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Asian shares up, yuan at 5-mth high as Biden-Xi call stokes optimism

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November 16, 2021

By Alun John

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Asian shares scaled a 2-1/2-week top as investors cheered a cordial opening to a key meeting between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, which helped nudge China’s yuan to a five-month high and pulled the dollar broadly lower.

Biden and Xi Jinping started their closely-watched talks warmly, with both leaders stressing their responsibility to the rest of the world to avoid conflict, with the Chinese leader calling the U.S. President an “old friend”.

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MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.27% to its highest level since Oct. 27, while Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 0.4%.

The talks began at 0046 GMT Tuesday and Chinese state media reported they concluded at 12:24 p.m. (0424 GMT) in Beijing.

“The video call is so important because I do think tensions between the two countries are easing and I guess the overall market sentiment will continue to improve,” said Dickie Wong, executive director for research at Hong Kong based Kingston Securities.

Sino-U.S. ties have endured a prolonged period of tensions under the former Trump administration and both sides have recently escalated a war of words over a broad array of contentious issues including Taiwan as well trade and technology.

The see-sawing tensions between the world’s two top economies have jolted global markets at various times over the past few years, so any optimism coming out of the talks would be seen as a boon to riskier assets.

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The friendly opening to the talks helped push the onshore and offshore yuan higher in morning trade, with the onshore spot price hitting a high of 6.3666 per dollar, the strongest since June 1.

In share markets, Chinese blue chips rose 0.5% and the Hong Kong benchmark jumped 1%, also underpinned by property stocks after suggestions of an easing in policy curbs on the sector.

“So far we haven’t seen a loss of confidence in certain developers and the government has come out more forcefully to ensure that homeowners are protected,” said David Chao global market strategist for Asia Pacific (ex-Japan) at Invesco.

An index of Hong Kong listed mainland Chinese developers rose as much as 3%. However, shares of Kaisa Prosperity, a property services unit of embattled developer Kaisa Group, tumbled 13.5% as trading resumed a day after the company said its parent’s liquidity issues would not impact operations. [L4N2S70BD]

U.S. stock futures, were flat on Tuesday, after Wall Street had closed little changed as rising Treasury yields dented appetite for technology stocks but boosted interest in financials. [.N][US/]

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Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields inched down on Tuesday and were last at 1.6008% though still up sharply since hitting a one-month low of 1.42% hit one week ago, a major factor in the dollar’s overall strength.

The dollar, however, edged lower in reaction to the improved sentiment following the Biden-Xi call, losing ground on the euro, which bounced almost 0.2% off a 16-month low and was last at $1.1381.

The currency markets are also being driven by the differing responses from global central banks to rising inflation pressures.

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde on Monday pushed back on market bets for tighter monetary policy, saying doing so now to rein in inflation could choke off the euro zone’s recovery. The dovish tone left the euro struggling to shake off the bears.

Britain will publish its September labour market report later on Tuesday, which analysts at CBA said “could make or break the case for a rate hike this year”.

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Later in the day, U.S. retail sales, trade prices and industrial production for October are also due, giving another hint about the health of the world’s biggest economy.

In oil markets, U.S. crude rose 0.59% to $81.36 a barrel. Brent crude rose 0.76% $82.68 per barrel. [O/R]

Gold was steady, with spot gold up 01% at $1,864 an ounce, just off Monday’s five month high of $1,870. [GOL/]

(Reporting by Alun John; Editing by Sam Holmes & Shri Navaratnam)

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‘Flash mob’ thieves target U.S. retail stores on Black Friday

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November 28, 2021

By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Black Friday shoppers weren’t the only ones out hunting for bargains on the day after Thanksgiving. Thieves were busy as well.

Police in Los Angeles and cities elsewhere across the country spent much of their holiday weekend patrols looking for suspects in a spate of “flash mob” robberies on Friday, part of a surging U.S. crime trend in which groups of thieves swarm a store, ransack the shelves and flee.

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Authorities also have used the term “smash-and-grab” to describe the trend.

At least two such robberies were reported on Saturday by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. A local television station, KCAL-TV, counted a total of six smash-and-grab heists on the city’s west side alone on Friday.

