Hong Kong to Introduce Continental Style Contact Finder App

Hong Kong will introduce a Chinese-style contact tracing app by next month as part of its efforts for a final push for a quarantine-free trip to the mainland.

The new health code system requiring real name registration is also expected to tie into an existing risk exposure monitoring app in the city called LeaveHomeSafe, which has raised privacy concerns among residents regarding collection and the use of personal data by the authorities.

Hong Kong’s number two official, Chief Secretary John Lee, also said Thursday evening that mainland Chinese officials agreed the city had met basic conditions to reopen the border during talks in Shenzhen earlier in the day.

Resuming quarantine-free travel has been a central concern of the Hong Kong government for months, and officials have said reopening with China is a prerequisite for any easing of the city’s strict international travel restrictions.

Macau, which has already reopened its borders with the mainland, also said it could resume non-quarantine travel with Hong Kong once the city reopens its borders with China.

Worries over virus push Asia-Pacific stocks down

Asia-Pacific stocks fell on Friday as investors reacted to news that a new variant of the coronavirus with ‘worrying’ mutations was spreading in southern Africa.

The biggest drops were in Japan, where the Nikkei 225 fell 2.4% and the broad Topix lost 1.8%. Japanese stocks were also hit by a 0.3% month-on-month increase in the Tokyo core CPI, which although still weak compared to soaring inflation in other parts of the world , was the city’s biggest increase since August of last year.

Stock declines reflect global concerns over a new variant of the coronavirus discovered in southern Africa, which Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist of the World Health Organization, said had “a number of disturbing mutations in the spike protein” .

Concerns about further monetary tightening in the United States were also high, after a measure of inflation closely monitored by the Federal Reserve recorded its biggest year-on-year jump in October since the 1990s. -verbal of the bank’s November meeting also revealed on Wednesday that some committee members argued for the central bank to speed up tightening.

The news brought down the Hong Kong Hang Seng Index by 2%, Australia’s S & P / ASX 200 by 1.4% and South Korea’s Kospi by 1%. The Chinese CSI 300 also lost more than 0.6%.

UMC to pay Micron undisclosed fees to resolve trade secret theft case

Taiwanese chipmaker United Microelectronics Corporation will pay US group Micron Technology undisclosed fees to settle a legal dispute between the two companies that touches the heart of US-China tensions.

UMC was fined $ 60 million in October last year after pleading guilty to US charges of stealing trade secrets and sharing them with Chinese company Fujian Jinhua during a collaboration with the company Chinese.

The case has drawn attention to Taiwanese tech companies, which are critical to the global supply of semiconductors and gadgets, but which are also heavily dependent on China. Companies were pressured to decouple from China amid heightened trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies that began under President Donald Trump.

The dispute dates back to 2016, when UMC signed a deal with Fujian Jinhua, part of which included arrangements for the Taiwanese company to help increase production capacity. In October last year, UMC admitted in U.S. courts that it hired engineers from Micron in 2015 who then worked on the project and shared Micron’s confidential information with the Chinese group.

In a joint statement released on Friday, the two companies said payment of an undisclosed royalty by UMC would see the two sides withdrawing their legal complaints against each other.

Australian stocks fall after US holiday

Shares in Australia and futures in Japan and Hong Kong fell on Friday morning as Asia-Pacific markets had a weak start to the day after a calm Thanksgiving holiday in the United States.

Australia’s benchmark S & P / ASX 200 fell 0.4% early in the session, while futures for Japan’s Topix index and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 0.1 and 0.3% respectively.

Markets in the United States were closed for Thanksgiving Thursday and will have a shortened session on Friday. In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 gauge closed 0.4% higher as traders rate the likelihood of monetary tightening following strong US economic data released in the previous session and minutes from the latest policy meeting. from the Federal Reserve.

Data released on Wednesday showed that weekly jobless claims in the United States hit their lowest level since 1969 and that a measure of inflation closely monitored by the Fed recorded its biggest year-on-year jump in October. since the 1990s.

The Australian dollar slipped overnight.

UK and France clash over response to Channel migrant tragedy

Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron struggled Thursday to coordinate a coherent response to the death of 27 migrants who drowned while trying to cross the Channel from France the day before.

The British and French governments, hampered by the deterioration of relations since Brexit, blamed the tragedy on criminal networks of human traffickers and pledged to crack down on gangs as potential asylum seekers risked their lives in small boats.

“We need enhanced European cooperation on this point, given that France is a transit country,” said the French president during a visit to Croatia.

On Thursday, 62 more migrants reached the UK in small boats, while France arrested 30 more.

Tensions continued between the UK and France yesterday with Priti Patel, the UK Home Secretary, saying it was the responsibility of the French government to prevent people from crossing the Channel. “I offered to work with France to put officers on the ground and do absolutely whatever is necessary to secure the area so that vulnerable people do not risk their lives by boarding boats in poor condition,” said she declared in the House of Commons.

Learn more about Johnson and Macron.

Southern African countries redlisted for travel to UK against variant of Covid

The UK will put six southern African countries back on its travel restrictions red list, after an apparent increase in cases of a highly mutated coronavirus variant alarmed global health officials.

Travelers returning from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini will be forced to self-quarantine for 10 days at a government facility starting at noon on Friday, government officials said.

Direct flights from the six countries will be banned from Friday at noon until the hotel quarantine is operational from 4 a.m. on Sunday.

The rule change follows growing concern among scientists about the ability of the B.1.1.529 Sars-Cov-2 variant to evade vaccines and transmit faster than the Delta variant. The strain, first identified in Botswana, is believed to be behind a resurgence of Covid cases in South Africa over the past week.

Learn more about the new variant.

What to watch in Asia today

Chinese technological benefits: Food delivery company Meituan and short video platform Pinduoduo report their results today. Meituan was fined 3.4 billion Rmb ($ 530 million) after being convicted of monopoly practices in October. Despite the huge fine, some analysts say the company got off slightly.

Markets: The US stock exchanges were closed Thursday for Thanksgiving. Australian stocks fell early in the session, while futures in Japan were flat.

Data: Markets could be affected by Australia’s October retail sales figures and Tokyo inflation figures, both released today. Retail sales rose for the first time since May in September and are expected to accelerate in October. ANZ is also releasing consumer confidence figures for New Zealand today.