Saturday, November 4th, 2017


Trump pitches NYSE for Saudi Aramco IPO listing

NEW YORK, Nov 4 ― US President Donald Trump said today he “would very much appreciate Saudi Arabia doing their IPO of Aramco with the New York Stock Exchange.” “Very important to the United States!” Trump wrote on Twitter about Saudi…

Cryptocurrencies’ market cap hits record US$200b as bitcoin soars

LONDON, Nov 3 ― The aggregate value of all cryptocurrencies hit a record high of over US$200 billion (RM846.3 billion) on Wednesday, according to industry website Coinmarketcap, putting their reported market value at more than that of US banking…

PM Modi says India may announce tax relief for traders next week

NEW DELHI, Nov 4 ― India may announce measures next week to help traders and small businesses who say a new nationwide goods and services tax (GST) has increased their tax and administrative burden. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said if there…

Afghanistan moves to block WhatsApp, Telegram messaging services

KABUL, Nov 4 ― Afghanistan’s telecoms regulator wrote to internet service providers this week ordering them to block the messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram but it was not immediately clear whether they had complied. Use of social media…

China unveils massive island-building vessel

BEIJING, Nov 4 ― China has unveiled a massive ship described as a “magic island maker” that is Asia’s largest dredging vessel, state media reported today. The ship, capable of building artificial islands of the sort the country has…

Saudi’s Falih calls for more work to cut global oil inventory

TASHKENT, Nov 4 ― Saudi Arabian oil minister Khalid al-Falih said today that more work was needed to reduce global oil inventories. “There is a general satisfaction with the strategy of 24 countries that signed a declaration of…

SPNB CEO’s contract extended to Dec 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Ahmad Azizi Ali's contract as the Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd (SPNB), which expires at the end of this year, has been extended for two years till Dec 6, 2019.

In a statement today, SPNB said the contract extension had been approved by the Finance Ministry.

SPNB is a company owned by the Minister of Finance Incorporated and was established on Aug 21, 1997, to provide quality and affordable houses for families in Malaysia in line with the National Housing Objective.

During the last two years, Ahmad Azizi has spearheaded the transformation of SPNB by prioritising financial achievement without losing sight of the aspects of efficiency and accuracy in decision making in other business processes.

“His main focus is to strengthen the business process strategy which directly affects the company's financial standing such as sales and collection activities.

“The outcome: sales value of Rumah Aspirasi Rakyat and Rumah Idaman Rakyat for the second quarter of 2017 had increased 353% compared with the same period in 2016,” said SPNB.

It added that Ahmad Azizi's contract extension would enable him to continue with the business planning that has been scheduled under the company's subsidiaries. — Bernama

US unemployment rate falls to 4.1%, lowest in 17 years

WASHINGTON: The US unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in nearly 17 years in Oct while job creation resumed climbing after the two late-summer hurricanes, the Labor Department reported Friday.

Analysts said the rebound was smaller than expected but upward revisions to job creation in the prior months meant the storms had caused less damage than originally feared, making for an upbeat report.

The White House hailed the outcome, saying the Trump administration's economic agenda was bearing fruit. However, the report also showed a shrinking labor force and confirmed job creation in 2017 has lagged behind last year.

The US jobless rate fell to 4.1%, down a tenth of a point from Sept, the lowest the US economy has seen since December 2000.

Employers added 261,000 net new positions as businesses reopened in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, although economists had forecast a rebound of 300,000 new jobs.

But the data for September turned out not be as bad as initially reported, with 18,000 new jobs created, rather than a loss of 33,000 positions. Together with the upward revision for Aug, an additional 90,000 jobs were added for those two months.

The results generally showed US labor markets in good health, easily bouncing back from the storms that idled the US energy hub in southeast Texas and forced millions of Floridians to flee their homes.

“With nearly 1.5 million new jobs since the president took office, including over 260,000 last month, it's clear his agenda is putting Americans back to work,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.

Nevertheless, average monthly job creation now stands at 169,000 so far this year, significantly below the 192,000 monthly average recorded through October of last year.

The labor force participation rate also fell 0.4 points to 62.7 percent and the employment-to-population ratio shrank 0.2 points to 60.2% — suggesting the fall in unemployment may partly reflect a dip in the size of the work force as well as job creation.

The Fed starting to sweat?

The falling unemployment rate was likely to spark further debate among Federal Reserve policymakers, who appear set to raise the benchmark US interest rate next month despite doggedly low inflation even while a vocal minority argues the Fed should remain on hold.

Since January, unemployment has seven tenths of a percentage point, and more employers say positions are increasingly difficult to fill amid a scarcity of qualified labor.

