3-day, unlimited Metro passes coming
Three-day passes for unlimited use on the subway will be available starting tomorrow, officials said yesterday.
The new 45 yuan (US$7.14) pass allows the holder to travel on all 11 Metro lines, said Shanghai Shentong Metro Group, the subway operator. The new passes will be sold at all 200-plus Metro stations.
Shentong said the passes would benefit ''short-term visitors who are in Shanghai for business or leisure.''
Currently, an 18 yuan one-day pass is available for visitors.
Metro passengers said they welcome the tickets, adding they'd like to see more diversified tickets that would be good for weekly or monthly use. But some complained that the price is too high.
Currently, subway passengers use either single trip tickets or the public transport card, which is also accepted for taxi, bus and ferry services but does not offer a discount. The city's Metro fares are on a sliding scale, with a ceiling of 10 yuan and a minimum of 3 yuan (except for Line 5). --(2/29)
Shanghai mulls new initiatives
Shanghai will continue to work on expanding financing channels for cash-tight small firms and on a program to let more market players to participate in margin trading.
Members of the Shanghai Stock Exchange's board of directors discussed new initiatives this year at a recent working meeting, the bourse said in a statement yesterday.
The exchange will work out a trial program to allow small firms to issue corporate bonds to selected investors on the bourse. --(2/28)
Index may rise modestly this week on improved liquidity
Shanghai's stocks may rise modestly this week following an improvement in the liquidity situation while investor worries over the European debt crisis began to ease, market watchers said.
The Shanghai Composite Index ended at 2,439.63 last Friday, bringing the weekly gains to 3.5 percent and capping a six-week winning streak ！ the longest since November 2010.
Shenyin & Wanguo Securities said the market may consolidate between 2,400 and 2,500 as short-term speculators may continue to dominate trading.
Investor sentiment was high last week after the People's Bank of China trimmed the reserve requirement ratio for banks by 0.5 percentage point. The cut, effective last Friday, was said to have injected 400 billion yuan (US$63.5 billion) into the financial system.
However, Hongyuan Securities said the effect of the monetary policy fine-tuning may not last long in the market, and investor sentiment may weaken ahead of the release of China's Purchasing Managers' Index, a reflection of industrial activities, for February on Thursday.
Investors breathed a sigh of relief after an aid package of 130 billion euros (US$170 billion) was finally released to debt-ridden Greece. --(2/27)
This weekend will see a dip in the mercury as the low drops to 3-4 degrees Celsius. During the daytime it will be overcast, with rain at night. By Thursday, Shanghai has seen 14 rainy days this month, and rain will persist next week due to a warm front from the southwest and cold from the north, said Shanghai Meteorological Bureau. --(2/25)
Index up on liquidity outlook
Shanghai stocks edged up yesterday as investors were optimistic that the liquidity crunch will be eased, and on speculation that more local governments are relaxing property curbs.
The Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.25 percent to 2,409.55, extending its gain for a fifth straight day.
Pan Mingli, analyst at Orient Securities, said the turnover in the last two days stood above 100 billion yuan (US$16 billion) each and this was a good sign as more funds flowed in.
Cheng Yimin, a strategy analyst at China Post Securities, agreed. He recommended the holding of shares of banks and insurers.
The liquidity situation may improve today as a 0.5 percent cut in the bank reserve requirement ratio becomes effective and this will pump 400 billion yuan into the system, said Liu Bin, a visiting professor of the Institute of International Economics at Nankai University.
The Bank of China lost 0.33 percent to 3.05 yuan, and the Agricultural Bank of China shed 0.37 percent to 2.71 yuan. China Citic Bank gained 0.45 to 4.45 yuan.
Poly Real Estate, China's second-biggest listed developer, edged up 0.18 percent to 11.30 yuan. --(2/24)
Proview reveals IPAD in a Shanghai court
Apple's dispute with a Chinese company over the iPad trademark was heard in a Shanghai court yesterday.
But there was no ruling after the four-hour hearing at the Pudong New Area People's Court where both sides were represented.
Proview Technology (Shenzhen) told the court that it owned the rights to use the iPad name on the Chinese mainland and produced a flat, thin computer, about the size of the front of a microwave oven, packed in a cardboard box. It told the court that this was its IPAD, letters standing for Internet Personal Access Device.
