More home projects to trim prices
The number of residential property developments offering discounts may rebound in Shanghai next month as some developers gear up for the yearend.
A total of 193 housing developments comprising apartments and villas will give discounts in November, the most in three months, according to a research released yesterday by Soufun.com, which operates China's largest real estate website.
For six consecutive months through August more than 200 residential projects offered discounts. The number then fell to 189 in September and to 174 in October, Soufun said.
"Some developers plan to unload more of their inventories to replenish capital as the yearend is approaching," said Qu Peng, a Soufun analyst. "Notably, we are seeing more projects located within the Outer Ring Road offering price cuts next month."
Pudong New Area leads with 44 projects offering discounts.--(10/26)
Shanghai shares eke out a small gain
Shanghai stocks inched up yesterday after a HSBC survey showed China's manufacturing activity improved for the second consecutive month even though it still pointed to a contraction.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index crept up 0.07 percent to 2,115.99 points.
HSBC's Flash China Purchasing Managers' Index, the earliest indicator of the nation's real economy, rose to 49.1 in October, up from September's final reading of 47.9, HSBC Holdings Plc announced yesterday. The figure reached a three-month high, but it was still the 12th consecutive month of contraction.
The index is a gauge of manufacturing activity slanted toward private and export-oriented firms. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, and below 50 means contraction.
Power plant shares gained on speculation electricity consumption may rise as the economy picks up. Huaneng Power International gained 4.8 percent to 6.28 yuan (US$1.01). --(10/25)
Smoking still a problem in taxis
Smoking remains a problem in Shanghai taxis as only half of local cabs are totally smoke-free, with both drivers and passengers laying off the cigarette.
Some 68 percent of taxi drivers ask passengers not to smoke in the cabs but less than half of them push passengers again after being refused initially, according to a survey by the Shanghai Health Promotion Association, which is in charge of the anti-smoking campaign in the city.
Taxis of Qiangsheng, Blue Alliance and smaller companies fare worse on anti-smoking measures, according to the survey that was conducted early this month among some 200 cabbies covering all major local taxi companies.
However, only 20 percent of taxis emanated smoke odors and more than 90 percent of cabbies were well versed with the city's anti-smoking laws.
Shanghai has been cracking down on smoking among local taxi drivers since the city's public smoking control law took effect in March 2010.
A Qiangsheng Taxi Co driver had his license suspended for a week for smoking in his taxi last year and fined 50 yuan.
Smokers who refuse to put out their cigarettes can be fined up to 200 yuan (US$31.33).
Citywide, the management of 34 public venues, such as restaurants, hotels and shopping malls, as well as 11 individual smokers were fined a total of 79,000 yuan for violating the smoking ban during the third quarter this year, about 45 percent less compared to the second quarter, the government revealed yesterday.
"Though there are still some inadequacies, the law has proved to be effective," said Li Zhongyang, deputy director of the association.
Some 76 percent of local public venues have signs displaying the supervision hotlines of law enforcement teams that people can call if they find anyone smoking inside the venues.
Internet cafes, restaurants and karaoke parlors were places where anti-smoking laws were violated the most.
The city's ferries also have a smoking problem. Police detained a man for five days and fined him in August as he smoked on a ferry and even abused law enforcement officers who asked him to stop.--(10/24)
No blue skies but cleaner air forecast today
Shanghai's air quality is expected to improve today after the city experienced its dirtiest day since this summer yesterday. However, blue skies will still be elusive despite a sunny forecast by the weather bureau.
The city's PM2.5 readings, of airborne particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers, hit a seasonal high of 296.2 micrograms per cubic meter before 3pm yesterday under the influence of a weak cold front from the north, which reached the city on Sunday night, according to the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center.
The center had forecast Shanghai's air quality to be good yesterday.
The PM2.5 index remained below 40 micrograms per cubic meter from Sunday afternoon until 8am yesterday morning. But later it jumped quickly due to the haze and in some areas the figure had reached over 300 micrograms per cubic meter in the early afternoon.
