Dott. Giulio Perrotta
Dott. Giulio Perrotta

   dal 2 Maggio 2012 ...

 

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LA "RASSEGNA STAMPA QUOTIDIANA INTERNAZIONALE" (II PARTE)

Tutte le notizie dal "The Sun Daily" (Regno Unito)

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Business

Suggestion on house price control sparks debate (Thu, 25 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: There should be a price control mechanism for residential properties to avoid the escalation of prices, suggested National House Buyers Association vice-president Brig Gen (R) Datuk Goh Seng Toh. “We believe price control is feasible. We control the prices of sugar, cooking oil, petrol and a whole host of other things but yet we allow a laissez-faire situation to persist in the housing arena,” he told reporters after a panel discussion on “Housing in Malaysia: Policy Discourse” organised by Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) here today. Goh emphasised that a roof over one’s head is more important than sugar and cooking oil, for example, where consumption of these items can be cut, and yet the country has allowed property developers to call the shots in setting house prices and let prices go up to dizzying heights. “We’re practising certain limit and price control when we dictate the prices of affordable houses and low-cost houses so it’s a matter of extending that. Drastic measures need to be done before we end up with a homeless society,” he added. According to KRI’s latest report “Rethinking Housing: Between State, Market and Society” launched today, housing affordability worsened significantly between 2012 and 2014 as supply did not cater to demand. During this period, the median multiple affordability increased from 4.0 to 5.1, while the median house price increased at a compound annual growth rate of 23.5% from RM175,000 to RM280,000. Based on the median multiple affordability, Malaysia’s housing market is categorised as “seriously unaffordable” and “severely unaffordable”, exceeding the 3.0 threshold for housing affordability. The report also cited data which indicate that house prices in Malaysia have almost doubled since 2008 while construction costs have only increased slightly in the same period. Due to the lack of housing development cost data, the difference between normal profits and excess profits cannot be determined. The relationship between speculation, land price and house price also cannot be empirically tested without land data. National Housing Department director-general Jayaselan K. Navaratnam said its ministry has never planned to implement price control of house prices as it is an open market where there is fair trade. Any move to launch price control will also impact the economy and deter investments, he added. However, he clarified that all states are already doing their own “price control”. “It’s not to bring down the price but to manage the price,” Jayaselan said, citing Malacca, which sets a suitable price for houses. KRI chairman Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi disagreed with the idea of price control, saying the setting of a ceiling price will also bring about a floor price, resulting in developers not offering anything below the floor price. Instead of price control, KRI director of research Dr Suraya Ismail pointed to the need for regulations to deter abuse of market and the monopoly of high house prices dictated by some developers, adding that regulations must create a competitive market.
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D-G: New laws covering property sector in the works (Thu, 25 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: The Housing and Local Government is working on developing four Acts related to the property sector which it hopes to table in two years, The Acts are for residential tenancy, commercial building, wakaf land and a review of the Housing Development Act 1966. National Housing Department director-general Jayaselan K. Navaratnam (pix) said for commercial building purchases, the sale and purchase agreements are not controlled and different developments will have different terms and guidelines. “We want to standardise it so that the rights of the purchasers are guaranteed,” he told reporters after a panel discussion on “Housing in Malaysia: Policy Discourse” organised by Khazanah Research Institute here today. Jayaselan said the ministry is reviewing the Housing Development Act 1966, in areas like the compound, buyer’s rights, extension of time and self-regulation with less government interference. “Foreign countries are already doing it. We give them (purchaser and developer) controlled freedom. We’re looking at this, whether it is suitable and is it timely for this country to self regulate,” said Jayaselan. Earlier, the government said it will take two years to conduct studies and develop the proposed Residential Tenancy Act, which will cover all landlords, tenants and tenancy agreements nationwide. At present, there is no Act to govern the residential rental market and there is no tribunal for tenancy disputes. The proposed Act will be modelled after the residential tenancies Acts of Victoria and New South Wales in Australia. Research is being conducted to assess the suitability of adopting these benchmarks in Malaysia. It will also help to determine the affordable rental rates based on location and income of the people living in the area.
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Caring Pharmacy posts higher Q3 earnings (Thu, 25 Apr 2019)
PETALING JAYA: Caring Pharmacy Group Bhd recorded a net profit of RM5.67 million for its third quarter (Q3) ended Feb 28, 2019, a 9.9% increase from RM5.16 million registered in the corresponding quarter of the preceding year. The growth was due to the sales generated from the establishment of nine new outlets since March 1, 2018 until Feb 28, 2019, and also higher sales from existing outlets. The pharmacy chain recorded a higher revenue of RM143.36 million in Q3 against RM130.48 million in the same quarter a year ago. For the nine-month period, its net profit grew 22.1% to RM15.5 million from RM12.69 million on the back of a 12.2% rise in revenue to RM425.61 million from RM379.18 million. Looking ahead, it expects the operating environment to remain competitive. “Nevertheless, with the group’s continuous effort in improving the marketing strategies, coupled with more outlets to be opened in fourth quarter of FY2019, the board of directors believes that the group will continue to achieve higher sales in the next quarter.” As of Feb 28, Caring Pharmacy has a total of 121 community pharmacies.
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Takaful Malaysia first-quarter net profit jumps 38% (Thu, 25 Apr 2019)
PETALING JAYA: Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Bhd registered a net profit of RM96.4 million for the first quarter (Q1) ended March 31, 2019, a 37.8% jump from RM70 million in the same period last year. The group attributed the improvement in profit to a higher Wakalah fee income arising from business growth in the family takaful. Revenue for the quarter under review stood at RM918.2 million, 23% higher than the RM746.2 million registered in the same quarter a year ago. Takaful Malaysia’s family takaful business generated a gross contribution of RM502.9 million in Q1’2019, a 55% jump from RM324 million in Q1’2018, underpinned by higher sales from credit related products. Meanwhile, its general takaful business delivered a gross contribution of RM204.2 million in Q1’2019, an increase of 12% compared with RM182.4 million in Q1’2018. The growth was attributed primarily to its fire class. Despite business sentiments remaining cautious in 2019, Takaful Malaysia expects the takaful industry to outperform the conventional insurers in view of the strong demand in the takaful products. “Takaful Malaysia is poised to further expand its market share in 2019. To sustain its market leading position, the company will continue with its innovative strategies via the implementation of its digital strategy, introduction of online solutions, expansion of its distribution capabilities, strategic partnerships with leading Islamic banks and Brand awareness initiatives.” To support business growth and customer centricity, the group will continue its digital strategy to build the full digital ecosystem and to expand the business focus beyond credit-related business to reach out to the wide retail customer base of major partner banks.