Proview said Apple was infringing its copyright and asked that Apple and other retailers be banned from selling iPads in Shanghai.
Apple's lawyers called Proview's actions ''blackmail.''
They demanded Proview provide evidence that its product was on the market in China. It said the Chinese company was heavily in debt and had no ability to produce the ''so-called IPAD.''
''They have no market, no sales, no customers. They have nothing,'' said Apple lawyer Qu Xiao.
Apple asked the court to halt the Shanghai hearing as its lawsuit against Proview in Shenzhen had not been concluded.
The Guangdong High Court is due to hear it appeal next Wednesday following Proview's victory at a lower court in Shenzhen.
After that ruling, local industry and commerce administrations seized iPads from retailers in Shijiazhuang, capital of Hebei Province and Henan's provincial capital Zhengzhou. Proview said it had asked for similar action in about 30 other cities.
Top retailers, including the country's biggest electronics retailer Suning, Carrefour, and major online retailers Amazon.cn and 360Buy.com, had also halted sales of iPads.
Apple China, which declined to comment on ongoing cases, is continuing to sell iPads in its retail and online stores.
Proview asked the court for 10,000 yuan (US$1,590) from Apple for Proview's legal expenses but made no mention of compensation.
''Apple is good at hanging up time through lawsuits. That's the reason why we asked the court and authorities to halt iPad sales immediately,'' said Provies lawyer Ma Dongxiao.
Apple's iPad, a popular tablet computer, has been sold in China for several years.
Should it lose the case, industry insiders said, Apple would be expected to pay Proview billions of yuan to gain rights to the trademark on the Chinese mainland. --(2/23)
Local exhibition industry gets big boost in 2011
The Municipal Commission of Commerce revealed yesterday that over 70 percent of the city's existing exhibition facilities are capable of holding international shows and big improvements were made in the city's exhibition industry last year.
The Commission said Shanghai hosted 674 exhibitions last year, 32 more than in 2010 and its total exhibition space expanded 18.5 percent to 9.53 million square meters, the most in China. Eleven main venues held 227 international shows, occupying a combined area of 6.89 million square meters or 72.3 percent of the total space. The average floor area of international trade fairs reached 30,400 square meters, up 22.1 percent from 2010.
Last year Shanghai added about 200,000 square meters of exhibition space, four new pavilions in the Shanghai New International Expo Center, expanding it by 54,000 square meters. The Expo 2010 also left 140,000 square meters of pavilions to relieve Shanghai's shortage of exhibition venues. --(2/22)
Zero Carbon Credit System to go online in March
China's first carbon exchange, Zero Carbon Credit System, will be up and running in late March. Companies and individuals can trade carbon credits through the online system, Zero Carbon System (ZCS) said recently.
In its first month of operation, the trading platform will reward every low-carbon manufacturer and every individual who registers there for free with one kilogram of carbon credit.
The Zero Carbon System is the constructor and operator of the London Zero Carbon Pavilion at the World Expo 2010. Through its novel system, ZCS hopes Chinese enterprises and individuals develop low-carbon concepts and habits and increase the market share of low-carbon products.
According to Chen Shuo, the CEO of ZCS, every buyer of zero-carbon commodities will get a certain amount of carbon credits. They can trade their credits for low-carbon commodities or neutralize their carbon at the Shanghai Environment and Energy Exchange.
Meanwhile, a project called ''zero carbon, zero cost'' was also launched by ZCS and its partners to help Chinese enterprises to use clean and inexpensive energy and resources with no additional cost.
The Photovoltaic Equipment Testing Center of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has benefited from the project. The center in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province uses solar panels to generate electricity. The panels cost about 9.6 million yuan, all paid by ZCS and its partners. The center only needs to pay for electricity cost during the contract period. It is estimated that the center can save about 176,000 yuan in electricity bills each year. --(2/21)
Visitors not getting right signal about park WiFi
While a growing number of Shanghai parks are offering WiFi, visitors complain they are often unaware of this and don't know how to access the service.
Among the latest of the city's 140 or so parks to go digital is the Chenshan Botanical Garden in suburban Songjiang District, which now has WiFi available in its service hall.
Meanwhile, Century Park in Pudong said 60 percent of the park is covered by WiFi.
But visitors are urging parks to promote the service better through signs that include instructions.
