Bangkok, Oct 15 (AP/UNB) — Shares were mostly higher in Asia on Tuesday after a wobbly day of trading on Wall Street.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.9% to 22,207.21 as Tokyo reopened from a public holiday and investors caught up on the news of a preliminary trade deal between China and the U.S. struck Friday in Washington.
But optimism over the agreement appeared to be fading and markets in Hong Kong and Shanghai fell back.
The Shanghai Composite index lost 0.6% to 2,991.05 while the Hang Seng in Hong Kong edged 0.1% lower to 26,498.32. South Korea's Kospi gained less than 0.1% to 2,068.17 and the S&P ASX 200 added 0.1% to 6,652.00.
Shares rose in Taiwan and most of Southeast Asia but fell in Singapore.
Wall Street ended a choppy day of trading on Monday with modest losses. Losses for consumer goods makers, utilities and technology stocks helped outweigh gains in banks and real estate companies. A 2% drop in crude oil prices also hurt energy stocks.
Stocks had rallied Friday as investors welcomed the signs of progress in the latest round of trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, but some of that enthusiasm already had faded by Monday morning.
Washington and Beijing agreed to a truce Friday, with the U.S. agreeing to suspend a planned hike in tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods that had been set to kick in Tuesday. Beijing, meanwhile, agreed to buy $40 billion to $50 billion in U.S. farm products.
"That said, the abovementioned items are no doubt the lower hanging fruits in attempting a deal between the two sides. Few are likely ruling out the possibility that there could be more twists and turns in this matter of U.S.-China trade conflict," Jingyi Pan of IG said in a commentary.
The U.S. did not, however, cancel plans for more tariffs in December and the sticking points of intellectual property and trade secrets still hang over the dispute. And the overall picture hasn't changed for companies, which are still holding off on forecasts and investments because of the uncertain trade situation.
"We kind of peeled back the layers and said, 'Hey, was this really a significant trade deal, or was it just a little bit of window dressing to make everybody feel like there was actually a trade deal?'" said Karyn Cavanaugh, senior markets strategist at Voya Investment Management. "The market is digesting that."
The S&P 500 index slipped 0.1% to 2,966.15. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.1%, to 26,787.36. The Nasdaq gave up 0.1% to 8,048.65.
Small-company stocks did worse than the rest of the market. The Russell 2000 index lost 0.4% to 1,505.43.
Bond markets and the U.S. government were closed for the Columbus Day holiday.
The modest pullback followed last week's market rally, when the S&P 500 and the Dow had their first gains in four weeks.
Benchmark crude oil fell 44 cents to $53.15 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It lost $1.11 to settle at $53.59 a barrel on Monday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, lost 38 cents to $58.97 per barrel. It dropped $1.16 to close at $59.35 a barrel in London.
The dollar fell to 108.37 Japanese yen from 108.40 yen on Monday. The euro fell to $1.1023 from $1.1027.
Beijing, Oct 15 (AP/UNB) — A truce in a U.S.-Chinese tariff war and Beijing's promises to open more of its state-dominated economy are raising hopes among investors.
But Beijing has tempered expectations, while companies express frustration over the halting pace of market-opening moves.
The China Daily, an English-language newspaper aimed at foreign readers, warned the two sides have yet to put last week's agreement on paper after President Donald Trump suspended a planned tariff hike. In exchange, Trump said Beijing would buy up to $50 billion of American farm goods, a pledge China has yet to confirm.
"There is always the possibility that Washington may decide to cancel the deal if it thinks that doing so will better serve its interests," said the newspaper. It called on the Trump administration to "avoid backpedaling."
Business groups welcomed the truce as a possible step toward ending the costly, 15-month-old fight but said it was a small one. Talks broke down earlier after Trump accused Beijing of backsliding on promises Washington believed were locked in.
Friday's agreement coincided with China's announcement of a timetable to carry out a 2017 promise to abolish limits on foreign ownership of some finance businesses, starting with futures trading firms on Jan. 1. Securities firms and mutual fund managers follow later in the year.
Investors saw that as a commitment to freer trade. Chinese officials say it has nothing to do with the trade talks and isn't a concession to Washington.
Over the past 18 months, President Xi Jinping's government also has promised to allow full foreign ownership in banking, insurance and auto manufacturing in hopes of making its slowing, state-dominated economy more competitive and productive.
