Earnings Surprises and Nervous Chatbots: Saturday Asia Briefing

A guide to Asia this weekend.

(Bloomberg) — It’s been a week of storms, market optimism and the return of the EV price war. For the first time since July, China’s benchmark stock index rose over the week, as Beijing kept rolling out support. Hong Kong is sawing fallen trees in the wake of Super Typhoon Saola, and India’s space agency is turning its attention to the sun. 

Beyond Beijing’s added measures to shore up financial markets, there’s a new cause for optimism. Earnings from Chinese companies in the battered technology and consumer sectors have been better than feared, lifting hopes that the turnaround may not be another false start. 

Here’s what you need to know about China’s slowdown. And this is how the US and its allies are taking advantage of the stumble.

For the first time in a decade, Xi Jinping may skip the G-20 summit, to be held in New Delhi next week. A snub by the Chinese leader, who recently scored a win by expanding the rival BRICS bloc, would fan fears that China’s global policy is becoming even more opaque.

Let’s talk about something else.

Sorry, that wasn’t me, that was Baidu’s new AI chatbot Ernie, trying to steer the conversation in another direction whenever anything politically sensitive crops up. Read about how China’s newly released slew of ChatGPT rivals are on the march. 

On a cosmic note, India plans to launch its first solar observation mission today, following a successful moon landing last month. Aditya-L1 will travel for more than four months to get about 1% closer to the sun, from where it will study the effects of solar activity on the Earth. 

It has been a big week for EVs. Tesla unveiled a much-needed revamp of its Model 3 for those who crave a 17-speaker sound system, and shortly after slashed prices. Chinese rivals, meanwhile, are crashing Germany’s premier auto show.

SoftBank is said to have lined up a who’s who of tech giants as strategic investors for the IPO of chipmaker Arm, including Apple, Nvidia, Intel, Samsung and Google.

Singapore has a new president. Former deputy premier Tharman Shanmugaratnam won more than 70% of the votes as the island’s citizens didn’t allow recent political scandals to dissuade them from supporting him.

In the global competition for talent, a battleground has opened up between big oil and big tech. Read about the energy industry’s new brain drain.

Remember NFTs? It’s only two years since a Singapore-based collector paid $69 million for a non-fungible token of a digital artwork by Beeple (aka Mike Winkelmann). Then, NFTs were the next big thing in crypto. Now, not so much. Still, at least the technology that underpins NFTs is gaining traction in the world of luxury. Blockchain will now tell you if your Miu Miu bag is a fake. 

Finally, after 500 million comics and 1,000 episodes of an animated series, Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece piratical megahit has been released as a live-action series. Can Netflix at last master the crossover from manga to movies?

Have an opulent weekend.

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