Business

Here's why investors are looking at Macao this week

Posted December 18, 2019 9:54 p.m. EST

— Macao gaming stocks rose in Hong Kong on Thursday after China's central bank raised the amount of money that Macao residents can move into their mainland bank accounts.

The People's Bank of China announced late Wednesday that it would raise the daily yuan transfer limit from Macao to mainland China by 60%, which it said could "facilitate trade" between the semi-autonomous territory and the rest of China.

The decision could also make it easier for gamblers in Asia's casino capital — the only place in China where casinos are legal — to move money between accounts. Macao's gaming industry contributed to 50% of the territory's GDP in 2018, according to government statistics.

Wynn Macau advanced 1.4%. Melco International development rose 0.5%. Galaxy Entertainment gained 0.1%.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is also in Macao this week to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the city's handover from Portugal to China, and investors may be watching to see whether he unveils any new economic policies affecting the territory.

Like Hong Kong, Macao is a special administrative region of China that adheres to "one country, two systems," a rule that affords the territory political and legal freedoms that are not available on the Chinese mainland. Unlike Hong Kong, though, Macao has not been engulfed in a months-long political crisis.

Xi on Wednesday praised Macao for "seriously" carrying out the "one country, two systems" rule.

More broadly, stocks across Asia were lower Thursday. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index edged down 0.5% in early trading. The Chinese tech company Lenovo Group, which is not a Hang Seng component, tumbled more than 2% after its founder Liu Chuanzhi said he would retire as chairman of the parent company, Legend Holdings, at the end of the year.

Japan's Nikkei 225 dropped 0.3%. South Korea's Kospi and China's Shanghai Composite traded down 0.1%.

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