Coronavirus: Las Vegas of China casinos told when they can reopen

Coronavirus’ greatest problem is its ability to spread: Professor

Columbia University professor of epidemiology Stephen Morse says the current coronavirus outbreak is closely related to SARS.

Casino operators in Macao, the world’s biggest gaming enclave, will be allowed to resume operations on Thursday, following 15 days of closure to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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The decision not to extend the closures was announced by Lei Wai-nong, secretary for economy and finance, according to the South China Morning Post.

CORONAVIRUS INFECTS LUXURY SPENDING AT LOUIS VUITTON, RALPH LAUREN

Casino operators have 30 days to get their businesses back up to full speed. Anyone who enters the casinos will be required to wear a mask and have their temperature checked.

The coronavirus outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sickened at least 71,000 people globally and killed 1,770. About 60 million people have been under lockdown in an effort to prevent the spreading of the virus.

Macao, the only area in China that allows gambling, receives about 76 percent of its revenue from the industry. Gross gaming revenue for 2019 was 292.5 billion patacas ($36.6 billion), according to the Gaming Inspection & Coordination Bureau.

By comparison, Clark County, Nevada, home of Las Vegas, raked in $10.36 billion in 2019, Nevada Gaming Control Board data showed.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
MGM MGM RESORTS INTERNATIONAL 31.52 -0.28 -0.88%
LVS LAS VEGAS SANDS CORP 68.07 -1.24 -1.79%
WYNN WYNN RESORTS LIMITED 132.14 -1.48 -1.11%

Shares of Macao casino operators have gained slightly since their closure on Feb. 4. MGM Resorts International is up 1 percent while Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands have added 2.8 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.

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However, MGM shares have slumped 8.7 percent since the coronavirus was first reported to have spread outside of China on Jan. 20. Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts have slumped 8 percent and 12.8 percent, respectively.

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Coronavirus threat part of somber global trade outlook: WTO

Coronavirus will have an impact on US supply chains: Investor

Oxbow Advisers managing partner Ted Oakley discusses the impact coronavirus is having on markets and how it could affect the U.S. economy going forward.

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Growth of global trade in goods is likely to remain weak in early 2020, the World Trade Organization (WTO) said on Monday, adding that the below-trend performance could become even worse due to the new coronavirus.

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The Geneva-based trade body said its goods trade indicator fell to 95.5 from the 96.6 reading reported in November. Readings of less than 100 indicate trade growth below medium-term trends.

The WTO said the new figure did not take into account the most recent developments, such as the outbreak of the new coronavirus, which could dampen trade prospects further.

CHINA SEES RISE IN NEW VIRUS CASES; DEATH TOLL RISES BY 105

Global merchandise trade fell by 0.2% year-on-year in the third quarter of 2019, the WTO said, with a possible pick-up in the fourth quarter.

In this Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, photo, workers watch a container ship arrive at a port in Qingdao in east China’s Shandong province. (Chinatopix via AP)

However, its new data indicated this recovery would not be sustained, with a decline now looking likely in the Jan-March period of 2020.

The WTO trade outlook indicator is a composite of data on export orders in business surveys, air freight, container shipping, car production and sales and trade in electronic components and agricultural materials, particularly wood.

CORONAVIRUS: LAS VEGAS OF CHINA CASINOS TOLD WHEN THEY CAN REOPEN

It is designed to identify turning points and gauge momentum in global trade growth rather than to provide a specific short-term forecast.

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(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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Coles in legal battle over claims of predatory pricing on cigarettes

Coles is battling a Federal Court claim of misuse of market power for predatory pricing on its cigarettes.

Former tobacco store owners Anthony, Rebecca and Michael Rachelle have brought the claim against the supermarket giant which will be heard in the Federal Court on Friday.

Anthony Rachelle is taking Coles to court over its cigarette pricing. Credit:Jason South

Anthony and Rebecca Rachelle owned a cigarette store in the town of Cowes on Phillip Island and Michael Rachelle owned a store in Kilmore, just north of Melbourne. They claimed their businesses were crippled by Coles' sale of cut-price cigarettes.

The statement of claim accuses Coles of misuse of its market power by selling cigarettes from the big three tobacco companies British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco Australia and Phillip Morris, at below supply cost.

