UK bank sees possible rise in yuan
China may allow the yuan to climb slightly, a UK bank said, after a government think tank urged that the currency's floating rate be widened gradually.
The Chinese currency dipped slightly against the US dollar last week and ended at 6.8271 last Friday, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System. The yuan closed at 6.8263 by the end of the previous week.
"China might let the yuan go through a gradual and slight appreciation starting in the middle of this month," Standard Chartered Bank wrote. "This will give time for exporters to adjust to the change."
The bank projected that the daily rate "may rise at a larger pace after several months and the yuan may be depegged from the dollar."
The State Information Center said last Friday China should widen the yuan's daily rate band gradually.--(5/10)
Panda sightings indicate their habitat expanding
Zoologists are investigating the possibility that the endangered giant panda has expanded its habitat in southwest China.
Residents at a village in Sichuan Province have reported traces of the bears in a mountainous area where they were previously unknown.
"Giant pandas appear to have been active in Sichuan's Dahua Township for more than two months. The area may be a new habitat for them," said Luo Jian, an official with Shenguozhuang Provincial Giant Panda Reserve in Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture.
A Dahua resident gave samples of excrement he discovered to the Shenguozhuang reserve on April 30.
Tests revealed it came from a healthy giant panda.
Giant pandas have not lived in the area for at least two decades, villagers said. Some residents claimed to have seen giant pandas in March and April.
If one panda has settled in the area, it was very likely others have too, Luo said.
"We do not know for sure if the bears the villagers saw were the same panda. And it is difficult to know if it had always been living in Dahua's mountains or has come from somewhere else," he said.
"After further investigation, including catching one, it may be possible to conclude the pandas have expanded their habitat and population," Luo said.
If confirmed, Dahua will be the second panda habitat in Liangshan's Yuexi County. Shenguozhuang District, separated from Dahua by mountains, is estimated to have five or six pandas.
About 1,600 pandas are believed to live in the wild in China, mostly in Sichuan Province. --(5/9)
Coca-Cola Happiness Factory opens its doors
Coca-Cola Co helped kick off the World Expo opening parade and has thrown open the doors of its Coca-Cola Happiness Factory, its corporate pavilion showcasing innovations in beverages and sustainability.
Coca-Cola, a global partner of World Expo 2010 Shanghai, will celebrate its 125th year of operations tomorrow.
There will be major celebrations at the Happiness Factory, the Expo site and around the world.
The Expo 2010 Parade, which began on May 1 opening day, will continue for 184 days, making it one of the longest and largest in history.
More than 30 million people are expected to take part in the parade, promoting happiness and harmony across cultures in the Expo.
At the Happiness Factory, visitors go on a journey explaining Coca-Cola's vision of a "World Refreshed with Happiness." Lively entertainment is provided.
"The World Expo 2010 Shanghai is themed 'Better City, Better Life,' reflecting our goal of creating a world full of happiness," said Hu Jinjun, deputy director general of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination.
"Today's parade illustrates our commitment to celebrate the many cultures of the world, all united in building a sustainable future. We are proud to partner with Coca-Cola, who has supported us from the very beginning," Hu said on May 1. "Coca-Cola's own spirit of happiness perfectly aligns with our parade theme 'Smile with the World, Sing to the Future of Our Cities!' Together we aim to bring a smile to the faces of the millions of visitors to the World Expo 2010 Shanghai."
Lively characters from the Coca-Cola Happiness Factory took part in the parade and celebration.
"This is a truly milestone event for both China and the world, and we are delighted to be a part of this 184-day celebration from the very start," said Brenda Lee, vice president of Coca-Cola China.
"From today's joyous celebration at the Expo 2010 Parade as well as through our corporate pavilion -- the Coca-Cola Happiness Factory -- we are united with Expo 2010 in sharing the spirit of optimism and happiness for a brighter, more sustainable tomorrow."
Coca-Cola is showcasing a series of innovations in beverages and sustainability at the Coca-Cola Happiness Factory.
It launched a series of "happiness programs" designed to bring the pavilion to life.
