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Evergrande dodges default again but sector debt concerns remain

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November 11, 2021

By Anshuman Daga, Clare Jim and Andrew Galbraith

SINGAPORE/HONG KONG (Reuters) – Cash-strapped developer China Evergrande Group averted a destabilising default at the last minute for the third time in the past month, with a source on Thursday saying several bondholders had received overdue coupon payments.

Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer, has been stumbling from deadline to deadline in recent weeks as it grapples with more than $300 billion in liabilities, $19 billion of which are international market bonds.

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Chinese media outlet Cailianshe reported several bondholders have received interest payments of the three bond tranches that had a total of more than $148 million due last month.

The payments were made at the end of a 30-day grace period that ended Wednesday, as was the case with two separate offshore coupon payments that were due in late September and for which the grace periods ended late last month.

A failure to pay would have resulted in a formal default by the company and triggered cross-default provisions for other Evergrande dollar bonds, exacerbating a debt crisis looming over the world’s second-largest economy that has rattled global markets.

“The near-term fix seems to be happening but there’s a long way to go before this issue gets sorted out. These are early days,” said the source with knowledge of the matter, referring to Evergrande and declining to be named without authorisation to talk to the media.

Evergrande, which is at the centre of a deepening liquidity squeeze in China’s $5 trillion property sector, did not respond to Reuters request for comment on its latest bond coupon payment.

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Although the developer managed to avoid a default again, woes in the property sector showed no signs of abating with a wall of debt coming due.

Evergrande has coupon payments totalling more than $255 million due on Dec. 28. It has come under pressure from its other creditors at home and a stifling funding squeeze has cast a shadow over hundreds of its residential projects.

Investor focus is now also shifting to other cash-strapped developers which have a string of offshore payments coming due in the short term, including Kaisa Group.

Kaisa has the most offshore debt of any Chinese developer after Evergrande and pleaded for help from creditors this week. It has coupon payments totalling over $59 million due on Thursday and Friday.

Kaisa, which became China’s first property company to default on an overseas bond in 2015, has already missed payments on some wealth management products at home.

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The developer did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

HARD LANDING

While the U.S. Federal Reserve this week warned China’s troubled property sector could pose global risks, there were no clear indications whether Beijing will step in with a broader, national plan to tackle the issue.

Chinese regulators have in recent weeks, however, sought to reassure investors and homebuyers, saying risks were controllable and excessive credit tightening by banks was being corrected.

Regulators and government think tanks have also held meetings with developers in the past few weeks, and the market is expecting some easing in credit and housing policies to prevent a hard landing of the sector.

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Those hopes and Evergrande’s payment sparked a relief rally across Chinese property shares, with an index of real estate A-shares surging nearly 8%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Mainland Properties Index trading up more than 3%.

Shares of Evergrande listed in Hong Kong rose 5.5% at noon.

Chinese developers’ bond prices, which have been hit hard in recent weeks, soared even higher.

Duration Finance data showed the price on China Aoyuan Group’s 5.88% March 2027 bond jumping more 30% on the day, although it continued to trade at deeply distressed levels of around 36 cents in the dollar.

Bonds issued by Times China Holdings Xinyuan Real Estate, Yuzhou Group Holdings and Sunac China Holdings also rose more than 10%.

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An index of dollar-denominated Asian high-yield bonds rose more than 1%, while Chinese high-yield corporate dollar spreads narrowed from record highs.

(Editing by Sumeet Chatterjee and Lincoln Feast)

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U.S. stock futures, oil regain some ground after Omicron battering

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November 29, 2021

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian markets regained a little composure on Monday as investors settled in for a few weeks of uncertainty on whether the Omicron variant would really derail economic recoveries and the tightening plans of some central banks.

Oil prices also bounced $3 a barrel to recoup some of Friday’s shellacking, while the safe haven yen took a breather after its run higher.

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The new variant of concern was found as far afield as Canada and Australia as more countries imposed travel restriction to try to seal themselves off.

Britain called an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers on Monday to discuss developments on the virus, although a South African doctor who had treated cases said symptoms of Omicron were so far mild.

