Hong Kong

Economists downgraded their forecasts for Hong Kong’s economy, predicting it could contract for the third time in four years, after data Monday showed growth is being weighed down by Covid restrictions and a slump in trade, Bloomberg News reported. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. expects gross domestic product to decline 0.5% in 2022, down from an earlier prediction of 0.3% growth. Bloomberg Economics now sees GDP shrinking 0.6% compared with a previous projection of 0.7% expansion.
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Distressed Hong Kong property tycoon Pan Sutong was told by the city’s high court to go bankrupt, marking another blow to the former billionaire, Bloomberg News reported. The court ordered Pan to unwind his holding company, Silver Starlight Ltd, after he and the firm failed to pay creditors including China Citic Bank Corp HK$8 billion (US$1 billion) that was due in 2019, according to a court filing Friday. A representative for Pan said on Monday he is appealing the order.
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Hong Kong's financial watchdog is tightening oversight on derivatives markets after the collapse of Archegos Capital Management, a senior official at the city's Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. Archegos, a U.S.-based family office of investor Bill Hwang which had $36 billion in assets, blew up last year when it was caught short on highly leveraged trades and left global banks with $10 billion in losses.
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Babel Finance, the Hong Kong-based crypto lender which suspended withdrawals and redemption of crypto assets on Friday, said that it has reached an agreement with counterparties on the repayment of some debts to ease short-term liquidity, Reuters reported. Cryptocurrency valuations have plunged in recent weeks as investors dump risky assets in a rising interest rate environment. Bitcoin BTC=BTSP, which reached a record high of $69,000 in November, lost more than half its value this year.
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Hong Kong dipped into its foreign-exchange reserves for the first time in three years to defend its longstanding dollar peg, acting to shore up the local currency against a surging greenback, the Wall Street Journal reported. The Chinese territory’s de facto central bank, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, on Thursday said it had acted twice to stop the local currency trading beyond the weak end of its permitted range of 7.75 to 7.85 Hong Kong dollars per U.S. dollar. The monetary authority said it had sold U.S.
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Hong Kong's retail sales fell in February after 12 straight months of growth as a wave or COVID-19 infections hit the city and anti-epidemic measures weakened consumer sentiment and reduced the numbers of people going to shop, Reuters reported. Retail sales in February fell 14.6% from a year earlier to HK$25.2 billion ($3.22 billion), official data released on Thursday showed. That compares with a revised 4% increase in January and a 13.7% fall in last decline in January 2021. It is the steepest decline since July 2020, during the early months of the pandemic, when sales dropped 23.1%.
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The president of Britain’s Supreme Court said Wednesday that he and a colleague were stepping down from their roles on Hong Kong’s highest court because the administration of the Chinese territory had “departed from values of political freedom and freedom of expression,” the New York Times reported. Their resignations will heighten scrutiny of Hong Kong’s British-style legal system, which the former British colony kept even after it returned to Chinese control in 1997.
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The sale of Genting Hong Kong's unfinished mega-liner Global Dream has already lured plenty of potential buyers, including billionaire ex-Genting boss Lim Kook Thay, traveller.com reported. The vessel is set to become the world's biggest cruise ship by capacity once completed, but it currently sits unfinished in a German shipyard. Troubled cruise company Genting HK – which also owns Dream Cruises, Crystal Cruises and Star Cruises – filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 19, days after the Hong Kong government paused "cruises to nowhere" (short round-trip sailings that stop at no additional ports).

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As the government in Hong Kong struggles to contain the city’s worst Covid outbreak ever, some residents have panicked, the New York Times reported. Tens of thousands of new Omicron cases are being reported each day, and deaths have surged. The anxiety gripping Hong Kong is not just about the explosion of infections, but also about what the government will do next. Under pressure from Beijing to eliminate infections, Hong Kong officials have vowed to test all 7.4 million residents.
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