment rate at 4.02%

SHANGHAI DAILY - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 03:55
THE registered unemployment rate in Chinese cities stood at 4.02 percent at the end of 2016, down from 4.04 percent three months earlier. China created 13.14 million new jobs for urban residents last year, exceeding the official target, Lu Aihong, an official with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, told a press conference on Monday. The government has pledged to keep the whole-year registered unemployment rate below 4.5 percent and create at least 10 million jobs in 2016.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Breaking Banks: Why bankers aren’t quite ready for Amazon Alexa

AMERICAN BANKER - Mon, 01/23/2017 - 03:28
Guest host Sam Maule chats with American Banker reporter Lalita Clozel and others about the OCC fintech charter, smart home devices, virtual assistants, the security and compliance issues posed by Alexa, and more.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Foxconn mulls US$7b America investment

SHANGHAI DAILY - Sun, 01/22/2017 - 17:01
THE head of Taiwan’s tech giant Foxconn confirmed yesterday he is considering a US$7 billion investment to make flat panels in the United States in a joint project with Japan’s SoftBank. US President Donald Trump had announced before taking office a US$50 billion deal with SoftBank which he said would generate 50,000 jobs. Trump was speaking last month alongside SoftBank’s chief executive Masayoshi Son, who displayed a document which indicated Softbank and Foxconn would “commit to invest US$50bn + US$7bn in US, generate 50k + 50k new jobs in US in next four years.” Foxconn, a major supplier to Apple, had earlier said it was in “preliminary discussions” with US officials about a potential investment but gave no details. “I have discussed with my major clients about going to (the US) and they are also willing to invest, including Apple,” Terry Gou told reporters in Taipei after the company’s year-end party. The firm is the world’s largest contract electronics maker and is best-known for assembling products for international brands such as Apple and Sony. “Pennsylvania is active and I urge other states to act more quickly or I will sign the contract with Pennsylvania,” he said, adding that the investment could create 30,000-50,000 jobs. Foxconn is still waiting to see the tax policies of the new US government and what incentives state authorities can offer, such as cheap land and electricity. Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai, employs around a million workers at its factories across China and has operations in more than 10 countries. Last year it took over the struggling Japanese electronics maker Sharp after acquiring a 66 percent stake for US$3.7 billion in a move Gou described as “really worth it.” In the US, it has a plant in Virginia for packaging and engineering which employes over 400 people. It has also announced a US$40 million investment in a facility in Pennsylvania to build precision tools and develop a robotics program. Gou said Foxconn aims to increase investment in China this year to try to boost Sharp’s market share in the country.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Oil ministers make progress on output cut deal

SHANGHAI DAILY - Sun, 01/22/2017 - 17:01
ENERGY ministers from OPEC and non-OPEC countries meeting in Vienna yesterday have struck a positive note regarding their agreement to cut oil output as a committee set to monitor compliance with the deal meets for the first time. “I am satisfied, I am optimistic and, as I said, the markets are on their way to rebalance and it’s happening,” Saudi energy minister Khalid al-Falih said. Compliance with the agreement, which calls for cuts to begin this month, had been “fantastic,” he said. Kuwaiti oil minister Essam Al-Marzouq, who chairs the five-member compliance committee, said it would examine how to best monitor compliance and what level of compliance would be acceptable. The other members of the committee represent Algeria, Venezuela, Russia and Oman. A deal reached on December 10 between members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and non-OPEC producers marked the first such pact since 2001. Under it, producers will lower output by nearly 1.8 million barrels per day aiming to ease a global glut that has weighed on oil prices for more than two years. “Usually non-OPEC would raise their production to compensate for voluntary cuts by OPEC. Now, we are seeing voluntary cuts by both sides,” Falih said. Some 1.5 million bpd in crude production had already been taken out of the market. “The other 300,000 bpd, for all I know, is still happening,” Falih said, adding he hoped for full compliance in February. Venezuela has achieved more than half of its planned 95,000 bpd cut, Oil Minister Nelson Martinez told reporters. Full compliance could take global oil inventories back close to their five-year average by mid-2017, lowering oil in storage by around 300 million barrels.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Celanese imbues spirit of volunteerism in employees

