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Top Chinese tech investor says he’s still optimistic about growth 

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Neil Shen, founding partner of Sequoia Capital China.

Nelson Ching | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Neil Shen, founding partner of Sequoia Capital China.

WUZHEN, China — The head of Sequoia Capital’s China affiliate said Thursday there are still big opportunities for growth in the country’s digital economy, contrary to many concerns about a slowdown.

“As an investment firm enthusiastically participating in China’s information industry, we still think the Chinese Internet sector has good prospects,” Neil Shen, founding and managing partner of Sequoia Capital China, said at a press event at the World Internet Conference, according to a CNBC translation. “Every year, our investment size and pace has been increasing.”

Shen also said he believes the consumer-oriented internet still has a very big opportunity for future development, and that the industrial-oriented internet will develop quickly, especially with the support of artificial intelligence.

Sequoia is an investor in China’s largest technology companies, including e-commerce giant Alibaba, ride-hailing company Didi and Meituan Dianping, which went public in Hong Kong this year. Shen is also a co-founder of Chinese tourism booking site Ctrip.com.

Many worry China’s burgeoning technology industry will be hit by a national economic slowdown. Some recent data reports have been soft, adding to concerns that increasing trade tensions with the U.S. will cause growth to slow even further. Beijing, for its part, has announced a slew of policy measures in the last few months to support the economy.

Shen, however, pushed back Thursday against concerns about trade tensions and a cold spell for the Chinese tech sector.

“My sense is the digital economy is something unique to China,” he said. “I don’t think it will be affected that much by a U.S.-China trade war.”

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US-China trade war impact on cargo trade routes: SATS CEO Alex Hungate

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A reconfiguration of cargo routes is underway as the trade war between the U.S. and China spills over globally, a logistics industry executive said on Friday.

“We’ve definitely seen an impact in certain trade routes,” said Alex Hungate, president and CEO of airport ground-handler and catering solutions provider SATS.

While there are “strong flows” between countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China, trade volumes in Greater China — which includes mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan — are “softer,” Hungate told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

Listed on the Singapore Exchange, SATS operates in over 60 locations and 13 countries across Asia and the Middle East.

Overall, Greater China would be the most sensitive to the trade fracas, said Hungate.

Where air freight is concerned, Vietnam is a strong performer while trading hub Singapore is “holding up pretty well,” he said, adding that growth in India is also strong.

Hungate confirmed the phenomenon of “front-loading” — where exporters benefit from increased orders before tariffs hit — as he witnessed 300 Harley-Davidson bikes lined up at a freight terminal for shipping.

In October, Harley-Davidson Chief Financial Officer John Olin said the American motorcycle manufacturer was expecting to pay at least an additional $40 million this year to cover the costs of new tariffs across the world. Harley-Davidson is doing everything it can to minimize the impact of tariffs on its profits, he said.

Markets are now keeping their eyes on a much-touted meeting later this month between U.S. President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping at the G-20 in Buenos Aires, Argentina for any signs of easing tensions in the trade war.

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Australia treasurer on CK Infrastructure-APA gas deal

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A natural gas plant in Cooper Basin, South Australia. 

Fairfax Media/Fairfax Media via Getty Images 

A natural gas plant in Cooper Basin, South Australia. 

Australia remains open to Chinese investments regardless of whether Canberra blocks an acquisition of a major energy company by a Hong Kong-led consortium, Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told CNBC on Friday.

Earlier this year, a consortium led by Hong Kong property developer CK Infrastructure — owned by billionaire Li Ka-shing — offered a $9.4 billion takeover bid for APA Group, Australia’s leading energy infrastructure business.

The deal would be “contrary to the national interest,” Frydenberg said in a statement released Wednesday. Speaking to CNBC on Friday, Frydenberg said his preliminary view was “not about a particular company or country.”

The judgement call was based on “what the implications would be for Australia were we to see a concentration of foreign ownership by a sole company in such a key set of assets as is the gas transmission sector,” Frydenberg stated.

“APA is a unique company, with more than 50 percent of the gas transmission business in Australia, more than 15,000 pipelines supplying gas and electricity into key markets,” he added.

The company holds approximately $20 billion of energy assets and delivers half the nation’s natural gas usage, according to the company.

Frydenberg — who became Treasurer in August after new Prime Minister Scott Morrison took leadership — said his team would make a final call on the deal “in the next couple of weeks,” adding that his country still welcomed Chinese capital.

Speaking on the impact of U.S.-China trade tensions, the minister said the tariff spat had affected around two percent of world trade so far: “We would ask that cooler heads prevail here.”

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US crude falls into bear market on growing global oil output

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U.S. oil prices dropped for a ninth consecutive session on Thursday, falling into a bear market, on further signs of growing supply even as data showed record Chinese oil imports.

Crude prices have plunged over the last five weeks, buffeted by October’s broader market slump, signs of deteriorating demand and rising output from key producers.

The decline continued earlier this week after the Trump administration announced it would issue waivers to eight countries, allowing them to continue importing Iranian crude for the next 180 days. The United States restored sanctions on Iran’s energy, banking and shipping industries on Monday.

“As a result, oil supplies are going to be higher than the market anticipated,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates. “So it seems to me that the loss of Iranian supplies is only going to be between 1 and 1.2 million barrels per day, and the OPEC and non-OPEC producers have more than made up for that.”

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude fell as low as $60.40 a barrel on Thursday, briefly wiping out its gains for the year. The contract settled $1, or 1.6 percent, lower at $60.67. That’s down 21 percent from last month’s four-year high of $76.90, putting WTI in bear market territory.

Brent crude fell $1.33, or 1.9 percent, to $70.74 a barrel at 2:30 p.m. ET. The international benchmark hit a session low of $70.60, tumbling 18.6 percent from its nearly four-year high of $86.74 on Oct. 3.

U.S. gasoline futures are also trading in bear market territory, down nearly 28 percent from their 52-week high.

Prices fell to a nearly eight-month low on Wednesday after the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported the seventh consecutive weekly increase in U.S. crude stockpiles.

U.S. output also hit an all-time high at 11.6 million barrels per day last week, according to preliminary figures released by the EIA. If confirmed during revisions, it would more firmly establish the United States as the world’s top oil producer.

The EIA forecast this week that U.S. oil production will average 12.1 million bpd in 2019, marking an upward revision from its last projection.

The other producers in the top three, Saudi Arabia and Russia, have been dialing up production since June.

“All three of them are continuing to pump at record levels, that’s been … part of what’s causing oil to move into a bear market,” Tamar Essner, director of energy and utilities at Nasdaq Corporate Solutions, told CNBC’s “Worldwide Exchange” on Thursday.

“I think the market is grappling with some fundamental uncertainties,” she said. “We don’t know if we are oversupplied or undersupplied.”

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