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Petronas Dagangan boosts capex to RM500m for 2019 (Thu, 25 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: Petronas Dagangan Bhd (PDB) has set aside a higher capital expenditure (capex) of RM500 million for this year and is leveraging on the ride-hailing trend to boost sales. The domestic marketing arm of Petroliam Nasional Bhd, which allocated RM300 million for capex last year, will, however, continue to spend a large portion of the fund to open more petrol stations and refurbish its existing stations as well as Mesra convenience stores. PDB chairman Datuk Md Arif Mahmood said the company would continue to strengthen its position and planned to add about 10 new petrol stations to the existing network of 1,057 stations nationwide. Last year, PDB opened 12 petrol stations. “On ride-hailing, we have been incentivising Grab Malaysia drivers to fill up at our stations so we will capitalise on ride-hailing services to increase sales,” he told a press conference after the company’s annual general meeting yesterday. According to PDB’s 2018 annual report, the higher penetration of ride-hailing users and the increasing number of energy efficient vehicles (EEVs) and hybrid vehicles sold in Malaysia have impacted fuel retailers. Md Ariff explained that the company would move along with the trend rather than go against it. “In fact, we are considering our petrol stations to be pickup places for ride-hailing,” he added. Meanwhile, responding to a question on how the potential removal of RON95 petrol’s price cap would affect the company, he said that impact would only be visible after it came into effect. “Everyone is aware that we are using a managed float system. It is based on the product price in the market and now crude oil is traded above US$70 (RM289.10) per barrel and we need to see what’s the direction of the price. “On how it would affect the (consumption) volume, it would be based on disposable income and we need to see the new policy before we can assess the impact,” he said. Earlier this week, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the cap on the RON95 price, currently at RM2.08, might be removed when a new petrol subsidy for Bantuan Sara Hidup recipients came into effect. An online news portal reported yesterday that the Petrol Dealers Association of Malaysia wanted the government to maintain the price cap. – Bernama
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Ringgit down at the close (Thu, 25 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit fell against the US dollar at Thursday’s close, nearing the bottom of the weekly range after the country’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) nudged into positive territory, as traders mildly pared back dovish bets on Bank Negara, dealers said. On Wednesday, the Department of Statistics released its data for March 2019, which saw inflation rate, as measured by the CPI, increase by 0.2% to 121.1 from 120.9 a year earlier. At 6pm, the ringgit stood at 4.1340/1380 versus the greenback from 4.1250/1300 recorded at Wednesday’s close. SPI Asset Management managing partner and head of trading, Stephen Innes, said the trading of the local note was less sensitive to surging oil prices as markets were focusing on the costs from higher subsidies possibly exceeding the benefits from more significant energy revenues. He noted two points in the 2019 Budget: oil was bullishly factored in at US$70 per barrel and fuel subsidy was budgeted in at RM2 billion. “With oil prices surging, without a massive overhaul to the subsidy programme, the current levels of subsidies could put a severe dent in the government coffers projections. And frankly, higher oil prices may only delay the inevitable evaporation of Malaysia’s current account surplus. Definitely a negative for the ringgit,“ Innes said. Meanwhile, the ringgit was traded mostly higher against other major currencies. It rose against the Singapore dollar to 3.0288/0328 from 3.0351/0392 on Wednesday and appreciated versus the British pound to 5.3200/3268 from 5.3365/3446. The local currency weakened vis-a-vis the yen to 3.6940/6986 from 3.6870/6921 but improved against the euro to 4.6020/6077 from 4.6254/6326. — Bernama
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Bursa Malaysia closes lower on mild profit-taking (Thu, 25 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia ended lower today on mild profit-taking led by Hartalega and in line with most regional peers, dealers said. At the close, the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) shed 0.14% or 2.33 points to 1,635.68 from Wednesday’s close of 1,638.01. The benchmark index opened 0.67 of-a-point easier at 1,637.34 and moved between 1,632.51 and 1,640.13 throughout the trading session. Market breadth was negative as losers led gainers 462 to 408, while 441 counters were unchanged, 593 untraded and 28 others suspended. Volume narrowed to 3.77 billion units valued at RM2.53 billion against Wednesday’s 4.38 billion units worth RM2.84 billion. Hartalega which lifted the FBM KLCI yesterday fell 1.94% or 10 sen to RM5.05, with 5.93 million shares changing hands. A dealer said investors sentiment turned sour on renewed fears over slowing global economic growth. However, the improved oil prices offset some of the negative sentiment, providing some support for oil and gas counters such as Petronas Chemicals, which added two sen to RM9.05, and Petronas Dagangan improved four sen to RM24.20. The benchmark Brent crude rose 0.87% to US$78.48 as at press time. As for other heavyweights, Maybank fell one sen to RM9.13, Public Bank slipped four sen to RM22.60, Tenaga decreased 18 sen to RM12.16 and CIMB reduced six sen RM5.19. Most active counters, Bumi Armada dipped 2.5 sen to 24.5 sen, Ekovest added one sen to 94.5 sen and KNM rose two sen to 19.5 sen. The FBM Emas Index was 10.62 points lower at 11,654.49, the FBMT 100 decreased 12.97 points to 11,462.55 and the FBM 70 shed 3.22 points to 14,816.58. The FBM Emas Syariah Index was 7.89 points weaker at 11,869.95 but the FBM Ace Index added 27.27 points to 4,816.58. Sector-wise, the Financial Services Index went down 34.85 points to 16,848.82, the Plantation Index eased 0.53 of-a-point to 7,264.83 but the Industrial Products and Services Index improved 0.19 of-a-point to 171.61. Main Market volume contracted to 2.93 million shares worth RM2.37 billion against 3.50 million shares valued at RM2.68 billion on Wednesday. Warrants turnover reduced to 395.74 million units valued at RM76.81 million from 459.17 million units valued at RM81.02 million. Volume on the ACE Market however advanced to 437.05 million shares valued at RM82.68 million versus 419.85 million shares valued at RM78.06 million yesterday. Consumer products and services accounted for 273.48 million shares traded on the Main Market, industrial products and services (282.14 million), construction (678.46 million), technology (147.63 million), SPAC (nil), financial services (52.33 million), property (228.71 million), plantation (65.11 million), REITs (5.91 million), closed/fund (7,600), energy (1.02 billion), healthcare (62.45 million), telecommunications and media (75.29 million), transportation and logistics (18.30 million) and utilities (21.89 million). The physical price of gold as at 5pm stood at RM164.21 per gramme, up 74 sen from RM163.47 at 5pm yesterday. — Bernama
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Leong Hup to raise RM275m from relisting on Bursa Malaysia (Thu, 25 Apr 2019)
PETALING JAYA: Leong Hup International Bhd is targeting to raise RM275 million from its relisting on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia. The poultry player was delisted in April 2012. According to Leong Hup’s prospectus, its initial public offering (IPO) entails an issuance of up to 937.5 million shares comprising an offer for sale of up to 687.5 million existing shares and a public issue of 250 million new shares. There will be institutional offering of up to 839.5 million shares to Malaysian and foreign institutional and selected investors, including Bumiputera investors; as well as retail offering of 98 million shares to the company directors, eligible employees and the Malaysian public at the retail price of RM1.10 per share. Through its public issue, the group aims to raise total gross proceeds of RM275 million, of which about 75.5% of proceeds (equivalent to about RM207.7 million) will be utilised for capital expenditure and 12% for working capital. It has secured 10 cornerstone investors for its IPO, including AIA Bhd, Employee Provident Fund Board (EPF), Maybank Asset Management Sdn Bhd, RHB Asset Management Sdn Bhd, Hong Leong Capital Bhd and agricultural goods processor and merchant Louis Dreyfus Company Asia Pte Ltd. Other cornerstone investors include Tan Sri Chua Ma Yu and GuoLine (Singapore) Pte Ltd. Leong Hup is slated for listing on May 16. Established in 1978, it is involved in the production of poultry, egg and livestock feed across the entire poultry value chain in Southeast Asia such as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. In 2017, it was the largest integrated poultry producer in Malaysia and one of the top three integrated poultry producers in Indonesia and Vietnam, with a total production of 495.6 million day-old-chicks, 1.7 billion eggs and almost 2 million tonnes of feed. The group’s net profit rose 10.5% to RM219.8 million for the financial period ended October 31, 2018 from RM198.9 million in the same period a year ago. Its revenue also grew 2.2% to RM4.7 billion from RM4.6 billion.
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Nestle allocates RM220m capex for 2019, highest in past five years (Thu, 25 Apr 2019)
PETALING JAYA: Nestle Malaysia Bhd has set aside RM220 million in capital expenditure (capex) for 2019, the highest in the past five years. “Some RM100 million of the capex will go to our Chembong factory to establish the world’s largest milo manufacturing centre,” said its CEO Juan Aranols (pix) at a media briefing after its AGM yesterday. The additional capacity from the upgrade of the Chembong plant is expected to come in September this year, but will see partial capacity starting from July. Last October, Nestle announced plans to move all existing Milo manufacturing assets in the Petaling Jaya factory to the Chembong factory in Negri Sembilan. The remaining RM120 million capex will be utilised to increase the capacity of six other factories. Nestle spent RM147 million of capex in 2018. With regard to the upcoming sugar tax due in July, Aranols said while he could not disclose the exact number of affected products the impact is expected to be immaterial. Moving forward, Nestle expects product innovation to contribute 15% to its sales within the next two to four years. “This is more of an aspirational target, looking at the quality of the project and ideas at Nestle, I think we can accelerate the speed and contribution of our innovation. This would happen gradually in the horizon of two to four years,” Aranols explained. Nestle found a hit last year with Maggi Pedas Giler 2x, which has seen its market share surge to 40.1% of the instant noodle bowl category from 3.7% in March 2018. For 2019, the group expects the growth momentum recorded in the first quarter to be maintained throughout the year. Its first-quarter net profit rose 1.7% to RM235.22 million from RM231.22 million a year ago. However, it is expecting some headwinds this year from the commodity market. “Obviously, we look at various strategy to manage any external volatility, at Nestle we have a very good hedging policy in place. In fact, we’re proactive on this as we have anticipated the possibility of raw material prices movement so we’re already quite forward thinking in our plans to accommodate any impact,” said Nestle CFO, Craig Connolly, adding that the group will also drive internal savings to manage external impact.
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Malaysia’s economy to expand in June-Aug period despite slower growth (Thu, 25 Apr 2019)
PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian economy is expected to keep growing in June to August 2019 albeit at a slower pace, according to the Malaysian Economic Indicators: Leading, Coincident & Lagging Indices for the reference month of February 2019. “The monthly growth rate of Leading Index (LI) decreased 2.2% to 116.3 points in February 2019 against 118.9 points in January 2019,” said the Department of Statistics. Two components that posted the highest percentage decrease were real imports of semi conductors (-0.9%) and number of housing units approved (-0.6%). The LI also showed a slower momentum of year-on-year change in February 2019. The LI is able to point out the direction of economy for an average of four to six months ahead. The Coincident Index (CI), which indicates the current economic performance, decreased 0.9% in the reference month. Capacity utilisation in manufacturing sector (-0.7%) was the component that led to the significant decrease. However, the annual change of CI rose 2.9% in February 2019.
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Govt urged to set up price control mechanism for property market (Thu, 25 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: There should be a price control mechanism for residential properties to avoid the escalation of prices, suggested National House Buyers Association vice president Brig Gen (R) Datuk Goh Seng Toh (pix). “We’re practising certain limit and price control when we dictate the prices of affordable houses and low cost houses so it’s a matter of extending that,“ he said during a panel discussion on “Housing in Malaysia: Policy Discourse” by Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) here today. He said the country is stringent on controlling the prices of cooking oil and sugar, for example, but yet in the housing arena, it has allowed property developers to call the shots in setting house prices. According to KRI’s latest publication “Rethinking Housing: Between State, Market and Society”, housing affordability worsened significantly between 2012 and 2014 as the housing supply does not cater to demand.
