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Alibaba Passes Through the Storm Into the Slog

Alibaba life remains tough. It has survived the brunt of Beijing’s regulatory fury—but now needs to learn to live with a weaker Chinese economy, which is likely to persist. And while new regulatory fusillades from Beijing may be slower to appear, a less permissive political environment in China looks permanent.

The Chinese e-commerce giant’s overall revenue dropped slightly, or 0.09%, from a year earlier while operating profit fell 19%. That is the first-ever revenue decline for the company since it was listed in New York in 2014. Even so it was better than the average estimate on S&P Global Market Intelligence—showing just how pessimistic analysts have become on the Chinese e-commerce sector.