Friday, October 13th, 2017


US stocks boosted by September retail sales gain

NEW YORK, Oct 13 ― Wall Street stocks rose early today after a US retail sales report bested expectations and Chinese trade data suggested solid growth in the world’s second-biggest economy. US retail sales jumped 1.6 per cent in September…

US retail sales surge, driven by autos and gasoline purchases

WASHINGTON, Oct 13 ― US retail sales recorded their biggest increase in 2-1/2 years in September likely as reconstruction and clean-up efforts in areas devastated by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma boosted demand for building materials and motor…

Malaysians researching financing for property online, exceeds global average

PETALING JAYA: HSBC's latest Beyond the Bricks home buying report, says the number of Malaysian home buyers going online to research home financing options is above the global average.

About 77% of the 1,000 Malaysians surveyed online for financing options compared with the global average of 74% .

With property seen as the next industry to face disruption by technology, property websites are using technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality to transform each stage of the home purchase and deliver end-to-end services including many of those traditionally offered by estate agents.

Property Technology (PropTech) expert James Dearsley said brokers are still the most trusted source of mortgage advice however, in an increasingly time-poor society, banks, mortgage brokers and advisers will need to offer instant service and analysis to meet the rising expectations of consumers.

Malaysia was ranked behind the UK, US and Australia in terms of researching online for property financing.

HSBC Bank Malaysia Country Head, Retail Banking and Wealth Management Lim Eng Seong said the process of buying a home will change beyond recognition in the coming years with transactions being streamlined, buyers and sellers having greater control and relying much more on technology.

He added that the speed at which the digital revolution in home buying rolls out around the world will depend on local regulatory environments and people's willingness to trust technology for such an enormous purchase.

“The traditional role of estate agents would be reinvented, as we now have many online platforms where homeowners can market their own properties and negotiate directly with sellers,” Lim said.

The report also ranked Malaysia among the nine when it comes to digitally active home hunters, with 81% using online channels such as website, mobile, emails to research their recent property purchase. The UK leads the pack with 93% when it comes to researching on property purchases.

Close to half of the Malaysians surveyed (49%) said the most stressful part in the process of buying a home is when it comes to dealing with the parties involved in the deals, namely the real estate agents, solicitors, sellers and developers.

This is followed by negotiating the price (41%), fees (39%), and understanding the legal paperwork (38%).

Dearsley said, selling houses through property websites that offer end-to-end marketing, search, financing, negotiation, transaction and conveyancing services may become a trend in the future, significantly reducing the time and hassle for home buyers.

“We can expect to see more on-demand services, retaining the important human touch, but provided digitally through live chat or video. With all of our personal information held digitally not physically, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will assist by analysing personal data, assessing lending criteria and narrowing down product options. This will allow instant mortgage approvals and mortgage solutions that are much more tailored to individual needs,” Dearsley said.

“New technologies have the potential to disrupt the property industry by making the purchase process much easier and reducing the number of people involved in a sale, so that buyers and sellers feel more in control. We are already seeing the rise of online do-it-yourself platforms, such as Tepilo in the UK, that allow homeowners to market their own properties and negotiate directly with sellers,” he added.

PropTech is seen as the new FinTech (financial technology) which will bring similarly radical changes over the coming years. Funding of disruptive Property Technology firms has grown phenomenally, from RM945 million (US$221 million) in 2012 to over RM8.5 billion (US$2 billion) in 2016.

HSBC advises home buyers to be equipped with the knowledge to ensure that informed decisions are made, be clear of their priorities, and keep up-to-date with new technology to ensure you feel comfortable using it and consider the experts.

A total of 9000 people were surveyed from Australia, Canada, China, France, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States.

M-Mode proposes to diversify into construction business

PETALING JAYA: Mobile content and data application company M-Mode Bhd said the group is planning to diversify into the construction business by way of securing construction projects.

Currently, the group is involved in the provision of mobile contents, data application services, production and distribution of magazines as well as acting as a media advertisement agent.

The group told the stock exchange, it intends to diversify into the construction business for additional sources of income, and to enhance its prospects.

Last May, the group announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary E&J Builders Sdn Bhd (E&J) entered into a joint venture agreement with Rexallent Construction Sdn Bhd (RCSB) to undertake and complete the remaining construction of a residential development project known as H2O for a contract sum of RM180 million.

It said the proposed diversification will be undertaken through the H2O project and other construction projects to be secured.

M-Mode said the board believes that the proposed diversification would contribute positively to the group's future earnings and improve its financial position. The board expects the construction business to contribute at least 25% to the group's net profits.

In this regard M-Mode said the board proposes to seek the approval of the group's shareholders for the proposed diversification at an EGM to be convened. It intends to continue with its existing business of mobile content and data application, in largely the same manner.