>> Continua a leggere

Bursa Malaysia opens almost flat (Thu, 25 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia opened almost flat today in tracking the lower overnight performance of Wall Street as investors took profits, while digesting a mixed bag of corporate updates from big-name US stocks, dealers said. At 9.10am, the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) was 0.20 of-a-point lower at 1,637.81, from Wednesday’s close of 1,637.81. The benchmark index opened 0.67 of-a-point easier at 1,637.34. On the broader market, gainers led losers 160 to 105, while 215 counters were unchanged, 1,424 untraded and 27 others suspended. Turnover stood at 262.59 million shares worth RM114.05 million. Public Investment Bank Bhd in a research note said the shares of energy and communication services in the US left the market lower on Wednesday, while the benchmark indices fell 0.2% overall. It said the S&P 500 took a breather a day after setting a fresh closing high, lifted by solid earnings and a non-aggresive tone from global central banks. While the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite, which also closed at a record on Tuesday, broke above its previous intraday peak during the overnight session, but ultimately finished 0.2% lower. Kenanga Research said, meanwhile, Bursa which retained its bearish outlook for the FBM KLCI for now, is seeing mild improvements in momentum indicators. “Should a rebound happen, we look towards 1,660 and 1,700 as resistance levels. Conversely, downside supports can be found at 1,615 and 1,600,” it said in a note today. Among heavyweights, Maybank recovered two sen sen to RM9.16, while Public Bank and Petronas Chemicals were each flat at RM22.64 and RM9.03 respectively. Tenaga eased two sen to RM12.32 and CIMB bagged two sen to RM5.27. For the most active counters, Bumi Armada dropped one sen to 26 sen, Ekovest gained one sen to 94.5 sen and VSolar was flat at 17.5 sen. For the top gainers, United Plantation ticked up 44 sen to RM27.00, Lafarge increased 15 sen to RM3.16 and Takaful rose 14 sen to RM5.67. For top losers, YNH Property fell seven to RM1.56, while Carlsberg and UMW shed six sen each to RM24.64 and RM5.52. The FBM Emas Index ticked up 3.85 points to 11,668.97, the FBMT 100 Index was 2.76 points better at 11,478.28 and the FBM Emas Syariah Index perked 1.24 points to 11,879.08. The FBM 70 improved 20.09 points to 14,752.86, but the FBM Ace was easier by 11.73 points to 4,777.58. Sector-wise, the Financial Services Index rose 23.80 points to 16,907.48, but the Plantation Index was 6.57 points lower at 7,258.79 and the Industrial Products & Services Index was 0.18 of-a-point firmer at 171.60. The physical price of gold as at 9.30am stood at RM163.86 per gramme, up 39 sen from RM163.47 at 5pm yesterday. — Bernama
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Ringgit weakens against US dollar in early session (Thu, 25 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit was lower against the US dollar in early trade today on weaker demand for the local note, following the release of favourable economic data in the United States. At 9.07am, the local unit traded at 4.1350/1380 against the greenback from 4.1250/1300 at the close yesterday. A dealer said investors shifted towards the greenback after the data on sales of new US single-family homes jumped to a near one and a half year high in March. “This data helped reduce worries of a slowdown in the United States’ economy, thus providing a boost for the US dollar,” he added. Meanwhile, the ringgit traded mixed against a basket of major currencies. It rose against the Singapore dollar to 3.0346/0380 from 3.0351/0392 and improved against the euro to 4.6114/6151 from 4.6254/6326 on Wednesday. The ringgit fell against the Japanese yen to 3.6874/6910 from 3.6870/6921 and depreciated against the British pound to 5.3366/3409 from 5.3365/3446. — Bernama
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Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 edges down at open with eyes on BoJ (Thu, 25 Apr 2019)
TOKYO: Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index opened lower on Thursday as investors awaited the results of the Bank of Japan’s two-day policy meeting to be announced during the day’s trade. The Nikkei 225 index was down 0.11% or 23.98 points at 22,176.02 in early trade, while the broader Topix index climbed just 0.01% or 0.15 points to 1,612.20. — Bernama
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Ringgit will stabilise after recent sell-off, says FXTM analyst (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit is expected to trade within the 4.10-4.15 range against the US dollar in the second quarter as the sell-off pressure eases, barring any major catalyst, according to FXTM market analyst Han Tan (pix). The ringgit weakened 0.06% to 4.1305 against the greenback today from 4.1280 on Tuesday. The recent selling pressure in the ringgit was triggered by news of the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund cutting its exposure in the emerging markets, including Malaysia. This was aggravated by the speculation that Malaysian bonds would be dropped from the FTSE World Government Bond Index. Tan said the market is currently focused more on external factors, letting external risk to dictate the performance of currencies and paying less attention to internal economic data. According to the International Monetary Fund’s Purchasing Power Parity metrics, the ringgit is undervalued by 65% to the greenback. Tan expects the Malaysian currency to remain supported by the country’s resilient economic fundamentals, whereby the projected gross domestic product growth of 4.3-4.8% this year is better than many other economies. “Malaysia’s export mix is very well diversified and with this very diversified nature, is not just limited to export, it has multiple legs to stand on.” To illustrate the influence of external factors, Tan pointed out that Malaysia has been able to buck the Asean trend in regard to exports, delivering a growth while the neighbouring countries are experiencing a contraction in the fourth quarter of 2018 up till February 2019. “In other words, the currency markets are primarily focused outwards and paying less attention to what is happening onshore,” he said. While oil prices have reached the US$70 (RM289) per barrel mark this month, the increase has yet to be reflected in the ringgit’s performance. However, Tan said as Malaysia’s budget is based on the assumption of crude oil at US$70 a barrel, stronger prices will contribute to the ringgit’s strength. “Barring any major catalyst, I expect oil prices to head towards US$80 per barrel within the first half,” he added.
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RHB to be ‘pragmatic’ in facing challenging investment banking scene overseas (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: RHB Bank Bhd sees a challenging investment banking business scenario overseas, which is lacking in scale compared with the business in Malaysia, and it will adopt a “pragmatic” approach to address the challenges. “That’s why we believe that, based on our FIT22 strategy, we focus on our niche and strength. Take for example in Singapore, we will do equities business, we will do investment banking business but we will not do debt market business because we don’t have the capability for distribution there and particularly in foreign currencies. And of course the bonds mainly in Singapore are not rated. But we will do the others,” said group managing director Datuk Khairussaleh Ramli (pix). “In Thailand for example, we believe the equities business is very active, the retail broking there is among the most active in Asean, so that’s an area that we will focus on, including maybe some debt market as well,” he told reporters at its AGM today. He said the investment banking businesses in Indonesia and Thailand have room to expand via organic growth while in Singapore, the group intends to synergise its investment banking and banking businesses in order to offer multiple services to clients. In terms of its asset management business in Indonesia, Khairussaleh said the business is small and the main challenge there is distribution due to the country’s size. “We have tied up with some banks but we also want to look at digital ways of distributing our products, because it is such a big country with many islands. If we can’t have physical presence, we need to look at digital capabilities,” he said. “For our overseas business we take a pragmatic approach of focusing on our niche but in Malaysia, we pretty much are a universal investment bank, we pretty much do everything. Generally in Malaysia, the investment banking business is good,” he added. RHB expects to take on several initial public offerings (IPOs) this year in the consumer product and trading services segments, including Leong Hup International Bhd and two sizeable IPOs of about RM750 million each in the second half of the year. The group is one of the joint global coordinators for the IPO of poultry player Leong Hup, which is en route to list on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia. The prospectus will be launched today. Meanwhile, RHB aims to grant RM31 billion in new and additional financing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by 2021, which will benefit 18,000 SMEs. Last year, it approved RM7.2 billion worth of loans to over 4,000 SMEs in Malaysia. The bank is currently ranked fourth in the SME segment with a market share of 9.06% as at January. Its market share was about 7% three to four years ago. It aims to connect to 15,000 new SMEs this year through its SME Ecosystem. RHB aims to grow its mortgage business by 12% this year and 33% or RM17.5 billion over the next three years. Its mortgage market share stood at 9.64% as at February. Khairussaleh said mortgage applications have reduced but its approval rate has been consistently high at 75%. He said there are no changes to its overall loans growth target of 5% for this year, driven by growth in the mortgage and SME segments. In terms of provisions, he said it will be decided on a case-by-case basis and while some clients may be going through a difficult patch, there are no systemic issues at the moment. “We believe that our oil and gas portfolio is under control. But again, potentially there could be case-by-case basis where customers may go through some difficulty. That’s where we should help. In fact, our oil and gas loan loss coverage is more than 100% so we are comfortable with our coverage for the current portfolio,” he said. RHB’s exposure to the oil and gas sector is 2.8% of its total loan book, with 6% exposure to the property sector.
