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02
DEC
12pm

Congo Publishes Oil Block Agreement with Billionaire Gertler

The Democratic Republic of Congo will pay Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler more than $250 million to resolve a dispute over two oil blocks, according to a settlement agreement.
Under the terms of the deal released by the government on Thursday, Gertler will return mining and oil assets potentially worth billions of dollars to the state in exchange for the reimbursement of expenses and Congo’s assistance in getting US sanctions against him ended.
Gertler was sanctioned in 2017 by the US Treasury for “opaque and corrupt mining and oil deals” in Congo under the previous administration of President Joseph Kabila.
“It is Mr. Gertler’s fervent hope that with his full withdrawal from active business in the DRC and the implementation of compliance changes, the US government will view him as having responded to the US sanctions in the appropriate manner,” his spokesman said in an emailed statement.
Congo Backs Billionaire Gertler’s Bid to End U.S. Sanctions
Gertler’s companies will continue to receive royalties from three copper and cobalt projects in Congo owned by Glencore Plc and Eurasian Resources Group, according to the agreement. He will also give up two oil permits on Lake Albert along the border with Uganda, as well as iron and gold exploration permits.
Congo is currently offering the two oil blocks up for tender.
According to the agreement, Congo has a year from the signature date to pay Gertler’s company, Ventora Development SASU, the entirety of 240.7 million euros ($252 million) plus 6% annual interest whether or not the country has managed to re-sell his permits.
Gertler’s Ventora will also pay 249 million euros to state-miner Gecamines for a previous deal giving him royalties to Glencore’s KCC project, according to the agreement. The payment is partly offset by a 192 million euro loan Gecamines owes to Gertler.
Congo is required to publish all mining contracts as part of the conditions of a $1.5 billion International Monetary Fund loan program and the country’s mining code.
On Friday, a coalition of Congolese and international non-governmental organizations known as Congo Is Not For Sale said the settlement “confirmed the fears of a detrimental deal for the country” and called on the government to publish any other annexes and documents related to the agreement.
02
DEC
12pm

Alameda Bet Big on Crypto Miner Genesis Before Sector Implosion

One of the bigger questions surrounding the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire is what venture investments his trading firm Alameda Research poured billions of dollars in.
A company document indicates that his largest bet was on the Bitcoin mining company Genesis Digital Assets during the height of the crypto gold rush. Alameda continued to pour money into the firm even as the price of Bitcoin tumbled and soaring energy costs wreaked havoc across the industry.
Alameda has invested a total of about $1.15 billion in Genesis Digital, valuing the company at $5.5 billion in an April fund-raising round, according to an internal spreadsheet listing FTX and Alameda’s venture portfolio obtained by Bloomberg News. The miner isn’t related to crypto lender Genesis, whose lending unit has halted customer withdrawals.
The investment spanned across four rounds between August 2021 and April this year. An initial injection of about $100 million was made last August, followed by another $550 million in January, $250 million in February and $250 million in April. The total amount makes it Alameda and FTX’s biggest venture bet, according to the spreadsheet.
Representatives of Genesis Digital, which has its roots in Iceland, didn’t respond to requests for comment. Caroline Ellison, the head of Alameda Research, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Read More Crypto Lenders’ Woes Worsen as Miners Struggle to Repay Debt In Sam Bankman-Fried, Venture Capitalists Saw a Model Founder Sequoia Capital Says Sorry for FTX But Defends Vetting Process
In the most recent crypto boom, miners were able to raise billions of dollars from the equity market and lenders at generous terms, often using the equipment purchased as collateral on loans. In the first half of this year, the Bitcoin mining industry saw as much as 90% profit margins.
But the mining industry quickly went from one of the most lucrative corners in the digital world to one of the most distressed sectors, given the plunge in Bitcoin, soaring energy costs and more competition among miners. Some of the largest mining companies are on the verge of bankruptcy with a key mining revenue gauge falling to a record low.
Genesis Mining, the predecessor of Genesis Digital Assets, was one of the oldest mining companies, opening its first facility in Iceland in 2014. It had large-scale mining operations in China before the government imposed a sweeping ban on crypto mining last May. Marco Streng, the founder, later started Genesis Digital Assets in April ...
02
DEC
12pm