"[Coles] has used its substantial degree of market power in the market of acquiring and supplying tobacco products to consumers in Australia, for the purpose of or likely having the effect of substantially lessening competition in the market," the statement claims.

The store owners claim this has aggrieved their customers as they believed the stores were overcharging them, which the business owners said resulted in damage to the reputations of the stores and a significant reduction in tobacco product sales.

Anthony Rachelle sold his business for $40,000 last year. Credit:Jason South

Anthony and Rebecca Rachelle said they were forced to close their store for a three-month period in 2017 and 2018 before closing down and selling the business for $40,000 in August last year, which Anthony Rachelle said "was enough to pay our bank debts".

Anthony's brother, Michael Rachelle, shut his store down for three months in 2016, one month in 2017 and three months in 2018 and then sold his store in November 2018 for $10,000 after paying more than $70,000 to set it up.

Anthony Rachelle also made a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into franchising in 2018 in which he and other tobacco franchisees claimed they were bullied by British American Tobacco, Imperial Tobacco Australia and Phillip Morris.

In that submission, he claimed Coles for two years kept selling British American Tobacco products for $30 to $40 cheaper than he could buy them off the tobacco company himself.

Mr Rachelle said due to the lack of action from the franchise inquiry, he had been forced to bring the legal proceedings against Coles.

"My wife Rebecca and I, as well as my brother Michael, are representing ourselves," he said.

"We've spent just over $12,000 so far on getting a solicitor to assist us in preparing our court documents, however, any further representation was going to be completely beyond the realms of anything we could afford, so we're just winging it at the moment. We sold our businesses for next to nothing as the value of them was destroyed."

Coles declined to comment.

The matter is listed for hearing in the Victorian Federal Court on Friday.

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Metal shapers: 3D metal printing firm latest ASX hopeful

Robotic metal printing startup AML3D is vying to be the latest 3D printing stock to hit the ASX boards, though its chief executive says despite enthusiasm about the sector, growth will take patience.

"It does take time, and it does need investment," Andrew Sales said.

AML3D’s Andrew Sales (left) with an employee, said it’s hard to grow 3D printing startups organically without shareholder investment.

AML3D pioneered a metal printing approach called wire arc additive manufacturing. It draws inspiration from the standard welding process but uses robotics and software to build layers of the material its printers work with which allows for freeform building and means metal parts can be designed without traditional size restrictions of other methods.

The company has also launched a portable 3D printing hub called Arcemy that it wants to sell to businesses in sectors like defence so they can print individual parts as needed even if they are in remote locations.

AML3D this week launched its initial public offering raise asking investors for $9 million with shares at 20c each for the Adelaide-founded business to expand its design pipeline and its printing services into Singapore.

Last year the technology received certification from Lloyd's Register, the global firm providing inspection and certification for firms in the manufacturing, marine and shipping spaces.

Mr Sales said external certification was critical for the business as it started to make its pitches to some of the world's biggest ship and airline builders.

AML3D's technology is targeted at these industries as well sectors like rail and defence, and Mr Sales said the approach was a more cost-efficient way of printing a number of individual machinery pieces that sit within products like aircraft.

If it hits the ASX boards in the coming months, the startup will join a cohort of other 3D printing stocks including Titomic, Aurora Labs, 333D, Robo3D and Oventus.

These peers are using novel printing methods to create everything from defence parts to 3D-printed mouth guards designed to help treatment of sleep apnoea.

They are all hopeful to cash in on the growth in the sector: IDC puts global spending on 3D printing at $US22.7 billion ($US33.7 billion) by 2022.

Listed Australian 3D printing stocks have had a bumpy couple of years. Titomic, which is focused on printing large titanium components, was a market darling two years ago after listing on the ASX at 20c and hitting as high as $3.00 in 2018.

However its share price was down 60 per cent over the past 12 months, dropping to 82c this week.

Mr Sales said looking across the broader 3D printing sector showed progress from idea to commercialisation for companies was a long one and many businesses had to do significant legwork before getting deals.

"I think that classically what’s happened is that there is a huge opportunity but it's taking a bit longer than what people may have planned," he said.

Like companies before it, AML3D is making its pitch to investors before securing significant revenues: the company generated just under $40,000 from customers last year but its net cash used in operating activities was $687,000.

Mr Sales defended listing so early in the company's journey, saying the funds would allow the business to expand globally and pursue more contracts in the South-East Asian market.

