Market Talk – Wednesday, Jan. 20

ASIA:

Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma has made his first appearance since Chinese regulators cracked down on his business empire. The billionaire met 100 rural teachers in China via a video meeting on Wednesday, according to local government media.

The Chinese government slapped sanctions on former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, and former trade adviser Peter Navarro, along with other members of the Trump administration Wednesday. The move came after Joe Biden was sworn in as 46th president of the United States. “China has decided to sanction 28 persons who have seriously violated China’s sovereignty and who have been mainly responsible for such US moves on China-related issues,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

China will be looking to tweak its economic policies to get consumers to spend more, policy advisers in Beijing said after retail sales emerged as a weak spot in better-than-expected GDP data, underlining the need for reform. They said that while supporting employment was key in the short run, reforms to help fatten ordinary people’s wallets were needed to boost domestic spending – a priority for President Xi Jinping’s “dual circulation” strategy to cut China’s reliance on overseas markets. The advisers are influential in Beijing, and their recommendations are likely to be considered. Calls for deepening reforms to spur domestic consumption have been rising since Xi unveiled the dual circulation strategy last year.

Indian stock exchanges on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for Future Group’s $3.4 billion deal to sell its retail assets, taking it a step closer toward closing a deal that has soured its ties with its business partner Amazon.com Inc. Future and Amazon are locked in legal tussles over the Indian group’s August deal with Reliance Industries. The US e-commerce giant alleges the deal breached some of its pre-existing contracts with Future. India’s markets regulator, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), has advised that Future should share various details of company’s ongoing litigation with Amazon when it approaches India’s National Company Law Tribunal, which also needs to sign off on the deal, the Bombay Stock Exchange notification said.

India’s crude oil imports in December soared to the highest levels in nearly three years to more than 5 million barrels per day (bpd) as its refiners cranked up output to meet a rebound in fuel demand, data from trade sources showed. India’s year-end rush for crude supplies coincided with stronger demand from north Asian buyers during winter, boosting prices and an accelerating de-stocking of floating storage globally. December oil imports by India, the world’s third-biggest crude importer and consumer, were about 29% more than the previous month and about 11.6% higher than a year earlier, the data showed, after fuel consumption rose for a fourth straight month to an 11-month high in December.

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