From an update on Evergrande to In-N-Out Burger in Hong Kong – Here are today's Headlines

Evergrande became the first of several big property developers to default on its debts in 2021, and now its founder is being investigated.

From an update on Evergrande to In-N-Out Burger in Hong Kong – Here are today's Headlines
An Evergrande sign is seen near residential buildings at an Evergrande residential complex in Beijing, China September 27, 2023. REUTERS/Florence Lo

To start off, we're looking into:

Evergrande founder investigated

The backstory: Chinese property giant Evergrande's chairman and founder Xu Jiayin (許家印), or Hui Ka Yan in Cantonese, was once the wealthiest person in Asia, with a fortune of US$42.5 billion. Born into a poor rural family in 1958, Xu’s early years were marked by the hardships of China's Great Leap Forward, a period marred by a devastating famine. After completing his university education in 1982, Xu began his career as a steel technician.

More recently: His life took a dramatic turn when he ventured into the world of property sales in Guangzhou. In 1996, he founded Evergrande, and the rest, as they say, is history. The company skyrocketed after that. Its strategy involved taking out substantial loans and pre-selling apartments, sometimes even before construction began. Over time, Evergrande diversified into wealth management, electric vehicles and food and beverages.

The development: Evergrande became the first of several big property developers to default on its debts in 2021, and now Xu is being investigated. Click the link here for more.

China space
Rendering of Tiangong Space Station on 1 November 2022 after the docking of Mengtian module. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The backstory: Starlink is Elon Musk's SpaceX project that's reshaping global internet connectivity. It plans to do this by launching 42,000 satellites into low Earth orbit. This mission began in 2018 and has already sent up over 4,800 satellites through 109 missions. But Starlink is only one of many players in town. There's also competition from OneWeb, Blue Origin's Project Kuiper and the EU's IRIS² constellation.

And China is also in the picture. In 2020, the world's second-largest economy introduced its ambitious "Guowang" megaconstellation project, also known as Project GW, as its response to SpaceX's dominance.

The development: Now China is jumping headfirst into a second megaconstellation – the G60 Starlink project – to compete with SpaceX. This project, backed by the Shanghai municipal government, intends to deploy over 12,000 satellites in low Earth orbit. Click the link here for more.

Meta could start charging

The logo of Meta Platforms' business group is seen in Brussels, Belgium December 6, 2022. REUTERS/Yves Herman/File Photo

The backstory: Meta’s biggest moneymaker comes from advertising. In 2022 alone, Meta made over US$113 billion in global ad revenue. Using the algorithms, Meta can target specific kinds of ads to particular types of users based on their activity on its platforms. This system makes those ads more effective.

More recently: With the EU’s new Digital Services Act, how social media giants collect user data to make their advertising more effective might have to change in the region. To protect user privacy, platforms like Meta would have to get user consent before showing targeted ads. So, what will happen to ad revenue when users opt out of this targeting?

The development: Meta is reportedly looking into launching a paid subscription tier for Facebook and Instagram. This option is first being offered to its Europe-based users. The idea is that if a user opts out of targeted ads, they’ll have to start paying for a completely ad-free experience. Click the link here for more.

To end, we'll look into:

Is the ocean changing color?

The ocean is blue. ish. Although different ocean regions vary a bit in color, its surface’s generally deep blue shade comes from the way that its water absorbs different colors on the light spectrum. The water doesn’t absorb blues like it does with colors on the red part of the spectrum, leaving us with the blue color we see when we go to the beach or fly to other continents.

But, with climate change shifting the ecosystems and structures within Earth’s oceans, could they start looking different, too? According to a recent study from the UK National Oceanography Center – yes. This study published in Nature shows that from 2002 to 2022, 56% of global ocean surface has changed in color. By analyzing satellite photos and data, researchers have detected that it’s becoming greener. Click the link here for more.

In other news ...


📉Market snapshot and key quotes:

  • In the US: US stocks saw losses on Tuesday with investors closely monitoring the climb of Treasury yields, now perched at a 16-year high.
  • In Hong Kong: Hong Kong stocks closed lower on Tuesday due to continued concerns about US interest rate hikes.

📊Top gainers/losers and company news:

  • In the US: Bank stocks took a hit, with the Financial Sector SPDR Fund (XLF) dropping by over 1%, Goldman Sachs losing almost 4% and Wells Fargo shedding over 2%.
  • In Hong Kong: Evergrande surged by 28% as its trading resumed Tuesday, while Country Garden plummeted by 7%.

👀The numbers everyone is watching:

  • In the US: The August Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey showed 9.6 million job openings, exceeding the expected 8.8 million, as per economists polled by Dow Jones.
  • In Hong Kong: China has a weeklong holiday.

📅To check out our economic calendar for this week, click here.

More headlines ...

💔Thailand shooting: A 14-year-old suspect has been arrested after a shooting killed at least two people and injured others in a Bangkok mall. The suspect reportedly has mental health issues and is currently receiving medical treatment.

Thailand shooting
A general view shows the outside of the luxury Siam Paragon shopping mall after Thai police arrested a teenage gunman who is suspected of killing foreigners and wounding other people in a shooting spree, in Bangkok, Thailand, October 3, 2023. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

🏳‍🌈Pope speaks on same-sex unions: The Catholic Church only recognizes marriage between a man and a woman, but a new wind could be blowing for same-sex couples in the Church. In a letter to a group of five conservative Cardinals, Pope Francis indicated that same-sex unions might be up for a Catholic blessing, given that “pastoral prudence must adequately discern” that the blessing given doesn’t “convey a wrong concept of marriage.”