SHANGHAI DAILY - Sun, 01/22/2017 - 17:01
SUN Hua, founder and director of Huaxin, a Shanghai-based reha-bilitation center for disabled children, gratefully met a group of volunteers who came with gifts for the children. They were there last June when they renovated the center with low-toxic paint. They were also at the center last year when they offered monthly translation help at its charity clinic. “A lot of other people would like to care for us, but it was hard to find volunteers like this group who are both well-organized and professional,” said Sun who has operated the center for nearly 20 years. The volunteers are from Celanese, a nearly 100-year-old US-based chemicals company. On arriving at Huaxin, Mark Oberle, Celanese’s senior vice president for Asia, recognized some of the children immedi­ately. He gave a tablet he bought to a boy he promised to help realize his new-year dream. Receiving the gift, the boy, suf­fering from infantile autism, repaid with a smile. Many of the volunteers like Oberle have been quite familiar with the rehabilitation center as they have visited the children several times. The volunteers paint the rooms or provide pro bono translation services monthly to help foreign doc­tors treating the children with their medical challenges. “It’s not about improving superficially our brand image as a chemicals producer, but to entrench our employee engagement on the basis of giving back to the community where we work and live,” Oberle said. Jessica, a marketing team member who also brought gifts that day, said she was glad to see children whom she helped become happy, and “it is the first time I take Celanese as a home deeply in (my) heart after working for it several years.” The volunteering spirit has been ingrained in Celanese’s core value for long, which the corporation define as “im­proving the world.” Last year it specified the spirit by encour­aging its workers to spend at least 100,000 hours a year to freely help people globally. In fact a total of 120,524 volunteer hours were finally achieved, with 784 Chinese employees contributing over 100 volunteer­ing projects. Service at Huaxin is a role model among Celanese’s ac­tivities as it combines caring for family, safety and primary education. These are the bed­rock of the company’s position for volunteering work. Being a world’s leading spe­cialty chemicals maker in the Fortune 500 list, Celanese has found new ways to exert its in­fluence to benefit the public. It’s not just a company which produces life-improving prod­ucts but consists of people ready to serve the public. The company has also brought an integrated online – offline platform to record the volunteer efforts and maximize benefits and impact. Donating one hour on volun­teering work, every volunteer is promised US$10 as fund for further online donation, which would “double or triple the ben­efits as they can further feed the money back to society,” Oberle said. Since 2013 Celanese has set up a fund, run by its employees, to support volunteering. The fund has attracted people out­side the company, as many of its customers, suppliers and some law firms have spontaneously donated capital “as they saw and thus trust we would put it to good use,” Oberle said. Although no details about its scale and growth were un­veiled, Celanese said that more than US$1 million were raised last year. Apart from local services such as those for Huaxin, Cela­nese’s volunteering campaigns are now seen as a new perk for its employees. Celanese International Im­pact Program dispatches two groups of professionals for two weeks every year at poverty-stricken areas to help local people address their needs. Participants who went to India in 2016 for the project found it “most rewarding experience and a highlight of my career journey.” As a chemicals producer Celanese is continuously dedi­cated to make a positive and meaningful contribution to our society. “We leverage innova­tive products and technologies to reduce carbon emissions and improve the quality of people’s life, we empower and engage our talents to give back to our community.” Oberle said. “It’s our fundamental responsibility, and our value as a corporation heading to a sustainable future.” Mark Oberle (left) and other Celanese volunteers claimed wishes from special kids.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Services help city’s GDP rise above national level

SHANGHAI DAILY - Sun, 01/22/2017 - 17:01
SHANGHAI’S GDP growth exceeded the national level last year for the first time since 2008, powered by the services sector and new industries, Shanghai Statistics Bureau said yesterday. It rose 6.8 percent year on year in 2016, faster than China’s 6.7 percent growth but slower than the city’s 6.9 percent growth in 2015, official figures showed. Services accounted for 70.5 percent of Shanghai’s total economic output of 2.75 trillion yuan (US$400 billion). The sector rose 9.5 percent last year, while manufacturing edged up 1.2 percent and agriculture fell 6.6 percent. Tang Huihao, the bureau’s chief economist, said the growth was a hard-earned achievement as Shanghai was experiencing the pains of reform. “The growth was within the reasonable range, meeting the official target of between 6.5 to 7 percent,” Tang said. “The growth was relatively fast among Chinese cities at a similar development level with Shanghai,” he added. Industrial production rose 0.8 percent to 3.1 trillion yuan, reversing a decline in 2015. The output of strategic new manufacturing industries rose 1.5 percent to 830.8 billion yuan, with the proportion of new industries to total industrial output rising 0.7 percentage points to 26.7 percent. Tang said slow growth in the financial and real estate sectors were major negative factors. Trade volume at the Shanghai Stock Exchange tumbled 62.4 percent to 49.79 trillion yuan, and the contribution of the financial industry to GDP fell 13 percent from 2015. Real estate investment rose 6.9 percent, 1.3 percentage points slower than in 2015, with the contribution of real estate industries falling 2.2 percent from 2015. Tang said the slowdown marked a correction, and was good for the city’s economy. He said that Shanghai’s home prices had begun to decline after the government tightened the rules covering down payments and mortgages to control rising prices. New home prices edged down 0.1 percent month on month in November and further declined 0.2 percent in December, the figures showed. The Consumer Price Index, a main gauge of inflation, rose 3.2 percent last year, 0.8 percentage points higher than in 2015. Shanghai’s inflation has been higher than the national level for 36 consecutive months and above 3 percent for 10 consecutive months. Prices in the city were mainly driven by the cost of services, which rose 4.5 percent, Tang said, with food prices rising 2.5 percent. Retail sales rose 8 percent to 1.09 trillion yuan, of which online sales were up 15.8 percent to 125 billion yuan. The city’s imports increased 5.2 percent to 1.66 trillion yuan while exports dipped 0.5 percent to 1.21 trillion yuan.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

6.8%! Shanghai’s economic growth in 2016 exceeds national level for the 1st time since 2008