"I never knew they had WiFi in the park," said Century Park visitor Chen Ming.
"It would be helpful if they had information at the gate."
In response, Century Park officials said they will print WiFi instructions on tickets.
The WiFi service is open to China Telecom account holders who log-in using their home account details and password.
Some users have complained that they cannot log-in as they can't remember their domestic account details.
Users are entitled to several hours of free WiFi use each month in parks, after which they are charged.
The Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau said parks decide for themselves whether to offer WiFi. --(2/20)
Dreamworks to create movie studio in Shanghai
"Kung Fu Panda" creator Dreamworks Animation will soon set up a production studio in Shanghai through a deal that could be announced during Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's visit to Los Angeles.
The joint venture will be between Dreamworks and a Chinese company created specifically for the project, sources with China Media Capital told the Xinhua news agency yesterday, adding that the Chinese company has not yet been given a name.
Joint ventures might get Hollywood closer to China's huge audiences. By producing in China, Dreamworks can bypass the restrictions on foreign content. Only 20 foreign films a year can be screened nationally at cinemas in China. --(2/18)
Biggest yuan fund launched in Shanghai
China's biggest yuan-denominated international fund was set up in Shanghai yesterday as the city goes all out to ride on the internationalization of the yuan and help companies go aboard.
The 50 billion yuan (US$7.9 billion) fund, run by Sailing Capital International, is expected to leverage more than 150 billion yuan of investment capital through coordination with banks, the company said.
It offers a professional investment platform for institutions ambitious to invest aboard. It also expands the landscape of the local currency as yuan will be prioritized to be used in the pricing, transaction and settling of projects.
Sailing Capital has been set up by Shanghai International Group, the investment affiliate of the Shanghai government, and state-owned enterprises and private companies.
"The yuan-backed fund will help domestic companies go aboard in seeking more investment opportunities," said Liu Shiyu, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China. 'The rapid development of cross-border yuan business in recent years has laid the backbone for capital like Sailing's to sail along.'
The central bank will keep supporting Shanghai to be at the forefront of rolling out more financial innovations, Liu said.
The new fund is established amid a growing number of outbound investments made by Chinese companies backed by the country's robust economy, and is a key step for Shanghai to consolidate its ambition to become a global financial center by 2020 and a dominant yuan center by 2015.
The central bank first allowed companies to use the yuan in outbound direct investment in January last year in a bid to expand use of the currency overseas.
Last year, China's outbound direct investment in the non-financial sector hit US$59 billion, up 36.3 percent year on year, the Ministry of Commerce said last month.
Shanghai is expected to become the global center for yuan trading, clearing and pricing by 2015, according to a central government blueprint.
"The fund will help attract capital from home and aboard to participate in Shanghai's financial market and accelerate the city's rise-up as an influential yuan hub," said Tu Guangshao, a deputy mayor in charge of supervising the city's financial sector. --(2/17)
Shanghai CPI gains 4.9% to beat national figure
Shanghai's Consumer Price Index rose 4.9 percent in January from a year earlier, higher than the national 4.5 percent growth, according to the Shanghai Statistics Bureau on Tuesday.
Five out of the eight consumption expenditure categories covered by the CPI posted a price increase, the bureau said.
The sub-indices for food jumped 11.5 percent, housing rose 5.2 percent and apparel up 4.8 percent. The prices of alcohol and cigarettes rose 1.2 percent while those of home appliance and maintenance services added percent.
But health and personal care prices shed 0.7 percent. Transport and communications fees edged down 0.1 percent. The sub-index for entertainment, education, cultural products and services fell 0.4 percent. --(2/16)
Index dips on Europe woes, funds shortage
Shanghai's key stock index yesterday fell the most in a week as a liquidity shortage and the worsening European debt crisis hurt investor sentiment.
The Shanghai Composite Index dipped 0.3 percent to 2,344.77 points.
Data released earlier showed that China's broad M2 monetary supply growth eased to 12.4 percent annually in January from 13.6 percent in December while the Consumer Price Index, a key gauge of inflation, rose to 4.5 percent annually in January from 4.1 percent in December.
China Investment Securities said that policymakers, trying to balance sustaining economic growth and taming inflation at the same time, may allow money supply to grow moderately in the near future.
