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Nikkei Asian Preview

Japan GDP, Thai Airways rehabilitation and Myanmar peace conference

Your weekly lineup of Asia's biggest business and political events

Rehabilitation proceedings for Thai Airways International will begin on Monday.    © Reuters

Welcome to Nikkei Asian Preview.

Summer holidays are in full swing across Asia, but it will still be a busy week for corporate results in Japan and China. Chinese companies reporting this week include Geely Auto, coronavirus vaccine maker CanSino and Alibaba Group Holding.

Quarterly economic data is out from Thailand and Japan on Monday. Monthly trade figures will come from Singapore on Monday, as well as unemployment numbers from Hong Kong on Wednesday. Central banks in Indonesia and the Philippines will meet on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

Keep up with our reporting by following us on Twitter @NAR.


Third straight fall for Japan's quarterly GDP

Japan's economy fell by a worse-than-expected 7.8% from the previous quarter -- an annualized pace of 27.8%. This would mark not only the third straight quarterly fall, but also the biggest one since 1955. If there is any bright side in this, it is that the decline is less severe than recent contractions in other developed economies. Analysts expect a tepid recovery to follow the slump in domestic consumption and exports, raising concerns that an increase in job losses is coming.

Thai Airways rehabilitation proceedings begin

Rehabilitation proceedings for Thai Airways International will begin on Monday, as Thailand's cash-strapped flag carrier and the Central Bankruptcy Court are scheduled to have a first hearing. The court accepted the airline's petition for rehabilitation in May, giving it an automatic stay on debt repayments.

A court-appointed committee will draw up a restructuring plan to be submitted to creditors and the court for approval next year, which would pave the way for rehabilitation administrators to proceed in May or June.

Opinion: Thai Airways bankruptcy shows urgent need for state sector reform

Half-year results from Geely Auto

The Hong Kong-listed arm of China's largest private auto company Zhejiang Geely Holding Group will report earnings for the first half of the year on Monday, which is expected to show the depth of COVID's impact on the world's largest car market. Geely executives in March described 2020 as "the toughest year" ever for the group, and it has reported poor sales figures for the first six months. However, sales volume improved significantly in July, posting 15% year-on-year growth.


Duterte decides on Manila lockdown

The two-week lockdown measures imposed on Metropolitan Manila and nearby provinces expire Tuesday, with President Rodrigo Duterte expected on Monday to decide whether he will keep or adjust community quarantine restrictions.

The measures reimposed strict stay-at-home orders on a quarter of the nation's population, halted public transportation, and limited business operations from Aug. 4. The renewed lockdown was triggered by a distress call from the medical community, which warned that the country's health care system had been "overwhelmed" amid surging infections.

Go deeper: Pressure mounts on Duterte as infections surge and economy spirals


HKEX returns to profit growth

Boosted by surging volumes and higher investment income, Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing's second-quarter net profit is forecast to have climbed 3.5% after a 13% drop in the preceding three months, when market turmoil slashed the value of investments. Since the March trough, HKEX's share price has surged 76%, giving it the title of the world's most valuable stock exchange last month.

Investors and analysts are betting that HKEX's fortunes will be further helped by the introduction of 37 MSCI derivatives contracts that it nabbed from rival Singapore after 23 years. Another boost is expected from the likely inclusion of companies such as Alibaba in the connect schemes that allow mainland investors to buy the shares as well as secondary listings by Chinese companies facing delisting in the U.S.

Myanmar's ethnic groups hold peace conference

The Union Peace Conference, a key dialogue for the peace process in a country wracked by ethnic conflict for more than 70 years, will be held in Naypyidaw on Wednesday.

Who will be there? Representatives from civil government, military and 10 ethnic armed organizations that signed the National Ceasefire Agreement will attend the three-day conference. Non-signatory groups, who attended the 2018 session, said they will not accept the government's invitation this year.

Most notable absence: Rohingya Muslims were not invited, despite international scrutiny of Myanmar's 2017 crackdown that led more than 730,000 people to flee the western state of Rakhine. The government has declined to recognize the Rohingya as an Indigenous group.

What to expect: The peace conference has not been held since July 2018. This coming session will take place just before a general election in November, leading observers to question whether the conference will produce a meaningful outcome.

Related: Ethnic parties challenge Suu Kyi in the countryside as elections loom


Annual results from Qantas Airways

Australia's flag carrier will report full-year results on Thursday, after announcing in June that it would cut 15 billion Australian dollars ($10.7 billion) in costs over the next three years. The cuts would slash at least 6,000 jobs or 20% of its workforce and ground around 100 aircraft for 12 months or longer. To accelerate recovery, Qantas Group is also planning to raise equity of up to 1.9 billion Australian dollars.

Quarterly results from Alibaba

Thursday will also see quarterly results of the Chinese e-commerce giant, which is dual-listed in New York and Hong Kong. Alibaba reported its first quarterly profit decline in four years during the January-March quarter due to COVID and a one-time loss from its investment.

What to listen for: Whether Alibaba has regained momentum, and how it plans to navigate rising regulatory headwinds in the U.S.


Results from vaccine maker CanSino

Chinese pharmaceutical CanSino Biologics is expected to announce results for the fiscal year ended December 31. The Hong Kong-listed group entered the spotlight when one of its COVID-19 vaccine candidates became the first in China to be tested on humans in March.

The group listed on Shanghai's STAR Market last week, raising 5.2 billion yuan ($753 million), which it said will be used for plant construction and vaccine development. The company has been in the red since 2016, reporting an annual net loss of 156 million yuan last year.

Background: CanSino's COVID-19 vaccine approved for military use in China

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