The average PM2.5 readings for the last 24 hours was 77.3 micrograms per cubic meter. The nation's standard for PM2.5 in the latest 24 hours was 75 micrograms per cubic meter. So far, there is no limit on the hourly density of PM2.5.
The air quality was much improved later in the afternoon when the wind got stronger with the cold front. The PM2.5 index dropped to 64.9 micrograms per cubic meter by 4pm and the air was clear.
Yesterday's rapid rise in pollutants was mainly due to rising humidity since Sunday night as well as the pollutants brought by the cold front from the north, the center said.
"Though the average level for the last 24 hours was not so high, the hourly reading was alarming and we issued a warning to local residents in the afternoon, urging those with weak immunity and those suffering from heart and respiratory diseases to stay indoors," said Lin Chenyuan, a forecaster with the monitoring center. "The air quality will be between good and slightly polluted tomorrow (today)."
Meanwhile, the sky should be clear today and visibility better, according to the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.
Temperatures in the mornings should be low today and tomorrow due to the cold front, going as low as 15 degrees Celsius in urban areas and even lower in the suburbs. Today is forecast to be sunny to cloudy with the mercury ranging from 15 to 22 degrees. The sky should turn cloudy and overcast again tomorrow and the high should climb to 24.
"More clouds are forecast from Wednesday and drizzles should occur frequently later in the week because of the rise in warm and wet air currents," said Zhang Ruiyi, a chief service officer of the meteorological bureau. "Temperatures should rise gradually toward the weekend before another cold front arrives."--(10/23)
Shanghai Metro transfers a breeze
Three escalators, two going down and one up, stretching 17 meters in height from the first floor to the fourth, opened yesterday at a newly built transit passage between Metro Line 3 and Line 8 at Shanghai's Hongkou Football Stadium Station.
An elevator is also in service for senior citizens and the handicapped.
The transit passage links the stadium's overhead station on Line 3 with an underground station on Line 8. It takes about 4 minutes to walk between the stations using the transit passage. Before, commuters had to go out of one station and enter the other, with those without transportation cards having to buy tickets again.
A Metro staffer based at the station on Line 8 said yesterday that "changes like adding more barriers to separate passenger flows will be made" if the volume turns out to be big during weekdays.
For safety, a Metro worker will be posted beside the long escalators in case of emergencies and to help passengers.--(10/22)
Demand keeps plate prices high
Shanghai's car plate prices remained high at this month's auction, with demand rising following the cooling of speculation under tighter regulation.
The average price for a Shanghai car plate hit a new high of 66,708 yuan (US$2,671) yesterday, which was 283 yuan up from September, Shanghai Commodity International Auction Co said.
With 9,500 car plates available for sales this month, the same as the past four months, the number of bidders increased 4.2 percent to 19,921 while the lowest successful bid dropped 500 yuan from its record high to 65,200 yuan.
Eddie Zhang, a second-hand car dealer in Shanghai, said the mixed price trends at the auction show the market is entering a consolidation stage as new rules for car plate resale is pushing scalpers out of the game and attracting more ordinary bidders. --(10/21)
Health care improvement
The average life expectancy for the Chinese will reach 75.8 years by 2015, a year longer than the 2010 level.
Public health has improved since the last Five-Year Plan period (2006-2011), with significant progress made in multiple health care sectors, according to a program plan for health care development published by the government yesterday.
According to the plan, a national medical and health system will be formed by 2015, allowing all Chinese to have access to basic public health care services.--(10/20)
Cleaner water for 1.2m residents
Two more water utilities in the Pudong New Area started to draw cleaner water from the Qingcaosha Reservoir, the Shanghai Water Authority said yesterday.
With a capacity of 240,000 cubic meters per day at each facility, the Hangtou and Huinan water utilities will provide cleaner drinking water to more than 1.2 million residents, the authority said.
With the Hangtou and Huinan utilities making the switch from sourcing water from local creeks to the reservoir, it marks the completion of the Qingcaosha water resource project.
It took 15 years of study, one-and-a-half years of preparation and five years of construction, according to the authority.
