Highlights from the last week of China business news.
Wild ride for markets continues
Keep those seat belts fastened. Stocks in Shanghai and Shenzhen posted their fourth straight day of gains on Tuesday, led by brokerages such as Haitong Securities and Guoyuan Securities, and with a little help thrown in from rice companies who were boosted by gains in rice futures on the Chicago Board of Trade. But the very next day the benchmark Shanghai Stock Exchange fell 5.5%, with the Shanghai Composite Index posting its largest single-day drop in over two months to end at 3,413.907 points. Meanwhile consumers and entrepreneurs were at odds. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said that its entrepreneur confidence index in the first quarter rose one point over the previous quarter to 140.6. Consumers, however, weren’t feeling as chipper. The NBS consumer confidence index dropped by 1.7 points in the first quarter to 94.8 points at the end of March, which represented a slight increase from an 18-month low of 94.3 recorded in February.
Car nuts, nutty pilots
Someone in China wants to sell you a car. Auto sales in China were up 21% in the first quarter from the same period last year to reach about 2.58 million. Both Ford and Volkswagen posted record sales in the period, and China’s booming auto market is doing its part to offset slowing sales in the US. But one company doesn’t have as much to cheer about. South Korea’s Hyundai, in response to slowing China sales in 2007, is revamping its Elantra line of sedans with an upscale model made exclusively for the China market. And for the time being, it might be better to drive than fly, given what’s been happening with China Eastern Airlines. The carrier suspended pilots for intentionally disrupting 21 flights late last month to express grievances over labor policies. Pilots either turned their flights around mid-way, or landed and took off again without allowing passengers to disembark. No one could confirm whether the 1,000 inconvenienced passengers were given an extra bag of peanuts for their troubles.
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