Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd said orders made during its Singles’ Day mega-shopping festival had exceeded $56bn by Wednesday morning, as consumers sought to cash in on a deluge of discounts, Reuters reports.
This year’s shopping extravaganza comes a week after Alibaba lost almost $76bn of its market value following China’s suspension of the $37bn listing of Ant Group, the financial technology firm Alibaba owns a third of.
It also takes place as China experiences an economic rebound after getting the spread of the novel coronavirus under control within its borders, following the virus’ emergence in the central city of Wuhan late last year.
Alibaba launched the annual online blitz early this year, with two primary discount periods taking place from 1 November through 3 November and again on 11 November.
The company will calculate gross merchandise volume (GMV) over the full 11-day period, as opposed to the usual 24 hours.
As of 12:30 am local time (1630 GMT) on 11 November, the campaign’s GMV had surpassed 372.3bn yuan ($56.3bn) with the order rate hitting a record peak of 583,000 per second, Alibaba said.
Alibaba has said it will introduce more than 2m new products, double last year’s amount. Other companies such as Douyin – the Chinese version of Beijing ByteDance Technology Co Ltd’s TikTok – JD.com Inc and Pinduoduo Inc are also holding their own Singles Day shopping events.
Analysts expect this year to be a boon for luxury brands, as Chinese consumers accustomed to going overseas to buy high-end goods are now stuck at home due to coronavirus border closures.
Moe than 15,000 mink have died in US from coronavirus since August
More than 15,000 mink in the United States have died of the coronavirus since August, and authorities are keeping about a dozen farms under quarantine while they investigate the cases, state agriculture officials said.
Global health officials are eying the animals as a potential risk for people after Denmark last week embarked on a plan to eliminate all of its 17 million mink, saying a mutated coronavirus strain could move to humans and evade future Covid-19 vaccines.
The US states of Utah, Wisconsin and Michigan – where the coronavirus has killed mink – said they do not plan to cull animals and are monitoring the situation in Denmark.
“We believe that quarantining affected mink farms in addition to implementing stringent biosecurity measures will succeed in controlling SARS-CoV-2 at these locations,” the US Department of Agriculture told Reuters on Tuesday.
The USDA said it is working with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state officials and the mink industry to test and monitor infected farms.
Lebanon imposes lockdown
In Lebanon, caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced a lockdown on on Tuesday night that will begin on Saturday and last until the end of the month.
Lebanon has broken daily records in recent weeks, straining the country’s medical sector where intensive care units are almost full and cannot take more cases. The World Health Organization says 1,527 health workers have tested positive since the first case was reported in Lebanon in late February.
The Lebanese announcement came despite harsh criticism by business sectors that have been suffering for more than a year as the country passes through its worst economic and financial crisis.
The head of Lebanon workers union, Bechara el Asmar, warned on Monday the effects of a complete lockdown “will be catastrophic for workers and economic activities.” Daily laborers cannot afford to stay at home, he said.
Aya Majzoub of the Human Rights Watch said the crisis has thrown more Lebanese below the poverty line, adding that the government is obliged to ensure that everyone has adequate food, water, health care, and other basic needs, “including when the population is subject to stay-at-home orders.”
Lebanon, a country of 6.8 million – 1.5m of whom are Syrian refugees – has registered 95,355 cases and 732 deaths of the virus but the real numbers are believed to be much higher. Those numbers began rising quickly following a massive 4 August, blast at Beirut’s port that killed and wounded many and caused damage worth billions of dollars.
Many intensive care units meant for coronavirus cases have been used to treat thousands of injured in the port explosion.
Iran imposes lockdown
Iran imposed a nightly curfew on businesses in Tehran and other cities on Tuesday, as it battles a major surge in coronavirus infections.
AP: Restaurants and nonessential businesses in Tehran and 30 other cities were ordered to close at 6pm for one month, to keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and to slow the worsening outbreak, which has killed more than 39,000 — the highest toll in the Middle East.
Iran has set single-day death records 10 times over the past month, a sign of how quickly the virus is spreading, even as the government claims to have ramped up testing in recent days.
The announcement of new limits on Tehran’s bustling cafes and shops, the strictest since a brief nationwide business shutdown in April, reflects the growing sense of urgency among officials. In a first, Iranians’ phones lit up on Monday with a personal appeal from Saeed Namaki, the health minister.
“Do not leave your house for as long as you can and stay away from any crowded places,” his text read. “Coronavirus is no joke.”
