Singer Taylor Swift performs on the stage during the gala of 2019 Alibaba 11.11 Global Shopping Festival at Mercedes-Benz Arena on November 10, 2019 in Shanghai, China. ( Image copyright Getty Images

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba delivered strong early sales as its annual Singles’ Day shopping frenzy kicked off.

The world’s biggest online shopping event raked in 100bn yuan ($14bn; £11bn) in sales in just over an hour of trading.

A gala featuring pop star Taylor Swift launched the 24-hour shopping blitz.

It marked Alibaba’s first Singles’ Day since the exit of its colourful founder Jack Ma.

He was replaced as executive chairman by Daniel Zhang earlier this year, after Mr Ma stepped down to focus on philanthropy and education.

Alibaba said sales reached $1bn in a little over one minute of trading on Singles’ Day.

The total value of merchandise sold hit the 100bn-yuan mark around 40 minutes faster than last year, the firm said.

That put Alibaba on track to post a fresh sales record for the shopping event, beating last year’s $30.8bn.

“Based upon that first hour… I would be really surprised to not see it come in above $32bn,” said Daniel Newman, technology analyst at Futurum Research.

What is Singles’ Day?

Alibaba invented the occasion to celebrate the unattached as an antithesis to the romantically involved on Valentine’s Day.

It is now the world’s biggest online sales event and last year’s total sales exceeded Black Friday and Cyber Monday’s sales combined.

Ahead of the event, there was some concern Chinese consumers may be reluctant to buy American brands due to tensions between the countries.

The world’s two largest economies have been fighting a trade war that has seen both sides impose tariffs on billions of dollars worth of one another’s goods.

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Media captionAlibaba Singles’ Day: Dollars or data?

The trade battle has cast a shadow over the Chinese economy as it grapples with a wider slowdown.

Singles’ Day is seen as an indicator of consumer sentiment in China and how willing shoppers are to spend.

Alibaba listing?

Over the years, Alibaba has grown from an online marketplace into an e-commerce giant with interests ranging from financial services to artificial intelligence.

The company – one of China’s largest – is now valued at $480bn, according to Forbes. The firm is also eyeing a stock market listing in Hong Kong.

Reports suggest Alibaba – which is already listed in the US – may announce plans to proceed with a multi-billion dollar Hong Kong listing as early as this week.

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