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MISC expects to secure more projects this year (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: MISC Bhd expects to secure more projects this year, given the company’s capability to take up to US$2-3 billion (RM8.3-12.4 billon) worth of new jobs, compared to the US$1 billion projects clinched in 2018, said president and CEO Yee Yang Chien. He said as of the first quarter of 2019, the shipping company had bid for jobs worth US$6 billion versus the similar value of bids for the whole of last year. “We had a success rate of 20% from the US$6 billion worth of projects that we bid for last year, and this was an improvement from the 14% (success rate) recorded in 2017. “So we hope the number will improve in 2019,” he told reporters after MISC’s annual general meeting today. Yee said the company was not short of opportunities but needed to be picky, as every single project involved a handsome investment. Therefore, a stringent assessment to choose the right jobs was crucial to ensure the company could execute them and deliver the numbers, he said. MISC, he noted, was currently working on three to four bids. In February, it was reported that MISC and Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering Holdings Bhd (MMHE) were the frontrunners for two major contracts from Petronas Carigali’s Limbayong oil and gas field development off Sabah. When asked for an update, Yee said: “The tender is still open and it will be closed at end of this month.” A research house said it expected MISC to win the project for the floating production, storage and offloading vessel charter job, while its 66.5%-owned MMHE was likely to secure the engineering, procurement, construction, installation and commissioning contract. Last year, MISC, which is 62.7% owned by Petronas, derived 35% of its revenue from Petronas-related projects. On prospects, Yee said 2019 would be another challenging year for the tanker market. “Growth in seaborne oil demand is expected to be impacted by the recently announced Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries-led production cuts and geopolitical uncertainty,” he said. On the liquefied natural gas (LNG) segment, he said the company expected to continue to benefit from the strengths seen in 2018, supported by demand in Asia, additional supply from new liquefaction projects and slower LNG fleet growth in 2019. “While the LNG spot rates reached a multi-year peak in late 2018, the sustainability of such rates remains uncertain in 2019,” he said. The offshore segment would see healthy activities in oil and gas exploration and production and the company would be adding two new assets in 2018, providing positive income growth, he added.
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Airbnb lambasts call for cap on short-term rentals (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
PETALING JAYA: Airbnb has hit out against the Malaysian Association of Hotels’ call for a new cap on short-term rentals, equating it to capping Malaysian tourism. Airbnb head of public policy for Southeast Asia Mich Goh (pix) said caps run contrary to the goal of growing Malaysian tourism as well as the Malaysia Productivity Corporation’s (MPC) work in reducing red tape and enhancing innovation. “The most important and pressing issue for Malaysian tourism right now is growth. How is Malaysia going to grow and diversify tourism? How is Malaysia going to reach its ambitious tourism targets by 2020? “Simply achieving Malaysia’s bold tourism goals is challenging enough without the added burden of unnecessary red tape. The fact is a cap on short-term rentals would be a cap on growth,” she said in a statement today. She said restrictive caps would mean less choices for travellers, which in turn would lead to fewer travellers and tourism growth. “They would also hurt the Malaysian families, small businesses and communities who depend on short-term rentals. While caps may be suitable for cities with legacy housing affordability issues, they are not suitable for Malaysia which needs to grow tourism and has an oversupply of homes,” she added. The MPC is currently considering how best to regulate short-term rentals and has been in consultation with the wider industry on its draft regulatory framework. As part of the consultation, the Malaysian Association of Hotels called for a new cap on short-term rentals namely a night cap, which limits the number of nights a Malaysian host could share their property in a year. Airbnb noted that the number of visitor arrivals to Malaysia has dropped to 25.8 million in 2018 from 25.9 million in 2017. Last week, Airbnb released new research showing the overwhelming majority of Malaysian voters’ support for short-term rentals. Based on research from Expedition Strategies, 89% of Malaysians would support allowing people to rent their property through Airbnb and 78% would consider staying in short-term rentals while 50% believe there should be a national approach to regulating short-term rentals.
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Boustead optimistic of returning to the black in current financial year (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
PETALING JAYA: Boustead Holdings Bhd expects to return to profitability in current financial year ending Dec 31 (FY19). The group plunged into the red with a net loss of RM469.2 million in FY18 in light of the losses incurred by its heavy industries and plantation divisions, while other divisions registered moderate earnings as a result of trying economic conditions. Executive director Datuk Seri Ghazali Mohd Ali said “the ingredients for success are there” and it is a matter of discussing and strategising it before year-end. “Our assets are there, our plans are there, manpower is there. Those three ingredients alone will bring success and a fresh outlook for the new group managing director (MD) will help the organisation in achieving its targets,” he told a press conference after the group’s AGM today. He declined to reveal the “plans”, citing pending discussions with the new MD Datuk Seri Amrin Awaluddin, who will begin his new role on May 6. “We’ll be discussing with him (Amrin) and the board before we go ahead and implement. Rest assured that the management and the board is working at turning the company around from the results of this year,” said Ghazali. He commended Amrin for his experience and track record, especially in property development, as well as his strong finance background, adding that the group has the framework ready for somebody to take over and lead the group forward. He emphasised that Boustead is asset-rich and from the perspective of businesses, the group is in a strong position with clear prospects ahead. “We firmly believe that as long as we remain persistent in strengthening the foundation of our businesses, and tapping opportunities for growth, we will see results in the medium to long term future. What got us here will not get us there. We have to reinvent ourselves in certain areas, we have to look at ourselves and work at our strengths,” said Ghazali. Meanwhile, he said there will be one or two more asset disposals this year to pare down its borrowings. Its gearing ratio stands at 0.9 times, which is deemed comfortable for the group. On the disposal of its Royale Chulan Bukit Bintang Hotel, he said the government (Economic Planning Unit) is doing the valuation for the hotel and the group expects to obtain the outcome in a month. Earlier at the AGM, three resolutions were not passed by the shareholders, including the re-election of Datuk Wira Dr Megat Abdul Rahman Megat Ahmad as director, retention of chairman Gen Tan Sri Panglima Mohd Ghazali Che Mat (R) as independent director and the retention of Abdul Rahman as independent director.
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Gadang posts RM13.3m net profit for Q3 (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
PETALING JAYA: Gadang Holdings Bhd reported a net profit of RM13.3 million for the third quarter ended Feb 28, a 47.1% decline compared with RM25.14 million recorded for the corresponding quarter in 2018. The construction firm attributed the reduction in earnings to recognition of some variation orders for completed construction projects in the previous year along with lower profit recorded for the Capital City project in the current year. For the quarter under review, its revenue rose 34.5% to RM205.33 million compared with RM152.68 million in the corresponding quarter of the preceding year. Its nine-month net profit increased 34.8% to RM46.87 million from RM71.85 million, while revenue grew 22% to RM502.99 million from RM412.29 million. According to Gadang’s filing with Bursa Malaysia, its construction division outstanding order book currently stands at RM1.3 billion that will provide the company with a stable income visibility going forward. However, the overall weakness in the property market has affected its sales and impacted the performance of its property division. “The division has introduced more aggressive marketing efforts to promote sales of its existing on-going and completed projects. With unbilled sales of RM93.1 million and planned new launches, the property division is expected to deliver positive performance in this financial year.” Looking ahead, Gadang foresees a challenging period for the group, taking into account the competitive market landscape and has initiated active tender participation for domestic infrastructure projects. “Barring unforeseen circumstances, the group expects to remain profitable in the current financial year.”
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Iris takes director, ex-directors to court (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
PETALING JAYA: Iris Corp Bhd has commenced legal proceedings in the Kuala Lumpur High Court against its former members and an existing member of the board of directors, in relation to its investment in Border Control Solutions Limited (BCS). The company is seeking a total claim sum of at least RM12.2 million. In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the company said that the action was brought for loss suffered from the defendants’ failure to discharge their respective fiduciary duty, duty of fidelity and/or duty to exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence as directors at that material time. The nine defendants comprise former directors namely Tan Sri Razali Ismail, Datuk Tan Say Jim, Tuanku Datuk Seri Shahbuddin Tunku Besar Burhanuddin, Datuk Hamdan Mohd Hassan, Datuk Eow Kwan Hoong, Syed Abdullah Syed Abd Kadir, Datuk Noor Ehsanuddin Mohd Harun Narrashid and Datuk Nik Azman Mohd Zain, as well as current director Chan Feoi Chun. Iris is seeking reliefs amounting to RM11.72 million being the total amount paid by the company for the subscription of BCS’s shares and RM482,172 being the total amount paid by the company to Joseph Vijay Kumar as consultant fees. It is also seeking pre-judgment interest on the sums awarded comprising 5% interest per annum on RM11.72 million from Aug 24, 2016 until the date of full settlement, and 5% interest per annum on RM482,172 from Oct 10, 2016 until the date of full settlement. Other reliefs sought include post-judgment interest on the sums awarded on the above at 5% interest per annum from the date of judgment until the date of full and final realisation; general damages to be assessed; interest on the general damages awarded; costs; and/or reliefs deemed fit and just by the court. Apart from legal costs, the litigation is not expected to have material financial impact to the company as the first two reliefs have been fully impaired/expense of in the previous financial year. Iris’ share price fell 5.41% to close at 17.5 sen today with 39.81 million shares traded. It was one of the top active stocks on the bourse today.