Ramaphosa Allies Rally Behind Him as ANC Discusses His Fate

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s allies closed ranks behind him as the governing party’s top leaders consider how to respond to an independent panel’s findings that there may be grounds for his impeachment. The rand rallied and government bond yields fell.
Key supporters met on Thursday night to hammer out a plan to keep Ramaphosa from resigning over his handling of a robbery at his game farm in which the president said $580,000 hidden in a sofa was stolen. Despite the panel’s findings that Ramaphosa may be guilty of serious misconduct and had a case to answer, there was no indication that he abused public funds, which should count in his favor, according to two of those who attended the meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to comment.
Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said on Friday that there was a 10% chance of Ramaphosa leaving office. Those comments came after Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, the chairman of the governing African National Congress, said it would be premature for Ramaphosa to resign.
“He is more popular than the party,” Godongwana said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “My prayer for now is that he remains.”
The rand surged as much as 2.2% after Godongwana spoke, and traded 0.9% stronger at 17.4957 per dollar by 5:32 p.m. in Johannesburg. Government bonds also rallied, with the benchmark 10-year yield dropping 23 basis points to 11.31%.
Investor concern that Ramaphosa might step down over the scandal triggered the rand’s worst one-day loss since May and the biggest selloff of government bonds since 2015 on Thursday.
One reason Ramaphosa changed his mind about resigning immediately was because of advice from his lawyers, according to three of the people. The president’s legal team is confident parts of the report can be successfully challenged, they said.
Officials who sit on the ANC’s National Executive Committee adjourned a meeting on Friday after former President Thabo Mbeki raised objections to Ramaphosa’s absence, according to two people who attended the gathering and declined to be identified as they’re not authorized to comment. The panel’s discussions are expected to continue on Sunday.
ANC Treasurer-General Paul Mashatile told the meeting that Ramaphosa plans to take the panel’s report on legal review, the people said.
Ramaphosa’s spokesman, Vincent Magwenya, referred a request for comment to ANC spokesman Pule Mabe, who didn’t immediately respond to questions sent by text message.
Read More:
EXPLAINER: The Scandal That Could Sink ...
01
DEC
11pm

EU closes in on $60 cap for Russian oil as Poles hold out for tougher action

The European Union is closing in on a deal to cap the price of Russian crude oil at $60 a barrel, their latest attempt to clinch an agreement before a Monday deadline, according to people familiar with the matter.
But Poland continues to push to harden the sanctions package before signing off on the price cap, and talks will continue tomorrow, the people said. Warsaw wants new sanctions linked to the cap plan.
EU talks have been dragging on since last week as Poland and the Baltic nations demanded measures that put more pressure on Moscow’s revenues. Even after their efforts, the cap that looks set to be agreed is above the prices most Russian crude already trades at.
As a deal looks within reach, the bloc is set to create a mechanism that would allow for revisions of the price every two months, according to a draft document. There’s also a plan to make sure any resetting of the cap should leave it at least 5% below average market rates.
One official from a coalition country said late on Thursday that each review of the cap price will take into consideration a variety of factors, including changes to market prices, as well as fiscal and economic conditions inside Russia.
The person added that they were encouraged that the price cap project had come this far. At its outset, the person said, the plan was judged to have little chance of success. They said the approach of the cap’s imposition had already forced Russia to discount its prices on crude sales more than the coalition had anticipated.
It’s still not clear how the Kremlin will react to the $60 cap, but Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov indicated on Thursday that he thought the price cap level was irrelevant. Given the cap is above market rates, Moscow may be able to claim it can just keep selling oil as usual.
The intention of the price cap – first proposed by the US amid concern EU sanctions were too strict – is to keep Russian oil flowing to avoid a global price surge, while also limiting Moscow’s revenue. For the price cap plan to accomplish its goal, the level has to be attractive enough to the Kremlin.
The risk for oil markets is that if the cap is seen as too low, Moscow may make good on a threat to shut down production – sending global crude prices higher.
The country’s flagship ...
01
DEC
11pm

