Stimulus plea

Five Things - Asia
Bloomberg

TikTok seeks to temporarily block the removal of its app from U.S. stores. Ant Group files for a Hong Kong share sale. Asian equities face a down day after Fed's Powell says he needs more stimulus. Here are some of the things people in markets are talking about today.

TikTok Fights Back

TikTok's owner asked a federal judge to temporarily block the Trump administration from removing the viral video-sharing network from U.S. app stores. TikTok faces a deadline this weekend to get a sale of its U.S. operations approved or face a de facto ban in the U.S., stemming from an Aug. 6 executive order by President Donald Trump. Wednesday's request for a preliminary injunction — filed by Chinese company ByteDance — challenges new U.S. Commerce Department rules that would remove TikTok from app stores starting this month and require changes to its core functionality that the company says would effectively shut it down in the U.S. by mid-November. ByteDance asked for a court hearing before the rules take effect at 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 27 and proposed that both sides file additional briefs this week.

Ant's Hong Kong IPO 

Jack Ma's Ant Group is aiming to raise $17.5 billion in its Hong Kong share sale and won't seek to lock in cornerstone investors, confident there will be plenty of demand for one of the largest equity deals in the financial hub, according to people familiar with the matter. The fintech giant has assessed investor interest, betting it can pull off the Hong Kong portion of the initial public offering without the cornerstone investors that are often needed for large deals, according to the people. Ant is leaning toward inviting these big investors for the Shanghai sale to mitigate price fluctuations, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. The Hangzhou-based firm is planning to issue new stock equal to about 11% to 15% of the shares outstanding and split the float evenly between Hong Kong and Shanghai, the people added. Ant is mulling what could be the world's largest IPO, seeking to raise about $35 billion in the dual listing at a valuation of about $250 billion, people familiar have said.

Market Open

Asian stocks were on course for declines after warnings from Federal Reserve officials on the need for more stimulus pushed U.S. equities to an eight-week low. The dollar extended this week's gains. Futures in Japan and Hong Kong retreated, while S&P 500 futures opened little changed. The benchmark is now down almost 10% from its recent high and fell another 2.4% Wednesday. Treasuries were little changed. The caution comes as virus cases tick higher in the U.S. and other parts of the world. Traders are losing faith in the strength of the economic recovery, with the chances for Congressional stimulus withering ahead of a contentious election battle. Global equities are on course for the first monthly slide since March. Oil declined.

Grounded

Airlines have felt the pain of the coronavirus pandemic more than other companies. Almost overnight the bulk of their business ceased. Now, almost eight months into the pandemic, with cities reentering lockdown and a vaccine likely months away, it's apparent there will be no quick comeback. International air traffic in July was 92% below 2019 levels, and there was little sign of improvement in August, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). More than 400,000 airline jobs have been cut since February, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. "This is lasting longer and is deeper than most people thought," says Scott Kirby, chief executive officer of United Airlines. "And our view is demand is not coming back. People are not going to get back and travel like they did before until there's a vaccine that's been widely distributed."

Hedge Funds' Windfall

A few Asia-based hedge funds benefited from early insight into the pandemic's impact to post outsized gains this year, while regional peers are on track to outperform global funds for the eighth time in 12 years. Funds overseen by Anatole Investment , Aspex Management, CloudAlpha Capital and Franchise Capital returned more than 50% this year to the end of August, making money on bets ranging from electric cars to e-commerce, while some shorted hard-hit tourism sectors. Proximity to China, the initial epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak, gave the funds a vantage point to see how the pandemic would play out elsewhere. Even before March, the four firms gravitated toward technology and e-commerce — industries that have been bolstered by the virus. The flexibility to join attractively priced private deals also helped them beat the 23% advance of the MSCI World Growth Index.

What We've Been Reading

This is what's caught our eye over the past 24 hours:

And finally, here's what Cormac's interested in this morning

The much-maligned dollar is on a bit of a tear. Bloomberg's Dollar Spot Index has broken out of its steep March downtrend and is now testing closely-watched resistance at its 50-day moving average as investors seek a haven from the recent volatility in risk assets. A close above the key level could point the way toward further gains, especially with measures of sentiment in the options market turning more positive toward the U.S. currency this month.

Spare a thought for the more than $26 billion in net speculative short positions in the greenback, close to the largest seen since 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg's Cameron Crise. Thanks to a chorus of weaker dollar calls in recent months, betting against the greenback has become one of the market's most crowded trades. Dollar bulls who were brave enough to stand against consensus will be hoping they all rush for the exit at once.

Cormac Mullen is a Cross-Asset reporter and editor for Bloomberg News in Tokyo.

 

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