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UWC gets green light for Main Market listing (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
PETALING JAYA: UWC Bhd has obtained the Securities Commission Malaysia’s approval for its listing on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia. UWC is is principally involved in the provision of precision sheet metal fabrication and value-added assembly services and the fabrication of precision machined components. “We hope that we will be able to gain access to the capital market for our future expansion and growth. As part of the business expansion process, we will be looking at expanding our production capacity and providing a more comprehensive range of services to our customers. Production efficiency is the key driver to our expansion and as such, production processes will be automated, going forward,” said its executive director and CEO Ng Chai Eng. Hong Leong Investment Bank Bhd is the principal adviser, underwriter and placement agent for the listing exercise, while WYNCORP Advisory Sdn Bhd is the corporate finance adviser.
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World Bank keeps M’sia 2019 growth forecast at 4.7% (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: The World Bank Group has maintained Malaysia’s 2019 gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast at 4.7%, driven by private consumption. Lead economist for Malaysia Richard Record said private consumption would continue to be the main driver of growth, albeit expanding at a more measured pace. “Household spending will be buoyed by stable labour market conditions and income support measures such as the Cost of Living Aid (Bantuan Sara Hidup),“ he told reporters at the East Asia and Pacific (EAP) Economic Update briefing today. He said gross fixed capital formation was expected to increase slightly, driven by the private sector, while public investment was expected to remain subdued in the near term. “The external sector may be negatively affected by heightened uncertainty surrounding the global environment, particularly the possible escalation of US-China trade tensions,“ he said. Record said monetary poverty was expected to continue its downward trend in 2019, with a projected decline to 1.4% based on the upper middle-income countries (UMIC) poverty line of US$5.50 (RM22.70) per person per day in 2011. “Several initiatives for low-income households, including the national B40 Health Protection Fund, an insurance scheme for the B40 group, and affordable housing initiatives are in the pipeline to improve both monetary and non-monetary wellbeing,“ he said. Going into 2020, he said Malaysia’s economy was projected to expand at 4.6%, and the country was expected to achieve high-income country status by 2024. He said the country’s fiscal deficit was expected to narrow to 3.4% of GDP in 2019 and subsequently to 3% in 2020. “Near-term fiscal consolidation efforts are expected to be achieved primarily through rigorous expenditure rationalisation, with broad-based declines (in percentage of GDP) projected across major components of operating and economic development outlays. In terms of risks and challenges, Record said the ongoing uncertainties surrounding the US-China trade tensions and shifts in global financial market sentiment would pose downside risks to Malaysia’s economy in the near term, due to the country’s high degree of trade and financial integration. “On the domestic front, the relatively high levels of government liabilities and increased dependency on oil-related proceeds could potentially constrain the flexibility of fiscal adjustment against future macroeconomic shocks,“ he said. He said in the private sector, the relatively high level of household debt remained a source of macro-financial stability risk and would act as a constraint on household spending. Record said the principal challenge to more rapid and inclusive economic growth lies in increasing labour productivity, which in turn depends on stronger human capital development. “Malaysia’s score on the Human Capital Index (HCI) is 0.62, which is about as expected compared to other UMICs but well below that of its aspirational comparators,“ he said. He said Malaysia performed well on the child survival and years of schooling components of the HCI but did poorly relative to its economic peers in child nutrition and the quality of education. “Key priorities are thus enhancing learning outcomes, reducing child under-nutrition and strengthening social protection systems to enable households to both invest in and protect human capital,“ he said.
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CPI returns to positive territory (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) returned to the positive territory, registering a 0.2% growth to 121.1 in March after experiencing deflation in the first two months of the year. Headline inflation contracted 0.7% and 0.4% in January and February, respectively, which sparked deflationary fears amid slowing economy. The CPI expansion in March was driven by the index of housing, water, electricity, gas & other fuels (+2%), education (+1.3%), food & non-alcoholic beverages (+1.1%), alcoholic beverages & tobacco (+1.1%) and restaurants & hotels (+1%) according to the Department of Statistics. Chief statistician Malaysia Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said on a monthly basis, CPI also increased 0.2% as compared with February 2019, mainly supported by the index of transport (+2.6%), miscellaneous goods & services (+0.4%) and furnishings, household equipment & routine household maintenance (+0.3%). However, CPI in the first quarter of 2019 declined 0.3% to 120.8 compared with 121.2 in the same quarter of the preceding year, contributed by transport (-5.9%), clothing & footwear (-3.1%), miscellaneous goods & services (-2.2%) and communication (-1.2%). On a quarterly basis, the CPI decreased 0.1% against the fourth quarter of 2018. In terms of overall CPI, four states namely Kuala Lumpur (+0.9%), Penang (+0.6%), Selangor and Putrajaya (+0.3%) and Negri Sembilan (+0.3%) surpassed the national CPI rate of 0.2% in March 2019 as compared with March 2018. Meanwhile, Johor showed the same rate of increase as the national CPI. The increase in the index of food & non-alcoholic beverages was reflected in most states in Malaysia, with Kuala Lumpur recording higher increases of 4.2% for food & non-alcoholic beverages index above the national index level in March 2019. MIDF Research expects Malaysia’s inflation to stay low following the lower capped prices of Ron95 and Diesel at RM2.08 and RM2.18 per litre respectively. “Nevertheless, demand-push factor remains firm amid stable job market and steady wage growth.“ It noted that food component will be the key driver of overall inflation in 2019 driven by low-base effects on top of continued spill over effects from the sales and service tax. “In addition, being a net importer of food, Malaysia is also exposed to imported inflation due to ringgit depreciation hence initiating food inflation to stay at the high-side.” Overall, the research house lowered its inflation forecast to 1.1% for 2019. “We foresee headline inflation rate to average at 1.1% this year from 2.2% we initially forecasted due to lower cap of domestic Ron95 fuel prices at RM2.08. Furthermore, we believe the government is unlikely to remove the cap in the nearest time as the proper subsidy mechanism limiting it to the recipients of the Bantuan Sara Hidup have yet comes to effect.”
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Ringgit unchanged at close (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit was unchanged against the US dollar at close today, as traders digest the inflation report released by the Statistics Department, a dealer said. At 6pm, the ringgit stood at 4.1250/1300 versus the greenback from 4.1250/1300 recorded at Tuesday’s close. “The report should provide an unambiguous signal for Bank Negara policy and validate the likelihood of an interest rate cut at next months policy meeting,” the dealer said. Earlier today, the department released its data for March 2019, which saw inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), increase by 0.2% in the month to 121.1 from 120.9 in March 2018. Meanwhile, the ringgit was traded higher against other major currencies. It rose against the Singapore dollar to 3.0351/0392 from 3.0400/0446 on Tuesday and appreciated versus the British pound to 5.3365/3446 from 5.3666/3748. The local currency strengthened vis-a-vis the yen at 3.6870/6921 from 3.6876/6924 and improved against the euro to 4.6254/6326 from 4.6431/6491 previously. — Bernama
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Bursa Malaysia ends higher on improved sentiment (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia ended higher today on continued buying momentum led by heavyweight MISC as investors sentiment improved, sparked by better-than-expected corporate earnings in the US, dealers said. At the close, the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) rose 0.64% or 10.57 points to 1,638.01 from Tuesday’s close of 1,627.44. The index opened 6.26 points higher at 1,633.70 and moved between 1,633.70 and 1,640.96 throughout the trading session. Market breadth was positive as gainers trounced losers 598 to 328, while 422 counters were unchanged, 568 untraded and 31 others suspended. Volume swelled to 4.38 billion units worth RM2.84 billion against Tuesday’s 3.73 billion units valued at RM2.47 billion. MISC improved 2.58% or 17 sen to RM6.76 with 1.57 million shares changing hands. MISC president and CEO Yee Yang Chien today said the company was expected to secure more projects this year, given its capability to take up to US$2 billion-US$3 billion worth of new jobs, compared with US$1 billion projects clinched in 2018. As of the first quarter of 2019, the shipping company had reportedly bid for jobs worth US$6 billion versus the similar value of bids for the whole of last year. Meanwhile, Phillip Capital Management senior vice president (Investment) Datuk Dr Nazri Khan Adam Khan said movement of the FBM KLCI was consistent with the overall improvement of the global economy. He said US stocks were back at a record high this week as investors excelled in the four months-long recovery despite continuous uncertainty on the outlook of the global economy. “On the domestic front, despite the recent correction, we see that the financial market continued its resilience along with the domestic liquidity brought about by the revival of the infrastructure