“There is a lot we don’t know about Omicron, but markets have been forced to reassess the global growth outlook until we know more,” said Rodrigo Catril, a market strategist at NAB.

“Pfizer expects to know within two weeks if Omicron is resistant to its current vaccine, others suggest it may take several weeks. Until then markets are likely to remain jittery.”

Trading was erratic early on Monday but there were signs of stabilisation as S&P 500 futures added 0.8% and Nasdaq futures 0.9%.

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Both indices suffered their sharpest fall in months on Friday with travel and airline stocks hit particularly hard.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.1% but was off early lows. Likewise, Japan’s Nikkei pared early losses to be down 0.9%.

Bonds gave back some of their gains, with Treasury futures down 11 ticks. The market had rallied sharply as investors priced in the risk of a slower start to rate hikes from the U.S. Federal Reserve, and less tightening by some other central banks.

Two-year Treasury yields edged up to 0.55%, after falling 14 basis points on Friday in the biggest drop since March last year. Fed fund futures had pushed the first rate rise out by a month or so.

The shift in expectations undermined the U.S. dollar, to the benefit of the safe haven Japanese yen and Swiss franc.

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Early Monday the dollar had steadied somewhat at 113.81 yen, after sliding 1.7% on Friday. The dollar index held at 96.190, after Friday’s 0.7% drop.

The euro paused at $1.1294, following its rally from $1.1203 late last week.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde put a brave face on the latest virus scare, saying the euro zone was better equipped to face the economic impact of a new wave of COVID-19 infections or the Omicron variant.

The economic diary is also busy this week with China’s manufacturing PMIs on Tuesday to offer another update on the health of the Asian giant. The U.S. ISM survey of factories is out on Wednesday, ahead of payrolls on Friday.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speak before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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In commodity markets, oil prices bounced after suffering their largest one-day drop since April 2020 on Friday.

“The move all but guarantees the OPEC+ alliance will suspend its scheduled increase for January at its meeting on 2 December,” wrote analyst at ANZ in a note.

“Such headwinds are the reason it’s been only gradually raising output in recent months, despite demand rebounding strongly.”

Brent rebounded 3.9% to $75.57 a barrel, while U.S. crude rose 4.5% to $71.24.

Gold has so far found little in the way of safe haven demand, leaving it stuck at $1,791 an ounce.

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(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Richard Pullin & Shri Navaratnam)

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Nissan Motor to spend $17.6 billion to accelerate electrification

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November 29, 2021

TOKYO (Reuters) – Nissan Motor Co said on Monday it will spend 2 trillion yen ($17.59 billion) over the next five years to accelerate vehicle electrification as it bets tighter carbon emission restrictions will spur demand for electric cars and hybrids.

Japan’s No. 3 car maker will introduce 23 electrified vehicles by 2030, including 15 electric vehicles (EV), and plans to introduce all solid-state batteries by March 2029, it said in a statement.

Nissan’s deeper push into battery-powered cars comes as consumer demand for such vehicles grows in key auto markets such as China and the United States and as its competitors release new electric vehicles.

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Although still only a small portion of vehicles on the road, global electric car registrations in 2020 grew 41% even as the overall car market contracted by almost a sixth, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Nissan, like other Japanese car makers, however, has yet to commit to completely abandoning fossil-fuel vehicles.

At the U.N. climate summit in Glasgow this month, major car makers, including General Motors and Ford Motor Co, signed on to a declaration that committed them to phase out fossil fuel vehicles by 2040.

($1 = 113.7000 yen)

(Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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Shares of Macau casino operator Suncity suspended -HKEX

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November 29, 2021

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Shares of Suncity Group Holdings Ltd were suspended on Monday after its chief executive was believed to be among 11 people arrested by Macau authorities on Sunday over alleged links to cross-border gambling and money laundering.

The South China Morning Post reported that Macau police said on Sunday a 47-year-old businessman surnamed Chau was among those arrested. Alvin Chau is head of Suncity.

Suncity could not be reached for comment. Shares of the company last closed at HK$0.255.

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(Reporting By Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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