In one incident, a group of eight men entered a Home Depot outlet at a shopping mall in Lakewood, south of downtown Los Angeles, walked directly to the tool aisle and snatched a bunch of hammers, sledgehammers and crowbars valued at about $400 before making their getaway, the sheriff’s office said.

According to L.A. television station KTTV, the Home Depot robbery on Friday night involved up to 20 suspects who pulled up to the store in as many as 10 cars and donned ski masks before raiding the tool aisle.

“We tried to stop them,” store employee Luis Romo told KTTV. “We closed the front entrance, and they put their sledgehammers up and whoever got in the way, they were going to hurt them.”

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The Los Angeles City News Service said four suspects in that robbery were arrested on Saturday by Beverly Hills police.

In a similar incident Friday afternoon, a group of 10 men or more invaded a store in the city’s Fairfax district and started grabbing merchandise without paying for it, pushing employees out of the way before fleeing the scene, according to LAPD.

Police are investigating possible ties between that incident and a flurry of other robberies and retail thefts on Friday and earlier in the week, including two smash-and-grabs reported on Wednesday, an LAPD spokesperson said.

The rash of retail crime prompted the LAPD to place its officers on a citywide tactical alert on Friday afternoon.

Mass robberies also were reported on Friday at two Best Buy electronics stores in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, one of them involving as many as 30 suspects, while a spree of pre-dawn retail burglaries were under investigation in Chicago.

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In one of the biggest flash-mob robberies reported on the West Coast in recent days, police in the San Francisco suburb of Walnut Creek were seeking about 80 suspects who swarmed and ransacked a department store last Saturday.

(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Paul Simao)

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U.S. Black Friday shoppers tapered online splurge, as some returned to stores

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November 27, 2021

By Arriana McLymore and Richa Naidu

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) – U.S. shoppers spent slightly less online during Black Friday this year, with many venturing back to physical stores despite coronavirus fears, tight supplies, and retailers’ efforts to encourage earlier holiday purchases.

For the first time ever, spending online during Black Friday – traditionally one of the biggest shopping days of the year – fell, reversing the growth of recent years, according to data from Adobe Analytics, a wing of Adobe’s business that specializes in data insights and tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 U.S. retailers.

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Retailers lured shoppers to make holiday purchases online as early as September this year, because the supply-chain logjam has prevented them from quickly replenishing year-end merchandise. Shoppers’ total outlay online during Black Friday was roughly $8.9 billion, less than the $9 billion in 2020, Adobe said. Spending online during Thanksgiving Day was flat at $5.1 billion, Adobe said.

Many retailers closed physical stores on Thanksgiving this year, as they did in 2020, amid a labor shortage and the coronavirus pandemic. Stores reopened the day after Thanksgiving, and shopper visits increased by 47.5% compared to 2020, but fell by 28.3% when compared to 2019, the last pre-pandemic year, according to data from Sensormatic Solutions.

Supply-chain challenges and shipping delays may have prompted shoppers to visit stores in order to increase the chances of securing gifts in time for Christmas. More are making purchases online that they can pick up in-store, which keeps shipping costs down.

Macy’s, Walmart, Target and Kohl’s, for example, gave shoppers the flexibility to shop online, in stores or through hybrid methods, walked away as winners on Black Friday, said Louis Navellier, chairman of investor Navellier & Associates.

Of those purchasing online, slightly more used their smartphones. Canadian e-commerce company Shopify said the number of shoppers on its platform who used smartphones to make purchases increased this year to 72% from 67% last year.

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Retailers’ moves to encourage buying holiday gifts earlier could also lessen the importance of Cyber Monday, the first Monday after Thanksgiving.

(Reporting by Arriana McLymore and Richa Naidu, Aakriti Bhalla and Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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Canada’s Shopify records Black Friday sales up 21%

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November 27, 2021

(Reuters) – Canadian e-commerce company Shopify Inc recorded worldwide sales of nearly $2.9 billion on Black Friday, an increase of about 21% in comparison to last year, the company said Saturday.

New York, London and Los Angeles were among the top-selling cities, the company said, while apparel and accessories was the top-selling product category.

Shopify also said it funded 23,000+ tonnes of carbon removal to counteract emissions from the delivery of every order placed on its platform on Black Friday.

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(Reporting by Aakriti Bhalla in Bengaluru; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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