projects,” he told Bernama. From the technical perspective, Nazri Khan said the improvement in the local bourse implied that a potential revival after the recent correction could provide a strong bullish-bias to follow through. “We set the immediate support at around 1,600 points. Conversely, immediate resistances loom at around 1,658 points and 1,700 points,” he added. Among heavyweights, Maybank fell two sen to RM9.14 but Public Bank improved four sen to RM22.64, Petronas Chemicals and CIMB each bagged eight sen to RM9.03 and CIMB was flat at RM5.25. Tenaga increased six sen to RM12.34. Most active counters, Bumi Armada perked seven sen to 27 sen, Ekovest added 6.5 sen to 93.5 sen, and Sapura rose half-a-sen to 33.5 sen. Top gainers, Nestle soared RM1.60 to RM147.00, Tasek expanded 50 sen to RM6.45 and Takaful gained 24 sen to RM5.53. The FBM Emas Index was 79.57 points firmer at 11,665.11, the FBMT100 increased 76.56 points to 11,475.52 and the FBM 70 put on 108.57 points to 14,732.77. The FBM Emas Shariah Index was 98.32 points better at 11,877.84 and the FBM Ace Index added 37.05 points to 4,789.31. Sector-wise, the Financial Services Index went up 65.92 points to 16,883.68, the Plantation Index jumped 73.22 points to 7,265.36 and the Industrial Products and Services Index gained 1.27 points to 171.42. Main Market volume advanced to 3.50 million shares worth RM2.68 billion against 2.93 million shares valued at RM2.30 billion on Tuesday. Warrants turnover expanded to 459.17 million units valued at RM81.02 million from 340.60 million units worth RM41.06 million. Volume on the ACE Market slid to 419.85 million shares valued at RM78.06 million versus 455.00 million shares valued at RM96.08 million yesterday. Consumer products and services accounted for 419.44 million shares traded on the Main Market, industrial products and services (377.53 million), construction (484.33 million), technology (137.98 million), SPAC (nil), financial services (66.95 million), property (208.35 million), plantation (114.90 million), REITs (6.86 million), closed/fund (4,900), energy (1.50 billion), healthcare (54.13 million), telecommunications and media (36.09 million), transportation and logistics (39.39 million) and utilities (60.00 million). — Bernama
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Splash disposal to Air Selangor completed, RM1.9b upfront sum paid (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
PETALING JAYA: The acquisition of Syarikat Pengeluar Air Sungai Selangor Holdings Bhd (Splash) by Pengurusan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Air Selangor) has been completed after the RM1.9 billion upfront sum payment was made. Gamuda Bhd and Kumpulan Perangsang Selangor Bhd (KPS) told Bursa Malaysia that the conditions precedent in the sale and purchase agreement (SPA) were fulfilled on April 22 and the offer has now become unconditional. Following that, Splash, in which Gamuda and KPS own 40% and 30% stake respectively, received the RM1.9 billion upfront sum from Air Selangor on April 24. The remaining 30% stake in Splash is held by The Sweet Water Alliance Sdn Bhd, which is controlled by businessman Tan Sri Wan Azmi Wan Hamzah. “As such, the offer has been completed on even date. Accordingly, Splash shall cease to be a subsidiary of Splash Holdings with effect from April 24, 2019,” said Gamuda and KPS. Splash is the last pending water asset under the Selangor water restructuring exercise. Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd and Konsortium Abbas Sdn Bhd sold their water assets for RM2.47 billion, RM3.11 billion and RM990 million, respectively. Air Selangor inked SPAs with Gamuda and KPS in September 2018 to acquire Gamuda’s 40% stake and KPS’ 30% stake in Splash. The total purchase price of RM2.55 billion to be paid by Air Selangor for the 100% stake of Splash will be distributed via upfront sum of RM1.9 billion, followed by nine annual instalments for the remaining RM650 million. Once completed, Gamuda and KPS stand to receive total gross proceeds of RM1.02 billion and RM765 million for their shareholdings in Splash.
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FXTM expects ringgit to rebound to 4.10 in Q2 (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit is expected to trade within the 4.10-4.15 range against the US dollar in the second quarter as the selloff pressure eases barring any major catalyst, according to FXTM market analyst Han Tan. As at 12pm, the ringgit was trading lower at 4.1325 against the greenback compared with yesterday’s close of 4.1280. The recent selling pressure in the ringgit was triggered by news of the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund cutting its exposure in the emerging markets, including Malaysia. This was further aggravated by the speculation that Malaysian bonds will be dropped from the FTSE World Government Bond Index. Tan said the market is currently focused more on the external factors, letting the external risk to dictate the performance of currencies and paying less attention to the internal economic data. According to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) Purchasing Power Parity metrics, the ringgit is undervalued by 65% to the greenback.
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RHB Bank looking to disburse RM31b SME loans by 2021 (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: RHB Bank Bhd, which approved RM7.2 billion SME loans last year, aims to grant RM31 billion in new and additional loans for SMEs by 2021. Speaking to reporters at its AGM today, group managing director Datuk Khairussaleh Ramli (pix) said the RM31 billion SME loans will benefit some 18,000 SMEs over the next three years. “Our aim is to provide SMEs with services that are beyond the granting of credit facilities, but also to provide them with a holistic ecosystem that is able to offer targeted and innovative products and value added services that will allow them to focus on growing their businesses,“ he said. He said the bank is ranked fourth in the SME segment with a market share of 9.06% as at January. Its market share stood at 7% about three to four years ago. Meanwhile, RHB has three initial public offerings (IPOs) in the pipeline this year, including poultry player Leong Hup International Bhd. Khairussaleh revealed that it has two IPOs planned in the second half of the year, sized at about RM750 million each. The IPOs are within the consumer product and trading services segments. Leong Hup will be launching its prospectus tomorrow. Bloomberg reported that the IPO’s maximum price has been set at RM1.10 per share.
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Bumi Armada refinances RM2.73b corporate debt (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: Bumi Armada Bhd has refinanced its unsecured term loans of US$380 million (RM1.57 billion) and revolving credit facilities of US$280 million (RM1.16 billion) into a single facility consisting of Tranche 1 facility of US$260 million (RM1.07 billion) and Tranche 2 facility of US$400 million (RM1.65 billion). The offshore energy facilities and services provider said the loans will be repayable over two and five years respectively, from the closing date of the facility agreement. The closing of the facility agreement is subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions precedent which are procedural in nature. Commenting on the refinancing, Bumi Armada executive director and CEO Leon Harland said the refinancing of the short-term corporate debt alleviates one of the group’s main current exposures. “The new facility better aligns the corporate debt profile with the cash flow profile of the group’s main floating production & operation (FPO) business,“ he said in a statement. He added that the group must now focus on maximising its revenue while continuing to manage its operational costs, as well as to find additional value via asset monetisation or other structural improvements. “As part of this, the offshore marine services assets together with certain FPO vessels which are idle will be disposed of assuming commercially acceptable sale terms can be obtained. Surplus funds from operations and part of the proceeds from certain strategic initiatives including monetisation of assets and new project financing will be used to repay the loans.” Bumi Armada also noted that as the facility is a long-term borrowing and is used to refinance existing term loans and revolving credit facilities which were due, the interest rate has increased. “The additional interest expense for financial year ending Dec 31 is estimated to be approximately RM40 million.”
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Malaysia’s CPI up 0.2% in March (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
PETALING JAYA: The Consumer Price Index (CPI) picked up 0.2% in March 2019 to 121.1 as compared to 120.9 in March 2018, driven by the index of housing, water, electricity, gas & other fuels (+2.0%), education (+1.3%), food & non-alcoholic beverages (+1.1%), alcoholic beverages & tobacco (+1.1%) and restaurants & hotels (+1.0%). Chief statistician Malaysia Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said on a monthly basis, CPI increased 0.2% as compared to February 2019, mainly supported by the index of transport (+2.6%), miscellaneous goods & services (+0.4%) and furnishings, household equipment & routine household maintenance (+0.3%). The CPI in the first quarter of 2019 recorded a decline of 0.3% to 120.8 compared to 121.2 in the same quarter of the preceding year, contributed by transport (-5.9%), clothing & footwear (-3.1%), miscellaneous goods & services (-2.2%) and communication (-1.2%). On a quarterly basis, the CPI decreased 0.1% as compared to the fourth quarter of 2018. In terms of overall CPI, four states namely Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur (+0.9%), Penang (+0.6%), Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan Putrajaya (+0.3%) and Negeri Sembilan (+0.3%) surpassed the national CPI rate of 0.2% in March 2019 as compared to March 2018. Meanwhile, Johor showed the same rate of increase as the national CPI. Other than that, the increase in the index of food & non-alcoholic beverages was reflected in most states in Malaysia. Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur (+4.2%) recorded higher increases for food & non-alcoholic beverages index above the national index level in March 2019 as compared to the corresponding month in 2018. Conversely, Negeri Sembilan recorded the same rate as the national index level for food & non-alcoholic beverages.