SHANGHAI DAILY - Sun, 01/22/2017 - 08:30
SHANGHAI'S economic growth last year exceeded the national level for the first time since 2008 powered by the services sector and advanced new industries, the Shanghai Statistics Bureau said today. The city's gross domestic product rose 6.8 percent year-on-year in 2016, faster than the China growth of 6.7 percent and comparing with the city's 6.9 percent growth in 2015, official data showed. Faster growth in the fourth quarter lifted the city's economic expansion from 6.7 percent in the first three quarters. Services, which accounted for 70.5 percent in the total economic output of 2.75 trillion yuan (US$400 billion), was the main driver of the GDP growth. The sector rose 9.5 percent last year, while manufacturing edged up 1.2 percent and agriculture fell 6.6 percent, data showed. Tang Huihao, chief economist of the bureau, said the growth was a hard-earned achievement as Shanghai was experiencing the pains of reform. “The growth was within the reasonable range, meeting the official target of between 6.5 to 7 percent,” said Tang. “The growth was relatively fast among Chinese cities of similar development level with Shanghai.” Consumer Price Index, a main gauge of inflation, rose 3.2 percent last year, 0.8 percentage points higher than 2015. Shanghai's inflation has been warmer than the national level for 36 consecutive months and above 3 percent for 10 consecutive months. The city's prices were mainly driven by rising costs of services, Tang said.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Shanghai's economy grows 6.8% in 2016

SHANGHAI DAILY - Sun, 01/22/2017 - 06:02
SHANGHAI'S economy grew 6.8 percent in 2016, the local statistics bureau announced Sunday. It outpaced the country's 6.7 percent GDP growth but is slightly lower than the 6.9 percent increase in the previous year. Shanghai's GDP reached 2.75 trillion yuan (US$400 billion) with continued expansion of the tertiary sector, which made up 70.5 percent of last year's gross domestic product, 2.7 percentage points more than in 2015. Value added in primary industries dropped 6.6 percent to 11 billion yuan, while growth in secondary and tertiary industries were 1.2 percent and 9.5 percent, respectively.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Trump issues 'regulatory freeze' in first hours of administration

AMERICAN BANKER - Sat, 01/21/2017 - 22:08
The Trump administration late Friday called on all executive departments and agencies to freeze regulations to allow agency heads selected by the president to review pending rules.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Foreign investment to Shanghai rises for 17th year

SHANGHAI DAILY - Sat, 01/21/2017 - 09:44
SHANGHAI Municipality received US$18.5 billion of foreign investment in 2016, up 0.3 percent, official data showed on Saturday. The figure has risen for 17 consecutive years, with European countries' investment a major factor in 2016, according to the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce. Investment from European countries including France, Britain and Germany reached US$1.86 billion, up 42.4 percent from 2015. About US$16.3 billion, more than 88 percent of the total, went into the service sector, up 2.5 percent, said an official with the commission on Saturday. More foreign investment in services will help the city's industrial transformation and upgrades, the official said.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Court rules CFPB can investigate tribal payday lenders

AMERICAN BANKER - Sat, 01/21/2017 - 00:34
Native American tribal lenders that market small-dollar and installment loans can be investigated by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a California appeals court ruled Friday in a victory for the consumer agency.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Growth in credit card balances boosts profit at Synchrony Financial

AMERICAN BANKER - Sat, 01/21/2017 - 00:18
The Stamford, Conn., credit card issuer reported net income of $576 million, up 5.3% from the same period a year earlier.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Bankers are getting ready for a Trump bump

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 23:58
Donald Trump was sworn in Friday, but banking industry executives have spent the last two months envisioning a vastly different political, economic and regulatory climate. The dominant question in coming months will be how realistic those expectations are.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Fraud magnet

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 23:58
Western Union received more than half a million consumer fraud complaints between 2004 and 2015. Authorities said that a relatively small number of company agents handled a large share of the illegal transactions
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Money laundering enforcement: Lessons from the Western Union case

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 23:40
Documents filed in connection with a $586 million settlement reveal how certain agents for the global money transmitter enabled extensive fraud and money laundering.b
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Why Trump still faces an uphill climb to ease regulations

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 23:40
The financial services industry has high hopes that President Trump will usher in a new era of less regulation and economic growth. Here are challenges his administration will face.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Debt to the Penny for 01/19/2017

US TRESURY DEBT DAY-TO-DAY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 22:15
Debt Held by the Public: 14,403,768,885,198.20
Intragovernmental Holdings: 5,540,660,331,908.57
Total Public Debt Outstanding: 19,944,429,217,106.77

Fifth Third partners with VC firm for fintech guidance

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 20:50
The Cincinnati bank will be advised by QED Investors on its fintech strategy.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

FHA price cut officially halted moments after Trump sworn in

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 20:50
The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Friday that the reduction in mortgage insurance premiums “has been suspended indefinitely.”
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Banks should slow down to get blockchain right

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 20:50
Bank consortium R3 CEV, one of the most well-funded blockchain working groups, has endured criticism for its meticulous process. But if blockchains are most valuable with a network effect, maybe forgoing some agility is worth the long while.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

B of A, Wells branches vandalized in D.C. before inauguration

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 20:05
Windows smashed, no injuries reported.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Growth slows but still hits the target