With the two plants included in the Qingcaosha network, the reservoir is now providing water to more than 13 million Shanghai residents in urban areas and parts of Pudong, Minhang, Baoshan and Qingpu districts.
"Qingcaosha is a cleaner water resource and the water quality is more stable than that of others," said Gu Jinshan, vice general manager of Shanghai Chengtou Company, the city's major water supplier and processor.
Gu added that the company had established a monitoring system in both the Yangtze River and the reservoir to ensure a safe supply of water.
"We've built a comprehensive system to monitor the water quality hourly both inside and outside the reservoir," Gu said. "For example, if some ship capsizes in the Yangtze River and causes some pollution, the system will inform us immediately and the reservoir will be closed."
Gu also said pollutants discharged by factories alongside the Yangtze River should not affect water quality much since the reservoir takes water from the heart of the river.
"Pollution from the factories will mostly affect the water along the banks while the water in the middle should remain in good quality as the Yangtze has a strong ability to self-clean," Gu said.
With the Nanhui area population expected to further increase, two more water utilities are scheduled to be built, adding another 600,000 cubic meters of supply, the Shanghai Water Authority also said.--(10/19)
City's FDI grows 9.1% to US$1.87b last month
The number of signed contracts involving foreign direct investment reached 344 in September, up 26.5 percent from a year earlier, the Shanghai Statistics Bureau said.
Last month Shanghai absorbed US$1.87 billion in contractual foreign investment, a year-on-year increase of 9.1 percent, the bureau said.
The actual use of foreign investment in Shanghai last month rose 35.9 percent to US$1.63 billion, the bureau said.
Foreign investors prefer to set up wholly foreign-owned projects, which now account for more than 80 percent of foreign-funded projects.
Foreign investment in joint ventures increased 1.5 times but investment in cooperation projects decreased 21 percent.--(10/18)
New museum to be a science treat
Temporary exhibitions highlighting the five continents of Asia, Africa, America, Europe and Oceania will be held at the Shanghai Museum of Natural History, which will open in 2014.
The new museum, located in Jing'an District, will be a treat for science fans, who will be able to see the real-time exploration and work of African scientists at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in South Africa under a visual laboratory, officials from the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, which will manage the natural history museum, said.--(10/17)
Autumn gives rise to facial paralysis
Shanghai hospitals have reported a rise in facial paralysis cases caused by fatigue and cold wind and doctors say autumn is the peak season for the disease.
Old people, new mothers, children with weak immunity, and those exposed to cold wind after drinking are most likely to suffer facial paralysis, according to the doctors.
Dr Yu Xihong, director of the acupuncture department of the Xupu Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, says she now receives about ten such patients every week, compared with one or two per week in other seasons.
Facial paralysis can affect people at any age. Majority of them are male between 20 and 50. The symptom is triggered by fatigue and cold wind. Patients usually complain about sudden paralysis in one side of the face.
Doctors remind people to go to the hospital immediately after they are hit by facial paralysis. Acupuncture and massage are effective remedies.--(10/16)
Shanghai keeps No. 1 spot for FDI
Shanghai's economic influence may have risen and it remains the first choice for foreign investment this year but its urban environment still lags those of other global cities, an industry report said yesterday.
Shanghai led 27 global cities in attracting foreign direct investment by number of projects and amount of capital invested, according to a report co-authored by PricewaterhouseCoopers and Partnership of New York City.
It moved up three notches to No. 5 in terms of economic clout, after Beijing, Paris, London and New York, the report said.
"Shanghai's economic strength and global attraction represent the starting point for the city's transformation into a world hub for talent and innovation," said Nora Wu, PwC China Shanghai Office lead partner.
Overall, Shanghai is No. 19 among 27 largest global cities for business influence and opportunities, two notches after Beijing. New York and London remain top of the list.
Shanghai is No. 23 for livability which measures the quality of transport, education and healthcare insurance.
