Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, China's biggest e-commerce company, said fourth-quarter sales rose 39 percent after its core online shopping business grew, but profit fell for the first time as it spent on ventures like food delivery. Net income excluding extraordinary items, Alibaba's preferred measure for earnings, shrank 1.4 percent to 7.6 billion yuan from the previous year, as the company continued to invest heavily in new but shakier businesses. Its online finance affiliate Ant Financial Services Group, one of founder Jack Ma's crown jewels in his e-commerce empire, recorded a net loss in the quarter.
By Lisa Barrington BEIRUT (Reuters) - A new Lebanese movement is hoping to take control of Beirut's council in municipal elections this weekend, aiming to tap into discontent with a failing government in an effort to weaken the grip of long-dominant sectarian parties. Beirut Madinati, meaning 'Beirut is my city', hopes to attract voters angered by the decay of a capital once known as the Paris of the Middle East but overwhelmed in recent times by the stench of its garbage -- among other problems. Including academics, artists, a famous film director, and the head of a fishing union, Beirut Madinati faces an uphill struggle against an alliance including long-established Sunni, Shi'ite and Christian groups.