Banks fell after reports that they may bear the risk caused by local governments' approaching debt repayments.
The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the country's biggest lender, shed 0.46 percent to 4.35 yuan. China CITIC Bank fell 1.35 percent to 4.4 yuan.
The downgrade in the credit ratings of Italy, Portugal and Spain by Moody's on Monday ensured that investors were reminded of Europe's financial turmoil.
The continent, which is suffering a sovereign debt crisis, is China's largest trading partner and takes up 18 percent of the nation's exports, according to Shenyin & Wanguo Securities.
China Ocean Shipping, better known as COSCO, dipped 0.74 percent to end at 5.39 yuan and China Shipping Development shed 0.79 percent to finish at 6.29 yuan. --(2/15)
Mortgages up but loans grow slowly
Housing loans in Shanghai rebounded in January from December as the property market improved slightly but total bank lending grew slowly due to the government's tight monetary policies, official data showed.
New mortgages in the city hit 2.08 billion yuan (US$331 million) in January, an increase of 3.11 billion yuan from December but a drop of 4.14 billion yuan from January last year, the central bank's Shanghai branch said in a statement yesterday.
The mild rebound signaled a slow recovery in home transactions in the past few months.
The sales of new homes, excluding government-funded affordable housing, have risen slowly for three consecutive months from 457,300 square meters in October to 579,100 square meters in December, Uwin Real Estate Information Services Co data showed.
The central bank also said lending grew slowly in January in Shanghai. The new yuan loans totaled 26.8 billion yuan last month, down 4.4 billion from December's and 23.9 billion yuan less than that in January last year.
Nationwide, new yuan loans in China totaled 738.1 billion yuan in January, down 288.2 billion yuan from a year earlier. --(2/14)
Shares may weaken on liquidity worries
Shanghai's stock market may weaken this week on concerns about tight liquidity due to China's monetary policies and on the unlocking of large amount of previously untradable shares which will lead to huge demand for funds, analysts said.
The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1 percent last week to post a fourth consecutive weekly gain.
'Sentiment has improved in recent weeks but neither the economic data nor market liquidity condition support a continued market growth,' said Qian Qimin, an analyst at Shenyin & Wanguo Securities Co.
The National Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday that January's consumer price index rose 4.5 percent from a year earlier, beating market expectations of around 4 percent.
The People's Bank of China said after the market closed on Friday that new yuan loans last month totaled 738.1 billion yuan (US$117.5 billion), below market expectations of 1 trillion yuan.
Qian said that liquidity will be 'still tight under huge demand' for the unlocked shares.
An extra 16.09 billion yuan worth of shares in 22 companies will trade this week on the Shanghai and Shenzhen bourses after the expiry of lockup periods, Xinhua said, or nearly triple last week's amount. --(2/13)
Korean ship detained for Yangtze chemical spill
A Chinese maritime court yesterday ordered the detention of a South Korean cargo ship over a chemical spill that partially contaminated the drinking water source of a city downstream the Yangtze River in east Jiangsu Province.
The Wuhan Maritime Court, which has the jurisdiction over the region, ordered officials to detain the cargo ship Gloria at the Yangtze riverside city of Nantong and set bail at 20.6 million yuan (US$3.3 million), Bu Xiaofang, a spokesman for Zhenjiang municipal government, said late yesterday.
The government on Tuesday confirmed that phenol levels collected on February 3 in water samples in Zhenjiang were excessive, and the pollution caused tap water in some parts of the city to emit a pungent smell, sending panicked residents to stockpile bottled water from supermarkets.
An initial probe was conducted after authorities said they "suspected" a South Korean cargo ship that had docked at Zhenjiang of spilling the chemical into the river.
"We have gathered evidence that the source of pollution was discharged from the pipe of Gloria," said Mao Desheng, deputy head of Zhenjiang's maritime bureau. "I believe the cause of the spill will soon be verified and made public."
Water samples of Zhenjiang and cities further downstream the Yangtze had not been detected with excessive phenol since February 4.
Phenol, also known as carbolic acid, is an organic compound that can irritate eyes and skin. Soluble in water, if absorbed in large amounts it can damage liver and kidney. --(2/12)
Metro signal failure delays thousands
Tens of thousands of Metro passengers were delayed yesterday when services on several lines were halted by signal failure.
