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Asia Pacific Financial News from John Lothian News – November 14, 2017

Lead Stories

A Chicago trading firm is setting up shop in Singapore to dominate the bitcoin market in Asia
Frank Chaparro – Business Insider
DRW, the Chicago-based trading firm, is expanding its bitcoin trading operations into Asia; The firm told Business Insider it sees a huge opportunity in Asia for over-the-counter trading; The Asian-outpost will be based in Singapore, but will serve all of Asia and enable the firm to operate as global, around-the-clock, business
DRW, a Chicago-based firm, is looking to set up a bitcoin trading desk in Singapore to dominate the cryptocurrency market in Asia.

Five ways Asian countries are pushing ahead in health technology
Financial Post
Asia’s health-care innovations are in the early stages and have the backing of governments keen to build cutting-edge medical technologies

China’s financial opening still leaves uneven playing field; Relaxation of foreign ownership limits comes too late to have much impact
Did U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to China really play a role in Beijing’s decision to relax its limits on foreign ownership in the financial sector?

Trump’s Trade Barbs Push Asian Nations Closer to China’s Orbit
By Iain Marlow and Kanga Kong – Bloomberg
Smaller Asian countries look to avoid over-reliance on China; U.S. leader used Asia trip to hammer region on trade deficits
For years, smaller nations in Asia have looked to the U.S. to provide a counterweight to an increasingly powerful China. Under President Donald Trump, they are learning to fend for themselves.

Back From the Brink, Mongolia’s Markets Boom
By Narae Kim – Bloomberg
Sovereign got orders for $5.5 billion for $800 million bond; Stock market boom makes it world’s best performer for 2017
A year after coming to the brink of default, Mongolia is seeing the benefit of a good housekeeping seal of approval from the International Monetary Fund.

Deadly Air Pollution Becomes a Common Enemy for Rivals India and Pakistan
By Chris Kay and Iain Marlow – Bloomberg
South Asian cities are reeling from an air pollution crisis; Pakistan’s Lahore, India’s Delhi among polluted urban areas
From his office in the smog shrouded city of Lahore, environment official Saif Anjum pores over reams of pollution data and lists the actions being taken by Pakistan’s largest province to combat the toxic air. He said they have arrested hundreds of crop-burning farmers and closed construction sites and industrial furnaces.

Exchange News

Korean Crypto Exchange Suffers Outage During Bitcoin Cash Surge
By Lily Katz – Bloomberg
Bithumb says server failed amid an abrupt increase in usage; Other large exchanges have faced similar issues as prices soar
Bithumb, one of the world’s most heavily trafficked bitcoin exchanges, is getting heat from customers who were unable to make transactions after its server went down over the weekend.

Stock Connect Continues to Grow as Cross-Border Trading Scheme Marks 3rd Anniversary
Stock Connect, the ground-breaking cross-border access scheme connecting the Mainland and Hong Kong stock markets, is marking its third anniversary amid growing two-way capital flows.

Regulatory News

ASIC confirms restricted use of ‘independently owned’ in financial services
ASIC has updated regulatory guidance to confirm restrictions, that were announced in June 2017, on the use of terminology that implies independence.

Investing News

China’s Economy Moderates as Retail, Factories, Investment Slow
Bloomberg News
China’s economic expansion dialed back a notch in October, as a campaign to manage credit risks took hold and the Communist Party signaled a less stringent approach to hitting growth targets.


Japan’s top banks lay out cost-cutting plans amid lending gloom
Taiga Uranaka – Reuters
Japan’s top banks are accelerating cost-cutting measures as low interest rates and strict capital regulations continue to sap profits, with Mizuho Financial Group (8411.T) saying it would hire fewer people over the next decade to trim expenses.

Japan to relax visa regime for Indians from January 1
Financial Express
Japan will simplify its visa rules from January 1 next year for Indians and issue multiple- entry-visa for short-term stay, a move which is expected to benefit tourists and business persons as well as repeat visitors, the Japanese embassy said today.

Mainland China

Chinese asset-backed securities grow like topsy; Investors snap up securitised auto loans issued by Western carmakers
James Kynge – FT
Asset-backed securities still suffer an image hangover in the west from the days of the 2008 financial crisis. But China’s issuance of the financial products is soaring this year as Beijing places a big bet on securitisation as a salve for its huge credit risks. Though only a few years old, the Chinese debt securitisation market — in which pools of debt like mortgages, auto loans and credit-card loans are repackaged and sold to investors — is growing like topsy. Issuance of securitised assets rose 61 per cent in the first half of this year and could climb to $170bn for the full year, according to research by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

New carbon emissions figures cast a shadow over Paris; Hopes China was on track to cut pollution appear overly optimistic, writes Pilita Clark
Pilita Clark
New figures showing global carbon emissions in 2017 are likely to rise for the first time in four years make a gloomy backdrop to the UN climate talks in Bonn this week that were already looking difficult.

Spotlight: Against anti-globalization wave, China champions greater economic integration in East Asia
Despite the rise of an anti-globalization sentiment and trade protectionism worldwide, China has been rooting for greater and deeper economic integration in East Asia.

China Throws Lifeline to Developers Hitting Record Wall of Debt
Bloomberg News
Developers have $30 billion of bonds maturing in 2018; Offshore financing easier to tap but domestic conditions tight
Chinese developers facing a looming wall of debt repayments have been thrown a lifeline by regulators easing access to offshore financing. That won’t solve all their problems.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Banks’ 2047 Moment Arrived Early; Branches of Chinese lenders in the city account for 37 percent of mainland exposure.
By Andy Mukherjee – Bloomberg
If you think it’s only Hong Kong’s asset markets that are increasingly turning Chinese, you haven’t been paying attention to the city’s banking industry.

