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China’s Alibaba kicks off final hours of Singles’ Day shopping event

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November 10, 2021

By Josh Horwitz

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – A virtual appearance by British actor Benedict Cumberbatch and flashy deals kicked off Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s final 24 hours of its Singles’ Day shopping event on Thursday, hoping to draw shoppers as it preaches sustainability this year.

The online blitz, like last year, has stretched from a one day event to two primary discount periods, taking place from Nov. 1 – Nov. 3 and again on the full day of Nov. 11.

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The company has this year toned down its hype of the usual sales boom amid stringent regulatory scrutiny, saying that its priorities are encouraging “eco-friendly consumption” and “supporting vulnerable populations”.

But the event remains a top draw for millions of merchants and shoppers. Last year, it racked up $74 billion in orders, or “gross merchandise value” (GMV), over 11 days of the event.

Analysts, however, say they are expecting Alibaba to report a minor increase in GMV this year, citing slowing retail sales, supply chain shortages, power disruptions as well as the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns.

The company is also doing away with an audience for its annual entertainment gala this year or opening a media centre to reporters for the first time, citing COVID-19 precautions, opting to livestream the event instead.

Cumberbatch was the highest-profile overseas celebrity to appear at Wednesday evening’s gala, albeit virtually. In previous years, before the pandemic, stars such as Taylor Swift and Pharrell Williams performed at the gala.

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Alibaba said that in the first second of sales on Nov. 1, shoppers bought 300 million yuan ($46.94 million) worth of Apple iPhones, a figure which grew within four minutes to exceed all iPhone sales on the first day at last year’s event.

More than 200 luxury brands are participating in this year’s event too to offer more than 100,000 new products, it said, adding that the number of buyers who placed orders during the first sales window for luxury goods jumped 40% over the prior year.

The shopping event also caps a year of ongoing regulatory tightening from Chinese authorities in a number of industries during which Alibaba was a frequent target.

The company was fined a record $2.8 billion for monopolistic behaviour this past spring and its founder Jack Ma, China’s highest-profile entrepreneur, has retreated from public view after criticizing Chinese regulators a year ago.

($1 = 6.3916 Chinese yuan renminbi)

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(Reporting by Josh Horwitz; Editing by Brenda Goh and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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Delta flight from South Africa to Atlanta diverted to Boston for “technical specifications”

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November 28, 2021

(Reuters) -Delta Air Lines said a flight from South Africa to the United States was temporarily diverted from Atlanta to Boston on Sunday for technical reasons.

Flight 201, an Airbus A350, from Johannesburg was initially set to arrive at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Sunday but was instead routed to Boston’s Logan International Airport, Delta said.

The diversion “has to do with technical specifications of our A350 aircraft and the payload of this particular flight,” the company said in an email.

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“This can happen on ultra-long-haul flights when optimal operating conditions can’t be met,” it said.

The Federal Aviation Administration told Reuters it would investigate the situation.

The flight, which was initially scheduled to land in Atlanta at 8:15 EST (1215 GMT), was rescheduled to land at in Boston at 9:27 a.m. before departing for Atlanta at 10:40 a.m., it said.

The company did not cite the newly discovered Omicron variant of the coronavirus, which has been detected in South Africa, as a reason for the temporary diversion.

More than a dozen passengers on a flight from Johannesburg to Schiphol that landed Friday tested positive https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/dutch-set-announce-findings-omicron-cases-among-safrica-travellers-2021-11-28 for the new variant, Dutch authorities said on Sunday.

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(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York and David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Heather Timmons and Mark Porter)

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Chip shortage to cost Daimler Truck billions in revenues – Automobilwoche

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November 28, 2021

BERLIN (Reuters) – Daimler Truck Chief Martin Daum expects the global chip shortage to hit revenues by several billion euros this year and sees the problem continuing into next year, Automobilwoche reported on Sunday.

