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HKECIC Weekly Market News
18 January 2021
Market Snapshots
Asia and Australasia
China: Trade surplus highest since 2015
According to the General Administration of Customs (GAC), China’s exports soared 18.1% to US$281.93 billion in December 2020 from a year earlier, while imports increased at a slower pace of 6.5% to US$203.75 billion. In particular, China’s trade surplus rose to the record-high of US$78.17 billion in December. Considering full year of 2020, exports grew 3.6% compared a year earlier, and imports fell 1.1%. Overall, China’s trade surplus stood at US$535.03 billion in 2020, the highest since 2015. GAC spokesman Li Kuiwen said in a press conference that China emerged from the challenges of complicated domestic and foreign situation as well as COVID-19 epidemic in 2020 as the world's only major economy to have registered positive growth in foreign trade in goods, adding that China's foreign trade import and export scale is expected to maintain growth in 2021.
Eurozone: Industrial jumps close to pre-pandemic levels
Estimates from Eurostat revealed that Eurozone’s seasonally adjusted industrial production rose 2.5% mth/mth in November 2020, a seventh straight month of gain and accelerating from a 2.3% growth in the previous month. It was attributed to the growth in capital goods (+7.0%) and intermediate goods (+1.5%), which offset the decline in energy (-3.9%), non-durable consumer goods (-1.7%) and durable consumer goods (-1.2%). Remarkably, industrial production is just about one percent below pre-pandemic levels. However, uncertainty may remain high in the months ahead as the tightened COVID-19 restrictions due to the resurgence in infection cases in some member states may cloud the outlook.
UK: Retail sales posts worst performance on record
According to a joint survey conducted by British Retail Consortium and advisory firm KPMG, UK retail sales declined 0.3% for 2020 overall compared with 2019. It posts the worst annual sales performance on record, primarily driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, online non-food sales increased by 36.2% compared with 2019, while in-store sales of non-food items fell 24.0%. KPMG’s UK head of retail Paul Martin highlighted that there were big swings in the types of products being purchased and the channels used for shopping, with much of the growth taking place online where nearly half of all non-food purchases were made. Separately, Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned that the UK economy will get worse before it gets better, as new national lockdown measures would have a further significant economic impact.
North America
US: Trump administration restricts US investments in Xiaomi and other firms linked to Chinese military
Last week, the US Department of Defense put nine Chinese companies on its list of companies allegedly in connection with Chinese military. Among restricted companies are the world’s smartphone giant Xiaomi and plane manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China. The move means that US investors will have to divert their stakes in those companies on the list by 11 November 2021, according to an executive order that US President Trump signed in November last year. Separately, the US Department of Commerce added Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation to its Entity List and Beijing Skyrizon Aviation Industry Investment Co. to its Military End-User (MEU) List, effectively banning them from purchasing US commodities or technology without a license.
  Corporate News  
  Specialty women’s apparel retailer Christopher & Banks Corporation (OTC: CBKC) has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for a potential sale of the business. President and CEO Keri Jones attributed the decision to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has caused significant financial distress on the business. The company said it will continue to operate its business in the ordinary course in the near term.

US-based farm, home and outdoor retailer Tea Olive I, LLC, which does business as Stock+Field, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for debt restructuring. Chairman and CEO Matthew Whebbe said in an announcement that there have been many challenges in 2020, and the retailer chain was not immune to them. Stock+Field has commenced a closing sale process and plans to close all of its 25 stores by March.

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