January 13th, 2012
06:28 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – While ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests perceived excesses of the capital markets, brokers in Hong Kong took to the streets Thursday to demonstrate against cuts in the length of their lunch break.

About 1,000 brokers, stock exchange staff and restaurant workers spent their 90-minute lunch break protesting against plans to cut their lunch hour to – well, an hour. Until last year, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange had a two-hour lunch break – the longest in the world for major bourses.

Exchange officials say the move, which is planned for implementation in March, is to keep the exchange competitive with other major exchanges. Japan and Singapore made similar moves last year to reduce the time their exchanges are closed to trading for lunch.
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November 23rd, 2011
05:04 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) - Global economic uncertainty is bringing some good news for U.S. exporters, as traders in Latin America have seen a reduction in buys from China in favor of closer-to-home suppliers.

"There are signals of an economic slowdown," Mario Nigrinis, Principal Economist at BBVA Bank Hong Kong told CNN, "we expect a slight deceleration."

Mexico, the largest Latin American importers of Chinese goods with US$46 billion in 2010, has seen purchase growth rates diminish, from 20.5% year-on-year in the first half of 2011, to 18.5% in the third quarter, to 13% in August, according to data compiled by BBVA.

Brazil followed a similar path, with growth rates contracting from 37% in the first half of this year to 26% in the third quarter.
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November 20th, 2011
11:42 PM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) - As mainland Chinese discover expensive wines and luxury cars from the west, so too grows the demand for illegal drugs such as cocaine.

And this booming trade uses Hong Kong as a conduit between Latin American producers and the burgeoning mainland China market. On September 18, local police arrested eight individuals, one of them a U.S. citizen, in connection with a 567-kilogram seizure worth around US$77 million in the local market.

“Historically, Hong Kong has been the center of drug trafficking in this region,” said Simon Young, Director of the Center for Comparative Law at the University of Hong Kong.

Amounts found by authorities have been increasingly large in the territory over the last years. A recent report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes said they expect consumption in Mainland China to continue its rise.
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October 7th, 2011
03:50 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – Antonia Murray, 17, spends nearly every waking hour in the company of an Apple device. She has an iPad, an iPod Touch, a Macbook and a Mac desktop. Among her peers at Hong Kong’s Island School, she’s no outlier though. She’s just an ordinary member of the Apple generation.

"I don't think I could last a day of school without my iPad. I'd be so bored” Murray says.
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October 3rd, 2011
04:12 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – An estimated 292,000 foreign maids live and work in this metropolis of more than 7 million people.  Most hail from the Philippines or Indonesia, work long six-day weeks from Monday to Saturday and many retire each night to the cramped rooms allotted to them in their own employers’ homes.

But on Sundays they break free.

On their one day off, and having few, cheap places to socialize in this dense urban jungle, they flock to the open and free spaces of Hong Kong’s downtown Central district – its parks, sidewalks and benches – and set up camp for the day. FULL POST

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September 23rd, 2011
04:32 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – According to a report compiled by Savills, a global real estate consultant, Hong Kong has the world's most expensive luxury property market.

Of the 10 “world class” cities profiled—Hong Kong, London, Moscow, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Singapore, Shanghai, Sydney and Tokyo—the average £6,700 ($10,316) per square foot price of Hong Kong luxury homes was the highest in the world. Behind Hong Kong was Tokyo’s £5,190 ($7,991) price per square foot. Paris, with luxury flats averaging £3,270 ($5,035) per square foot, came in third.

The report noted that Hong Kong’s luxury homes were twice as expensive as London’s per square foot, and more than 10 times more expensive than Sydney’s.
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September 12th, 2011
05:12 AM GMT
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Hong Kong  (CNN) – Moving to Hong Kong? If you have school age children, prepare for a prolonged campaign to crack the outer perimeter of the international school system. In the words of one frustrated mother, it’s “harder than getting into Fort Knox.”

I met Heike in the office of a popular primary school. Her 10-year-old daughter Jessica had just disappeared into a room with four other hopefuls for an interview and assessment. My four-year-old was one of them.

Sitting on the couch, we exchanged anxious glances. The school year had started the week before. Any time lost now could translate into marks.

“I didn’t expect the school situation to be so dire, so bad,” Heike confided. She applied to several schools for her two children in February ahead of the family’s planned move to Hong Kong from Dubai. Now here we were in late August, thousands of dollars of application fees later and still no school place.
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September 8th, 2011
06:45 AM GMT
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(CNN) – The summer bloodletting from multinational banks isn’t over.

HSBC, a huge employer in Hong Kong and an anchor in a city known as Asia’s financial hub, announced that 3,000 people – roughly 10% of its workforce – will be out of a job by 2013.

The cuts are part of HSBC’s plans to eliminate 30,000 positions worldwide.

HSBC employees won’t be alone hitting the bricks with resumes in hand. This week, the Charlotte Observer – the hometown paper for Bank of America – wrote the largest bank in the U.S. plans to shed between 25,000 and 30,000 jobs.

Last week, Dutch bank ABN Amro said it will cut 2,350 jobs. In Stockholm, Nordea, the largest bank in the Nordic region, plans to cut 2,000 workers.  The week before Swiss bank UBS announced 3,500 job cuts.

Other layoffs reported in recent months:
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September 8th, 2011
03:46 AM GMT
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(CNN) – Kei San is a Japanese chef who lives in Hong Kong. He also hosts a television cooking show showcasing Japanese seafood.

Lucky for him, his uncle is a fisherman in Hokkaido who supplies him with succulent Hokkaido scallops. But his uncle has seen his business plummet more than 50% because of the nuclear crisis in Fukushima. Even though Hokkaido is 840 kilometers from the nuclear site, the global concern over radioactive contamination has hurt all Japanese food exports.

"My uncle is 60 years old and he's thinking of retiring early. Business is so bad he's basically taking a few months off as a vacation," Kei San says.

Six months after the March 11 trio of calamities – earthquake, tsunami then nuclear disaster – sales of sushi, soba, ramen and other Japanese food industry staples has not fully recovered – and it may be some time before it does. The main obstacle is the lingering doubts about the safety of Japanese food both in Japan and overseas.
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August 31st, 2011
02:20 AM GMT
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Hong Kong (CNN) – After being accused of laundering $92 million, Carson Yeung is now free to leave the country after a Hong Kong court reversed a June decision barring the millionaire from travel.

Against prosecutor protestations, the judge doubled Yeung’s initial bail amount from $500,000 to $1 million. That bail was promptly met and Yeung is now free to fly to London on September 15. His current schedule has him in Britain for four days.

The reason Yeung is going? The 51-year old former hairdresser is owner and majority shareholder of British football team Birmingham City. His defense lawyer, Clive Grossman, argued his client needs to take care of his business interests and can only best do that through in-person meetings.
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