The number of full-time hotel employees in China's Macao Special Administrative Region reached 45,584 at the end of the third quarter of 2014, up 2.6 percent year-on-year, official figures showed on Thursday.[Special coverage]
According to the Statistics and Census Service, the average earnings of the hotel employees in September rose by 10.7 percent year-on-year to 15,750 patacas (1,972 US dollars).
Restaurants in the region registered 23,831 full-time employees at the end of September, up 9.3 percent, with their average earnings growing 8.4 percent year-on-year.
The number of employees of the financial sector stood at 6,530 full-time employees at the end of the third quarter, an increase of 2.7 percent.
Experts say the increase of employees in the non-gaming sectors could be seen as an indicator of Macao's efforts to diversify its gambling-dominated economy.0 In the region with a population of around 630,000, the gaming industry accounts for about 80 percent of its revenue.
Asia is set to surpass North America and snatch the title of the world's largest e-commerce market this year, said the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
According to a report published on Tuesday in Beijing by the EIU, an advisory company under the Economist Group, it is estimated that retail sales in Asia will grow by an average 4.6 percent on a volume basis to 7.6 trillion U.S. dollars, compared with 2.5 percent in North America and 0.8 percent in Europe in 2015.
Report editor Laurel West said that the Asian consumer market was largely driven by the rising independence and economic power of Asia's women, and female consumers in Asia are showing an unprecedented enthusiasm for online shopping.
The report is based on a survey of 5,500 women across major cities on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macao, as well as countries including India, Japan, Singapore and the Republic of Korea. Among the survey respondents, 43 percent were in managerial, executive or professional services jobs.
Nearly half of the women agreed or strongly agreed that they preferred online- to in-store shopping. The proportion on the Chinese mainland was as much as 69 percent. Sixty-three percent of those polled browsed the Internet at least once a day for products and services, with nearly 30 percent doing so twice or more per day.
When choosing an online retailer, price and quality were the main factors considered, followed by genuine products and convenience.
Volvo Car Corp said it will start selling vehicles online as it rolls out new models to compete with German luxury rivals such as BMW.
The Swedish carmaker, controlled by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, will gradually introduce Web sales and spend more on digital advertising, it said as it outlined changes to its global marketing strategy on Monday.
Volvo raised its 2014 sales goal in August as it launched a revamped XC90 crossover, the first vehicle developed under Geely's ownership.
"The plan is to have all our car lines in all our markets offered digitally," Volvo sales chief Alain Visser said in an interview.
Few manufacturers have tried selling directly online. A notable exception is Tesla, whose electric car sales have cut out traditional dealers, leading to conflict and effective exclusion from parts of the US.
But Volvo has assured its 2,000 global dealerships, half of which are in Europe, that it has no such plans.
"If you say the word e-commerce, initially dealers get nervous," Visser said.
"We don't see a car distribution network without dealers in the foreseeable future," he said, adding that vehicles sold online "will still pass through the dealer network" for delivery.
The Swedish carmaker plans to withdraw from all but one motor show per year in each of three regions - Europe, North America and Asia - and stage its own global event instead.
Volvo also said it would not follow rivals into city-center boutique dealerships of the kind increasingly used by BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.
"We're a different brand with limited financial means," Visser said. "We don't believe in building these big palaces."
Some 80 percent of Volvo customers already shop online for other goods, the sales chief added, and research suggests many will do the same for cars in future.
But some analysts such as Stuart Pearson of Exane BNP Paribas remain skeptical, citing weak orders from experimental online sales of BMW's i8 hybrid sports car.
"BMW has tried it in Germany, but they really haven't had a huge amount of volume," Pearson said. "People still want to go into dealers."
China's economic growth could slow to 7.1 percent in 2015 from an expected 7.4 percent this year, held back by a sagging property sector, the central bank said in a research report on Friday.