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 18:29
CHINA’S GDP increased by 6.7 percent last year with growth in the fourth quarter stronger than expected at 6.8 percent, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. Though the annual growth of 6.7 percent was the slowest in 26 years, it was in line with the official target and market expectations. The services sector led growth with an increase of 7.8 percent, outpacing the industrial sector’s 6.1 percent and the agricultural industries’ 3.3 percent. Services made up a record 51.6 percent of the country’s 74.41 trillion yuan (US$10.82 trillion) GDP, up 1.4 percentage points from a year ago. Industrial output expanded 6 percent year on year in 2016, largely due to strong performance in the high-tech industry, the bureau’s figures showed. “Generally speaking, the economy was running within a reasonable range, the quality and efficiency of the economic growth improving, and new momentum growing,” bureau head Ning Jizhe said yesterday. “These are the main signs of the obvious characteristics of the new normal.” HSBC economist Julia Wang said that the economy had finished strongly but challenges remained. “2016 fourth-quarter GDP came in better than expected,” she said. “Reflation continued as nominal GDP growth recovered to a three-year high of 9.9 percent year on year on the back of infrastructure investment and the property market.” But she said the housing market is set to slow this year under the government’s tightening policies, and the key challenge for policy-makers is to revive private business investment, which rose just 3.2 percent, lagging overall fixed-asset investment growth of 8.1 percent. HSBC forecast that GDP would hit 6.5 percent this year. Zhu Haibin, JP Morgan’s chief China economist, said the economy will be under pressure from weakness in the real estate and auto sectors this year while the US-China relationship is arguably the biggest external uncertainty for China, including bilateral issues as well as the rising wave of protectionism. “Monetary policy faces a trade-off between growth, inflation, financial risks and capital outflow pressures,” Zhu said. “Maneuvering room for monetary policy is limited, and we expect the current neutral policy will continue in the near term, with a combination of stable policy rates and credit growth, tighter macro-prudential measures and a defensive foreign exchange policy.” The bureau’s figures showed that the Consumer Price Index, a main gauge of consumer inflation, was up 2 percent last year, warming up from a six-year low of 1.6 percent in 2015. The Producer Price Index, a measure of factory-gate inflation, fell 2 percent year on year. Zhu said he expected PPI inflation to average about 5 percent in 2017. Average CPI inflation should rise to just below 2.5 percent, Zhu added. The bureau’s figures showed retail sales up 10.4 percent year on year, slightly lower than the 10.7 percent increase in 2015. Online sales of real goods rose 25.6 percent to 4.19 trillion yuan, amounting to 12.6 percent of total retail sales. That was 1.8 percentage points higher than 2015.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Deal for 40% of PSX sealed

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 18:06
Pakistan’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar (right) presents a memento to Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Sun Weidong to mark the share purchase agreement signing at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) in Karachi yesterday. A consortium has agreed to acquire a 40 percent stake in PSX, the country’s main bourse. The consortium comprises three Chinese exchanges — China Financial Futures Exchange, the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange — and two local financial institutions, Pak-China Investment Co and Habib Bank. — AFP
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Injecting liquidity before festival

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 18:05
A Chinese national flag flutters outside the headquarters of the People’s Bank of China in Beijing. The central bank has provided provisional liquidity support for several big commercial banks to meet rising cash demand ahead of the upcoming Spring Festival. The term of the operation is 28 days and interest rates are generally the same as similar open market liquidity facilities, the PBOC said yesterday in a statement. The move aims to ensure stability in the banking system and money market ahead of the Spring Festival, which falls on January 28. — Reuters
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Korea Air admits to tasering unruly passengers

THE ECONOMIST - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 18:00

CABIN crew on Korea Air flights have used electric stun guns to pacify flyers on five occasions, according to an investigation by the BBC. The report says that South Korea’s national carrier is the only big airline known to fly with such tasers on board. They were first introduced on its planes in 2002.

According to the Beeb, the airline is now “ramping up training for staff using the guns after criticism for the way it handled a recent in-flight disturbance”. In that instance, an all-female cabin crew apparently took four hours to subdue a drunk passenger, with other paying flyers forced to help them do so.

Allowing flight attendants to use weapons on planes is troubling. If it takes demure crew several hours to pacify a drunkard, it will not take much for a ne'er-do-well to take the weapon from them for his own means. And no matter how well trained the crew are at handling a taser, they were presumably not selected by the airline for their dead-eye abilities. The danger of something going wrong is too great.

If someone must be responsible for electrocuting flyers, it should be a...Continue reading

Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Paramount gets US$1b investment

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 17:56
US movie studio Paramount said yesterday that it was partnering with two Chinese film companies in a deal that would reportedly see US$1 billion in cash injected into the Hollywood giant. The deal is the latest move into Hollywood by deep-pocketed Chinese enterprises, following forays by China property-to-entertainment conglomerate Wanda and e-commerce leader Alibaba. Paramount signed a three-year agreement with Shanghai Film Group (SFG) and Beijing-based Huahua Media to co-finance and co-produce all of the US studio’s films, Paramount said in a statement on China’s twitter-like Weibo platform. It gave no figures, but US film-industry media outlets such as Variety reported that Paramount will receive US$1 billion in cash from its Chinese partners. Paramount Chairman Brad Grey said in the statement that the tie-up was a “very natural and very powerful” one due to the market presence of its Chinese partners. SFG’s listed movie arm Shanghai Film Co owns a cinema chain that operates 295 theaters across China with 2015 box office receipts at 3.15 billion yuan (US$458 million), according to its official website. Huahua Media is a film marketing company that has already worked with Paramount to promote its films in China, including “Transformers: Age of Extinction” and “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock,” previous Huahua statements said. SFG Chairman Wang Kefei was quoted in Paramount’s statement as saying the tie-up will help to promote Chinese film content abroad, giving no details. Shanghai Film Co shares closed 2.98 percent higher on the city’s stock exchange yesterday, following the announcement. Wanda, whose Chairman Wang Jianlin is one of China’s richest men, already owns US cinema chain AMC, Hollywood production company Legendary, and Dick Clark Productions, which runs the Golden Globe awards. At the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, Wang reiterated his interest in buying one of the “big six” Hollywood studios. Wanda announced a partnership with Sony Pictures in September to invest in China-themed films. Alibaba recently bought a minority stake in acclaimed director Steven Spielberg’s studio Amblin Partners.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