The 90-minute disruption began around noon, following a signal breakdown on Metro Line 3 at downtown Zhongshan Park Station, said management.
Services were affected on Line 3 and Line 4 between the Zhongshan Park and Zhenping Road stations, leading to restricted traffic.
Passengers on both lines complained of long waits, and at the Century Avenue hub station a Shanghai Daily reporter found crowds of passengers stranded on Line 4 platforms.
The reporter waited nearly 20 minutes at Line 4's Yangshupu Road Station before a train finally pulled into the platform.
"Probably even taking a taxi now would not enable me to catch the 12:40pm train from South Railway Station I'm supposed to be traveling on," said one stranded passenger.
Some passengers delayed on Line 3 complained that "the trains are slower than bikes."
Line 7 passengers also faced disruptions and some delayed passengers suspected another signal malfunction was also to blame.
However, Metro managers said Line 7 was free of operational problems but that its traffic was affected as it shares stops with Line 3.
The signal problem was repaired after about an hour and normal services began to resume around 1:30pm, the Metro operator said.--(2/11)
US set to make entry easier for Chinese visitors
Thousands of Chinese applicants for non-immigrant US visas may be excused interviews if they held the same visa previously, it was announced yesterday.
The move, aimed at streamlining the United States' visa process and part of a bid to boost visa processing capacity worldwide, takes effect next Monday.
China currently makes up about 11 percent of the total US visa workload around the world with a million non-immigrant visa applications processed last year in China. The Chinese demand for US visas is growing at 35 percent a year.
'In selected circumstances, some qualified foreign visitors who were interviewed and thoroughly screened in conjunction with a prior visa application may be eligible to renew their visas without undergoing another interview,' US Ambassador to China Gary Locke said in Beijing.
Consular officers will be able to skip interviews for qualified non-immigrant applicants who are renewing their visa within 48 months of the expiry of a previous on of the same classification under the new process.
In China, seven visa types such as B (temporary visitors for business/pleasure) and J (exchange visitors) will be covered.
US officials said the seven visa types make up about 95 percent of all visa applications in China at present.
'We expect that this will benefit tens of thousands of applicants in China, saving them time and money, and making it easier for them to travel to the United States more frequently. It will also free our resources to interview more first-time applicants and to do so quickly,' Locke said.
'As China develops economically, more of its citizens will want to visit the United States as tourists, on business or for education. We know that travel to the United States will foster a better understanding of our two cultures and peoples,' he said.
The US is assigning 50 new consular officers to China to help service the increasing demand for visas.
The visa application facility in Shanghai, on Nanjing Road W, is being expanded at present.
The construction of a new section will be finished in the middle of this year. --(2/10)
PM2.5 air quality data to be made public from June
Shanghai will release figures detailing the amount of PM2.5 particles in the air from June, Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau said yesterday.
Sun Jian, the bureau's vice director, said the city would eliminate high-polluting vehicles and strengthen measures to control industrial plant emissions to reduce PM2.5, which is mainly caused by industrial processes and vehicle exhausts.
Sun said Shanghai would adopt a stricter emissions standard, equivalent to Europe's, on new cars from next year.
'Cleaner fuels will also be offered to control vehicle pollution,' Sun said.
In December, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said Shanghai and Beijing would be among the first batch of cities to adopt PM2.5 and ozone monitoring, which will be widened to 113 key cities next year, all major cities in 2015 and nationwide in 2016.
Beijing started to release its PM2.5 data on January 21.
The PM2.5 measure is stricter than the current national PM10 standard as it monitors 'fine' particles measuring 2.5 microns or less in diameter.
Experts say such particles pose major health risks as they are small enough to lodge deep in the lungs and even enter the bloodstream.
Officials from the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission said effective measures to reduce PM2.5 in the air were its main task this year.
The commission's Yu Qing said: 'We are studying equipment being installed into vehicle exhaust pipes to reduce pollutant discharges, new methods to further reduce discharges like nitrogen oxide during power production and techniques to control flying dirt in construction sites.'
Dr Bai Chunxue, director of Shanghai Medical Association's respiratory branch, said the harm caused by PM2.5 was more severe than smoking.
'Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer are major respiratory killer diseases in the nation, so we want to detect chemicals causing inflammation and cancerous change through study of PM2.5,' Bai said.