💬India-Canada tensions continue rising: Recently, we talked about tensions rising between India and Canada after Canada accused India of possibly having links to the murder of a Sikh separatist leader in Vancouver. India ended up canceling the visas of many Canadians at the end of last month. On Tuesday, India told Canada to pull out 41 of its 62 diplomats in the country. Canada’s foreign minister has said the two governments are still in talks about its diplomatic presence in the country.

💔Venice bus crash: On Tuesday, at least 21 people, including two children and foreigners, were killed and several others were wounded when a bus running on methane drove off a bridge in Venice and caught fire. Authorities are working to extract and identify the victims, and Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi said the death toll may rise.

👋McCarthy’s out: In a historic first, a US House speaker has been ousted from his job. Kevin McCarthy was booted from the position in a 216-210 vote, and the last time a vote like this was even held was in 1910. Republicans in McCarthy’s own party went up against him, annoyed with some of his recent bipartisan moves.

💊Fentanyl sanctions: The US has an ongoing opioid crisis, which is being fueled by a synthetic drug called fentanyl. Tens of thousands of people have died after overdosing on fentanyl in recent years. On Tuesday, the US announced sanctions on a China-based network for producing and distributing chemicals linked to the drug. The sanctions include 25 individuals and entities based in China and three other parties in Canada.

📄Armenia votes to join ICC: Earlier this year, the International Criminal Court (ICC) released an arrest warrant for Russian President Putin for overseeing the mass kidnapping of Ukrainian children. In a break from its longstanding ties with Russia, former Soviet country Armenia just voted to join the ICC. This means that if Putin ends up in Armenian jurisdiction, they pretty much have to arrest him and hand him over to international authorities.

💼US-Asia trip: On Tuesday, US Senator Chuck Schumer’s office confirmed that a bipartisan group will visit China, Japan and South Korea in October with hopes to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The trip, reportedly set for next week, is meant to advance US economic and national security interests in the region. The senators will hold meetings with government leaders and business leaders from each country and from American companies with operations in each country.

🚎Nagorno-Karabakh enclave emptied: Last month, Azerbaijan’s government moved to take full control of its Nagorno-Karabakh region, which Armenian separatists were running. Last week, Nagorno-Karabakh saw the mass exit of its ethnic Armenian population, which makes up more than 80% of the people there. On Monday, the last bus of ethnic Armenians left the area for Armenia, taking the last of the ~100,000 evacuees.

A view through a car window shows abandoned vehicles in Stepanakert city, known as Khankendi by Azerbaijan, following a military operation conducted by Azeri armed forces and a further mass exodus of ethnic Armenians from the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, October 2, 2023. REUTERS/Aziz Karimov

😷Bangladesh dengue outbreak: Bangladesh had its first recorded dengue epidemic in 2000. Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease common in southeast Asia (especially during monsoon season) that doesn’t have a specific drug to cure or treat it. Bangladesh is experiencing its worst-ever dengue outbreak this year, with the death toll breaking 1,000 and the infection rate hitting over 200,000. Currently, Bangladeshi hospitals are overflowing, but it seems like the number of infected patients in some areas is starting to drop.

👷‍♂️Taiwan and Huawei chip plants: Chinese tech firm Huawei has been making news lately with its development of advanced semiconductors despite US sanctions on this advanced tech to Chinese companies. It reportedly plans to develop a network of chip plants to keep its production up and further China’s tech goals. Now, a Bloomberg investigation has uncovered several Taiwanese tech companies helping Huawei with this project. It’s not clear if any of the companies are violating US export curbs in their activities, but Taiwan’s minister of economic affairs told reporters the ministry would be looking into their relationships with Huawei.

🌀Typhoon Koinu: The Hong Kong Observatory plans to issue a No. 1 warning signal on Wednesday night as Typhoon Koinu nears the eastern coast of Guangdong.⁠ It’s still hard to tell what kind of impact the storm might have on the city, as that will depend on how strong it is once it hits land and where it hits. It should be weakened after passing over Taiwan.

👩‍⚖️X hit with trademark lawsuit: Over the last several months, Twitter made some changes to rebrand itself as X (but let’s be real, everyone still calls it Twitter). There’s only one problem – a group called X Social Media already exists, and now it’s suing Elon Musk and his company, X Corp, for trademark infringement. X Social Media says that it’s used the trademark “X SOCIALMEDIA” since 2016, and it’s suffering damages because of Twitter’s pivot to X. Elon Musk is also under fire, with another defamation suit being filed against him on Monday. The lawsuit alleges that Musk’s comments on X defamed him by suggesting he was a government plant in protests meant to make right-wingers look bad.

🚕Flying air taxi: Aviation company Beta Technologies is building a new net-zero factory to build regular and vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) electric aircraft. When it starts production, these weird little planes will essentially be used as flying taxis, but they’ll probably cost a bit more. It’ll be years before that technology really takes off, though.

🍔All that and a side of fries: Have you ever been tempted to try the food at the retro regional American joint In-N-Out Burger but not willing to go all the way to California for it? Well, now’s your chance. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on October 4, In-N-Out Burger is coming to Hong Kong for a one-day pop-up at Belgos in Causeway Bay.

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Written and put together by Joey Fung, Vanessa Wolosz and Christine Dulion