Favored WeChat App Triggers Sina Decline: China Overnight

Sina Corp. (SINA) and Sohu.com Inc. (SOHU) led declines in Chinese equities traded in New York as data showed some users opted for instant messaging applications over Twitter-like microblogs.

The Bloomberg China-US Index of the most-traded Chinese stocks in the U.S. slid 0.2 percent to 102.93 yesterday, falling for a third day this week. Sina, the biggest Twitter-like service provider in China, sank 4.8 percent and Sohu slumped for a second day. LDK Solar Co., the second-biggest maker of solar wafers, slid to an eight-month low. Online retailer Vipshop Holdings Ltd. (VIPS) surged to a record $103.81, while LightInTheBox Holding Co. jumped to the highest level in two months.

The number of users of Sina’s Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, dropped for the first time since 2010, the China Internet Network Information Center said yesterday in a report. The service is facing increased competition, with 37.4 percent of Weibo’s users moving to Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat instant-messaging app last year, it said.

“Weibo has passed its peak in popularity and its growth is being impacted,” Erik Lam, director of Asian equity sales at Auerbach Grayson & Co. in New York, said by e-mail yesterday. “Weibo and WeChat have quite different functions, but if I were to bet on the success of one over the other, WeChat definitely.”

The iShares China Large-Cap ETF, the largest Chinese exchange-traded fund in the U.S., dropped 0.9 percent to $35.86 in New York, extending a decline this week. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slipped 0.1 percent as Best Buy Co. tumbled and earnings at companies from Citigroup Inc. to CSX Corp. disappointed investors.

Sina, Sohu

Sina sank to $80.58, dropping the most in three months. Sohu, a Beijing-based Internet company whose business range from online news portal, games to microblog service, slid 0.4 percent to $75.57 in its second day of declines.

Weibo’s daily active users totaled 60.2 million from June to September, executives said on a conference call in November. Tencent’s QQ instant-messaging service had 818 million monthly active users at the end of June, and WeChat had 236 million, almost twice the population of Japan.

Part of the decline in Weibo users is due to government policy, said Auerbach Grayson’s Lam. The Chinese government strengthened punishments in September for online defamation as it stepped up a campaign to rein in a forum that has challenged the country’s censorship regime.

LDK, the second-biggest maker of solar wafers, based in Xinyu, China, slumped 5.5 percent to $1.20, the lowest level since May. Trina Solar Ltd., based in Changzhou, slipped 1.9 percent to $16.30, retreating for the first time in three days.

Solar Panels

Polysilicon, the key raw material for making solar panels, rose for a sixth week to the highest since August 2012, data compiled by Bloomberg showed, while solar module prices fell the most in seven weeks.

China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd., the country’s second-biggest wireless carrier, fell 3.1 percent to a six-month low of $13.54.

China Mobile Ltd., the world’s largest operator with 763 million users, will start selling Apple Inc.’s iPhone today, according to an agreement between the companies announced last month. Pre-orders had reached 1 million units, Hong Kong-based China Mobile said in an e-mailed statement Jan. 15.

Vipshop, a Guangzhou-based online fashion retailer, jumped 7.6 percent to $103.81, the highest level since its debut trading in the U.S. in March 2012. It’s also the first time for its price to rise above $100. The stock has gained 24 percent this year after surging 369 percent in 2013.

New Buy

UBS AG gave it a new buy recommendation earlier this week with a 12-month share-price estimate of $110, and Deutsche Bank AG reiterated a buy rating.

LightInTheBox, the Beijing-based online retailer selling lifestyle goods to the U.S. and European markets, surged 6.7 percent to $10.62.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (HSCEI) in Hong Kong, declined 0.1 percent to 10,187.52, while the Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) was little changed at 2,023.70.

To contact the reporter on this story: Belinda Cao in New York at lcao4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tal Barak Harif at tbarak@bloomberg.net

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