December 14th, 2011
05:04 AM GMT
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HONG KONG (CNN) - Hong Kong has leapfrogged the United States and the United Kingdom to take top spot in the World Economic Forum’s 2011 index of financial market development - the first Asian financial center to do so.

According to the forum’s fourth annual Financial Development Report, Hong Kong’s position was bolstered by strong scores in non-banking financial services such as IPO activity - the first public sale of stock by a company - and insurance. FULL POST

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December 8th, 2011
08:13 PM GMT
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Abu Dhabi (CNN) - There is a milestone about to be set which is going largely unnoticed around the world. Oil will average more than $100 a barrel for an entire year for the first time.

Here in the Persian Gulf states, they call it three digit oil. Simply put, that is a number above $100.

Due to advancements in healthcare and people generally living longer, they say 60 years old is the new 40, meaning we are more youthful in age in the 21st century.

Does this apply to the oil market where $100 a barrel is the new $80 - not too hot, not too cold but just right for oil producing countries and consuming nations alike?

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December 8th, 2011
12:58 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) - I roll my eyes when people here in Hong Kong complain this city’s air quality is bad. My reply? Try living in Beijing.

This past week we saw some of the worst smog to smother China’s capital this year. More than 360 flights were cancelled in and out of Beijing on Tuesday alone. Thousands of passengers around the country were stranded. And both infants and the elderly across the region were rushed to hospitals for breathing problems – their mouths and noses covered by oxygen masks.

It seems things haven’t changed.  From 2000 to 2006 I lived in China; four of those years were in Beijing. And I remember very similar scenes. Looking back on my time then – and reporting on China’s air pollution problems today – it’s as if history continues to repeat itself.
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November 29th, 2011
05:12 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – From an economist’s point of view, the rallying cry to cure Japan’s ills the past two decades has often been, “Spend, Japan, spend!”

From a demographer’s point of view, the cry is more: “Procreate, Japan, procreate!”

A survey last week underscores the growing problems of the latter point.

The number of single men has reached a record high in the aging nation of 130 million, according to a survey by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research.

The number of single men aged 18 to 34 rose 9.2% from the previous survey in 2005. About 61% of unmarried adult men don’t have a girlfriend, while half the adult women surveyed don’t have a husband or a boyfriend. Worse still, 45% of the men and women who don’t have a girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse are not interested in finding one, either.

One in four unmarried men and women in their late 30s have never had sex, the survey found.
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November 28th, 2011
01:13 AM GMT
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(CNN) – With the eurozone debt crisis in full swing and a Super Committee on Capitol Hill that admitted at least temporary defeat, one could be caught flat-footed and miss a milestone anniversary.

A decade ago, November 30 to be precise, the long serving international economist Jim O’Neill in a paper outlined his research on the power of the “Big Four” of the emerging world, Brazil, Russia, India and China.  In his piece, “Building Better Global Economic BRICs,” O’Neill marked a turning point in economic thinking that future growth will be driven by these large emerging markets.

O’Neill boldly stated back then that the BRIC economies will surpass the G7 economies of the industrialized world by 2027 and most of his peers have lined up behind that strategy in agreement.  In 2008, most strategists believe the western led financial crisis marked the quick transformation from the G7 to the G20 context, no less than an official recognition of O’Neill’s work.

The BRIC countries sit on $4.5 trillion of foreign reserves; add in the Middle East sovereign funds and their reserves and those tally up to nearly $6 trillion.  That could explain the quick embrace by leaders during the heat of the crisis.
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November 17th, 2011
05:33 AM GMT
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Hong Kong, China (CNN) – A nearly 9-hour flight delay turned into a standoff at Hong Kong airport Wednesday, with passengers refusing to leave the plane for 5-hours until the airline agreed to higher compensation.

The incident underscores just how high tensions can rise in modern air travel with passengers and airlines jockeying it out in a low-frill, high-fee world. There is no global standard for passenger compensation in the case of airline delays and wide gulf can exist between passenger expectations and airline offers.

When Hong Kong Airlines flight 752 from Singapore arrived at 530 a.m. Wednesday morning, the airline says 80 passengers refused to get off. The travelers, mainly members of package tours from mainland China, demanded the airline increase the original compensation offer of $50 per passenger.
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November 15th, 2011
07:48 AM GMT
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While Thailand’s floods offer a golden opportunity for automakers to diversify their investment across the region – hunting down cheaper suppliers in nearby Vietnam or Indonesia – the kingpin of the Thai market, Toyota, has no plans to go anywhere.

“Toyota is so comfortable in Thailand, I don’t see any major move away any time soon,” said auto industry analyst Michael Dunne. FULL POST

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November 14th, 2011
05:32 AM GMT
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(CNN) - The “King of Good Times” is facing some grim times at the moment.

Airline group chief and billionaire business tycoon, Vijay Mallya is struggling to keep India’s Kingfisher Airlines afloat due to surging fuel costs and fuel taxes.

In the past week, the Bangalore-based carrier has cancelled 200 flights in hopes to reduce its debt from Rs. 6,500 crore (about $1.4 billion) to Rs. 3,000 crore ($600 million). Kingfisher has suffered a loss of Rs.1027 crores ($200 million) in the past fiscal year, adding to its mounting debt.
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November 8th, 2011
01:42 PM GMT
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Bangkok (CNN) – After a month of devastating floods, Thailand faces the prospect of a dry spell it could do without.

From Bangkok to Phuket, bars and supermarkets are starting to report shortages of beer - such as local favourite Singha - as distributors struggle to get their product out.

Singha, which has many of its production facilities based in flood-hit central provinces such as Phathum Thani, was recently forced to close one brewery that was effectively surrounded by water. A company spokesperson told CNN production has been severely disrupted.
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October 18th, 2011
07:57 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – Colombia’s free trade agreement with the U.S. creates opportunities for Chinese businesses getting squeezed out of the North American market by the ongoing trade disputes between the world’s two largest economies.

For China, this is the opportunity to get goods relabeled as Colombian and enter the U.S. with zero tariffs. And as businessmen think about the new possibilities, many are rushing to rewrite business plans.

“The Chinese have their eyes on Colombia because it is the bridge they need to reach the U.S.,” José Antonio Mutis, Colombian Consul General in Hong Kong, told CNN.

There are still few details on how a final product can be considered South American. For now, officials only have a rough idea.

“With around 35 to 40% of the value of a product added in Colombia, it may be considered Colombian and enter the U.S. tax free,” an official at the trade office of the Colombian Embassy in China told CNN.
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