Thai growth up, but below junta's target
BANGKOK • Thailand's economy grew by 3.2 per cent last year - a slight increase from the previous year's figure of 2.9 per cent, but below the junta's target of 3.7 per cent - as the generals struggle to revive what was once one of the region's strongest economies.
Fourth-quarter annualised growth was 3 per cent, the slowest quarterly growth rate in a year. The period coincided with the October death of the widely revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Much of the growth in Thailand now comes from tourism and state spending on large projects, many of which have been delayed during the political chaos of recent years.
Alibaba, Bailian form retail partnership
BEIJING • China's Alibaba Group Holding said it had formed a strategic partnership with Bailian Group - the largest retailer by store numbers - to join the e-commerce giant's drive to use big data to improve and profit from brick-and-mortar sales.
The deal, which does not include any financial investment in Bailian, is the latest in Alibaba's still-nascent efforts to capture a bigger share of the retail market as online sales growth slows. It has spent US$4.6 billion (S$6.5 billion) on a minority stake in appliances retailer Suning Commerce Group, and is leading a US$2.6 billion bid to take department store and shopping mall operator Intime Retail Group private.
Alibaba has also bought a stake in grocery chain Sanjiang Shopping Club.
News of the agreement sent shares in Bailian Group firms surging.