New chip plant to cut foreign tech need

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 17:56
CHINA’S largest chipmaker has said it will invest US$30 billion to build a new semiconductor factory, as the world’s second-largest economy seeks to reduce its dependence on foreign technology. The state-owned Tsinghua Unigroup will open the facility in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, where it will mainly produce chips used in consumer electronics such as cellphones, cameras and computers, said a statement posted on the company’s official website. The project “is of great significance to the independent innovation, large-scale production, and marketization of China’s integrated circuit industry,” the statement said. The announcement comes after attempts by the company to take over US chip makers Micron Technology and Sandisk were curbed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States over national security concerns. Its ambitions to acquire American technology thwarted, Tsinghua Unigroup has shifted its focus to building plants in China, launching a US$24 billion memory chip factory in Wuhan last month, according to online news site Sohu. China was the largest market for semiconductors in the world in 2015. Its excessive dependence on imported chips has raised concern in Beijing over the country’s national security, according to a report by the US Department of Commerce. In 2014, Chinese authorities pledged 100 billion yuan (US$14.6 billion) to support the industry, with the aim of building a “globally competitive semiconductor sector by 2030,” according to two statements by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in 2014 and 2015. In a speech on cyber security in April, President Xi Jinping said China must gain control of “core” technology. The drive by China to expand its role in the market, long dominated by US firms like Intel and Qualcomm, has raised concerns in Washington. A report to US President Barack Obama by a presidential science panel last month warned that China is set to challenge US dominance in the industry.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Shipyards face rough weather

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 17:56
AFFECTED by waning global market demand and excessive industry capacity, China’s shipbuilders witnessed declining new orders and profits last year. Shipbuilding output in 2016 was 35.3 million deadweight tons, marking a drop of 15.6 percent from 2015, said the China Association of the National Shipbuilding Industry. Orders for new ships fell 32.6 percent year on year to about 21.1 million DWT in 2016, the association said in a statement. Ships built for export accounted for 94.7 percent and 77.2 percent of the accomplished shipbuilding output and new orders last year respectively, it said. The combined business revenue of 1,459 large shipbuilders hit 697.6 billion yuan (US$101 billion) in the first 11 months of 2016, down 1.6 percent year on year, it added.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Sealand’s shares dive on possible income loss

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 17:56
SHARES of Sealand Securities Co slumped yesterday after they resumed trading amid a bond scandal which may hurt its annual revenue. The brokerage tumbled 7.75 percent to 6.43 yuan (94 US cents) in Shenzhen, after the company predicted that the scandal will slash its revenue by 56 million yuan in 2016, according to its notice filed to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. Its shares were suspended from trading on December 15 due to rising public concerns that two of its former employees were alleged to have signed unauthorized bond transaction agreements with banks by forging the brokerage’s seal. The 16.78 billion yuan bond defaulted after a dive in bond prices, and caused a dispute between Sealand and counterparties involved. Sealand said in the filing that the brokerage has completed talks and agreed with 24 counterparties to resolve the dispute. It will help the police investigate any illegal behavior linked to the deal.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Economic data pull stocks up

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 17:56
SHANGHAI stocks rose yesterday as investors were buoyed by positive economic data for China. The Shanghai Composite Index added 0.7 percent to 3,123.14 points. The gauge gained 0.3 percent for the week. Investors were cheered by China’s GDP, which grew by a better-than-expected 6.8 percent year on year in the fourth quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said. “The A-share market has not seen any good news for some time, so the GDP data to some extent boosted sentiment,” said Ricky Huang, analyst at Lukfook Financial. Yonyou Network Techno­logy Co added 5.01 percent to 19.30 yuan (US$2.81), and G-bits Network Technology Xiamen Co surged by the daily limit of 10 percent to 220.68 yuan.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

China’s steel output gains in 2016

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 17:56
CHINA’S steel production grew last year, boosted by a rebound in price and supply amid a national campaign to cut overcapacity, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday. Domestic crude steel output rose 1.2 percent from 2015 to 808.4 million tons in 2016, and output of steel products gained 2.3 percent to 113.8 million tons, the bureau said in a report. Chinese steelmakers produced more last year as prices of steel rebar surged 77 percent, the China Iron and Steel Industry Association said, adding that a rebounding demand also added fuel to the fire. But the result “doesn’t conflict with the fact that China has successfully trimmed steel capacity last year, as most of the cut in capacity came from the idle blast furnaces,” said Wang Guoqing, research director at Lgmi.com, a steel industry website. China launched the supply-side reform in the industry to phase out low efficient steel mills, most of which have been on the edge of bankruptcy as they suspended production for a long time. The capacity of such entities accounted for 74 percent of the 45 million tons which China claimed to have cut last year, Lgmi.com said in a research report. Domestic steel consumption was estimated at around 670 million tons last year, up 0.9 percent from 2015, the China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute reported last month. Despite the government’s call to reduce overcapacity in the steel industry, the policies to encourage the development of industries such as automobile, real estate and infrastructure bolstered demand for steel, which is the main raw material for these industries. The auto industry consumed 56 million tons of steel, 3.7 percent more than 2015, the institute said. But the overcapacity in China’s steel industry still exists, and the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planner, said: “While 2016 marked the year to cut steel overcapacity, 2017 will be the pivotal year to improve the supply-demand relation.”
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Slower rise in Chinese personal income

