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China: Yuan Hits High Against Greenback; Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) Maps Better Than Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) in the Mainland


Meanwhile, foreign banks reported strong profits in China for 2011.

Citigroup's (NYSE:C) China division, for example, saw net profits rise 45% to 1.26 billion yuan ($200 million), following a 19% increase in 2010. Citigroup's China CEO Andrew Au told the Wall Street Journal that he expects his company to continue posting solid results as it further expands in China.

HSBC (NYSE:HBC) also saw its Chinese arm log net profit of 3.42 billion yuan, an increase of nearly 400% from 2010. JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM), which does not have a retail unit in China, also quadrupled net income to 297 million yuan, compared to a 49% plunge a year ago, while Standard Chartered (PINK:SCBFF) grew profit over 50% to 883 million yuan.

It will be tough for these banks to maintain and or even surpass their outstanding 2011 performances, however, due to increased competition from local banks and a slowdown in China's economy.

Chinese billionaires: In China, the rich are getting poorer, a new study by the Shanghai-based luxury-publishing and events group Hurun Report finds, thanks to a year of poor performance in Chinese stock markets. There were only 251 billionaires (measured in USD) in China this year, down 20 from a year ago.

Leading the pack is 67 year-old Zong Qinghou, head of the Hangzhou Wahaha beverage group, with a personal fortune of $12.6 billion, followed by Dalian Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin, with $10.3 billion. Robin Li, chairman and CEO of Chinese search giant Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), is third with $8 billion.

Twitter: @sterlingwong

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