Chinese market-opening initiatives follow a standard script. Authorities announce dramatic but vague promises that raise hopes abroad. Six months to a year passes while companies wait to see regulations. Many are dismayed when they impose costly licensing requirements or curbs on the size of a business.
None addresses U.S. complaints that plans for government-led creation of Chinese competitors in robotics and other industries violate Beijing's market-opening commitments and are based on stealing or pressuring companies to hand over technology.
Foreign companies are frustrated that Beijing is moving so gradually 17 years after joining the free-trading World Trade Organization. China, the biggest global exporter, is widely seen as having benefited most from freer trade but faces complaints it violates the rules and spirit of the WTO by blocking access to its own markets and subsidizing Chinese competitors.
"China's opening-up process needs to move beyond piecemeal changes and instead embrace an absolute approach in which China goes from 'increasingly open' to 'open'," said Joerg Wuttke, the president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.
Chinese leaders want foreign capital, skills and competition for an economy where huge but inefficient state companies still control industries including oil and gas, telecoms, banking, insurance and power generation.
Beijing wants more foreign involvement to help improve China's finance industry but remains skeptical about the maturity and capability of its own domestic players, said Lester Ross, a lawyer in Beijing for the firm WilmerHale.
Still, "There is a lot of attractiveness" for foreign banks, insurers and other competitors in China's fledgling market, he said.
Opening its own markets also gives Beijing leverage to ask the United States and other governments to let wholly Chinese-owned banks, insurance and other companies into their markets, Ross said.
Beijing allowed full foreign ownership of electric car producers starting last year. Restrictions on commercial vehicle manufacturing end next year and for passenger vehicles in 2022.
That reflects confidence Chinese electric car brands including BYD Auto and BAIC, which are among the global industry's biggest producers by vehicles sold, can compete with foreign rivals.
Global automakers that until now were required to work through state-owned partners are so deeply enmeshed in those ventures that most plan to stick with them. Buying out partners could cost billions of dollars and the foreigners would lose their political connections.
"China is accelerating the pace of opening, but we still need to see those implementing regulations in place and how fast those are carried out," said Ross.
Foreign banks are applying to set up shop in China following an August 2018 pledge to allow full foreign ownership. But they need an eye-wateringly high minimum capital of 40 billion yuan ($5.7 billion) to operate in China or 8 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) to conduct cross-border services.
That's beyond the reach of all but the richest foreign institutions but affordable for state-owned Chinese banks, some the biggest global competitors.
A handful of American, European and Japanese banks have gotten approvals to set up Chinese ventures. It's unclear if they met the capital requirement or if regulators eased that as a concession to Washington and other trading partners.
In insurance, foreign investors face a time-consuming licensing process requiring them to apply in each one of China's 36 provinces and major cities and wait up to a year for approvals. That could take up to a decade.
"China's efforts to boost investor confidence face significant headwinds," said Andrew Coflan and Allison Sherlock of Eurasia Group in a report.
Another hurdle: Government controls on the movement of money into and out of China that add to the cost and difficulty of bringing in investment capital and taking home profits.
Such obstacles "make entrance by foreign financial firms a challenge, even with no ownership caps," said Coflan and Sherlock.
Also Tuesday, the Chinese post office said fees it pays the United States and other countries to deliver packages will nearly triple through 2025 under an agreement following complaints by Washington.
Payments will rise 27% next year and by 164% in total through 2025 under the Sept. 25 agreement by members of the Universal Postal Union, the State Postal Bureau said in a statement.
The Trump administration complained the U.S. Post Office was subsidizing Chinese exporters, which it said pay too little to deliver the vast flow of packages generated by online commerce.
Dubai, Oct 14 (AP/UNB) — From a humble start of leaving the world of finance to write a beauty blog, Huda Kattan now has become one of the most recognizable names in makeup around the world.
The 36-year-old Iraqi-American now runs her eponymous empire Huda Beauty, a makeup line valued at $1.2 billion that has fast become a favorite among A-list celebrities and artists around the world.
Her personality has been key in connecting to the public via social media, a major driver for her makeup known for its vibrant color and contouring popular among Arab women. She's part of a growing vanguard of lines built around personalities, an expanding business model as more-established brands face slower sales.
"I do think the idea of makeup as a form of self-expression will just grow even more," Kattan told The Associated Press in Dubai. "I don't think it's going to be about beautifying anymore."
