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China market round-up: NBA steps into turmoil, Chinese FX reserves fall, UBS becomes GDR conversion institution

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By Rebecca Feng
11 Oct 2019

In this round-up, Mainland Chinese partners cut ties with the National Basketball Association (NBA) after disagreements surrounding the Hong Kong protests, China’s foreign currency reserves fell in September and UBS has received the green light to trade global depositary receipts through the Shanghai-London Stock Connect.

The NBA got into deep trouble in China after Daryl Morey, Houston Rockets general manager, tweeted “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong” last week, in support of the pro-democracy protests rocking Hong Kong. Chinese fans quickly took to social media to blast Morey and condemn the NBA.

Things got worse when Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, showed support for Morey in a Tuesday press conference. Silver said that the league supports Morey to “exercise his freedom of expression” and made it clear that the NBA will not regulate what players, employees and team owners can say or not say.

Silver’s response resulted in a slew of Chinese companies severing ties with the NBA over the next couple of days.

The organisations include China’s Anta Sports Products, the Chinese Basketball Association, sportswear brand Li Ning, Tencent’s online sports channel and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank.

On Tuesday, Chinese state-backed broadcaster CCTV suspended all broadcasts of NBA games.

“We believe any speech challenging national sovereignty and social stability is outside of the realm of freedom of speech,” CCTV said in a statement.

The NBA is not the only group coming under fire because of tensions between Hong Kong and China. Tech company and iPhone maker Apple also got caught between Beijing and pro-democracy forces in Hong Kong. The company approved an app called HKmap.live last week. The app uses crowd-sourced data to track Hong Kong police movements.

Days after the app was released, Chinese state media People’s Daily published a scathing note on the move, saying that it was “facilitating illegal activity” and “betraying Chinese people’s feelings”.

On Wednesday, Apple removed the app from its digital store, stating that the app has endangered law enforcement and residents in Hong Kong.

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China’s foreign currency reserves reached $3.1tr by the end of September, a $19.7bn increase from the beginning of the year, according to data from the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.

However, in September, China’s foreign currency reserves fell $14.7bn and gold reserves fell $2.4bn.

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UBS received the green light from the Shanghai Stock Exchange to become a cross-border GDR conversion institution on Wednesday. With the licence, the Swiss bank can create and redeem the GDRs through buying and selling the underlying A-shares in China through the Shanghai-London Stock Connect scheme.

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BNP Paribas (China) was granted membership of the Shanghai Gold Exchange on Tuesday, according to a press release.

The bank is now able to participate fully in the Chinese gold market, including trading gold contracts, gold leasing and other gold derivatives.

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Caixin September services Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 51.3 from 52.1 in August, lower than market expectation.

That said, the stronger-than-expected employment and new orders sub-indexes painted a rosier picture than the headline reading suggested, Maggie Wei, a China economist at Goldman Sachs, wrote in a Tuesday note.

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Despite all the trade tension jitters, daily trading in Chinese bonds held up in September.

Average daily volume (ADV) in Chinese bonds on Tradweb’s platform increased 108.5% year-on-year to $1.04bn in September, said the global trading platform.

For the third quarter, ADV in Chinese bonds also jumped by 89.05% year-on-year.

By Rebecca Feng
11 Oct 2019