Yet in the face of a steep economic decline, Iran continues to avoid a tougher lockdown.
The country is already squeezed by unprecedented American sanctions reimposed in 2018 when the Trump administration withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear accord with world powers. Iran’s currency has plunged to new lows in recent weeks, hurting millions of citizens already living in poverty.
at 3.08am GMT
Some more detail on that travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore:
A travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore will begin on 22 November, the two cities announced on Wednesday, as they moved to re-establish overseas travel links and lift the hurdle of quarantine for visiting foreigners.
Hong Kong’s commerce secretary and Singapore’s transport minister said the scheme would begin with one flight a day into each city, with a quota of 200 travellers per flight. This would be increased to two flights a day into each city from 7 December.
If the Covid-19 situation deteriorated in either city the travel bubble would be suspended, they said.
Singapore’s transport minister Ong Ye Kung said the travel bubble enabled both cities to open up borders in a controlled manner, while maintaining safety.
“While we may be starting small, this is an important step forward … It will be a useful reference for other countries and regions that have controlled the epidemic, and are contemplating opening their borders.”
Travellers from both cities must travel on designated flights and must undertake Covid-19 tests. No quarantine would be required in either place and there would be no restrictions on the purpose of travel.
For Hong Kong, which has banned non-residents since March, the deal with Singapore is its first resumption of travel ties with another city. Travellers from mainland China and neighbouring Macau still face 14 days in quarantine.
Singapore already has pacts on essential business and official travel from China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, and opened unilaterally to general visitors from a handful of countries including Brunei, New Zealand and Vietnam.
at 2.53am GMT
GP services will be cut back well into 2021 so family doctors can immunise millions of people against coronavirus at new seven-day-a-week clinics, NHS England has said.
Health leaders warned that surgeries will not be able to offer their full range of care for patients from next month as doctors and nurses will be immersed in administering jabs at more than 1,200 mass vaccination centres across England, potentially including sports halls, conference centres and open air venues.
It came as Britain reported 532 new deaths within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test on Tuesday, the highest daily figure since May. Some 20,412 people tested positive for Covid-19, down slightly from the previous day:
Hong Kong-Singapore travel bubble to begin on 22 November
A travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore will begin on 22 November, Singapore’s airlines regulator announced on Wednesday, as the two cities move to re-establish overseas travel links and lift the hurdle of quarantine for visiting foreigners.
China reports 17 new cases, down from day before
Mainland China reported 17 new Covid-19 cases on 10 November, down from 22 reported a day earlier, the country’s health authority said on Wednesday.
The National Health Commission said one of the new cases was a local infection reported in Anhui, the first such infection in the eastern Chinese province since 27 February. The other 16 cases were imported infections originating from overseas, it said.
The commission also said the number of new asymptomatic cases fell to 15 from 25 reported a day earlier. China does not classify symptomless patients as confirmed Covid-19 cases.
The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases reported in mainland China now stands at 86,284, while the death toll remains unchanged at 4,634.
England’s students to get six-day window to get home before Christmas
Students in England will be given a six-day window next month in which to travel home before Christmas, with mass testing carried out on campus before they are allowed to leave.
A mass exodus will take place on staggered departure dates set by universities from 3 December to 9 December after England’s four-week lockdown, under plans announced by the Department for Education (DfE)on Tuesday night. Students testing positive would need to remain in self-isolation for 10 days.
In a major shift, the government said it would also instruct universities to then move learning online by 9 December so that students can have the option of returning home to study from there. It is not known what the plan is for after the Christmas period though a DfE spokesperson said details would be published “in due course”:
Asian shares rose on Wednesday as hopes for a successful coronavirus vaccine lifted expectations of a swift reopening of the global economy, which would help the region’s heavily trade-dependent markets.
Reuters: Australia’s benchmark S&P/ASX 200 climbed 1.05% with energy stocks and miners boosted by higher crude and commodity prices.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose around 0.6% in early trade ahead of the country’s central bank meeting.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 1.1%, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index futures rose 0.09%.
“Investors anticipate a lift in economic activity and a swing back to physical businesses, judging by their support for travel, consumer, financial, materials and energy stocks,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist for CMC Markets in Sydney, wrote in a note Wednesday.
The gains in Asia came despite the S&P 500 index slipping slightly and the Nasdaq closing sharply lower on Tuesday as vaccine optimism led investors away from market leaders and toward cyclical stocks associated with economic recovery.