Kattan reaches customers through a YouTube channel where she uploads all her makeup tutorials. Her brand's Instagram account boasts more than 39 million followers, along with her seven million followers on Facebook. Her beauty line has found success globally, and especially across the Mideast and Persian Gulf, where Huda's business model has been particularly successful.
So-called "beauty influencers" are seeing strong growth in the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven sheikhdoms home to Dubai. They also play an important role in showcasing beauty and personal care products in Saudi Arabia, which has the highest number of active users in the region on social media platforms.
According to Euromonitor International, big brands in the UAE such as Mac, Bobbi Brown and Estee Lauder "saw slight declines in their value shares in 2018, due to the stronger competition from smaller brands" like Huda Beauty, singer Rihanna's brand Fenty Beauty and Charlotte Tilbury.
As makeup sales slow in Europe and the U.S., they continue to grow in the Mideast. From 2018 to 2023, Euromonitor predicts a 7.2% growth in the color cosmetics industry across the Mideast, with a 2.9% growth across the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This year alone, the color cosmetics market is valued at $2.3 billion in the Mideast, growing to $3.1 billion by 2023, according to Euromonitor.
Kattan said her business remained strong because of her focus on the Mideast. Unlike in many Western countries where more natural makeup looks are in vogue, women across Arab Gulf countries often lean toward bright, eye-catching makeup trends and accessories that offset the utilitarianism of black veils and abayas. That complements the bold colors of Kattan's lines.
"I feel like it's very normal in a cosmetic business to go after the No. 1 beauty business or the industry, which is the U.S.," she said. "Of course, I do want to go for the U.S., but I still feel like there's so much to do in this part of the world."
That focus has served her well so far. With a net worth of more than $600 million, Kattan was named one of the "10 most powerful influencers in the world of beauty" in 2017 by Forbes magazine and was named by Time as one of the 25 most influential people on the internet.
Kattan's makeup line includes lipsticks, eyeshadow palettes, foundation and highlighters among other products. She now is expanding her empire with a newly launched perfume line headed by her business partner and sister, Mona. Huda Kattan has also started a reality web show on Facebook's Watch service.
"I think there's a buzz of the beauty brands that have boomed and created billion-dollar brands like Huda Beauty, Kylie, so many other brands. But in reality it's becoming super competitive and sales are dropping for almost every beauty brand out there," said Mona Kattan while sitting beside Huda at their office in Dubai. "And the only way you can survive is if you have a really purposeful mission and a strong identity and you're trying to be different and that's what we've always tried to do."
Huda Kattan also plans a soon-to-come skincare line.
"You know, I never really had great skin and I always wanted to feel comfortable not wearing makeup, and I finally feel like that for the first time in my life," she said.
"So makeup shouldn't be a need, it should be like a want. Like men!" she added with a laugh.
Kathmandu, Oct. 12 (Xinhua/UNB) -- The weeds, cornstalk and rice hulls that Nepali farmers once burned as waste can be exported to earn cash. The farmers had previously wondered how their waste can be exchanged for wealth, and later found an answer through cooperation across the Himalayas.
When learning about a project proposed by a Chinese company, Yegya Raj Kharel, communication officer with Nepal's Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, became excited and said "it is a very good project, from which many Nepali farmers could benefit."
"The Nepali weeds and agricultural waste could be turned into something useful for Tibetan cattle and sheep, bringing economic benefits to farmers and herdsmen from both China and Nepal," said Dong Qijun, technology expert of Xigaze Qomolangma Agriculture and Husbandry Investment Group Co. Ltd.
Nepal is traditionally an agricultural country. According to Nepal's Ministry of Finance, the agriculture sector contributed about 30 percent to the country's gross domestic product in the fiscal year 2017-2018. However, local farmers are struggling with troubled waste disposal.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Himalayas, herdsmen in China's Tibet Autonomous Region have another problem -- shortage of hay and fodder.
"In Tibet, the grassland is green for only three months a year," Dong said. "This means that cattle and sheep wouldn't have enough indigenous feed most of the time."
The Chinese city of Xigaze bordering Nepal has an annual demand of 1.47 million tonnes of hay and fodder, and local farmers have to buy feed from other provinces.
