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Daily Dispatches – Improving outlook for China’s economy

Activity in China’s  manufacturing sector hit a four-month high in August as new orders rebounded, reinforcing signs of stabilisation in the world’s second-largest economy., the South China Morning Post Reports.

The Flash HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 50.1 from July’s final reading of 47.7, which was the weakest in 11 months, though it barely passed the watershed 50 line dividing expansion of activities from contraction.

The government has announced a series of targeted measures to support the slowing economy, including scrapping taxes for small firms, offering more help to ailing exporters and boosting investment in urban infrastructure and railways.

“It confirms that the economy has stabilised in the short term and downside risks for H2 have declined,” said Zhiwei Zhang, China economist at Nomura in Hong Kong, told the SCMP.

But the Financial Times reports that the good news out of China was not enough to boost markets outside China, which have been in the doldrums about the prospect of the US ending its quantitative easing policy.

Stock markets outside of China declined as the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s July policy meeting offered little clarity on whether the central bank would, in September, scale back the stimulus programme that has done so much to send yield-starved cash into emerging markets.

Singapore CFOs look externally for successors

Despite pressure to hire locally, a recent survey by recruitment agency Robert Half has found that only 14% of Singapore’s finance leaders expect the job to go to a local internal candidate. The vast majority of Singapore finance leaders favour employing someone from outside the company (45%) or bringing in someone from another country who works for the same company (26%).

Singapore finance leaders are the least likely of any of the countries surveyed to favour a local internal hire as a replacement for the top job, followed by Switzerland (16%) and Hong Kong (17%). The global average favouring an internal hire was 28%.

The survey questioned 1,256 CFOs and finance directors from 17 countries, with 150 bosses coming from Singapore companies.

Damage control

JPMorgan has began an internal probe into its hiring of well-connected Chinese individuals in Hong Kong and is adopting measures to mitigate potential penalties as US authorities investigate its operations.The South China Morning Post says the bank is also close to hiring two directors with finance and risk expertise.

“Internal investigations provide JPMorgan with information on any possible misconduct and position the company to defer any criminal prosecution,” said Daniel Roules, a partner at US law firm Squire Sanders. “The hiring of risk executives is intended to convey to the US authorities that JPMorgan wants to co-operate in rooting out misconduct and ensuring compliance.”

The anti-bribery unit of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating the bank’s hiring in Hong Kong of Zhang Xixi, a daughter of Zhang Shuguang, a former senior mainland railway official under arrest for corruption, and Tang Xiaoning, a son of Tang Shuangning, chairman of China Everbright Group. Both offspring no longer work for the New York-listed bank.

ABN Amro hires for China private bank

Finance Asia reports that Dutch Bank ABN Amro has made four senior hires in its wealth management division to support its ‘strong growth ambitions’ in Asia.

Billions earmarked for Chinese private equity firms

Large fund-of-private equity funds being raised on the Chinese mainland will bring much needed capital to thousands of domestic private equity firms. Asian Investor says one vehicle alone, which has just closed, raised US$2.45 billion.

India’s billionaires bummed out by rupee

The dramatic slide in India’s currency is wiping billions off the fortunes of the country’s richest. Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man, is the biggest loser, with the currency rout erasing a quarter of his fortune.He has lost US$5.6 billion of his wealth since May 1, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The Indian rupee is the worst-performing major currency in the world in the past month, coming under pressure as international investors sold emerging-market assets amid concern the US will pare its $85 billion monthly stimulus, Bloomberg reports.  

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