Asia stocks set for mixed open with jobs in focus: markets wrap

Stocks fell in Asia after US equities struggled for direction, with traders awaiting a jobs report later on Friday for clues on the Federal Reserve’s next policy steps.
A gauge of Asian equities dropped, led by Japan, where the yen’s five-day rally increased downward pressure on stocks. A Bank of Japan board member suggesting the need for a policy assessment added to negative sentiment.
Futures contracts for the S&P 500 slid after the index edged lower during the US session. It rallied earlier this week on Fed chair Jerome Powell’s signals of a downshift in the pace of hikes.
Bets on where the central bank rate will peak have now dropped below 4.9%, according to swap markets. The current benchmark sits in a range between 3.75% and 4%.
Fed Bank of New York president John Williams said further hikes are needed to curb inflation. Concern that such tightening raises the odds of a recession became more pronounced after data showing American manufacturing contracted in November for the first time since May 2020.
The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index steadied after sinking to its lowest since June.
Australian and New Zealand government bond yields slid, following the lead from Treasuries on Thursday, when their rally gathered steam amid a pullback in expectations for Fed tightening. The 10-year US benchmark yield rose slightly to 3.54% during Asian trading.
The remarkably resilient US jobs market is beginning to cool, but Friday’s employment report may fall short of the turning point Fed officials are seeking in their battle to beat back inflation.
Still, Sarah Ponczek, financial adviser at UBS Private Wealth Management, said the jobs figures and other data may start to show a slowing trend in the economy.
“There have been slight hints that the interest-rate hike cycle that we have seen is starting to filter through the economy,” she said on Bloomberg Radio.
In South Africa, the political turmoil risks sending the financial market into deeper rout, with the rand coming off its worst one-day loss since May and yields on the 10-year sovereign bond rising most since 2015.
Elsewhere, oil was set for a weekly gain with China further easing Covid restrictions and the US considering a pause in sales from its strategic reserves. Gold slid. BM/DM
01
DEC
11pm

Vulnerable Britons unable to afford energy may unplug from grid

More than 2 million of Britain’s most vulnerable households, facing the prospect of out-of-reach prices for gas and electricity, could shiver in silence this winter by disconnecting from the grid without their suppliers knowing, the chief executive of one utility warned.
As a result, there’s likely to be an increase in the number of winter illnesses and deaths among those using traditional prepayment meters, which have no digital connectivity and resemble those used in the 1970s, said Bill Bullen, founder of Utilita Energy. He submitted a “red flag” report to the UK government calling on companies to take several curative measures, including swapping old equipment for smart meters so suppliers can detect when someone has unplugged.
“Unless the customer has refused a smart meter, there’s no excuse for legacy meters to exist today,” Bullen said after his company surveyed 750 pay-as-you-go households. “Having no choice but to sit at home without heating or light is unacceptable, and our government and the regulator must intervene immediately to stop self-disconnections.”
The UK is gripped by the worst energy crisis in decades after Russia squeezed exports of natural gas to Europe in retaliation for war-related sanctions, propelling wholesale prices to records. The British government is spending about £16 billion to subsidize household bills – including those of prepayment customers – as temperatures plummet and nations compete for ever-tighter supplies.
The National Energy Action charity says 8.4 million people will fall into fuel poverty starting in April, when new tariffs kick in.
“We’re helping people already making desperate choices to keep bills down, like turning the heating off despite having a health condition,” said Gillian Cooper, head of energy policy for the Citizens Advice consumer group.
About 4.5 million households nationwide use prepayment meters, Utilita said. Designed to help users avoid racking up bills they can’t afford, the meters require people to pay for energy in advance – at the post office or a shop, for example. About half of those customers have smart meters.
Once that credit runs out, lights go off and heaters shut down. For the half without smart meters, there’s no way for suppliers to know unless they tell them.
Bullen’s proposed solutions include eliminating any extra charges associated with pay-as-you-go accounts, “busting” the myth that switching to smart meters leads to more debt and erasing the stigma of poverty often associated with prepaid accounts. His company serves about 1.4 million customers.
So far, above-average temperatures have been a ...
01
DEC
11pm