The printing game, he said, naturally required longer-term capital support to build momentum.

"It would be fantastic to build a business organically and keep it private. But we're in a space where to grow organically is near impossible."

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Asia Stocks Set For Cautious Start, With Yuan Flat: Markets Wrap

Asian stocks looked poised for a cautious start to the week as investors mulled China’s latest plans to help its economy counter the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. U.S. equity futures ticked higher.

Futures edged lower in Japan and Hong Kong, while Australian shares opened flat after two weeks of gains for global equities. Volumes may be lower than average Monday due to a U.S. holiday; Treasuries won’t trade. China over the weekend unveiled plans for reducing corporate taxes and fees, and letting banks run up more non-performing loans. The head of a hospital in Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak, said a turning point has been reached and that new infections are declining, CCTV reported.

While investor sentiment improved the past two weeks amid optimism the outbreak may be nearing a peak, new cases outside of China are keeping traders on edge. The head of the International Monetary Fund praised China for its “very aggressive” measures to limit the impact of the disease. Hubei province on Monday reported almost 2,000 new cases and 100 additional deaths.

“News on the Covid-19 outbreak will no doubt continue to dominate over the week ahead as investors attempt to assess whether it is being contained or not,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd. “Improving global growth and still easy monetary conditions should drive reasonable investment returns through 2020, providing the coronavirus is contained in the next month or so.”

Meantime, U.S. equities on Friday eked out gains as data showed retail sales rose for a fourth straight month, underscoring steady consumer spending. Treasuries ended the week with the 10-year yield at 1.58%. American equity and bond markets are closed Monday.

Here are some key events coming up:

  • Japan’s economy probably took a hit in the fourth quarter from the sales tax hike and disruptions by typhoons. Consensus is for GDP to contract 3.8% on an annualized quarterly basis, compared with a 1.8% gain in the prior period. That’s due Monday.

  • Earnings season rolls on with results from companies including: BHP Group, Glencore Plc, HSBC Holdings Plc, Walmart Inc. and Deere & Co.
  • U.S. celebrates Presidents’ Day on Monday, with financial markets shut.
  • Minutes of the most recent Federal Reserve meeting are published on Wednesday.
  • Indonesia is expected to cut interest rates on Thursday, following emerging-market peers from Brazil to South Africa which have lowered borrowing costs already this year.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

  • Futures on the S&P 500 added 0.2% as of 8:05 a.m. in Tokyo. The index rose 0.2% on Friday.
  • Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 dipped 0.3%.
  • Hang Seng futures slid 0.6%.
  • Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.1%.

Currencies

  • The yen was flat at 109.81 per dollar.
  • The offshore yuan was little changed at 6.9897 per dollar.
  • The Australian dollar rose 0.1% to 67.20 U.S. cents.
  • The euro bought $1.0838, up 0.1%.

Bonds

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries slid three basis points to 1.58% on Friday.
  • Australia’s 10-year yield rose about one basis point to 1.06%.

Commodities

  • West Texas Intermediate crude rose 0.2% to $52.15 a barrel.
  • Gold slipped 0.2% to $1,581.30 an ounce.

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Bendigo Bank kicks off $300m capital raise, cuts dividend

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has kicked off a $300 million capital raising as it reported a sharp profit drop and announced it was cutting its interim dividend.

Chief executive Marnie Baker blamed low interest rates and rising regulatory pressure at the release of its half-year results on Monday, adding that ongoing technology investment and compliance costs were also impacting the lender.

The bank's statutory net profit was down 28.2 per cent to $145.8 million and the company has trimmed its interim dividend from 35¢ to 31¢. The company also reported a two per cent drop in cash earnings.

Bendigo Bank chief executive Marnie Baker delivers the bank’s half-year results. Credit: Wayne Taylor

"We feel this reduction was required given the capital raising to ensure sustainability of the dividend, retain funds for growth and to enable us to continue to deliver our strategy," Ms Baker said in a release to the ASX.

Ms Baker pointed to the growth in the bank's total lending that was up 2.8 per cent from the same time last year, with losses in agricultural lending caused by drought offset by strong demand for residential lending.

Small business lending was also up by 15.6 per cent with lending applications up by 45 per cent and settlements up by 35 per cent.

