Posted inAT FinanceChinaHong KongIndonesiaMalaysiaWorld

The Daily Brief for Thursday, 26 January 2017

The battle over religious interpretation is not new in either Malaysia or Indonesia, writes David Hutt, and has been a constant concern since each country gained independence from colonial rule, but radical notions of Islam are gaining mainstream resonance. The internationalization of Islam, and specifically transnational terror group-inspired violence in the name of jihad, has added a volatile element to the mix.

China’s industrial sector returns to earnings growth in 2016 as the economy escapes from five years of falling prices, writes Steve Wang. Profits expanded 8.5% after a contraction of 2.3% a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said. Earnings hit 6.88 trillion yuan (US$1 trillion), from 6.36 trillion yuan in 2015. Sales for the year rose 4.9% to US$17 trillion, with margins widening by 19 basis points to 5.97%. It was the automakers that put their pedals to the metal, as government incentives and the wealth effect from surging property prices fueled a 14.1% jump in vehicle sales to 8.02 trillion yuan.

Since debuting on television in the United States in 1989, more than 600 episodes of The Simpsons have been broadcast. Parodying American culture and society, it is the longest-running American sitcom, writes Asia Times. And now the yellow American family will be extending their reach, as official branded stores selling merchandize based on the US animated sitcom will double in China this year, says Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products. The number of stores could increase from 25 in 2016 to 40 or even 50.

With the Year of the Rooster nearly upon us, Asia Times presents a slideshow of paper sculptures honouring our feathered friend. Pauline Yau specializes in creating art installations in commercial spaces and she was commissioned ahead of this year’s Lunar New Year festival to make the menagerie of paper roosters and other exotic birds that now grace Pacific Place shopping mall in Admiralty. “I’ve given each rooster its own character and expression,” she says.

Posted inBeijingChinaGuangzhouShanghai

China Digest for Thursday, 26 January 2017

NPL ratio of commercial banks at 1.74%: CBRC

The non-performing loan (NPL) ratio of China’s commercial banks stood at 1.74% by the end of 2016, a 0.02% decrease from the third quarter, Yicai reported on Wednesday evening, quoting a China Banking Regulatory Commission statement. Performances of the country’s NPLs were stable throughout the year, the report added.

No credit or ratio limit on cross-border yuan receipts and payments

There will be neither be credit nor ratio limits on cross-border yuan receipts and payments if transactions met standard regulations, Yicai said on Wednesday evening, citing the People’s Bank of China. The aim is to boost convenience in trade and investments through cross-border yuan businesses, the report added.

SAFE pours cold water on rumours over import financing

The State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) on Wednesday confirmed that no currency restrictions had been introduced on import financing, Xinhua news agency reported. SAFE’s move was aimed at combating the rumours that China has put limits on cross-border financing to dampen capital outflow. The cross-border guarantee business for legitimate and verified trades and investments are not affected.

Test paves way for official digital trading platform’s launch

An official digital trading platform reportedly had a successful test paving the way for its launch soon, Yicai reported on Wednesday evening. Legal digital currencies issued by the People’s Bank of China could be traded on the platform, Yicai added. After the platform’s launch, China will be the first country to research and issue digital currencies.

Overseas investment on real estate hits US$33b in 2016

Chinese investments in overseas commercial and residential real estate has increased 53% to US$33 billion in 2016 from a year earlier, Beijing Business Today reported. Its report on Thursday cited data released by Jones Lang LaSalle, which showed investment in land, office buildings and hotels accounted for 90% of the total.

Average prices in major cities exceed 30,000 yuan for first time

The 2016 average housing price in major cities has increased 16.3% to 31,170 yuan per square meter from a year earlier, the Securities Daily reorted on Thursday, citing data from the Shanghai E-house Real Estate Research Institution. The prices in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen increased 20.5%, 19.6%, 10.9% and 56.2%, respectively, from 2015, the report added.

PBOC intensifies bitcoin probe

The People’s Bank of China will continue its investigation on bitcoin trading platforms that started on January 12 and bitcoin’s derived functions will be the main focus, a Shanghai Securities Journal report said on Thursday. The PBOC will inspect payments and settlements, check for money laundering, foreign exchange management and fund security, the report added.

China to guide development in general aviation networks

Local aerodromes will get guidance on establishing general aviation networks in 2017, Sina Finance reported on Thursday morning, citing a notice from the China Development and Reform Commission.