South Africa trails emerging-market peers as Ramaphosa faces calls to resign

Five years ago, Cyril Ramaphosa’s ascent to power fuelled a euphoric rally in South Africa’s assets that coined a new word: Ramaphoria. On Thursday, a financial scandal threatened to end it all in a rout.
The nation’s currency posted its worst one-day loss since May while the government’s borrowing costs surged the most since 2015, as the president considers resigning over potential breaches of the constitution related to the theft of $580,000 stashed at a game farm he owns. Options traders bet on the wildest currency volatility in two years, and the cost to hedge against a sovereign default jumped the most in the same period.
The reversal marks a stark contrast to the market reaction between November 2017 and February 2018 when Ramaphosa emerged as the replacement for the scandal-ridden tenure of Jacob Zuma. His reform agenda and clean image helped fuel a 27% rally in the rand in that period.
Money managers now say he failed to deliver the policy changes required to ignite growth in the country, considered a bellwether for emerging markets. Rampant unemployment at about 33% and a continued mess in the electricity sector have lowered markets’ confidence in him, with the latest political crisis pushing them over the edge.
“The market dreads political instability and often prefers to go with the devil they know than the devil they don’t,” said Cristian Maggio, the head of portfolio and ESG Strategy at TD Securities in London. “But Ramaphosa’s reform agenda has been underwhelming to say the least. Doubts will remain as to whether another candidate can kick-start that process, but we surely know that Ramaphosa is unlikely to deliver what is needed.”
The leadership crisis sent the rand as much as 4.2% lower to 17.9596 per dollar, at one point set for the biggest one-day loss since November 2016. The currency trimmed some of those losses to end the session down 2.6% to a three-week low at 17.6574.
The rand held losses as government spokesman Vincent Mgwenya said in a televised briefing a response by the president is “imminent” without giving timing details for the address.
Some more market reaction:
The 10-year sovereign rand-bond yield rose 74 basis points to 11.54%.
The yield on 10-year dollar bonds climbed about 36 basis points to 7.36%.
One-week implied volatility on the currency, based on options prices, soared 5 percentage points to more than 21%.
Credit default swaps, used to hedge against the risk of default by South Africa in ...
01
DEC
10am

South Africa Trails Emerging-Market Peers as Ramaphosa Faces Calls to Resign

Five years ago, Cyril Ramaphosa’s ascent to power fueled a euphoric rally in South Africa’s assets that coined a new word: Ramaphoria. On Thursday, a financial scandal threatened to end it all in a rout.
The nation’s currency tumbled toward its worst decline in six years and the government’s borrowing costs surged the most since 2015 as the president considered resigning over potential breaches of the constitution related to the theft of $580,000 stashed at a game farm he owns. Options traders bet on the wildest currency volatility in two years, and the cost to hedge against a sovereign default jumped the most in the same period.
Ramaphosa Weighs Resigning Over Panel’s Report on Farm Scandal
The reversal marks a stark contrast to the market reaction between November 2017 and February 2018 when Ramaphosa emerged as the replacement for the scandal-ridden tenure of Jacob Zuma. His reform agenda and clean image helped fuel a 27% rally in the rand in that period.
Money managers now say he failed to deliver the policy changes required to ignite growth in the country, considered a bellwether for emerging markets. Rampant unemployment at about 33% and a continued mess in the electricity sector have lowered markets’ confidence in him, with the latest political crisis pushing them over the edge.
“The market dreads political instability and often prefers to go with the devil they know than the devil they don’t,” said Cristian Maggio, the head of portfolio and ESG Strategy at TD Securities in London. “But Ramaphosa’s reform agenda has been underwhelming to say the least. Doubts will remain as to whether another candidate can kick-start that process, but we surely know that Ramaphosa is unlikely to deliver what is needed.”
Ramaphosa will address the nation on Thursday night, News24, a Johannesburg-based news website, reported on its Twitter account. The leadership crisis sent the rand as much as 4.2% lower to 17.9596 per dollar, the biggest one-day loss since November 2016 on a closing basis.
Some more market reaction:
The 10-year sovereign rand-bond yield rose as much as 84 basis points to 11.64%.
The 10-year dollar-bond yield climbed 51 basis points to 7.46%.
One-week implied volatility on the currency, based on options prices, soared 5 percentage points to almost 21%.
Credit default swaps, used to hedge against the risk of default by South Africa in the next five years, increased 30 basis points to 274.
An index of bank shares slumped as much as 7.7%, the most ...
01
DEC
10am