“Our Consumer Banking division performed strongly, driven by investment in processing capacity, to support settlement growth, new mobile relationship and business development managers and new and enhanced third party white label partnerships," Ms Baker said.

The bank was put in a trading halt as the capital round kicked off, aimed at institutional clients to raise $300 million to support the growth of its residential mortgage business and beef up the bank's investment in technology.

More to come

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China, Asia Bulk Up Economy Defenses Against Virus Ahead of G-20

China, Hong Kong and Singapore are pledging extra fiscal stimulus to counter the economic hit from the coronavirus, which will top the agenda of the world’s top finance officials this week.

While the International Monetary Fund is calling for coordinated global action, there’s no clear picture on what that might entail. That puts the onus on governments for the time being, including Chinese authorities already squeezed by a trade war with the U.S.

China said Sunday it will enact more-efficient stimulus measures despite a widening fiscal gap, including lower corporate taxes. Hong Kong’s top finance official said the city is facing “tsunami-like” shocks that may lead to a record budget deficit. Singapore is headed for its biggest budget gap in almost two decades, according to analysts.

“While large-scale rolling back of taxes and fees may increase short-term challenges, the nation must take a longer-term view and take resolute steps to implement tax and fee cuts,” Chinese Finance Minister Liu Kun wrote on Sunday in Qiushi, a Communist Party magazine.

The party’s Politburo has already urged China to meet its economic targets this year, signaling the potential of a large-scale stimulus as policy makers weigh their options.

With the virus shutting down commerce and hitting supply chains, Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers gathering in Riyadh on Saturday will be discussing the surging risk to growth. HSBC Holdings Plc was the latest bank to cut its global outlook for 2020 to 2.3% from 2.5%.

Read more:
China Vows More Fiscal Support as Virus Roils a Slowing Economy
Hong Kong Facing ‘Tsunami-Like’ Shocks, Finance Chief Says
Singapore Plans Strong Budget Stimulus to Counter Virus Threat
G-20 Ministers Ready to Count the Cost of Coronavirus: Eco Week

While the People’s Bank of China has provided liquidity and central banks in the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia have cut interest rates, most major central banks haven’t signaled any easing plans.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said last week that whatever impact coronavirus has on the U.S. economy will show up in the economic data soon, but it’s too uncertain to say whether it will lead to a “material” change in the outlook.

In Hong Kong, the economic impact of the virus is worsening a recession rooted in the city’s political crisis that triggered pro-democracy protests last year.

The virus impact goes beyond retail, food and beverage and tourism-related industries, and shocks may cause unemployment to “deteriorate rapidly,” Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in a blog post Sunday.

Singapore’s fiscal gap may widen to 1.5% of gross domestic product in the year beginning April 1, the highest since 2001, according to the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

‘Coordinated Measures’

The city state, which is losing as many as 20,000 tourists a day to travel curbs, will get a “strong” package of budget measures this week, Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the government’s virus-response task force, said in an interview.

With the number of coronavirus cases in China nearing 70,000 over the weekend and deaths rising to more than 1,660, the outbreak was a topic at an international security conference in Germany.

China has “a lot of fiscal space,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said at the meeting in Munich. “There needs to be bottom-up analysis of the impact so we can then agree on synchronized, or even better, coordinated measures to protect the world economy from a more serious shock.”

— With assistance by Enda Curran

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Jupiter Deal Would Fit With Strategy, Canaccord Says

Jupiter Fund Management Plc’s potential acquisition of Merian Global Investors would fit its aim for U.K. consolidation, but with TA Associates Management seemingly ready to sell at a discount little over two years after its purchase there are “questions about the quality of the target,” according to Canaccord Genuity.

Potentially, TA Associates may be attempting to create value from Merian by selling to a business it knows well in Jupiter, which suggests that a largely share-based transaction is likely, Canaccord analyst Portia Patel said in emailed comments.

Based on consideration of 500 million pounds ($652.4 million) and Merian’s assets under management of 22.4 billion pounds, the deal would value Merian toward the top end of the range, said Patel, who has a hold rating on Jupiter. Bloomberg News yesterday reported that Jupiter is in talks to buy the company for less than 500 million pounds.

Key for Jupiter shareholders will be news on cost synergies, the structure of any transaction, the impact on earnings per share and the future of its “attractive” dividend yield, Canaccord added. The broker said this potential deal highlights the importance of mergers and acquisitions for asset managers as they face net outflows and increasing costs.