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 17:56
CHINA’S per capita disposable income stood at 23,821 yuan (US$3,465) in 2016, up 6.3 percent annually in real terms, official data showed yesterday. The increase was slower than the 7.4 percent rise in 2015, as China’s economy posted the slowest pace of growth in 26 years last year. Urban and rural per capita disposable income reached 33,616 yuan and 12,363 yuan in 2016, up 5.6 percent and 6.2 percent in real terms, respectively, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. China’s Gini coefficient, an index reflecting inequality where zero equals perfect equality, stood at 0.465 in 2016, bureau chief Ning Jizhe said. The index edged up from 0.462 in 2015 after dropping for seven years in a row, but it remained lower than the reading of 0.474 in 2012, 0.473 in 2013 and 0.469 in 2014. Ning attributed the higher index to slower pension growth for some urban groups and the negative effect of falling grain prices on farmers’ income. He said the income gap was expected to narrow gradually as the government stepped up poverty relief and pursued the integrated development of urban and rural areas. The per capita income of urban households was 2.72 times that of rural households, down from 2.73 times in 2015, data showed. The average monthly income of rural migrant workers was 3,275 yuan, up 6.6 percent year on year, compared with a 7.2 percent rise in 2015. China aims to double the per capita income of its urban and rural residents by 2020 from 2010 levels.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Rein-in measures effective in curbing home buying spree

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 17:56
MEASURES imposed in major cities around the country proved effective to curb sentiment among buyers as new home sales continued to grow more slowly, data released yesterday by the National Bureau of Statistics showed. New homes worth 9.9 trillion yuan (US$1.4 trillion), excluding government-funded affordable housing, were sold across the country in 2016, a year-on-year increase of 36.1 percent. The gain slowed from the 39.3 percent rise in the first 11 months of last year and a 42.6 percent jump between January and October. The area of new homes sold during the 12-month period grew 22.4 percent from a year earlier to more than 1.37 billion square meters. The rise, however, slowed from the 24.5 percent gain in the first 11 months and the 27 percent increase in the first 10 months of last year, according to the bureau’s data. “We expect the market to remain healthy this year,” said Ning Jizhe, the bureau chief, adding that the government will continue to support demand from end-users and crack down on speculators. More than 20 cities, including four first-tier cities and major second-tier ones, have introduced tighter measures since late September to cool overheated housing markets where rapidly surging property prices are putting homes out of reach of ordinary people. The rising prices may trigger higher risks of asset bubbles that might pose a threat to the country’s real economy. Between January and December, investment in housing developments rose 6.4 percent year on year to 6.87 trillion yuan, up 0.4 percentage points from the first 11 months, according to the bureau.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Firms halt publishing of home price data

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 17:56
AT least two major Chinese private providers of home price data have stopped publishing the figures, at a time when economists are split whether the red-hot property market will remain a driver of the economy in 2017. The China Index Academy, a unit of US-listed Fang Holdings, has stopped distributing monthly housing price index data for 100 cities that it usually issued at the start of the month. The academy said yesterday that it had suspended distribution indefinitely, without giving a reason for the suspension. “I don’t know who exactly is making the order, and it’s not mandatory,” said a source with knowledge of the matter, who declined to be identified as the topic is a sensitive one. Home price data from private providers tend to show sharper increases than official data from the National Bureau of Statistics, which publishes monthly and annual percentage changes in 70 major cities. New home prices grew the most last year since 2011, bureau data published yesterday showed. Growth moderated in December as 12 of 15 cities previously singled out by authorities as overheating saw price drops, an increase from November. Since last summer, the government has levied curbs on buying and ownership to rein in soaring prices and limit asset bubble risks. E-house China, another private real estate consultancy, has also indefinitely halted its monthly housing price index for 288 cities. “Judged by current conditions, we won’t publish it in the future,” said Cherilyn Tsui, a public relations officer at CRIC, the consultancy’s real estate research branch. “We stopped distributing prices data a few months ago. At first it was just no external distribution, but now even internally we don’t distribute any more,” she said. “Housing prices are an extremely sensitive matter right now,” a second source with knowledge of the matter said on condition of anonymity. E-house’s last data release in November said new home prices in Beijing and Shanghai rose 1.32 percent and 1.09 percent in October from a month earlier, respectively. The bureau reported a rise of 0.5 percent.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

Loan growth, rising yields boost profits at Citizens Financial

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 17:54
Citizens Financial Group in Providence, R.I., reported bigger profits in the fourth quarter on the strength of loan growth and improvements in its loan yield.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

As Trump takes power, fiduciary advocates renew defense of rule

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 17:54
"There is an added sense of urgency now," says Barbara Roper, director of investor protection at the Consumer Federation of America.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

As Trump takes power, fiduciary advocates renew defense of rule

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 17:34
"There is an added sense of urgency now," says Barbara Roper, director of investor protection at the Consumer Federation of America.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Bankers count ways Trump will boost financial services

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 16:38
On earnings calls this week CEOs expressed optimism for increased loan demand, a softer tone from regulators, a higher SIFI threshold and, potentially, a surge of interest in health savings accounts.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Carolina Financial to raise $44M in public offering

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 16:20
The South Carolina company plans to use proceeds for acquisitions and organic growth.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

You can’t be both a populist and a free-market conservative

THE ECONOMIST - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 15:58

IT WOULD be hard to find two more different characters than Theresa May and Donald Trump; the former a suburban vicar's daughter, the latter a brash reality TV star. But they face similar problems—how to keep both the markets and their supporters satisfied.