Pork May Help Chinese Consumer Inflation Rebound; Citic estimates pork makes up almost 3% of the CPI basket
Bloomberg News
Mounting inflationary pressure in China may get a boost from rising prices for one of the country’s main dietary staples: pork.


Compromise on ownership cap needed for Indonesia’s Danamon to find new suitor
Global Times
Japan’s largest lender is banking on an easier ride in Indonesia. Buying into Bank Danamon would nicely round out the regional presence of the $87 billion Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. And when it comes to both price and politics, MUFG looks better placed than the Southeast Asian group’s previous suitor.


Singapore backs up its fintech ambitions with new initiatives; City-state unveils 11 plans it says are key to it remaining a global money hub
Laura Noonan in Singapore – FT
Singapore’s central bank has launched a batch of initiatives — including helping banks create an industry-wide platform for compliance checks — as the city aims to become a global hub for financial technology.

Singapore should embrace FinTech to remain financial center: official
If Singapore is to maintain its position as one of the financial centers in the world, it must embrace FinTech, maximize its benefits, and minimize its risks, said Ravi Menon, managing director of Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Tuesday.

Singapore’s central bank to pour $20m into AI and data as it pushes fintech growth
Michael Tegos – Tech Asia
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) continues bringing finance and technology closer together, making sure that Singapore’s financial industry doesn’t miss the fintech train.


Gov’t leaders praise Deloitte role in VN auditing
Chairwoman of the National Assembly (NA) Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân and Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ received David Cruickshank, Chairman of Deloitte Global, yesterday and acknowledged the auditing company’s contribution to the Vietnamese financial sector.

City promotes trade with South Korea’s Daegu city
Việt Nam plans to eliminate tariffs on raw materials and spare parts and lower tariffs on small appliances and cosmetics imported from South Korea, according to Lê Thanh Liêm, vice chairman of the city People’s Committee.

EU finds Chinese steel sent via Vietnam evaded tariffs; U.S. due to rule on China-Vietnam steel circumvention case; EU ruling will raise suspicions for U.S. Commerce Dept – lawyer
By Maytaal Angel – Reuters
The European Union’s anti-fraud office (OLAF) said it has found Chinese steel was shipped through Vietnam to evade the bloc’s tariffs.


S’pore, Thailand to link up e-payment systems
By ANGELA TENG – TodayOnline
Singapore’s electronic payment push will go beyond its borders, as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and financial institutions here agree to a tie-up with their counterparts overseas.

Five banks exit Thai regulatory sandbox with QR payment codes
Ms. Siritida Panomwon Na Ayudhya, Assistant Governor, Payment Systems Policy and Financial Technology Group, announces that since the Bank of Thailand (BOT), financial institutions, non-bank payment service providers, and international card schemes have jointly developed the Thai QR code standard for e-Payment in Thailand which complies with international standard, BOT has allowed eight financial institutions to test their payment projects using the QR code standard through their mobile application in the BOT’s regulatory sandbox.

Junta reforms doing nothing to assuage Thai investment flight
Ryan Hartley, Tohoku University via East Asia Forum
The Thai junta is unhappy with Thailand’s current economic paradigm and is attempting to shift the fundamental base of the country’s economy. Various branches of the Thai state are attempting to create what is vaguely referred to as ‘Thailand 4.0’ by the government, the ‘next growth phase’ by the Ministry of Finance and the ’20 Year Strategy’ or the ‘6–6–4 plan’ by the Ministry of Commerce.

South Korea

ADVISORY-South Korean financial markets to open later on Thursday
Reuters Staff
South Korean financial markets will open an hour later at 0100 GMT on Thursday because of a nationwide college entrance exam. (Reporting by Dahee Kim)


Feature: Chinese innovation facilitates development of mobile payment in the Philippines
He Fei, Yuan Mengchen – Xinhua
Strolling at the fancy Glorietta Mall in Manila, one can hardly miss the ubiquitous bar-code stickers put up on counters and codes shown on digital screen, or store staffers walking around in T-shirts with printed codes and a caption reading “scan me!”


BNM: Uphold legal certainty for effective dispute resolution
Malaysia must uphold legal certainty for effective dispute resolution to remain as a leading Islamic financial hub, said Deputy Governor of Bank Negara Malaysia, Abdul Rasheed Ghaffour.


India Could Become World Leader By 2027
Rupert Hargreaves – ValueWalk
India, the world’s seventh largest economy today, will grow to be the world’s second-largest by 2050 according to PWC, outpacing the US economy by around 33% as the sleeping giant reaches financial maturity and modernizes its economy.

Emergency plan needs to be implemented to combat pollution: CSE
Financial Express
A green body today called for the implementation of an emergency plan to address air pollution, after a Lancet Journal report said it was the second leading risk factor for health loss in India last year.


US unicorn Clique opens Australian office, invests in local start-ups
Yolanda Redrup – AFR
US tech unicorn Clique is expanding to Australia and has pledged to invest at least $10 million in the region in the next five years.

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Lothian is executive chairman and CEO of John J. Lothian & Co. and editor of the John Lothian Newsletter. He publishes,,, and three industry newsletters.