But the report said Shanghai needs to enhance its environment to attract more talents and foster innovative and forward-looking enterprises.--(10/12)
40% in city lose sleep over stress
Work and study problems are the main causes of stress for locals in the big city's highly competitive environment, according to a study by the Shanghai survey company smmail.cn.
Other stressors are health issues of the elderly, the high cost of apartments and children's education, the survey said.
Among the 1,200-plus people polled, nearly half said they become short tempered and 40 percent said they couldn't sleep due to stress.
"Body aches, loss of appetite and insomnia might suggest psychological problems," said Ji Weidong, deputy director of Changning Mental Health Center.
Nearly half do nothing to relieve pressure. Some travel, talk to their friends and relatives, or surf the Internet.
Many go to bed after midnight due to work or bad habits. More than 40 percent said they suffer anxiety if they forget to bring their cell phones, which can be a sign of emotional insecurity. Some are irritable and unwilling to talk at home.
Psychologists advised people to remember to keep a positive attitude and relax from time to time. --(10/11)
Index closes at near 3-week high
Shanghai stocks closed at a near three-week high yesterday, boosted by the Chinese central bank's move to ease a liquidity crunch and on optimism that China's economy is recovering.
The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.97 percent to end at 2,115.23, the highest since September 14.
The People's Bank of China yesterday injected 165 billion yuan (US$26 billion) into the financial system via a seven-day reverse repurchase agreement and an additional 100 billion yuan via a 28-day agreement.
"Market liquidity improved after the injection but still remains tight," said He Yifeng, an analyst at Hongyuan Securities.
Concern over China's economic slowdown eased after several indicators, including PMIs for the manufacturing and service sectors, rebounded in September. Zhang Liqun, a researcher at the Development Research Center of the State Council, said this signaled the economy has bottomed out and may be on the road to recovery.
The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the nation's largest lender, gained 1.3 percent to 3.80 yuan after Central Huijin Investment Ltd, a state-owned investment company, raised its stake in the lender by 6.3 million shares in the third quarter. The Bank of Communications rose 2.1 percent to 4.31 yuan. China Construction Bank added 2 percent to 4.06 yuan.
Brokerages rose on hopes the government will boost the sector. CITIC Securities, the biggest listed broker, rose 3.2 percent to 11.86 yuan. Founder Securities Co gained 5.2 percent to 4.47 yuan.--(10/10)
Speedy card dispenser for highway toll station
The city's first toll card dispenser has been installed at a toll station on G1501, the highway linking Shanghai and Jiading, to reduce waiting time.
Consisting of an infrared sensor and a camera, the automatic card dispenser can detect vehicle models, record plate numbers, and issue cards to drivers, saving their waiting time by 3 to 5 seconds per vehicle.
All the information is saved on the toll card.
Some motorists have suggested to abolish the toll cards but road authorities said the cards are a means to slow driving speed near toll stations and to avoid collision and scratch accidents and to collect vehicle information for better traffic management.--(10/9)
Shop sales slow as city residents take a holiday
Although it was a longer holiday than usual and the weather was fine, Shanghai retailers' efforts to boost sales didn't seem to have the desired effect.
One theory was that too many people took advantage of the toll-free expressways to head out of the city, leaving fewer shoppers behind.
Shanghai's retail sales during the National Day holiday, which ran to eight days this year with the inclusion of the Mid-Autumn Festival, rose 9.2 percent from a year earlier to 6.43 billion yuan (US$1.02 billion), the Shanghai Commission of Commerce said yesterday.
However, with average daily sales at around 803 million yuan between September 30 and yesterday, this fell short of expectations.
The growth was slower than the jump of 14 percent during the Spring Festival and the Labor Day holiday's 11.6 percent rise. Last year's National Day holiday saw a sales expansion of 17.1 percent.
Some shoppers said that the current economic downturn had forced them to tighten their belts.
"We have to save money for the rainy days although some shops offer really good bargains in the holiday," said 32-year-old Juliet Yao.
Li Guoding, general manager of Shanghai Friendship Group Co, which operates more than 1,000 stores in the city, said before the holiday that he hoped "endless" promotions would drive up sales.