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China to recalibrate Belt and Road, defend scheme against criticism (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
BEIJING: China is expected to promote a recalibrated version of its Belt and Road initiative at a summit of heads of state this week in Beijing, seeking to allay criticism that its flagship infrastructure policy fuels indebtedness and lacks transparency. The policy championed by Chinese President Xi Jinping (pix) has become mired in controversy, with some partner nations bemoaning the high cost of projects. Western governments have tended to view it as a means to spread Chinese influence abroad, saddling poor countries with unsustainable debt. While most of the initiative's projects are ongoing, some have been caught up by changes in government in countries such as Malaysia and the Maldives. Projects that have been shelved for financial reasons include a power plant in Pakistan and an airport in Sierra Leone, and Beijing has in recent months had to rebuff critics by saying that not one country has been burdened with so-called "debt traps". Xi launched the Belt and Road initiative in 2013, and according to data from Refinitiv https://apac1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/Apps/BRI, the total value of projects in the scheme is at $3.67 trillion, spanning countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, Oceania and South America. A draft communique seen by Reuters said that 37 world leaders attending the April 25-27 summit will agree to project financing that respects global debt goals and promotes green growth. Visiting leaders will be headlined by Russia's Vladimir Putin, as well as Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan, a close China ally and among the biggest recipients of Belt and Road investment, and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy, which recently became the first G7 country to sign on to the initiative. The United States, which has not joined the Belt and Road, is expected to send only a lower-level delegation, and nobody from Washington. Some Belt and Road projects "are going through a period of rationalisation and evaluation," said Li Lifan, deputy director general of the Centre for Belt and Road Initiative Studies at the government-backed Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. The summit "will be a time for reflection and to talk about the hopes for the future," he told Reuters. RHETORIC SHIFT Industry insiders and diplomats say that there has been a shift in the way Beijing has been pushing Belt and Road overseas since the first such summit two years ago. "The political part is handled by the foreign ministry now, not the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)," said a senior Western diplomat in China, referring to the country's state planner which drafted the initiative's official outline in 2015. That shift occurred last year, he said. Other analysts said there was a noticeable change in China's overseas efforts to market the policy in the second half of 2018. In an unusual move, at least 10 of China's ambassadors and diplomats in countries such as Mexico and Kenya published letters in local media outlets to defend the initiative. Wu Ken, China's new ambassador in Germany, acknowledged in his first speech on the job that there were "deep doubts" about Belt and Road. "I hope relevant people can overcome the 'allergies' they have towards the Belt and Road as soon as possible so China and Germany can cooperate to jointly tap the benefits from it," he said earlier this month. German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, a confidant of Chancellor Angela Merkel, will attend the summit. William Klein, minister counsellor for political affairs at the U.S. embassy in Beijing, told a forum earlier this month that the United States continued to have concerns about the Belt and Road. "These concerns, for example, are opaque financing practices, poor governance and a failure to adhere to internationally accepted norms and standards." Andrew Davenport, chief operating officer at Washington-based consultancy RWR Advisory, which has been tracking Belt and Road investment, said China has become more reactive in its positioning of the initiative since the last forum. "It's relatively clear that the Belt and Road narrative being put forward by Beijing over the past several months is designed to counter the criticism and push back," he said. SUBDUED While the number of foreign leaders due at the summit is up from 29 last time, the run-up to the event has been subdued compared with the 2017 meeting. Two years ago, the weeks before the summit's opening day were marked by a series of music and explanatory videos published by state media to advertise the Belt and Road initiative while the government announced the dates publicly roughly a month before. There has been no such media blitz this year besides a handful of documentaries and advertisements, and Beijing only confirmed the dates last Friday, less than a week before the opening. In events held to talk about Belt and Road before the summit, Chinese officials stressed that the initiative remained a "win-win" and an attractive opportunity for countries willing to become partners. On Monday, NDRC official Xiao Weiming told a media briefing that Chinese companies had invested $90 billion in countries benefiting from Belt and Road and handed out between $200 billion-300 billion worth of loans between 2013 and 2018. "The Belt and Road initiative is an open and inclusive idea," he said. "As long as any country is willing to work with China, we will all have gardens along the Belt and Road."
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Asian markets fluctuate as dealers brush off Wall St record (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
HONG KONG: Asian markets fluctuated Wednesday following a record-breaking close on Wall Street that was fuelled by strong earnings from US big-hitters. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq scaled all-time highs while the Dow came close after a string of better-than-forecast results from the likes of Coca-Cola, Twitter and Lockheed Martin added to a raft of other recent reports that suggest the economy is in rude health. Markets welcomed "a really great string of earnings reports, most of them outpacing expectations, as well as some pretty good commentary on future estimates from CEOs", Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at Leuthold Weeden, told Bloomberg News. "There's quite a bit of positivity carrying this to new highs." However, while Asian dealers were generally upbeat they were unable to use the Wall Street performance to kick on in early trade, with major indexes shifting in and out of positive territory through the morning. Hong Kong and Shanghai were each down 0.2 percent in the morning while Tokyo headed into the break flat and Seoul slipped 0.7 percent. However, Sydney rose one percent as a drop in Australian inflation raised the chances of an interest rate cut by the country's central bank. The reading sent the Australian dollar plunging one percent. Singapore, Taipei and Manila each rose 0.2 percent, Wellington added 0.7 percent while Jakarta inched up slightly. Oil prices retreat after rally US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin travel to Beijing next week for another round of high-level talks aimed at resolving their painful tariffs war. The White House issued a statement saying the latest negotiations "will cover trade issues including intellectual property, forced technology transfer, non-tariff barriers, agriculture, services, purchases and enforcement", adding that Chinese officials will visit Washington on May 8. Expectations the talks will eventually end with an agreement between the economic superpowers has helped fire a rally across world markets this year, with the initial row having been the catalyst for a sharp sell-off at the end of 2018. On oil markets both main contracts were in retreat a day after hitting six-month highs on the back of news that Washington would end a waiver for several countries from US sanctions on Iran. Prices had already been surging thanks to hopes for the China-US talks and, OPEC and Russia's output cap, and unrest in Libya and Venezuela. There is speculation OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia could step in to fill the void left in the market by the removal of Iranian crude, which would temper prices. But SPI Asset Management's Stephen Innes said Riyadh could balk at such a move, having opened the taps when the US unveiled sanctions six months ago only to be "hoodwinked" by the waivers. "If the US is fully committed to their hawkish Iranian pledge... prices will reprice higher as Saudi Arabia appear tentative about increasing supplies, while it is unlikely (US) shale can fill the void quick enough," Innes said in a note. "So to what degree oil markets tighten, and how high oil price goes, will now mostly be dependent on the supply response from OPEC+ group."
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Bursa Malaysia opens firmer (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia opened firmer today in tracking the positive corporate results in some US stocks and despite the continued uncertainty over the outlook for the global economy, dealers said. At 9.10am, the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) strengthened 11.00 points to 1,638.44, from Tuesday’s close of 1,627.44. The benchmark index opened 6.26 points higher at 1,633.70. On the broader market, gainers led losers 263 to 77, while 194 counters were unchanged, 1,382 untraded and 31 others suspended. Turnover stood at 296.22 million shares worth RM204.35 million. It was reported that among the biggest boosts to the S&P 500 was Twitter Inc which rose 13.6%, after posting better-than-expected quarterly revenue and a surprise rise in monthly active users, while Coca-Cola Co rose 2.6% after its quarterly sales beat estimates. The benchmark S&P 500 ended the day 0.9% higher at 2,933.7 thanks to the best daily gain for healthcare stocks since mid-January and a rally in consumer discretionary and technology shares, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 145.34 points, or 0.6%, to 26,656.39. Meanwhile, AllianceDBS Research said the ability of the local bourse to keep its position above 1,618 yesterday suggested that market participants were unwilling to see market sentiment deteriorating. “Investors and traders may be scouting for the next hot stocks to trade, but the buying and selling decisions were not done without the knowledge of risk and reward. “We should see buying attempts with an immediate hurdle at 1,628. A crossover of 1,628 should see the market gearing towards 1,640. “We expect the FBM KLCI would likely trade above the 1,629.42 level today,” it said in a research note. Among heavyweights, Maybank recovered 15 sen to RM9.31, Public Bank gained 12 sen to RM22.72, Petronas Chemicals added four sen to RM8.99, Tenaga rose two sen to RM12.30 and CIMB increased 10 sen to RM5.27. Maybank and Public Bank were also the top gainers, followed by Top Glove which advanced 11 sen to RM4.87. For the most active counters, Barakah was up one sen to 10.5 sen, Ekovest shed 1.5 sen to 85.5 sen and Impiana Hotels was flat at 5.5 sen. The FBM Emas Index ticked up 68.25 points to 11,653.79, the FBMT 100 Index was 68.31 points better at 11,467.27 and the FBM Emas Shariah Index perked 55.03 points to 11,834.55. The FBM 70 improved 52.64 points to 14,676.84 and the FBM Ace was higher by 11.92 points to 4,764.18. Sector-wise, the Financial Services Index jumped 140.88 points to 16,958.64, the Plantation Index was 43.61 points higher to 7,235.75 and the Industrial Products & Services Index was 0.55 of-a-point firmer at 170.70. The physical price of gold as at 9.30am stood at RM163.08 per gramme, down 18 sen from RM163.26 at 5pm yesterday. — Bernama
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Higher US bond yields weigh on ringgit in early trading (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit was lower against the US dollar in early trade today as higher US bond yields hampered demand for the local note. At 9.06am, the local unit traded at 4.1270/1300 against the greenback from 4.1250/1300 at the close yesterday. A dealer said investors were in favour of the US dollar following the 20 basis points rise in the 10-year US Treasury yields over the past four weeks. “Furthermore, the weaker global oil price also affected market sentiment towards the ringgit as this will have an impact towards the country’s oil and gas revenue,” he added. Brent crude futures and US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were both down 0.4% to US$74.24 (RM307) per barrel and US$66.02 (RM273) per barrel respectively. Meanwhile, the ringgit traded mixed against a basket of major currencies. It declined against the Singapore dollar to 3.0406/0446 from 3.0400/0446 recorded at yesterday’s close and depreciated against the Japanese yen to 3.6881/6911 from 3.6876/6924. The ringgit rose against the British pound to 5.3395/3450 from 5.3666/3748 and improved against the euro to 4.6293/6330 from 4.6431/6491. — Bernama
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Tokyo stocks open higher with eyes on earnings (Wed, 24 Apr 2019)
TOKYO: Tokyo stocks opened higher on Wednesday supported by record levels in New York but investors remained cautious amid corporate earnings season and ahead of an unprecedented 10 days of holidays next week. The benchmark Nikkei 225 index was up 0.40% or 88.43 points at 22,348.17 in early trade, while the broader Topix index climbed 0.32% or 5.15 points at 1,628.12. “Japanese shares are testing the upside after the rebound in the Dow and fresh record highs in the Nasdaq” and S&P 500 in New York, strategist Yoshihiro Ito of Okasan Online Securities said in a commentary. However the market “lacks any energy of active selling and buying as investors are trying to evaluate corporate earnings reports ahead of the holidays“, he added. On Wall Street, both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended at all-time highs, with the Dow ending up 0.6% at 26,656.39 following a barrage of solid results from major companies across different economic sectors. The dollar fetched 111.82 yen in early Asian trade, against 111.85 yen in New York. In Tokyo, some electronics firms were higher, with Sharp gaining 2.24% to 1,323 yen and chip-testing equipment maker Advantest trading up 1.81% at 3,365 yen. Nissan was down 1.92% at 924.5 yen after a report said the automaker will revise down its full-year profit forecast later on Wednesday. Precision motor maker Nidec was up 2.25% at 16,105 yen after it announced a 15% decline in its full-year net profit. However, the firm forecast a 21% growth in net profit for the current year to March 2020. — Bernama
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Seacera detects unusual trading in its shares (Tue, 23 Apr 2019)
PETALING JAYA: Seacera Group Bhd, which is embroiled in a boardroom tussle with its largest shareholder Datuk Tan Wei Lian, has detected unusual market activities concerning the trades of its securities. “Based on the investigation and analysis conducted by the company, the unusual market activities detected by the company include, inter alia, activities of shares churning and passing-around, and misleading appearance of price of the company’s securities on the stock exchange,” it said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia. The company said it has engaged with the relevant stock broking house as well as solicitors to take necessary action. Seacera’s share price fell 4.62% to close at 31 sen today with 20.05 million shares done.