For Mrs May, the problem is her dissonant rhetoric. On the one hand, she has used what was once known as “one nation” Tory rhetoric, arguing against the worst excesses of capitalism and the need to help those who are “just about managing”. So here she is in her Davos speech saying of her new approach that 

It means businesses paying their fair share of tax, recognising their obligations and duties to their employees and supply chains, and trading in the right way;
Companies genuinely investing in—and becoming part of—the communities and nations in which they operate, and abiding by the responsibilities that implies;
And all of us taking steps towards addressing executive pay and accountability to shareholders.

In practice, however, she has already retreated from a proposal to put workers on boards, plans to push ahead with cuts in...Continue reading

Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Credit union loophole should be first casualty in tax reform

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 15:40
As President-elect Trump and the new Congress proceed on tax reform, there is one exemption in particular that needs to be closed, shut and buried.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Cost Increases Tame Profits at SunTrust

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 15:00
Quarterly profit fell at SunTrust Banks in Atlanta as noninterest expense rose 8.4% and its loan-loss provision increased.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Regions counters branch-closing costs with improved loan yields

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 15:00
Quarterly profit improved despite a spike in noninterest expenses.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

'Getting the chatbot to upsell': Comments of the week

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 14:40
American Banker readers share their views on the most pressing banking topics of the week. Comments are excerpted from reader response sections of AmericanBanker.com articles and our social media platforms.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Mnuchin on the Hill; FHA mortgage loan volume rises as risk grows

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 14:40
Treasury Secretary-designate Steven Mnuchin fended off questions about his past investments and foreclosure practices while discussing policy matters at his Senate confirmation hearing; FHA mortgage bond volume is starting to hit worrisome levels.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

China launches targeted RRR cuts to bolster liquidity

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 10:32
THE People’s Bank of China cut reserve ratios for big banks temporarily amid liquidity tightness, the central bank said today. The PBOC has cut the reserve requirement ratio (RRR) for those big lenders by one percentage point, taking the ratio down to 16 percent in order to “guarantee the cash needs before holidays, promote the liquidity of interbank market and maintain a stable money market.” The period of a lower RRR ratio, which refers to the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves, will sustain for 28 days in each bank and will be adjust back to normal level later after in an appropriate time, PBOC said in a statement released Friday afternoon. Caixin earlier reported that the move was posed on country’s five biggest lenders, which refers to Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd (ICBC), China Construction Bank Corp (CCB), Bank of China, Bank of Communications Co (BoCom) and Agricultural Bank of China. China International Capital Corp estimate that the move could effectively injects more than 600 billion yuan (US$87.3 billion) worth of long-term cash into the economy to fill in the needs on cash withdrawal, tax payment and reserve payment before the week-long Chinese Lunar New Year holiday starts next Thursday. It is the first time PBOC lowers the RRR level to targeted banks in a fixed period of time and its first reduction in RRR since February, 2016. Short-term funding costs had spiked to their highest levels in nearly 10 years earlier this week on fears that liquidity was sharply tightening, sparking a jump in the yuan currency. “The temporarily move could ease the pressing needs for cash,” CITIC Securities Co said in a comment released after the media report. “But in a long term, other tools like expanding the scope of other liquidity fulfillments are still needed.”
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

China’s property market cools under tightening measures

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 10:27
TIGHTENING measures implemented in major cities around the country proved effective to curb sentiment among buyers as new home purchases continued to grow by a slower pace, data released today by the National Bureau of Statistics showed. New residential properties worth 9.9 trillion yuan (US$1.44 trillion), excluding government-funded affordable housing, were sold across the country in 2016, a year-over-year increase of 36.1 percent. That compared with a 39.3 percent gain in the first 11 months and a 42.6 percent jump between January and October last year. By area, meanwhile, more than 1.37 billion square meters of new homes were sold during the 12-month period, an annual growth of 22.4 percent. The rise also decelerated from the 24.5 percent gain in the first 11 months and the 27 percent increase in the first 10 months of last year, according to the bureau's data. "The country's real estate market went well in general last year with polarized performances continuing to be seen in different tiered cities," said Ning Jizhe, the bureau chief. "We expect the market to remain healthy this year." The government will continue to support demand from end-users and crack down on speculators, he said. More than 20 cities, including four first-tier cities and major second-tier ones, started to introduce rein-in policies since late September to cool down their overheated housing markets where rapidly surging property prices are preventing more people from owning a roof over their head and triggering higher risks at the same time of asset bubbles that might pose a threat to the country's real economy. Between January and December, overall investment into residential development climbed 6.4 percent year on year to 6.87 trillion yuan, 0.4 percentage point higher than in the first 11 months, the bureau said.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

China's personal income rises 6.3% in 2016

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 04:34
CHINA'S per capita disposable income stood at 23,821 yuan (US$3,469) in 2016, up 6.3 percent year on year in real terms, official data showed Friday. Separately, urban and rural per capita disposable income reached 33,616 yuan and 12,363 yuan in 2016, up 5.6 percent and 6.2 percent in real terms after deducting price factors, respectively, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

