Police officers search an area by boat that was flooded by Typhoon Hagibis on October 14, 2019 in Marumori, Miyagi, Japan.
Tomohiro Ohsumi | Getty Images News | Getty Images
The death toll in the worst typhoon to hit Japan for decades climbed to 58 on Tuesday as rescuers slogged through mud and debris in an increasingly grim search for the missing and as thousands of homes remained without power or water.
The storm hit a wide swathe of central and eastern Japan, with 15 missing and some 211 injured nearly three days after Typhoon Hagibis — whose name means “speed” in the Philippine language Tagalog — lashed Japan with high winds and intense rains, NHK national broadcaster said.
Some 138,000 households were without water while 24,000 lacked electricity, a far cry from the hundreds of thousands without power just after the storm but cause for concern in northern areas where the weather was starting to turn chilly.
The highest toll was in Fukushima prefecture north of Tokyo, where levees burst in at least 14 places along the Abukuma River, which meanders through a number of cities in the agricultural prefecture.
At least 18 died in Fukushima, including a mother who was caught up in flood waters with her two children, one of whose death was confirmed on Monday while the other, a little boy, remained missing.
Thousands of police, fire officials and military personnel continued to search for people who may have been cut off by floodwaters and landslides set off by the storm, with hope diminishing that the missing would be found alive.
Survivors described how waters rose rapidly to chest height in roughly an hour and mainly at night, making it hard to escape to higher ground. Many of the dead in Fukushima were elderly, NHK said.
“I couldn’t believe it, the water came up so fast,” one man in Fukushima told NHK.
Though the threat of rain is expected to diminish on Tuesday, temperatures are likely to drop in many areas later this week, in some cases to unseasonably low temperatures, NHK said.
Qantas completes ‘double sunrise’ test flight from London to Sydney
The first commercial flight of the Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft on December 15, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.
James D. Morgan | Getty Images
Qantas Airways completed a 19 hour 19 minute non-stop test flight from London to Sydney on Friday as it nears a decision on whether to order planes for what would be the world’s longest-ever commercial route.
“We saw a double sunrise,” Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said after stepping off the flight, which followed a similar one from New York to Sydney last month.
The event included speeches from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Qantas Chairman Richard Goyder.
Qantas has named the project “Project Sunrise” after the airline’s double sunrise endurance flights during World War Two, which remained airborne long enough to see two sunrises.
The plane on the London-Sydney research flight, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner, carried 50 passengers and had fuel remaining for roughly another 1 hour 45 minutes of flight time when it landed.
The airline needs to get pilots to agree on contract terms and a sign-off from Australia’s aviation regulator to launch the flights by 2023.
Qantas has been considering an order for either an ultra-long range version of Airbus SE’s A350-1000 or the Boeing Co 777-8, although the latter plane’s entry into service has been delayed and so Boeing has put together an alternative offer to deal with that.
Captain Helen Trenerry, who led the test flight, said before takeoff on Wednesday that research data including activity monitoring, sleep diaries, cognitive testing and monitoring of melatonin levels would help determine whether the crew mix of one captain, one first officer and two second officers was appropriate or if more people were needed.
She said she would be happy to fly Sydney-London or Sydney-New York but would prefer regulations that limited the trips to around one a month for pilots because “they will be very, very long flights and fatiguing over the long term”.
Mark Sedgwick, the president of the Australian and International Pilots Association representing Qantas pilots, said on Friday the research flights were “a step in the right direction” but the data set was probably too limited to inform broader fatigue management plans.
Citi analysts consider the ultra-long range flights to be a game-changing opportunity for the airline as it looks to capture a premium from travelers in return for cutting out a stop-over.
In a note to clients published in July, they forecast non-stop flights from Sydney to London and New York could add A$180 million annually to the carrier’s profit before tax, which was A$A1.3 billion in the financial year ended June 30.
Qantas is due to hold an investor briefing on Tuesday where it could provide guidance on future capital spending plans.
The London-Sydney flight came as the airline on Friday kicked off celebrations for its 100th year of service next year.
The 787-9 with a limited number of passengers used on the research flight had a livery celebrating Qantas’ centenary.
PBOC injects 200 billion yuan to boost liquidity, keeps rate unchanged
Pedestrians walk past the People’s Bank of China headquarters in Beijing, China, on January 7, 2019.
Giulia Marchi | Bloomberg | Getty Images
China’s central bank extended 200 billion yuan ($28.60 billion) through its medium-term lending facility on Friday, the second time it has done so this month, while keeping the lending rate unchanged.