The stock gained 5.17% to close at 30.5 sen last Friday with 272,000 shares traded.

Symphony Life to buy back shares in Midah Jaya for RM300,000 more

PETALING JAYA: Symphony Life Bhd is buying back Midah Jaya Realty Sdn Bhd from Octane Capital Sdn Bhd at a premium of RM300,000 after it failed to transfer land promised under the sale and purchase agreement signed in July, on time.

To recap, Symphony Life signed an agreement to sell Midah Jaya to Octane for RM9.03 million in July, however because Symphony Life was unable to complete the transfer of ten acres of freehold land at Taman Midah, Cheras to Octane in time, Octane demanded that the deal be reversed and paid an additional RM300,000. The sum consists of Octane's funding cost at the rate of 8% per annum and the reimbursement of legal and stamp duty involved.

Symphony Life said the transfer of the land to Octane was bogged down by a delay in obtaining a requisite consent from the lessee of the land.
Upon the completion of the share buyback which is expected to take 60 days, Midah Jaya will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Symphony Life. again.

The company said the exercise is not expected to impact the group's financial year ending March 31, 2018. Symphony Life's share price was unchanged at 88 sen, with some 240,000 shares traded.

Reorganised AirAsia Group Bhd to take over listing of AirAsia Bhd

PETALING JAYA: Bursa Malaysia Securities Bhd has given is approval to AirAsia Bhd (AAB) in relation to its corporate re-organisation exercise, which will see AirAsia Group Bhd (AAGB) assuming the Stock Code, Stock Short Name and ISIN Code of AAB.

AAB announced in a Bursa Malaysia filing that it had received an approval letter dated Oct 13 from the stock market operator, in which Bursa had given its approval for the admission of AirAsia Group Bhd to the official list, in place of AAB.

The aviation player announced in August that it will be embarking on two corporate exercises , namely the transfer of its listing to a new investment holding company and the conversion of its perpetual securities investments in PT Indonesia AirAsia (IAA) into Indonesia-listed PT Rimau Multi Putra Pratama TBK (RMPP) new shares.

AAB's shares gained 1.75% to close at RM3.49, with more than 5.74 million shares traded.

Press Metal gets nod to issue up to US$400m Regulation S US denominated senior notes

PETALING JAYA: Press Metal Aluminium Holdings Bhd's subsidiary Press Metal Labuan Ltd has been given the nod by Bank Negara Malaysia for a proposed issuance of Regulation S USD denominated senior notes of up to US$400million.

The group said in a Bursa Malaysia filing, it had received the approval of the central bank on Oct 13, for the notes which have a tenure of five years.

The net proceeds from the issuance will be used for refinancing of existing indebtedness and general corporate purposes.

Press Metal's shares rose 1.57% to close at RM3.89, with some 10 million shares traded.

Housing loan approval rate remains high

KUALA LUMPUR: The overall housing loan approval rate remains high at 73% in the second quarter of 2017, with similar rates recorded in the major states.

Bank Negara Malaysia's (BNM) 'Housing Watch' website said during the first six months of this year, banks had approved housing loans totalling RM48.5 billion to 183,655 borrowers, out of which 72% were first-time affordable home buyers.

“The approval rate is the ratio of the number of housing loan applications approved to the number of housing loan applications received by the banks during the same period.

“The common reasons for rejection included, among others, applicants having little residual income after taking into account monthly living expenditures and existing financial obligations, poor past track record or financial indiscipline, and insufficient documentation to support the ability to service the loan,” it said.

According to BNM's Housing Watch, the median house price in Malaysia in 2014 was RM242,000 and this was considered affordable given the median household income was RM4,585.

However, the prevailing market prices in key urban employment centres were beyond the means of the average households, with varying degrees of severity across locations, it said.

Houses in major states like Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Sabah were unaffordable based on household income levels.

“The situation was more acute in key city centres. House prices were most unaffordable in Georgetown, which had the highest median house price (RM600,000) and the lowest median income level (RM4,792),” it added.

In the first quarter of 2017, only 20% of new residential launches were priced below RM250,000, significantly lower than the 33% recorded for the 2010-2014 period.

Quoting data from the National Property Information Centre, the central bank's Housing Watch stated that 65 per cent of new residential launches in the first quarter of 2017 were priced between RM250,000 and RM500,000.

It said the Malaysian House Price Index increased by 5.3% in the first quarter of 2017 compared with 7.0% in the fourth quarter of 2016, amid a slower growth in both landed and high-rise property prices.

“This reflects a moderation in house prices particularly in Selangor and Johor,” it added. — Bernama

Bursa ends higher on late buying interest

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 13 ― Bursa Malaysia finished slightly higher today, lifted by the late buying interests in selected heavyweight stocks and tracking the regional bourses’ performances, dealers said. At the close, the key FTSE Bursa Malaysia…