FirstFT: China makes rare intervention in economy and markets

Economy News


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China’s top economic official intervened on Wednesday to reassure investors, saying Beijing would take measures to support the economy and financial markets after a sharp sell-off that has accelerated in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Liu He, a vice-premier and President Xi Jinping’s closest economic adviser, said the government would take measures to “boost the economy in the first quarter”, as well as introduce “policies that are favorable to the market”. He did not elaborate on what specific measures would be taken.

Liu made the comments after convening a special meeting of the State Council’s Financial Stability and Development Committee, which he chairs, according to a summary of the meeting published by Xinhua, China’s official news agency. The FSDC oversees the country’s main financial regulators, including the central bank and securities watchdog, and meets regularly but such a wide-ranging statement to boost confidence is rare.

Investors in Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hong Kong – as well as in US-listed Chinese companies – have been spooked by slowing economic growth, the inflationary aftershocks of the Ukraine war and a long-running crackdown by Xi’s administration on previously fast-growing companies in the technology, education and property sectors.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index yesterday had its best day since the financial crisis, gaining 9.1 per cent as markets across the region rallied in response to the new measures from Beijing.

The latest from the Ukraine war:

Follow our live blog and updated maps for the latest on the conflict. Send your feedback on this newsletter to firstft@ft.com. Now for the rest of today’s news – Emily

1. Powerful earthquake hits Japan’s northeastern coast A 7.3 magnitude earthquake shook Japan’s northeastern coast last night, rattling areas devastated by the 2011 quake and plunging more than 2mn households in Tokyo and the surrounding prefectures into a power blackout.

A woman shops in a store in a residential area during a power outage in Koto district in Tokyo

A woman shops in a store in a residential area during a power outage in Koto district in Tokyo © AFP via Getty Images

2. China plans audit concession in face of US delisting threat In an effort to resolve an impasse threatening more than $ 2tn of shares in US-listed Chinese companies, Beijing is preparing to allow some Chinese companies to provide certain audit information to US accounting regulators, according to three people familiar with the matter.

3. Fed announces first rate rise since 2018 amid surging inflation The Federal Reserve lifted its benchmark interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point in the start of what US central bank officials signaled would be a series of hikes this year with further rises expected at all of the six remaining policy meetings. The US stock market rallied strongly in response.

Dangerous missile launch failure in North Korea Kim Jong Un’s regime has suffered a dangerous missile launch failure with debris crashing into Pyongyang, days after the Biden administration warned North Korea against exploiting the Ukraine war to challenge the US.

5. Nissan’s ex-legal chief faces appeal against Tokyo acquittal Japanese prosecutors have launched an appeal against the acquittal of Greg Kelly, Nissan’s former legal chief, on all but one charge of conspiring to conceal the extent of Carlos Ghosn’s pay when he led the company.

Coronavirus digest

  • China’s recent attempt to suppress an outbreak of Covid-19 with lockdowns in several cities has disrupted global supply chains, which is likely to lead to lower growth and profitability across the technology industry.

  • Japan‘s government is planning to lift its remaining quasi-emergency Covid-19 measures when they expire on Monday. (Japan Times)

  • Jacinda Ardern has accelerated the full reopening of New Zealand’s borders only days after a poll revealed that her Labor party had fallen behind its main rival for the first time in five years.

The day ahead

Central bank news Expect a busy day for central banks in Asia today. The Bank of Japan begins its two-day monetary policy committee meeting, Taiwan will make its monetary policy decision as will the Bank Indonesia Board of Governors. The Reserve Bank of Australia will issue its quarterly bulletin. Elsewhere, the Bank of England is poised to raise interest rates to their pre-Covid level.

What else we’re reading, watching and listening to

Volkswagen and China The German automaker’s decision to suspend production and sales in Russia was not excessively painful. But what if there was pressure to withdraw from China, which accounts for half of its profits and has signaled support for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine?

Graph of VW in China

Will older investors ever embrace crypto? Wealthy millennials favor cryptocurrencies, while few of their older peers hold any at all. This is beginning to change as established institutions offer more access to digital currencies. But they are having to overcome concerns about security and money laundering.

The China rout China’s Covid-19 outbreak is by far its worst since the first wave two years ago. Serious lockdowns are in the offing. But in our Unhedged newsletter, Rob Armstrong argues that given what we have learned about the resilience of the country’s economy and the virus itself, a Covid wave is not be a sufficient explanation.

How influential are influencers at work? A new generation of young professionals are becoming online stars in their own right through their social media channels. But what happens when personal brands meet the old-fashioned big corporate workplace?

Health

Diabetes support is moving into the workplace as employers begin to offer coaching to staff in an effort to manage Type 2 diabetes. “Our mission is to inspire healthier lifestyles including wellbeing in the workplace,” said TLC operations manager Helen Gowers.

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