“As in the late 1990s, the last time unemployment was this low, the Fed will start to sweat the potential inflation implications,” Chris Low of FTN Financial said in a client briefing.

“But any who take the time to look at the data will see the late 90s was a remarkably benign time for inflation.”

The central bank worries low unemployment eventually will fuel higher wages and overall inflation, even though there have been no signs of that yet.

Wages pressures in Oct were flat, with average hourly earnings falling by a penny to US$26.53, putting wages up 2.4% over the past 12 months, just above inflation.

But economists said the hurricanes distorted wage calculations, with average compensation rising in September because fewer hourly laborers were able to work, and then falling as they returned to their jobs.

“We expect more clear-cut evidence of wage pressures in the months ahead but today's data are a bit disappointing from that perspective,” Jim O'Sullivan of High Frequency Economics wrote in a client note.

“We still think the weight of evidence supports ongoing Fed tightening, however, including another rate hike in Dec.”

Employment in bars and restaurants sharply rebounded from the hurricanes, adding 89,000 positions in Oct following Sept's 98,000-job decline.

Manufacturers added 24,000 new positions but the retail workforce fell by more than 8,000 and mining and logging also shrank slightly, losing 2,000 positions. — AFP

BMW says recalling around 1m cars in US over fire risks

FRANKFURT AM MAIN: German luxury carmaker BMW on Friday said it was recalling “approximately one million vehicles” in North America over two separate problems that posed fire risks, and did not rule out that more countries may be affected.

The first voluntary recall affects certain BMW 3 Series models from 2006 to 2011, the company said in a statement.

The issue is related to potentially faulty wiring of the climate control blower fan which “in extremely rare cases” could cause a fire, it said.

The second recall will address a problem with a heater valve in certain 2007-2011 BMW models equipped with a 6-cylinder engine.

“Irregularities in the manufacturing process could lead to corrosion and in extremely rare cases may lead to a thermal event,” the company said.

Both recalls are for some 700,000 cars each but because there are “a lot of overlaps” the total number of affected cars is around one million, spokesman Michael Rebstock told AFP.

Most of the recalls affect the United States, while some 15,000 cars are being recalled in Canada.

“We don't exclude” that other markets beyond the US and Canada could be subject to the same recall actions, the spokesman said, adding that BMW was already in talks with authorities in Europe.

“It must be seen if other countries could be considered,” he said.

The affected cars were produced in Spartanburg, South Carolina as well as in Germany, South Africa and several other countries, the spokesman said.

The mass recall is the latest setback to hit the German titan, after its Munich headquarters was raided by EU antitrust regulators late last month as part of a probe into alleged collusion between German carmakers.

News of the recalls barely affected BMW shares on Frankfurt's blue-chip DAX index however, with the manufacturer shedding 0.33% to close at 89.57 euros.

Recalls in the US can potentially lead to major damages claims.

Earlier this year, four automakers including BMW and Toyota agreed to pay US$553 million (RM2,342) to settle a US lawsuit over defective Takata airbags that were blamed for at least 16 deaths. — AFP

Mexico makes ‘major’ 1.5-bn barrel oil find

MEXICO CITY: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said Friday state oil company Pemex has made a “major” oil and gas discovery with an estimated 1.5 billion barrels of crude equivalent, its largest onshore find in 15 years.

The new field, dubbed Ixachi-1, is located in the eastern state of Veracruz near existing Pemex infrastructure, meaning it can be tapped “relatively soon, and at low costs,” said Pena Nieto.

The estimated volume makes it “the largest onshore find the company has made in the past 15 years,” he said to applause from invitees at an event in the central state of Hidalgo.

The field's proven, probable and possible reserves — an estimation of the amount of oil and gas that can be brought to market near-term — are 350 million barrels, the president said.

Pemex said the size of the find may prove to be larger, and even double.

Industry experts urged caution, however.

“It's very early to talk about reserves … More work needs to be done to see how big it is,” said Gonzalo Monroy of Mexico City energy consultancy GMEC.

But he said any new find is good news for Pemex, Mexico's largest company, which has struggled with declining production in recent years.

“Pemex has discovered there is still considerable exploration potential” in Mexico, he told AFP. “That's good news for private industry and for the country”.

Mexico enacted a landmark energy reform in 2014 that reopened the oil and gas sector to foreign investors after 76 years of state monopoly, seeking to breathe new life into it.

As a result, Pemex now faces private competition. It reported a loss of US$5.3 billion, (RM22.45 billion) in the third quarter, as production fell by 12% from the same period last year, to 1.9 million barrels per day. — AFP