Thursday, April 20th, 2017


US stocks rise as Wall Street eyes French vote

NEW YORK, April 20 ― US stocks rose early today with strong earnings from American Express offsetting a disappointing report from Verizon as the market looked ahead to Sunday’s vote in the French presidential election. A note from Wells…

US weekly jobless claims up; continuing claims hit 17-year low

WASHINGTON, April 20 ― New applications for US jobless benefits rose slightly more than expected last week, but a drop in the number of Americans on unemployment rolls to a 17-year low suggested the labour market continues to tighten. Other…

Bank Indonesia stands pat on rates, monitors global risks

JAKARTA, April 20 ― Indonesia’s central bank kept its benchmark rate unchanged today for the sixth straight meeting, saying the current level was consistent with its efforts to maintain stability. Southeast Asia’s largest economy has…

UK sells Green Investment Bank to Macquarie in £2.3 billion deal

LONDON, April 20 ― The UK Green Investment Bank (GIB), created by the British government to fund environmental projects, is to be sold to Australian financial services firm Macquarie Group in a £2.3 billion (RM12.9 billion) deal, the government…

EPF withdrawals for education doubled last year due to PTPTN repayments

KUALA LUMPUR: The amount of withdrawals from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) made for education purposes last year more than doubled from 2015 mainly due to the National Higher Education Fund Corporation's (PTPTN) collection efforts.

According to EPF's 2016 annual report which was released today, the number of withdrawals for education purposes rose 31.82% to 86,725 withdrawals from 65,787 withdrawals a year ago.

The value of these withdrawals rose to RM1.46 billion in 2016 from RM578.18 million a year ago.

“The big jump is really in education, whereas in the past education was a smaller part of our withdrawal numbers,” EPF CEO Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan told reporters at a briefing today.

Out of the RM47.41 billion approved withdrawals, education was the smallest component, making up only 3% of the total approved amount.

In terms of approved amount, the bulk of withdrawals were for Age 55 (47%), members' investment scheme (13%), housing (13%) and other pre-retirement withdrawals (13%).

Shahril said EPF members who made withdrawals for education last year were likely using those funds to settle their PTPTN loans.

Asked to comment on EPF members using their retirement funds to settle education loans, Shahril said the new generation of students would be deprived if previous borrowers do not repay their loans.

“The reality is that, from a national standpoint, if you don't repay your student loans, it is going to be very hard for the new generation of students to borrow money. So, you can understand from the social policy point of view, why it is important to collect the outstanding PTPTN debt so that PTPTN can be self-sustaining,” he added.

PTPTN started listing errant borrowers in the Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS) in January 2015. As of September last year, some 1.3 million PTPTN borrowers were listed under the system.

Borrowers who are blacklisted on CCRIS could find difficulty in obtaining loans or credit facilities from financial institutions.

In October last year, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said that PTPTN had collected only RM9.6 billion as of Aug 31, 2016 out of the RM18.311 billion that should have been collected.

It was reported that a total of 753,058 Malaysians who took PTPTN loans had yet to repay a total of RM5.191 billion.

Ringgit ends higher on concerns over US consumer prices

KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 ― The ringgit closed slightly higher against the US dollar today as the greenback continued to lose ground on mounting concerns over the lower-than-expected US Consumer Price Index data released for March, and President…

Worries over Trump policies cloud start of IMF, World Bank meetings

WASHINGTON, April 20 ― World finance leaders are gathering on US President Donald Trump’s home turf today to try to nudge his still-evolving policies away from protectionism and show broad support for open trade and global integration. The…

Bursa Malaysia ends firmer on improved regional sentiment

KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia reversed yesterday's downtrend to close firmer today with interest mostly spotted in index-linked counters and banking-related stocks prompted by improved regional sentiment.

At 5pm, the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) finished 2.66 points higher at 1,741.61 against yesterday's close of 1,738.95.

The key index, which opened 1.05 points weaker at 1,737.9, hovered between 1,736.4 and 1,743.56 throughout the day.

RHB Bank, was the largest contributor to the rise in the composite index, accounting for 1.09 points.

The stock soared 16 sen to RM5.28 with 836,000 shares transacted.

Among other banks, Maybank gained three sen to RM9.08, AMMB rose 10 sen to RM5.03, CIMB increased two sen to RM5.50 and Hong Leong chalked up 12 sen to RM16.18.

A dealer said the rebound in crude oil prices, coupled with Japan's stronger-than-expected exports in March had sparked positive sentiment in the region.

Meanwhile, Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd Head of Research Pong Teng Siew said easing political tensions related to Syria and North Korea prompted buying in Asian bourses despite the sluggish overnight Wall Street performance which normally influenced the trading pattern in Asia.

“It was quite an unexpected turn. I believe the easing geopolitical tension has helped reduce investors' worries,” he told Bernama.

Pong said the support level for tomorrow could be between 1,727 and 1,736 while the resistance level may be confined within 1,744 and 1,750.

The overall market breadth was positive with gainers trouncing losers 498 to 368 while 395 counters were unchanged, 489 untraded and 17 others were suspended.

Volume slipped to 2.64 billion units, worth RM2.24 billion, from 2.85 billion units, valued RM2.19 billion, registered yesterday.

Among heavyweights, Tenaga rose eight sen to RM13.80, Sime Darby added one sen to RM9.26 but Petronas Chemicals fell six sen to RM7.52.

Public Bank, which posted a slightly lower first quarter pre-tax profit, saw its shares close unchanged from yesterday's RM19.92. A total of 2.43 million shares were transacted.

For actives, Key Alliance shed one sen to 8.5 sen, ANZO slipped three sen to 33 sen but Malayan United inched up half-a-sen to 24 sen.

The FBM Emas Index rose 17.27 points to 12,398.27, the FBMT100 Index increased 14.29 points to 12,035.47, the FBM 70 gained 1.94 points to 14,654.19, the FBM Ace chalked up 53.51 points to 6,095.84 and the FBM Emas Shariah Index improved 9.94 points to 12,812.25.

Sector-wise, the Finance Index jumped 96.02 points to 15,777.28, the Plantation Index advanced 11.88 points to 8,003.55 but the Industrial Index gave up 6.99 points to 3,211.42.

Main Market turnover slipped to 1.77 million units, worth RM2.12 billion, from 1.78 million units valued at RM2.05 billion, registered on Wednesday.

Volume on the ACE Market shrank to 667.29 million shares, worth RM95.46 million, from yesterday's 900.25 million shares valued at RM117.17 million.

Warrants expanded to 200.31 million units, worth RM23.92 million, from 160.27 million units, valued at RM22.82 million.

Consumer products accounted for 96.33 million shares traded on the Main Market, industrial products (520.46 million), construction (102.04 million), trade and services (552.57 million), technology (118.52 million), infrastructure (9.67 million), SPAC (1.26), finance (100.85 million), hotels (4.39 million), properties (239.17 million), plantations (22.99 million), mining (nil), REITs (4.7 million) and closed/fund (26,000).

The physical price of gold as at 5pm stood at RM175.06 per gramme, down 38 sen from RM175.44 at 5pm yesterday. — Bernama

Bursa closes higher on improved regional sentiment

KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 ― Bursa Malaysia reversed yesterday’s downtrend to close firmer today with interest mostly spotted in index-linked counters and banking-related stocks prompted by improved regional sentiment. At 5 pm, the FTSE Bursa…

Lazada enlists Uber to lure customers in Singapore

SINGAPORE, April 20 ― Lazada Group SA, the Southeast Asian e-commerce operator backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., created a loyalty program for shoppers in Singapore that it may expand to other markets. The company is teaming up with Uber…