Stocks Drop After Big Rally on Weak Factory Data: Markets Wrap

Stocks erased gains after data showed US manufacturing contracted in November for the first time since May 2020, tempering optimism with a report that highlighted signs inflation is abating.
The S&P 500 pushed lower after Wednesday’s big rally, while Salesforce Inc. weighed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average as the software company gave an outlook that reflects a weaker economy. The greenback slumped to the lowest level since August, while two-year US yields — which are more sensitive to imminent Fed moves — were flat.
The Institute for Supply Management’s gauge of factory activity slid to 49 from 50.2 in the prior month. The median projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a reading of 49.7. Meantime, a key gauge of US consumer prices posted the second-smallest increase this year while spending accelerated.
“Bottom line, seeing inflation roll over and the soon to be peak in Fed rate hikes was the first mountain to climb for both the economy and markets in 2022,” said Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Financial Group. “The next mountain needing to be conquered, and will be the 2023 focus I believe, is the economic consequences to such a sharp rise in interest rates, the higher cost of capital that both businesses and households have to deal with and the recession it creates.”
Read: Post-Powell Stocks Rally Fueled by Frenzy in Short-Dated Options
Worries about how far central bankers will go to rein in inflation have kept investors on edge, and equities volatile. Markets are still pricing in rate hikes from the Fed until mid-2023, although Jerome Powell’s lack of a sharp-edged message sent Wall Street rallying Wednesday on optimism officials will back off from tightening too aggressively.
JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Dubravko Lakos-Bujas said sharp declines await US stocks in the first half of 2023 against the backdrop of a mild recession and Fed rate hikes. The prediction adds to calls from strategists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Deutsche Bank AG that American equities are in for a wild ride next year.
“Despite the recent rebound in equities, we do not think the macroeconomic conditions for a sustained market rally are yet in place,” said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management. “We maintain our view that the Fed will hike rates by 50bps in December and another 50bps in 1Q23, bringing the hiking cycle to an end, however the cumulative impact of prior ...
01
DEC
10am

Sam Bankman-Fried Says He Has ‘Close to Nothing’ Left After $26 Billion Wipeout

Sam Bankman-Fried, who at one point was worth $26 billion, claims he now has “close to nothing.”
The fallen crypto mogul held all his assets in his now-bankrupt FTX exchange and sister trading house Alameda Research, he said in a video interview with columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin at the New York Times DealBook Summit on Wednesday.
Bankman-Fried, 30, who remains in the Bahamas, said he’s left with just one working credit card linked to a bank account with $100,000. He added that he’s disclosing everything and has no hidden funds.
Also read: Bankman-Fried Denies Trying to Commit Fraud at Collapsed FTX
Once considered the crypto industry’s wunderkind, Bankman-Fried is now at the center of legal and regulatory probes into whether his empire mishandled customer funds. The restructuring expert who took over FTX in bankruptcy, John J. Ray III, has said it was the worst failure of corporate controls he’d ever seen.
In a sworn declaration last month, Ray said advisers told financial institutions to freeze withdrawals and reject any instructions from Bankman-Fried. The documents also indicated that Alameda had lent $1 billion to Bankman-Fried and that FTX Group funds were used to buy homes and other personal items for employees.
Bankman-Fried was asked about the company’s real estate purchases, including reports that his parents were provided with a home.
“I don’t know the details of the house for my parents — I know it was not intended to be their long-term property, it was intended to be the company’s property,” he said. Other purchases were made so employees who relocated to the Bahamas “had an easy way to find a comfortable life that they’d be willing to move and help build out the product.”
Bankman-Fried became one of the world’s wealthiest people in just a few years after starting Alameda and then FTX, which had more than 1 million customers globally before its collapse. He won backing for his exchange from hedge funds and venture capitalists, while Alameda posted trading profits that he said he would use to sway politics and support nonprofits that align with his “effective altruism” philosophy.
Then it all came crashing down. As he told it, his swift demise began in early November when crypto news site CoinDesk reported on Alameda’s balance sheet, showing that a token issued by FTX, FTT, made up about a quarter of the trading house’s $14.6 billion in assets.
In just about a week, his empire spiraled into bankruptcy, wiping out ...
30
NOV
10pm

