Macau Casinos Jump as Industry Posts Gains After Year-End Dip

Macau casino shares jumped in Hong Kong trading after gaming revenue in the world’s biggest gambling hub gained last week, which analysts took as a sign the industry may be out of its free-fall of late last year.

The industry’s gross gaming revenue for table games rose 6 percent for the week ending Jan. 25 from a week earlier, which “could further indicate stabilization” after President Xi Jinping’s Macau visit last month, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts led by Billy Ng wrote in a note. The measure still fell 7 percent compared with a year ago.

Xi’s visit coincided with government efforts that included plans to crackdown on illicit funds funneled through Macau amid his anti-graft campaign, leading to seven straight months of declines that peaked at a 30 percent plunge in December. Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen upgraded the sector to a buy rating yesterday, writing that evidence is mounting “that we’ve finally reached the bottom,” and Macau gaming names “are poised for a rally”.

Shares of Wynn Macau Ltd. jumped 8.4 percent as at 3:21 p.m. local time, the biggest intraday gain since last April. MGM China Holdings Ltd. rose 6.2 percent, Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. gained 6.3 percent, Melco Crown Entertainment Ltd. was up

5.5 percent, and Sands China Ltd. increased 3 percent. The benchmark Hang Seng index fell 0.5 percent.

The Bloomberg Intelligence Macau (China) Gaming Market Index slumped almost 40 percent last year, amid policies that include restrictions on the use of UnionPay’s debit cards at casinos, making it harder for bettors to buy expensive items that they exchange for cash to gamble with. The index closed 1.8 percent higher yesterday, and gained a further 5.8 percent today.