Li Chen, chief executive of Xigaze Qomolangma Agriculture and Husbandry Investment Group, told Xinhua that the hay transported from adjacent Qinghai Province is sold at 2.8-4 yuan (about 0.39 to 0.56 U.S. dollar) per kg, whereas the price for quality barley is only 4.6 yuan (about 0.65 dollar) per kg.
"Given such a price, the future for the husbandry here is hopeless," he said.
Some people see Nepal as a better option, since the shipment distance between Nepal and Xigaze is only 600 km, considerably shorter than that between the city and other regions in China. Therefore, the logistics cost could be at least halved.
To assess the feasibility of the idea, Dong flew to Nepal in March and found that sugarcane bagasse, canola seeds waste and elephant grass here are all good fodder.
"With enough hay and fodder, cattle and sheep could grow quickly and their quality be improved," he said.
The company has built a factory in Chitwan District in south-central Nepal, and is expected to build more factories in the neighboring country, with the aim of providing up to 70 percent of fodder and hay for herdsmen in Xigaze in three years.
Zhang Jinxiang, head of the Nepali project with the Chinese company, said one factory may help at least 800 households increase their income by 70 percent.
He also said that the project may help increase Nepal's exports to China. "While in full swing, all the planned factories could generate 300,000 tonnes of hay and fodder exports to China, of which revenue could top 43 million U.S. dollars."
Parbati Shah, deputy mayor of Bharatpur City in Chitwan, sees the project as pioneering in Nepal.
"Local farmers are quite excited about it," Shah said. "They are hopeful of getting benefits in the future. We need technology and investment. Therefore, we welcome Chinese projects as such."
New Delhi, Oct. 12 (Xinhua/unb) -- With its rapidly growing economy and geographical advantages, India is now becoming an important destination for Chinese investors going global.
Unlike traditional China-India cooperation, which was mainly in the field of import and export trade, industrial synergizing has come to the fore as a new trend of cooperation between Indian enterprises and their Chinese partners.
The development of Paytm, now India's largest mobile e-commerce platform, is an epitome of the emerging trend.
According to Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the founder of Paytm, just three years ago, his company was only a mobile payment company with just 25 million users and limited application scenarios.
Now, strategic cooperation with Ant Financial Services Group, a major Chinese e-commerce company, has made quite a difference.
Based on the similarities between the Chinese and Indian markets in population structure, consumer habits and business scenarios, Ant Financial Services brought Paytm a development strategy already proved effective in the Chinese market.
Paytm has now become one of the world's most popular e-wallet applications with over 300 million users, covering a wide business scope including online recharge, ticket booking, bill payment and entertainment.
Paytm has become a powerful e-payment platform in the daily life of the Indian people, who can enjoy the benefits and convenience of this digital time, said Sharma.
Such a new trend of China-India cooperation has also emerged in the manufacturing of home appliances.
After a process of localization, New Delhi-based Haier India, a subsidiary of Chinese home appliances maker Haier Group, now produces products designed for Indian consumers.
"At the earlier stage, we imported home appliances products from China and sold them to local customers, and it was a failed strategy," recalled Huang Decheng, product director of South Asia of Haier Group. "The Indian market is different from the Chinese one; just import and sell is not enough."
In 2007, Haier India shifted its business model from being a trader to becoming a localized manufacturer. Based on its strong research and development capacity, Haier India has succeeded in producing home appliances tailored for the Indian market.
In 2015, Haier India started making air conditioners featuring rapid refrigeration. In 2017, it introduced the intelligent inverter air conditioner into India. In 2018, Haier India added the self-cleaning function to the air conditioners sold to its Indian customers.
"Such a chain of manufacturing is tailored for India, and our products are quite popular with local customers," Huang said.
Enhancing synergy between research and development on one end and manufacturing on the other plays a decisive role in enabling the new form of cooperation to yield positive results.
In 2012, Kingfa Science & Technology Limited, a Chinese company focusing on research, production and sales of high-performance materials, established Kingfa India, after acquiring a modified plastics manufacturer in the southern Indian city of Chennai.
By combining the local manufacturing capacity and the Chinese material technology, Kingfa India has now turned an insolvent company into a leading material manufacturer in the local market and has expanded its business to New Delhi and Pune.
The key to the success is to converge the strengths of both sides, said Bai Jingen, general manager of Kingfa India. "The combination of advantages helps the company grow strong in the Indian market."