Shanghai has failed to meet a proposed air quality standard for PM2.5 for the past five years. Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center data showed that the average density of PM2.5 was higher than a proposed PM2.5 standard every year since a pilot study began in 2005.--(2/9)
Shanghai tourists safe
Shanghai tourists in the Maldives are all safe, the Shanghai Tourism Administration said yesterday.
Around 300 people from the city are in tour groups holidaying on the islands.
The Chinese Embassy in the Maldives said tourists had no need to worry and could go on with their holiday. Last year, almost 200,000 Chinese tourists visited the islands.--(2/8)
New home sales rebound last week
Sales of new homes in Shanghai rebounded last week as buying sentiment took off following the end of the Lunar New Year holiday.
A total of 26,300 square meters of new homes, excluding government-funded affordable housing, were sold during the seven days ended on Sunday, a surge from 4,400 square meters registered a week earlier, according to data released yesterday by Shanghai Deovolente Realty Co.
The average price jumped 29.4 percent from a week earlier to 20,896 yuan (US$3,311) per square meter while the new supply more than doubled to 17,100 square meters, according to the data.--(2/7)
Spate of 8 IPOs may prevent rally
Shanghai's stock market may extend last week's upward trend although sharp rallies are unlikely due to a spate of initial public offerings this week, market watchers said.
From today to Friday, eight IPO subscriptions, which are expected to raise a combined 9 billion yuan (US$1.42 billion), are set to be launched. This week's bumper IPOs compared to six launched in January and fewer than 20 in December 2011.
Qian Qimin, an analyst at Shenyin & Wanguo Securities, said the IPOs may prevent a sharp rally in the market.
In a latest survey major Chinese brokerages predicted the index may hover between 2,250 points and 2,450 points this week, with two thirds of them saying they were positive.
The Shanghai Composite Index jumped to 2,330.41 points ！ the highest since December 7 ！ on Friday.--(2/6)
Another blast of icy winter is in forecast
Temperatures will drop by up to 14 degrees Celsius in some regions of China over the next three days, the country's meteorological center said yesterday.
The National Meteorological Center yesterday issued a blue alert for the cold spell, the lowest level in the country's four-scale system.
With the cold front sweeping most parts of the country, temperatures will decrease by more than 6 degrees Celsius in central and eastern China and areas north of the Huaihe River. It will plummet 12 to 14 degrees in some areas.
The front will also bring strong winds in these regions, the center said.
Rain and snow will fall in south China and northern parts of the country, including Xinjiang, Qinghai and Heilongjiang provinces.
In Hulun Buir City, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the temperature has been hovering at minus 40 degrees Celsius or lower for nine days. And in some areas of the autonomous region, it reached minus 50.7 degrees on Friday.
In Shanghai, today will be wet but mild as local weathermen forecast showers with the high remaining at 12 degrees. The low is expected to be 6 degrees Celsius.
However, the city will be affected by the cold front starting tomorrow and the mercury could drop to zero on Tuesday and even lower on Wednesday, according to the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau. --(2/5)
Swiss watches clocking up record sales in China
Chinese consumers are helping to boost the Swiss watch industry, with exports worth 19.3 billion Swiss francs (US$21.1 billion) last year, an industry report shows.
Hong Kong, the No. 1 market for Swiss watches, contributed 410 million Swiss francs to its global sales, followed by the United States with 190 million Swiss francs and the Chinese mainland with 160 million Swiss francs, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said.
Watches priced above 3,000 Swiss francs saw a 22 percent rise in exports even though the Swiss franc soared to a record high against the euro in August before the Swiss government moved to contain its over-heated appreciation.
Switzerland's watch exports are expected to continue double-digit growth this year, with Chinese consumers the main driving force, the federation said.
Watches have become one of the most popular luxury purchases for China's wealthy. Consulting firm Bain & Co estimated in December that watch sales in China may have soared 40 percent last year, the highest growth rate across all luxury product categories due to aggressive brand marketing.
The top 5 brands accounted for nearly 60 percent of the total 22.5 billion yuan (US$3.5 billion) in sales in 2010.
But of the total 212 billion yuan in luxury purchases by Chinese consumers last year, up to 60 percent were made overseas, Bain & Co said.