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Starting a startup: Juggling kids with business

Starting The Suite Set would have been radically different a decade ago.

Launching a small business as a parent of two children under two would have been a much greater challenge if I had not been able to do my research and development all online.

I’m not the only person to have discovered this it seems, there seems to be a burgeoning of home-based parent startups.

Sally Branson Dalwood with her sons Magnus, 3 and Fenton, 1. Credit:Eddie Jim

The physical commitment is not as great so therefore the thought of starting a small business seems more accessible and less daunting.

The reality is that there are always going to be challenges to a fledgling small business no matter what mode is used to start up and it just means these pop up at new and different stages in a small business.

When we say The Suite Set has been set up from our kitchen table, this is no word of an exaggeration.



With the exception of attending a plastics trade fair and a face to face meeting each with our accountant and our web designer, all the set up has been done online.

This includes organising samples, manufacturing and purchasing.

Our e-commerce site sells our own product, our 'hero' product The Suite Set packing bags for hospital and then a group of 'Mama Must Haves' which are products that are helpful and beautiful for new mothers.

I've used social media to find stockists for my 'Mama Must Haves'. Two of our products I saw on websites I follow.

I tracked down the women who make them via the web, and started conversations about stocking their products. One is made by a new mum in New York and the other is made by a pregnant woman in London.

I bought the products sight unseen because I felt so strongly about the ingredients of the products, the story of the products and the story behind why they were made. I felt they were a perfect fit for our own brand.

It was a significant risk, but one that I felt ok about taking because of the online research I had done.

Both products have exclusive stockists and I was nervous about approaching them. My conversation with the American product was 4am. I sat at the kitchen table in my pyjamas and prayed a baby wouldn’t wake as I tried to pitch our business as an exclusive stockist.

I’ve long been a member of 'Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine', 'The Women’s Business Tribe' and 'The LadyStartUp Lounge' Facebook groups. I’ve used these pages as informal advice spots the whole way through the process.

In each of these groups, business owners post questions which are then answered by group members, so is a source of experiential advice. I specifically used LMBDW to ask detailed questions about trademarking, how best to communicate with manufacturers, and finding information on setting up an e-commerce site.

From these sites, I found my web designer and my trademark lawyer. I didn’t just pick one in a random selection from a Facebook page, I found them and then researched further.

Then all of my meetings have been done via email or video call from home.

I’m sure there is an interesting discussion to be had around the volume of startups all created online, consequential market share and then how many new businesses that fail because of the volume.

The ability to be able to source everything online also creates a false sense of ease, especially working from home with small babies.

I think "I’ll just jump online when they’re in bed" and by the time the end of the day comes, the to-do list is even longer and my capacity to work is shorter.

Sally Branson Dalwood is the founder of The Suite Set. Next week: Patience v Hustle

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Hong Kong Facing ‘Tsunami-Like’ Shocks, Finance Chief Says

Hong Kong is facing “tsunami-like” shocks, and may incur a record budget deficit in the next fiscal year as the city counts the costs of the coronavirus outbreak after months of social unrest, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said.

The impact of the epidemic on the Hong Kong economy is being felt beyond retail, food and beverage and tourism-related industries, Chan said in a blog post Sunday. The short-term economic outlook is “cautious,” and shocks can cause the unemployment rate to “deteriorate rapidly,” Chan said.

“In addition to launching counter-cyclical relief measures to support the economy, the government’s recurrent expenditure in the past 10 years has continued to increase significantly, and the weakening economy has significantly reduced government revenue from tax and land,” Chan wrote, elaborating on the deficit.

The budget shortfall will likely continue for a period of time, he said.

Economists are revising down their forecasts for Hong Kong’s economic growth in 2020, with the virus worsening the current recession which was a fallout from the city’s political crisis. The government will seek approval from the territory’s legislature for at least HK$25 billion ($3.2 billion) in fresh funding to reduce the impact of the coronavirus outbreak in the city, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said Friday.

“The current fiscal reserves of the government allows it to sustainably launch counter-cyclical measures in the near future to stabilize employment and support the economy,” Chan said Sunday. “However, in order to ensure the stability of public finances, we must pay more attention to fiscal sustainability and pay within our means when considering new expenditures, especially recurrent expenditures, in the future.”

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