Here's what happened in China's markets last trade day (11/6):
1. Alibaba’s Singles Day shopping event appears to be off to a relatively good start.
As of launch on October 31, the turnover of 71,900 brands on its platform exceeded their turnover for the same day last year. The most popular brands included Apple, Huawei, Haier, and Midea. The figures coming out of the company aren’t as clear this time, as Alibaba (as well as JD) are conscious not to put too much hype on the level of spending given Beijing’s wariness of excessive consumption in society. Meanwhile, Alibaba will begin offering 3 services by US-based Salesforce starting December 18. These will include Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, and Salesforce Platform, which are aimed at assisting foreign companies operating in China. It’s unclear whether there will be any data security implications of a foreign cloud service provider offering services domestically.
2. BYD Battery, China’s leading EV manufacturer, has announced plans to build its first European factory in Hungary.
Coincidentally, Hungary is the birthplace of the first model electric car invented by Anyos Jedlik nearly 200 years ago. The decision came shortly after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban met with BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu early last month. The location of the plant has yet to be determined but BYD’s entry into Europe has been widely expected given the strong acceptance of EVs in the region and BYD’s competitive advantages in the entire production chain, especially in having its own battery technology. After starting out as a contract manufacturer for Panasonic batteries, BYD is now the one bringing know-how to the Western market, allowing it to tap a bigger market beyond the well-penetrated Chinese EV sector.
3. Another Chinese EV manufacturer, NIO, says it expects to start selling its electric vehicles in the US by 2025.
The plan will involve exporting NIO’s EVs from its factory in China and will initially target the premium segment. These imported EVs will, however, face a hefty 25% punitive tariff as part of President Trump’s trade war with China - policies that have been kept by President Biden. The 2025 timeline might be banking on the hopes that the US will have a softer stance on Chinese exports should Biden get reelected. Meanwhile, NIO also announced it would cut 10% of its workforce, which market watchers saw as a good move in the company’s quest for profitability.
4. China’s urban employment was stable for the first 9 months of the year despite the weaker overall environment.
Every year, Beijing is under enormous pressure to ensure there are enough jobs to satisfy its swelling workforce as around 10 million new graduates enter the job market. For the year until September 30, China’s urban employment grew 10.22 million, attaining 85% of its annual target of 12 million new jobs. That pushed urban unemployment rate to 5%. While China has ceased publishing youth unemployment rate, improvement in youth employment was seen improving, possibly owing to stronger hiring in China’s tech sector.
5. China’s hotel industry has recovered to pre-pandemic levels as the surge in domestic travel isn’t letting up.
In the first 9 months of 2023, hotel occupancy rate across the country reached 68.4%, which is just 200 basis points below 2019 levels. During the recently concluded Golden Week celebration, hotel occupancy reached a record 83.1% even without the benefit of a return of foreign tourism. The industry is being powered by pent-up demand among domestic travelers, many of whom have chosen to tour domestically instead of internationally. In terms of average daily rates, they’ve reached RMB 975.1 for the period, or 6.4% higher than in 2019. These figures are sparking massive investments in expansion of hotel capacity in the country, with the number of midrange and prime hotel chains growing 26.3% and 9.2%, respectively, as of last year compared to pre-pandemic levels.
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