Stronger global demand could boost exports, but not by enough to counteract the impact from weakening property investment, according to the report published on its website.
China's exports are likely to grow 6.9 percent in 2015, quickening from this year's 6.1 percent rise, while import growth is seen accelerating to 5.1 percent in 2015 from this year's 1.9 percent, it said.
The report warned that the US Federal Reserve's expected move to raise interest rates sometime next year could hit emerging market economies.
Fixed-assets investment growth may slow to 12.8 percent in 2015 from this year's 15.5 percent, while retail sales growth may quicken to 12.2 percent from 12 percent, it said.
Consumer inflation may hold largely steady in 2015, at 2.2 percent, the report noted.
China's economic growth weakened to 7.3 percent in the third quarter of 2014, and November's soft factory and investment figures suggest full-year growth will miss the central government's 7.5 percent target and mark the weakest expansion in 24 years.
Economists who advise the government have recommended that China lower its growth target to around 7 percent in 2015.
China's employment situation is likely to hold up well next year due to faster expansion of the services sector, despite slower economic growth, said the report.
First of a group of firms to start banking operations
Internet giant Tencent Holdings will be the first among a batch of private companies to start its banking business soon after getting approval from the banking regulator, which analysts said Sunday will help finance the country's cash-starved small businesses.
China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), the country's top banking regulator, said in a statement on Friday that it has granted approval to Tencent, China's largest Internet company by market value, to start its banking operations.
WeBank, founded by Tencent, Shenzhen Baiyeyuan Investment Co and Shenzhen Liye Group, is the first one among five private banks that had been approved by the CBRC in the second half of 2014 to open its door to clients.
Financial news portal caixin.com reported on Friday that WeBank would start its operations on December 28.
WeBank, with a registered capital of 3 billion yuan ($490 million), has a business scope that includes personal banking, corporate banking and international banking.
WeBank would focus on serving individuals as well as small and medium-sized enterprises with innovative financial products based on its social networking platform WeChat, Xu Hongcai, director of the Department of Information under the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a Beijing-based think tank, told the Global Times on Sunday.
Tencent, the operator of -China's most popular instant messaging app WeChat with over 468 million monthly active users by the end of September, has advantages in online payment, experts said.
Given the firm's large number of users, WeBank is expected to abandon the traditional way of accepting money deposits by setting up branches, Xu said.
The country's cash-starved small businesses, which find it hard to get loans from existing commercial banks, could enjoy more flexible online financial services offered by banks such as WeBank, he noted.
Analysts expect that following the launch of Tencent's bank, reforms in China's banking industry will be accelerated in 2015 to promote the process of opening China's banking sector to private capital.
On November 30, the Legislative Affairs Office of China's State Council issued draft regulations containing 23 articles on the standardized deposit insurance system to solicit public opinions.
Yin Zhongli, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday the deposit insurance system will be established in China for the first time starting in 2015 to guarantee the safety of private bank deposits and set up a bankruptcy mechanism for commercial banks.
In addition, ramped-up reforms in the finance sector that involve interest rate liberalization will also be improved next year to support the development of private banks, Guo Tianyong, a finance professor at the Central University of Finance and Economics, told the Global Times on Sunday.
Jack Ma, founder and executive chairman of China's Alibaba Group, has become the richest person in Asia.
The 50-year-old founder of China's biggest e-commerce company surpassed Li Ka-shing, the Hong Kong property tycoon who has held the top spot in Asia since April 5, 2012, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
He has a $28.6 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg ranking. Li has a net worth of $28.3 billion.
Ma has added $25 billion to his fortune this year riding a 54 percent surge in the company's shares since its September initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. At that scale, Alibaba is on the verge of becoming one of the 10 most valuable companies in the world.
Alibaba, whose online marketplaces?Taobao and Tmall?had 307 million active buyers in China as of September, saw revenue rise to 16.8 billion yuan ($2.74 billion) between July and September, according to Bloomberg.
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