China's industrial output expands 6% in 2016

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 04:30
CHINA'S industrial output expanded 6 percent year on year in 2016, largely due to strong performance in the high-tech industry, official data showed Friday. The growth rate was the same as in the first three quarters, official figures showed. Industrial output, officially called industrial value added, is used to measure the activity of designated large enterprises with annual turnover of at least 20 million yuan (about US$2.9 million). In December, the total value added of the designated industrial enterprises was up by 6 percent year on year, or  0.46 percent month on month, the data showed.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

China retail sales grow 9.6% in 2016

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 04:07
CHINA'S retail sales of consumer goods grew 9.6 percent year on year in 2016 after deducting price factors, the same as that in the first three quarters, official data showed on Friday.  
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

China GDP falls to 26-year low, hits gov't target

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 04:04
CHINA'S economy grew 6.7 percent year on year in 2016, the slowest pace of growth in 26 years, but well within the government's target range, official data showed Friday. Growth in the fourth quarter came in at 6.8 percent, accelerating from the 6.7 percent in the third quarter, according to National Bureau of Statistics data (NBS). The government target was 6.5 to 7 percent growth for 2016. Gross domestic product totaled 74.41 trillion yuan (about US$10.83 trillion) in 2016, with the service sector accounting for 51.6 percent. The data showed that major economic indicators softened last year, with industrial output growth slowing slightly to 6 percent from 6.1 percent in 2015. Urban fixed-asset investment continued to cool, rising 8.1 percent year on year, compared with 10 percent in 2015. Retail sales rose 10.4 percent, down from 10.7 percent in 2015.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

China's economy grows 6.7% in 2016

SHANGHAI DAILY - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 04:04
CHINA'S economy grew 6.7 percent year on year in 2016, the slowest pace of growth in 26 years but still within the government's target range set for the year, official data showed Friday. Growth in the fourth quarter came in at 6.8 percent, accelerating from the 6.7-percent rise registered in the third quarter but still the slowest quarterly growth since the global financial crisis, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS, INTEL 3

New credit union battle brewing over alternative capital

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 02:31
Initial regulatory steps toward giving credit unions access to alternative sources of capital could add to bankers' concerns that their tax-advantaged rivals are expanding beyond their mission.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Associated’s profits boosted by double-digit gain in fee income

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 00:50
Associated Banc-Corp in Green Bay, Wis., reported a sharp increase in profits on an 11% increase in noninterest income and on lower credit costs.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

JPMorgan boosts Dimon’s annual pay 3.7% to $28 million

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 00:50
JPMorgan Chase increased Chief Executive Jamie Dimon’s compensation by 3.7% for last year as the bank’s stock advanced 31%.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Four takeaways from Mnuchin's Capitol Hill grilling

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 00:31
Treasury Secretary-designate Steven Mnuchin struck a pro-banking industry tone during testimony on Capitol Hill Thursday while tangling with lawmakers over foreclosures, offshore accounts and other issues."
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Small things make a big difference, mobile check deposit edition

AMERICAN BANKER - Fri, 01/20/2017 - 00:12
Jim Van Dyke, CEO of futurion, discusses the correlations between mobile deposit features, the ratings of those features, and app adoption.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Banks that normally like to buy tread carefully on M&A

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 23:54
CEOs at several regionals have decided to sit on the sidelines so they can digest recent big acquisitions, while others are contemplating going for more deals provided they find lower-risk opportunities.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Business loans, mortgages fuel profit growth at People's United

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 23:54
The Connecticut bank said a spike in business lending and residential mortgages gave its fourth-quarter earnings a boost.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

American Express profit falls 8.2% as expenses exceed estimates

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 22:44
American Express Co., the largest U.S. credit-card issuer by purchases, said fourth-quarter profit fell 8.2 percent as expenses exceeded analysts’ estimates and the firm set aside more money to cover bad loans.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Debt to the Penny for 01/18/2017

US TRESURY DEBT DAY-TO-DAY - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 22:15
Debt Held by the Public: 14,423,937,840,025.61
Intragovernmental Holdings: 5,537,529,297,948.03
Total Public Debt Outstanding: 19,961,467,137,973.64

TCF tricked customers about overdraft opt-ins, CFPB suit alleges

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 22:04
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday sued TCF National Bank for what the bureau said were deceptive and abusive practices in selling overdraft services.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Mortgage banking, M&A fuel profits at Wintrust Financial

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 22:04
Fourth-quarter profits at Wintrust Financial in Rosemont, Ill., climbed 54% to $54.6 million from a year earlier, helped largely by acquisitions and increases in mortgage banking and other fee income.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Western Union admits to money laundering, fraud crimes

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 21:30
The global money transmitter will pay $586 million and implement an anti-fraud program in order to resolve allegations that it enabled widespread misconduct by some of its employees.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

Treasury pick Mnuchin clarifies GSE stance: No 'recap and release'

AMERICAN BANKER - Thu, 01/19/2017 - 21:10
In his confirmation hearing, Treasury Secretary-designate Steven Mnuchin said he wanted to work with both parties to find a “bipartisan fix” for the housing finance system.
Categories: BUSINESS NEWS

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BEST NEWS OF THE YEAR 2016:

LONDON (Reuters) - A 14-year old girl who died of cancer has been cryogenically frozen in the hope she could be brought back to life in the future after winning a landmark court case shortly before her death, the BBC reported on Friday, 2016-11-18.