The world’s largest commercial vehicle maker, to be spun off from Daimler on Dec. 10, has outlined cost-cutting measure aimed at boosting profit margins as it struggles with chip shortages hurting the entire sector.

Daum said there would be a significant financial hit.

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“It is a huge sum,” Daum told Automobilwoche, saying the company would sell a “mid five-digit number” fewer vehicles than it could have.

With an average price of 100,000 euros ($113,170) per vehicle, this means several billion euros in lost revenues, reported Automobilwoche.

“We also have many vehicles sitting in the factory where just one part is missing. These deliveries are a priority because they are already sold,” said Daum.

He also told Automobilwoche that supply problems are likely to continue in 2022.

($1 = 0.8836 euros)

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(Reporting by Madeline Chambers, Editing by Louise Heavens)

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It’s raining dividends, hallelujah! Canadian banks set to post strong results

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November 28, 2021

By Nichola Saminather

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s top six banks are expected to resume raising dividends and share buybacks after nearly a two-year hiatus and report strong quarterly earnings this week, which could boost the sector’s appeal to yield-hungry investors even as stocks trade close to all-time highs.

The market will also be looking for clues on the banks’ expected expense growth into next year as wage pressures intensify, and long-awaited improvements in net interest margins as interest rates rise.

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The “big six” Canadian banks – Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto-Dominion Bank, Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), Bank of Montreal, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and National Bank of Canada – on average have a dividend yield of 3.3%, according to Reuters calculations.

That compares with the global sector median of 2.5%, according to Refinitiv data.

The dividend increases, which would be the first since the country’s financial regulator imposed a moratorium in March 2020 that was lifted earlier this month, could range from 10% for Scotiabank at the lower end to 34% at National Bank, Gabriel Dechaine, an analyst at National Bank Financial, wrote in a Nov. 22 note describing the coming hikes as a “dividend growth tsunami.”

The banks are also expected to announce repurchases of about 2% of their outstanding shares on average.

“It’s going to be a significant (dividend) increase, and will help them reduce excess capital on their balance sheets,” said Steve Belisle, portfolio manager at Manulife Investment Management. “That flows through to better ROE (return on equity).”

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Even without the higher dividends or buybacks, Canadian bank shares have rallied to record highs, driven in part by better-than-expected earnings due to the release of reserves set aside to cover loan losses that haven’t materialized.

LOAN GROWTH ACCELERATION

The Canadian banks will be reporting their fourth-quarter earnings, with Scotiabank kicking off the results on Tuesday.

Analysts expect adjusted earnings for the top six lenders to jump about 37% from the year-earlier period, helped by a pick-up in business and credit card lending, strong mortgage growth and continued reserve releases.

An acceleration in loan growth is expected, as savings built up during the COVID-19 pandemic have lifted consumers’ and businesses’ purchasing power even at higher prices, with the broader economic recovery adding fuel to the fire, said Philip Petursson, chief investment strategist at IG Wealth Management.

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The one blot on the horizon may come in the form of non-interest expenses. They could be 1% higher than in the third quarter, with much of the anticipated rise driven by variable compensation, and up 4% in fiscal 2022 on rising labor costs and continued investments in technology, CIBC Capital Markets analysts wrote in a note.

Earnings from capital markets earnings could also decline, although higher-than-expected trading revenues could help offset lower investment banking fees, some analysts said.

Profits are expected to be 6.6% lower than in the third quarter, largely due to releases of reserves, which are difficult to estimate and have driven better-than-expected results in past periods, and could again lead to positive surprises, analysts said.

The banks’ improving revenue growth, strong capital positions and expectations for returns on equity to remain in the mid-teens for longer than expected are positives, National Bank’s Dechaine said.

Wealth and asset management units are also likely to have seen further growth, as consumers continued to deploy cash piles they’ve amassed during the pandemic, Petursson said.

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“It’s really hard to see where the warts would be on the banks’ earnings,” he added.

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather; Editing by Denny Thomas and Paul Simao)

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