They expected this trend to continue this year, as it found that more than half of China's luxury spending abroad was motivated by lower prices or better product selection. Increasing travel opportunities and the yuan's buying power may further encourage consumers to shop outside the Chinese mainland.
Customers from the Chinese mainland spent up to US$7.2 billion on luxury goods abroad during the recent weeklong Lunar New Year holiday with Europe their top destination, the World Luxury Association said earlier this week.
Domestic demand for luxury products is being held in check because of import tariffs and consumption taxes, which can make luxury goods 72 percent more expensive on the Chinese mainland than in France, the association said.--(2/4)
City in luck with dragon snow
Snow fell in Shanghai yesterday, the first in the Year of the Dragon.
Flurries were recorded in areas including Chongming Island, the Pudong New Area and other districts from around 10:50am, said the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.
Yesterday was the 11th day of the lunar new year. According to a Chinese saying, snow at the beginning of the year indicates a prosperous year ahead.
The snow was heaviest in Chongming County, with a little lying around the Chongming-Qidong Bridge in the morning, eyewitnesses said.
In the afternoon, there were snow showers in Xuhui, Jing'an, Yangpu and Putuo districts.
Though the snow only lasted for a short period ！ often accompanied by sunshine ！ and didn't lie in most areas, many locals photographed the picturesque scene.
'It was amazing that it was snowing while the sun was shining bright, and you could see the snowflakes swaying in the sunlight,' said a resident, surnamed Zha, who was traveling on a bus at the time.
'Many passengers took out their cameras to capture the moment but it was really hard to get a clear shot.'
Snow fell in Shanghai on January 22, the lunar New Year Eve, but did not lie then either.
The city's temperature dipped below freezing yesterday, and the low this morning is set to be minus 1 degree Celsius.
Today should be sunny with some cloud and a high of around 5 degrees.
Cloudy weather with sunny spells is forecast for tomorrow, with temperatures creeping up again, the observatory said.
The low should reach 1 degree, with the high climbing to 8 degrees.
Overcast conditions and drizzle are forecast for Sunday.
Tomorrow is lichun, or the beginning of spring, the first of the 24 solar terms of the Chinese lunar calendar. However, the meteorological spring is still some way off for the city.--(2/3)
Housing index falls in January
Shanghai's existing housing index fell for the fourth straight month in January, with none of the areas monitored posting a price rise.
The index, which tracks price fluctuations of previously occupied homes around the city, lost 3 points, or 0.12 percent, from December to 2,583 last month, the Shanghai Existing House Index Office said yesterday.
'About 30 percent of the areas monitored by the office saw price drops last month while the remaining areas were unchanged,' said Zhang Shu, an analyst at the index office. 'In fact, scarce transaction was the major reason behind the stagnant prices as many home seekers preferred to sit on the sidelines in anticipation of cheaper tax cost.'--(2/3)
73 chemical firms closed
Seventy-three companies dealing with hazardous chemicals were shut down in Shanghai over past year and 15 relocated, city work safety authorities said yesterday.
It was part of a city drive to pull out of this sector due to safety concerns. This is set to continue this year.
'Tight measures will be taken this year,' said Vice Mayor Ai Baojun, who supervises work safety in the city, in a meeting yesterday.
Ai said the government will crack down on the sale of banned chemical products this year.
Chemical industry safety frequently made the headlines last year, with a series of fires and explosions in industry zones in Pudong's Gaoqiao area.
No one was injured in the incidents.
Poor equipment and lax management were to blame for two fires in September, the work safety authorities said yesterday.
On September 9, gas leaked after bolt broke from a pipe and led to an explosion at an ethylene plant. On September 23, a fire broke out at a refinery.
Meanwhile the work safety authorities said yesterday that 1,250 people died in traffic accidents, fires, work and construction accidents last year ！ a drop of more than 11 percent on 2010.--(2/2)
Cold snap brings winds and shiver to Shanghai
Shanghai's mercury is falling as a cold front began to influence the city. With high winds blowing from the north, city's temperature is expected to plummet to around 2C tonight. The low is forecast to reach zero early next morning.
Due to the cold front, the city would have light haze this afternoon, it added.
Drizzling weather is expected in parts of the city this afternoon while most of the city will be cloudy today until Saturday.
Overcast and drizzly conditions are likely to return this weekend and temperatures will rebound, the bureau said.--(2/1)