Stocks rally on Powell, China Covid; dollar slides: markets wrap

Stocks extended gains in Asia after China appeared to soften is Covid stance and Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell signalled a slowdown in the pace of interest-rate hikes.
The dollar fell against most of its G10 counterparts, with the yen speeding to a three-month high. Treasury yields stabilised after large declines on Powell’s comments.
US equity futures edged higher, contracts for Europe surged and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index jumped as much as 3.7%, following a 29% gain in November. The S&P 500 soared on Wednesday to end the month at the highest level since mid-September, led by a rally led by tech stocks.
Sentiment in Asia got an extra China’s top official in charge of the fight against the coronavirus. Vice Premier Sun Chunlan said the country’s efforts to combat the virus are entering a new phase with the omicron variant weakening and more Chinese getting vaccinated.
Powell’s remarks affirmed expectations the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates 50 basis points this month in a departure from a run of four 75 basis point hikes. Pricing in the swaps market indicates the Fed funds rate will peak below 5% in May. Prior to Powell’s comments, the market anticipated a peak above that level occurring in June.
Equities were buoyed by Powell’s indication that the Fed would balance tackling inflation with supporting the economy, said Krishna Guha, head of central bank strategy for Evercore ISI.
“Most importantly for risk assets, Powell’s remarks embraced the return of some two-sided risk management. That is a big deal for equities and means an outsized move in stocks relative to the rates market is justified,” he said.
Optimism for tech stocks boosted US-listed blue chips on Nasdaq Golden Dragon China Index, which includes internet giants Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu.
Traders also scoured several economic reports, with key gauges of US activity painting a mixed third-quarter picture. Job openings fell in October – a hopeful sign for the Fed as it seeks to curb demand.
The figures precede Friday’s jobs report, which is currently forecast to show employers added 200,000 workers to payrolls in November. Economists are expecting the unemployment rate to hold at 3.7%, and for average hourly earnings to moderate.
Elsewhere in markets, oil fluctuated after three days of gains on China’s Covid developments and data showed a steep drop in US inventories.
Gold edged higher in Asia – following a 1% advance on Wednesday. BM/DM
30
NOV
10pm

China official behind strict Covid lockdowns softens stance

China’s top official in charge of the fight against Covid-19 said the country’s efforts to combat the virus are entering a new phase with the omicron variant weakening and more Chinese getting vaccinated, a fresh sign that Beijing may be seeking to amend its strategy.
“As the omicron variant becomes less pathogenic, more people get vaccinated and our experience in Covid prevention accumulates, our fight against the pandemic is at a new stage and it comes with new tasks,” outgoing Vice Premier Sun Chunlan said at a meeting with the National Health Commission and health experts in Beijing on Wednesday.
She didn’t use the term “dynamic Covid-Zero” – used to describe China’s quest to quash outbreaks and eliminate Covid – based on the statement issued after the meeting. At a briefing on Tuesday, officials from bodies including the National Health Commission didn’t use the term either, a departure from previous briefings, and instead encouraged the elderly to get vaccinated.
Adding to the signs, state-backed tabloid Global Times ran an article Thursday morning citing Chinese experts that people don’t need to panic over the Omicron variant, as it’s much less deadly.
The country is discussing rolling out a fourth Covid shot, people familiar with the plans told Bloomberg News on Wednesday, a sign pressure to reopen is leading to moves for change.
Sun’s remarks appear to be the first official, public acknowledgment in China that the virus is no longer as severe, and come amid other shifts in rhetoric that signal the country is finally looking at moving away from the Covid-Zero stance that’s slammed its economy, left it globally isolated and disrupted people’s lives.
Investors responded with optimism, as China’s currency and stocks listed in the US jumped. The Nasdaq Golden Dragon China Index surged nearly 10% at the close in New York, the most since March 16, taking the benchmark’s monthly gain to a record 42% in November. The offshore yuan climbed as much as 1.33% to 7.0457 per dollar.
Charged with China’s healthcare portfolio, Sun has become synonymous with the country’s hardline pandemic approach. If she appeared in a city experiencing an outbreak, it was typically a sign stricter measures like broad lockdowns were coming, a reputation that earned Sun the nickname the “Old Lady of Lockdown” on Chinese social media.
‘Very significant’ comments
She was sent into Wuhan when the virus first emerged, making her pivotal to the strategy that was then deployed nationwide, and kept ...

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