What's news (China Daily)

Governments and policies
Nine more governments reveal FTZ ambitions
Nine municipal, provincial and autonomous region governments have announced their plans to apply to be within the third batch of Chinese cities to set up free trade zones prior to the annual sessions of the National People’s Congress and National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, according to cnstock.com. This year has seen great interest in FTZs from central and western regions. Those to have announced their applications are Chongqing municipality, the provinces of Hubei, Henan, Shaanxi, Gansu, Shangdong, Liaoning and Jilin, and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Think tank predicts 7 percent Q1 growth
China’s economy is expected to grow 7 percent in the first quarter of 2015, according to an estimate released by the State Information Center, a government think tank. It said a steady slowdown is expected for the Chinese economy with investment growth in the property and manufacturing sectors continuing to slow. The first quarter is likely to see investment in fixed assets grow around 14.3 percent and real estate around 7 percent, according to the estimate, while growth in consumption is estimated to be stable against the backdrop of rising incomes and declining consumer prices.
PMI hits seven-month high in February
Chinese manufacturers enjoyed their best performance in seven months in February with output and new orders both expanding at their fastest pace, a private business survey showed on Monday. According to a report co-issued by banking giant HSBC Holding Plc and Markit Economics, the final reading of Purchasing Managers Index for China’s manufacturing sector stood at 50.7 in February, up from an earlier preliminary reading of 50.1 and also higher than January’s final reading of 49.7, signaling the first improvement since last October.
PBOC reveals details of liquidity measures
The central bank has revealed details of the short-term liquidity measures it carried out in January, as it injected 180 billion yuan ($28.70 billion) into the interbank money markets. The injections were made in mid-January, as the money rates climbed ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, said the People’s Bank of China. The facility is mainly used to provide one to three-day direct lines of credit to commercial banks, though loans with other maturities are occasionally used.
Companies and markets
Alibaba launches govt big data service
Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is to launch a new big data service to help local governments across China improve their e-commerce decision-making processes. The service, expected to be officially rolled out in April, is to be exclusively available to local governments at all levels in China. Once they have gained access to the service, government decision-makers will be able to search all kinds of e-commerce related statistics, including regional online shopping transactions. Details could be as specific as finding out the number of packages shipped out of or delivered to their region.

Ambitious plans revealed by Hejun
Hejun Consulting Group, China’s largest consulting company by revenue, aims to grow its consulting business 25 percent this year, and plans to achieve a profit of 1 billion yuan ($159 million) for its fund management business and to double the revenue of its business management school, according to its President Liu Jiheng. The company announces the creation of a 300-million-yuan (47.7-million-dollars) angel investment fund over the weekend, which aims to help start 100 new projects in the telecommunications, media, and technology sectors.
Regulators give Fuyao Glass IPO green light
Fuyao Glass Industry Group has received written approval from the China Securities Regulatory Commission for its proposed Hong Kong IPO. The Shanghai-listed auto glass manufacturer plans to raise $800 million to $900 million from an IPO as early as April. The company plans to sell no more than 18 percent of its enlarged capital, or about 440 million H shares. There is also a greenshoe option of up to 15 percent of the base deal size. Based on the company’s opening share price of 15.01 yuan ($2.39) on Monday, the base deal could raise up to 6.6 billion yuan.
January insurance premiums surge 19%
Insurance premiums rose 18.95 percent in January in China to 400.56 billion yuan ($63.85 billion), according to statistics released by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission. Of the total, 84.24 billion yuan came from property insurance, 285.386 billion yuan came from life assurance, 24.99 billion yuan from health, with the remaining 5.94 billion yuan from accident insurance, up 19.35 percent. Insurance indemnity and payment expenditure grew 12.8 percent during the month to 79.43 billion yuan.
CNOOC to transfer holding in Biolux
China National Offshore Oil Corp’s subsidiary CNOOC New Energy Investment Co Ltd has announced it plans to transfer its 74 percent stake in CNOOC Biolux (Nantong) Bioenergy Protein Feed Co as well as creditor’s right of 391.86 million yuan ($62.47 million), according to a statement on the Beijing Equity Exchange. Established in 2006 with a registered capital of 40 million euros ($44.7 million), CNOOC Biolux has revenue of 99.38 million yuan in 2014 with net losses amounting to 195.91 million yuan in the year. It generated no revenue in January of 2015, with net losses of 9.23 million yuan.
New China Life ends talks over stake sale
New China Life Insurance Co, the nation’s third-largest life insurer by premium income, has ended talks to bring in an unnamed Internet company as a strategic investor. The two sides could not agree on key investment issues after several rounds of negotiations, the Beijing-based insurer said in a statement to the Shanghai stock exchange. With the backing of its shareholders, the company said it has been looking into selling a strategic stake to cooperate on online distribution of insurance policies, according to the statement.
Renminbi reaction to stimulus moves
The yuan fell to a two-year low, money-market rates dropped and most stocks advanced after the central bank announced it had cut benchmark borrowing costs for the second time in three months over the weekend. The currency retreated as much as 0.06 percent in Shanghai and a gauge of interbank funding availability declined the most in more than a month. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index increased, with around two stocks rising for each one that fell. Most economists predict Premier Li Keqiang will announce a 2015 growth target of around 7 percent, down from 7.5 percent last year, when the National People’s Congress convenes its annual meeting this week.
Around the world
Oil futures fall after rise in crude prices
Oil futures fell after the first monthly gain in price since June as Saudi Arabia stepped up production, lifting the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ output beyond its collective quota for a ninth month. Futures decreased as much as 1.1 percent in New York. OPEC pumped 30.6 million barrels a day in February, according to a Bloomberg survey. Oil sank almost 50 percent in 2014 as Saudi Arabia led the group’s decision in November to maintain its output target at 30 million barrels a day, exacerbating a global glut.

Qualcomm reveals 4G LTE modems
Smartphone chip and software manufacturer Qualcomm Inc on Monday unveiled its fourth-generation LTE modems that will enable cars to stay better connected wirelessly to cloud-based services via the Web. Cars using the new technology should be on the market within a few years. Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X12 and X5 modems are designed to be embedded in cars and work with owners’ mobile devices to access a variety of Internet services, from streaming music to vehicle diagnostics.
(China Daily 03/03/2015 page14)