It features dreamlike landscapes, lively animations and festive characters who greet visitors in the pavilion queue. Visitors witness the production of a variety of new beverages, and sample them as well.
They see some of the highlights in the history of the Coca-Cola Co.
Coca-Cola Space Can, the world's first soft-drink consumed in outer space, tested by National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronauts aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1985.
Coca-Cola Freestyle Vending Machine, which allows consumers to select from more than 100 brands of drinks.
SuperChill, a Coca-Cola that freezes once the bottle is opened, delivering a super-refreshing drink.
Consumers can also experience the Coca-Cola Happiness Factory online, by visiting the virtual pavilion at http://pavilion.expo.cn/e1022/ssize/htm/index.html.--(5/8)
Student luckiest visitor
A 24-year-old Shanghai woman currently studying in Australia was the luckiest visitor to Expo yesterday as she became the first winner of a weekly draw for a free 7-day trip for two to the United Arab Emirates.
"I thought it was a fraud when the pavilion told me I'd won the lucky draw," said Qian Yunyun, a senior student in accounting at Deakin University in Melbourne.
Qian had returned to Shanghai last month to visit Expo and heard the lucky draw on the Expo Online Website.
She was one of about 11,000 entrants who qualified for the first round draw held yesterday.
Those correctly answering 10 questions on expo2010.uaeinteract.com, the UAE Pavilion's Website, become eligible for winning the trip with free air tickets, five-star hotel accommodation and meals.
Two people will be drawn every week during the 184-day Expo. The previous week's winner will draw the next lucky person's name every Thursday in the pavilion.
Other random lucky draws will also be held. A total of 104 people will be picked out during the Expo.
Participants must give correct answers to 10 fixed choice questions, including how many emirates comprise the UAE and which is the UAE capital city on the Website. "We do not mind participants searching the answers online because our main purpose is to push them to get to know more about our country," said Salem Saeed al-Ameri, commissioner general of the UAE's Expo participation.
There are plenty of other prizes to win at Expo. Suzhou city pavilion in the Urban Best Practices Area, is handing out tourism coupons to visitors, aiming to attract more people to the reputed "Venice of the East" during and after Expo.
There are also lucky pavilion draws offering the chance of a free trip to Suzhou.
The pavilion, shaped like a classical Suzhou garden, highlights the city's efforts to preserve and renovate historical buildings. Visitors can view Kunqu Opera performances inside the pavilion.--(5/7)
Shanghai retail sales jump 22%
Shanghai's retail sales jumped 22 percent during the five-day May Day holiday - the highest growth since 2005 - as more tourists visited the city for the World Expo and theme-based promotions saw consumers spending.
The city recorded combined sales of 4.1 billion yuan (US$601 million) at the 4,000 stores of 480 local large and medium retail businesses during the holiday from last Friday to Tuesday, the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce said yesterday.
The 22 percent year-on-year growth was 7.9 percentage points higher than the May Day holiday last year.
Average daily sales at 826 million yuan were nearly five times the level in 2000.
Consumers were enticed to spend from as early as April 10, with various promotions that were combined with the 2010 World Expo which opened on Saturday in the city.
The Shanghai New World department store on Nanjing Road W., which offered half-price entry for Expo-ticket holders visiting Madame Tussauds Shanghai, boasted a daily traffic of more than 100,000 persons. The mall's sales rose 14 percent to 62 million yuan during the five-day holiday.
Some shoppers won about 200 commemorative gold bars of Shanghai World Expo through lucky draws in the Xujiahui commercial area. Consumers also bought 20 million yuan worth of licensed Expo souvenirs at the Expo site during the first three days of the holiday.
Gold and jewelry were the most-sought after products, with sales soaring 53.5 percent over the five-day holiday.
The Nextage Department Store in the Pudong New Area, Shanghai Outlets in suburban Qingpu District and Oriental Shopping Center in the Xujiahui commercial area were the top three shopping malls by sales of Bailian Group, China's biggest retailer. The Nextage generated sales of 107 million yuan.