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Barakah secures white knight, has creditors’ support (Tue, 23 Apr 2019)
PETALING JAYA: Barakah Offshore Petroleum Bhd is looking for a fresh start after the completion of its restructuring exercise by year-end. Acting group CEO Abdul Rahim Awang said the integrated oil and gas (O&G) solutions provider was in the advanced stage of its restructuring process, while talks with major large creditors were in favour of its revamp scheme. “We have secured a white knight. We are under a non-disclosure agreement, we can’t reveal who the white knight is. That is the first we need as we require fresh capital injection, so the white knight is important,“ he told reporters after announcing the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Singapore-based Vallianz Holdings Ltd today. As at Dec 31, 2018, Barakah Offshore’s total liabilities stood at RM335.6 million. Abdul Rahim expects the company to finalise its restructuring scheme by next month and resolved its issues with creditors in the next two to three months. “We need to get at least 75% of creditors to support and approve the scheme for us to move forward. We are fairly confident that we can get that 75%,“ he added. Abdul Rahim said with the completion of the restructuring scheme, Barakah would be cash flow positive at the project level and also its bottom line. Meanwhile, the group and Vallianz will form a strategic alliance to explore business opportunities in Malaysia and the Middle East. By joining forces, both parties are able to leverage on each other’s strengths to expand their scope of services, technical capabilities and geographical reach along the O&G value chain. Under the MoU, Barakah Offshore will offer its established engineering and operational capabilities to support Vallianz’s existing and future projects, including technical consultations and feasibility studies. “The MoU with Vallianz will open up new markets for us and also allow us to have access to assets that they have. “These assets will allow us to bid more competitively because a lot of time when we bid for projects especially for offshore operations, we bid as a package as it comes with varying spread that include other vessels as well,“ said Abdul Rahim. Barakah Offshore has identified one project in the Middle East and will come up with a proposal.
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Draw up national strategy plan to revitalise private investments, SERC urges govt (Tue, 23 Apr 2019)
KUALA LUMPUR: The Socio-Economic Research Centre (SERC) has urged the government to draw up a National Investment Strategy Plan to revitalise private investments, which are critical to sustain economic growth. SERC executive director Lee Heng Guie said reinvigorating private investment is a key priority to sustain economic growth, raise future growth potential, create high income jobs and increase exports. He said government policies should focus on how to improve competitive edge, which kind of economic policies should be adopted and mapping up the voyage to higher and more sustainable economic growth. “For the short term, policies should focus on some quick fixes that we can look into to enhance our investment climate,” he told reporters at a briefing on SERC’s quarterly economy tracker today. Lee said an example of a quick gain for the government is tourism, citing the Visa on Arrival requirements for tourists from China and India which may be relaxed. He said policymakers need to focus on reforms that will help Malaysia catch up with its regional peers in terms of supply of skilled and creative workforce, adapting to a rapid shift in technological advancement, state-of-the-art infrastructure, industrial development as well as good governance and best business practices. Lee said the National Investment Strategy Plan must have equal emphasis on direct domestic investment, especially for small and medium enterprises and high quality foreign direct investments. SERC recommends that the government examine factors restraining business investment decisions, such as economic and investment prospects, domestic policy uncertainty, regulatory and investment policies and the “crowding out” effect from the participation of government-linked companies (GLCs). Lee applauded the government’s effort to remove ineffective GLCs, which he said would free up resources for public use and provide more room for the private sector. “The most important function of private investment determinant is profitability, cost of capital, rate of return, equity return to investment and opportunities. People want to know where are we heading,” he said. He said the government needs to be an effective facilitator by creating the right environment for investments while continuing to invest in sectors that will raise the economy but stressed that the government has limitations as it needs to contain its debt. “The new government says it needs three years to fix the economy so the private sector has to step up to fill up the void or else the overall economy will be affected,” he said, adding that the private sector should not be overly cautious as the economy is still growing, albeit not as strong as expected due to the government’s transition period. “The private sector needs to take the lead and step up. Don’t always rely on the government to kick start investments. The government’s role is to create a conducive environment,” he said.
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SERC revises 2019 GDP forecast down to 4.5-4.7% (Tue, 23 Apr 2019)
SERC executive director Lee Heng Guie said the revision takes into account the moderating global growth and weakening exports amid cautious domestic sentiments. “I’m looking at about 4.4% for first quarter based on the two months numbers from exports. I think exports will be a drag. The one that will still be supporting the economy is consumer spending but I think the growth will not be as strong as the fourth quarter 2018 consumer spending. That’s why overall I’m looking at about preliminary 4.4% for first quarter,” he told reporters at a briefing on SERC’s quarterly economy tracker today. Last month, Bank Negara Malaysia lowered the GDP projection to 4.3% to 4.8% on the back of external headwinds. Lee expects exports growth to fall to 3.3% this year from 6.8% last year due to slowing global demand, weak global semiconductor sales and moderate commodity prices. Private consumption is expected to grow 6.8% this year, higher than Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) 6.6% projection while private investment is expected to grow 4.3%, which Lee said is not very robust growth. He said public sector spending remains a drag despite the revival of the East Coast Rail Link and Bandar Malaysia projects, with public consumption projected to grow 1.8% and public investment to shrink 4.8% this year. He said the outlook for the first half of the year is still quite cautious as suggested by indicators such industrial production and export growth as well as the softening growth of business and households loan outstanding, but is hopeful of a better second half of the year, driven by consumption and some increases on the investment side. SERC expects headline inflation to average between 1% and 1.5% this year due to some cost pass-through from domestic cost factors such as the lapse in consumption tax policy, higher minimum wage and electricity surcharges for businesses and potential increases in food prices. On the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR), Lee said there is a chance of BNM cutting the rate at the Monetary Policy Committee meeting on May 7. SERC expects the OPR to reach 3% by year-end from 3.25% currently. “With inflation risk being put on the back burner, BNM is expected to focus on sustaining domestic demand to counter the impact of moderating global growth on exports. The monetary policy decision will be data dependent,” he said. Lee’s year-end forecast for the ringgit to the US dollar is between RM4 and RM4.15, supported by strong fundamentals, including current account surplus, reserves above US$100 billion (RM412 billion) and acceptable GDP growth of 4.3% to 4.8% as projected by BNM. As the first anniversary of Pakatan Harapan in government draws near, Lee noted that the government has done quite a lot but the messaging is not there. “I did a quick audit on some of the things they have done, I am quite happy with that. I think it’s a lack of communication. I hope that they continue to give us consistent narrative about what they are going to do and be consistent in what they are planning for the country. That will help to restore confidence about what they can deliver going forward.”
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