Ambow Slumps as Data Clouds Economy View: China Overnight

Chinese equities fell in New York for the first time in four days, led by consumer stocks, as data showing a leading index rose less last month than in November undermined optimism over the economic recovery.

The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index of the most-traded Chinese shares in the U.S. retreated from a one-week high to drop 0.5 percent to 101.24 yesterday. Ambow Education Holding Ltd. sank to a record low, while hotel chain China Lodging Group Ltd. slid 2.5 percent. Oil refiner China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. traded at the first discount in two weeks to its Hong Kong stock, while Bona Film Group Ltd. lost the most in a month. E-House China Holdings Ltd. jumped for a second day.

The China-US measure followed the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index lower after the New York-based Conference Board’s leading gauge for China’s economy rose 0.4 percent in December, from a 1.1 percent climb the previous month. A reading of 10-day volatility on the index of Chinese stocks listed in New York fell to 13.9, the lowest level this year.

“In terms of China, flows are still very neutral for November and December, so I wouldn’t say investors are all in,” Audrey Kaplan, lead manager of the $605 million Federated InterContinental Fund at Federated Global Investment Management Corp., said by phone in New York yesterday. “Maybe investors are waiting on more signs of economic growth.”

ETF Retreats

The iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund, the largest Chinese exchange-traded fund in the U.S., dropped 0.5 percent to $41.53, after rising the previous three days. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbed 0.1 percent to a five-year high of 1,494.81, as the House voted to temporarily suspend the federal borrowing limit amid better-than-forecast earnings.

The Hang Seng China Enterprises measure declined 0.2 percent to 12,166.70, falling from the highest level since August 2011. The Shanghai Composite Index of domestic Chinese shares added 0.2 percent to 2,320.91.

“A decline in real estate activity, a drop in new export orders, and weak consumer confidence accounted for the slowing, while credit extension and improved conditions in the manufacturing supply chain offered only little support,” Andrew Polk, an economist with the Conference Board in Beijing, said in a statement yesterday.

China Petroleum, Asia’s largest oil refiner, known as Sinopec, sank 1.3 percent to $118.71 in New York in its first drop in four days. Sinopec’s American depositary receipts traded

0.3 percent below its Hong Kong stock, the first discount since Jan. 8. Each ADR is equal to 100 underlying shares in the Beijing-based company.

Sinopec’s Output

Sinopec said its 2012 crude oil output rose 2 percent from a year earlier to 328.3 million barrels and oil processing increased 1.8 percent to 221.3 million tons, according to a statement to the Shanghai Stock Exchange yesterday. The growth in oil-processing volume slowed from 2.7 percent in 2011, while the increase in crude output quickened from 0.4 percent, according to the company’s history data.

The International Monetary Fund cut its global growth predictions yesterday while maintaining its forecast for China, seen growing 8.2 percent this year and 8.5 percent in 2014. China’s economic risks have shifted back to growing too quickly as new regional-government officials try to boost development, Fan Gang, a former China central bank adviser said in an interview yesterday in Davos, Switzerland.

Ctrip’s Results International Ltd., China’s biggest online travel agency, slumped for a second day, losing 1.3 percent to a two-week low of $23.59.

The Shanghai-based company will probably report on Jan. 31 that fourth-quarter net income fell 56 percent from a year earlier, following 40 percent decline in the third quarter, according to the average projection of seven analysts compiled by Bloomberg.

Ambow, a private education company based in Beijing, tumbled 3.9 percent to a record $1.98. Its ADRs have lost 12 percent this year after falling 68 percent in 2012.

Ambow reported in July a net loss for the three months through March of $12.7 million, compared with net income of $2 million a year earlier. The company hasn’t published financial results since. An e-mail on Jan. 22 to Dan Phillips, the chairman of Ambow’s audit committee, asking about the schedule of the company’s financial reports, wasn’t returned. Ambow’s Beijing-based media manager Mandy Li didn’t respond to e-mails requesting comment on the company’s earnings.

TAL Slides

TAL Education Group, a tutoring services provider which gave on Jan. 22 a slower-than-estimated sales forecast for the three months through February, sank 2.7 percent on its fourth losing day to $8.59, the lowest level since Dec. 6. Deutsche Bank AG yesterday cut its price estimate for TAL to $13.8 from $15.6, maintaining a buy rating on the shares.

China Lodging, the Shanghai-based operator of budget hotels, dropped 2.5 percent to a one-week low of $17.9, paring its gain this year to 5 percent. ADRs of Beijing-based Bona Film tumbled 5.7 percent, the steepest loss in a month, to $5.

E-House, a real estate brokerage based in Shanghai, advanced 4.1 percent to a four-month high of $5.33, rising the most among gainers on the China-US gauge. Trading volume on its ADRs was 1.8 times the daily average over the past three months, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The Bloomberg Chinese Reverse Mergers Index, which tracks a basket of companies that gained U.S. listings after buying firms that already trade, sank 1 percent to 79.18, retreating from the highest price in more than eight months.

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