Combined sales in Luwan District surged 19 percent from a year ago after the world's top brands, including Louis Vuitton, Coach and Ermenegildo Zegna, opened their flagship stores.--(5/6)
Albania open for business
The Albania Pavilion is in the Europe Joint Pavilion II at Zone C, near the Czech Pavilion, Hungary Pavilion and the Europe Joint Pavilion I. Its National Pavilion Day is on today.
The Albanian delegation to the Shanghai World Expo is headed by Executive Director of Albinvest Agency Viola Puci. She explains the pavilion aims "to show that Albania is growing and is ready to attract investment from the outside world."
Albanian folk songs and dances will be performed on the National Pavilion Day.
The pavilion's facade is a wall that resembles Albania's most ancient city of Gjirokaster. Models of historic architecture are displayed and videos of modern-day Albania are shown in the pavilion.--(5/5)
Rain set to cool city after hot spell
Timely rain is expected to cool the city today after a hot spell, according to Shanghai weather experts.
The maximum temperature today is forecast to drop below 30 degrees Celsius, with showers tipped for late in the afternoon.
Intermittent showers were expected to continue until Thursday, the Shanghai Bureau of Meteorology said yesterday.
Rain, caused by a cold front, should lower temperatures this week, with minimums forecast to touch between 14 and 16 degrees.
However, meteorologists said yesterday that it would feel hot today since the temperature variation should be as little as 8 degrees, with a low of 20 degrees and a high of 28.
Following the heat on Sunday, yesterday's temperature in the downtown area of the city hit 29.7 degrees, with plenty of sun, the bureau said.
"The city was under a warm air mass and a subtropical high pressure was another cause of the heat," said Li Jinyu, one of the chief service officers of the bureau.
"It was a dry heat, so the humidity was not high."
Weather stations at the World Expo site yesterday recorded a temperature of 30 degrees between 1pm and 2pm.
Shanghai residents and visitors can receive real-time weather information, including temperatures, humidity readings and ultraviolet intensity data at the site through three hotlines, one of which, 5198-3972, is in English.
Tomorrow is lixia, the seventh of the 24 traditional Chinese solar terms, meaning the beginning of summer.
The weather for tomorrow is forecast to be showery and the temperature to reach a low of 21 degrees and a high of 26.
The sky should clear again by Thursday afternoon and the temperature that day is expected to reach a maximum of about 23 degrees, according to the bureau.--(5/4)
204,000 in the queue as Expo opens up
The World Expo Shanghai formally opened its doors to the public yesterday morning after years of planning and preparation.
Visitors from home and abroad thronged the gates of the Expo Park, forming long queues for security checks. More than 350,000 tickets had been sold or distributed for the opening day, organizers said. By the day's end, organizers said 204,000 visitors had shown up.
Ge Ning, an executive with a sci-tech company in neighboring Jiangsu Province, was among the first to enter the park.
"I'm here to see new inventions concerning science, technology, environmental protection and energy," he said. The USA Pavilion and the exotic pavilions of African countries were also on his list.
"I might only be able to visit five pavilions today," he said, observing the crowds around him.
Top Chinese political advisor Jia Qinglin and International Expositions Bureau (BIE) President Jean-Pierre Lafon activated the opening device together at a commencement ceremony. In the Expo site, visitors could enjoy pavilions with original designs, explore scientific and technological progress, enjoy various cultural events, and take part in symposiums to fully experience mankind's pursuits for the development of civilization, Jia said.
BIE Secretary-General Vicente Gonzalez Loscertales said the World Expo 2010 would be "the most splendid and unforgettable" and would help the world better understand the present, have a glimpse into the future and strengthen cooperation between countries and organizations.--(5/2)
Metro runs later
A number of Metro lines have extended their operating hours for Expo crowds. Metro Lines 4, 6, 7, 8 and 9, which usually close at 11pm, will continue running trains to midnight. People can take trains from stations serving the Expo site - Xizang Road S., Luban Road, Nanpu Bridge and Madang Road in Puxi and Houtan, Gaoke Road W., Yaohua Road, Changqing Road and Yuntai Road in the Pudong New Area. Boarding will not be allowed at any other stations, although passengers will still be able to exit from them.--(5/1)