The move to add long-term funds caught the market off guard as the central bank had already injected funds last week.
Several traders said the cash injection was likely a response to tighter liquidity in the interbank market from late Thursday, which pushed up borrowing costs.
Nie Wen, economist at Hwabao Trust in Shanghai, said the fund injection via MLF loans was to make up for the shortfall in liquidity even after multiple reserve requirement ratio (RRR) cuts so far this year.
In the short term, high consumer inflation was keeping policymakers from immediately cutting interest rates, he said.
“But at least it has to release liquidity to support economic growth, especially after October’s sluggish credit lending data,” Nie added.
“Consumer price inflation is high, but the producer price index is still in a negative range. Companies’ real borrowing costs remain high.”
Markets are closing watching for any signs of liquidity stress after a government takeover of an Inner Mongolia bank and state-rescue of other small banks this year revived concerns about the health of hundreds of small lenders in the country as China’s economic growth slowed to nearly a 30-year low.
The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said on its website on Friday the interest rate on one-year MLF loans remained at 3.25%, the same as previous operation.
A trader at a Chinese bank said the MLF injection suggests the new lending benchmark — Loan Prime Rate (LPR) — is likely to follow with a 5 basis point cut next Wednesday.
Last week, the central bank cut the interest rate on MLF loans for the first time since February 2016, but only by a marginal 5 basis points. It also injected 400 billion yuan into financial institutions via the liquidity tool.
The volume-weighted average rate of the benchmark seven-day repo traded in the interbank market —considered the best indicator of general liquidity in China — jumped to a high of 3.4% on Thursday. That was the highest level since Sept 30, a day before a week-long National Day holiday.
The seven-day repo rate fell to 2.7481% as of 0330 GMT on Friday morning.
The PBOC said the MLF loans and funds released from the second phase of a targeted RRR cut offset factors, including the tax payment period, to keep the banking system liquidity “reasonably ample”.
Friday is the effective date for the second phase of a targeted reduction in commercial banks’ official reserves that was announced by the PBOC in September.
The central bank usually conducts MLF operations when there is a maturity coming due, but there are no such loans or reverse repos maturing on Friday.
Ride-hailing firm Grab can go public once it’s profitable: CEO
A pedestrian walks past a signage for Grab in Singapore on April 26, 2018.
Paul Miller | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Southeast Asia’s ride-hailing company Grab could go public when its entire business is profitable, its CEO said on Thursday, adding that more markets could move out of the red in the next 12 months.
“Once we’re profitable, then we can clearly go to public when we want to,” Grab’s co-founder and chief executive officer, Anthony Tan, told CNBC’s Deirdre Bosa.
On the company’s overall profitability, Tan said that Grab’s operations in some markets are already making money this year.
“We continue to see more markets getting … more profitable in many other cities, across the next 12 months,” he added. The Singapore-based Grab operates in eight Southeast Asian countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand.
Grab was valued at $14 billion in March this year. Last year, it bought out the Southeast Asia business of its major competitor, Uber. The U.S. tech giant holds a 23.2% stake, or 409 million shares, in Grab as of December 31, 2018.
Uber’s IPO prospectus, released earlier this year, shed some light on Grab’s road to potentially going public.
If Grab doesn’t go public by March 25, 2023, Uber has the option to exercise a redemption right to “put all or a portion of its investment back to Grab any time after the redemption date … for cash,” according to the prospectus. That means Grab may end up paying north of $2.2 billion if Uber exercises that option.
A redemption right lets investors make the company repurchase their shares after a certain period of time.
For its part, Grab has raised more than $9 billion, according to data from Crunchbase. It also counts Japanese conglomerate SoftBank and Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing as investors.
Grab’s path to profitability could start with its food delivery service, a senior executive told CNBC in September, adding that its growing food delivery business could drive profitability in the long run.
In November, Singapore banned e-scooters on footpaths in Singapore. E-scooters are used by more than one in three GrabFood riders who deliver orders, and it is still unclear what impact the ban will have on Grab.
For now, the firm will focus on delivering customer value and sustainability before considering an initial public offering, Tan said. They’ll be doing that by working with governments and running social impact programs, like Grab For Good, to invest for the long term.
When asked whether the company was “ready” to tap public markets, Tan remained vague.
“It’s always one of the options, but we will have to keep working with our (strategic partners),” he said.
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