However, with more than 7 million residents leaving Shanghai for the holiday, or nearly 30 percent of the city's total population, it was hard for retailers to increase sales as much as they wanted.
"The overall performance was not as good as we had expected, but there were some bright spots pointing at new trends for consumption," an official at the commission said.
Its statistics, which covered more than 5,000 stores belonging to 395 large and mid-sized retailers, showed October 1 to have had the highest daily sales of 1 billion yuan, up 11.7 percent from the year before.
While traditional commercial hubs in Huangpu and Xuhui districts were sluggish performers, newly emerging hubs such as those in Hongkou and Yangpu districts performed much better with sales bouncing up 35.9 percent and 16.6 percent respectively.
Retail sales in nearby suburban areas such as Jiading and Qingpu climbed 24.8 percent year on year to 1.24 billion yuan. The growth pace was much faster than stores in the city's downtown, the commission said.
Consumers spent more money on books during the holiday, and sales grew 24.9 percent from a year earlier.
In comparison, sales of jewelry and clothes increased by 12.4 percent and 10.8 percent respectively. Sales of home appliances, on the other hand, were down by 12.1 percent.
There was good cheer for the city's hotels and restaurants. They benefited from the rising number of wedding ceremonies and higher food costs.
The average price for each table for a wedding ceremony rose to 3,746 yuan, up 10.6 percent on an annual basis.--(10/8)
Rail travelers up
China's railways carried 1.44 billion passengers in the first three quarters of the year, up 4 percent from a year earlier, the Ministry of Railways said yesterday. In the same period, the railways delivered 2.91 billion tons of goods.--(10/7)
Increase in bank profits much slower
China's top 10 listed banks saw sharply slowing net profits in the first half of the year as bad loans increased, a recent report by PwC showed.
The top 10 listed banks reported 513.2 billion yuan (US$81.5 billion) of net profits during the first half, up 17 percent year on year. But the growth rate dropped from the 34 percent growth in the same period of last year.
The report attributed the slowing profit growth to the central bank cutting interest rates twice this year, coupled with widening the interest rate bandwidth for loans and deposits.
A new rule by the People's Bank of China, the central bank, allows financial institutions to set the maximum for deposits' interest rates at 1.1 times the benchmark, with the minimum for loans' interest rates at 70 percent of the benchmark. The report also said financial authorities' stringent review of banks' service charges and innovative treasury products helped cause the slowing growth of profits.
The top 10 banks include state-owned commercial banks such as the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and joint-stock commercial banks, including the China Merchants Bank and the China CITIC Bank.
The 10 banks' total assets reached 76 trillion yuan as of the end of June, up 10.68 percent from the end of last year.--(10/4)
Early start didn't help in the rush for buses
There was chaos at a long-distance bus station in Ji'nan, capital city of eastern Shandong Province on Saturday, as thousands of passengers tried to avoid the holiday rush by arriving early.
Local traffic authorities said too many passengers happened to have the same idea ¡ª taking the day before the holiday off in order to avoid what they thought would be the peak travel period.
Saturday's problem was compounded by the fact that many coaches returning to the station got stuck because of the huge increase in traffic on the roads and subsequent gridlocks.
Anxious passengers described their experiences online, saying that the station had canceled security checks to speed up traffic.
One passenger said she waited for five hours to board a bus but was kept waiting for another one hour before it finally hit the road.
She accused the bus station authorities of selling as many tickets as they could but not caring whether they could handle the numbers or not, leaving passengers to suffer extreme over-crowding and delays.
Another passenger, Sun Wanbao, complained that people could not move around inside the station because of the over-crowding with people stepping on each others' feet.
There were also huge crowds at railway stations in Wuhan, in central China's Hubei Province.
The city's three stations handled 180,000 passengers on Saturday, higher than the record on a single day during the Spring Festival, the traditional busiest period.
Heavy traffic gridlock in many parts of the city delayed many travelers on their way to the stations, causing about 13,000 to miss their trains and have to ask for refunds or re-scheduling of their tickets. --(10/1)