Saturday, January 13th, 2018

 

Air France-KLM denies bidding for troubled Alitalia

PARIS, Jan 13 — The Air France-KLM group today denied it had made an offer for ailing airline Alitalia, a day after Italy’s industry minister listed it among three bidders. Alitalia, struggling to compete with low-cost European rivals, went…


Singapore smashes bunker sales volumes in 2017, third straight record year

SINGAPORE, Jan 13 — Singapore posted record sales volumes of marine fuels for the third straight year in 2017, even as the city state revamped the market last year leading to stiff competition and margin erosion. Singapore last year sold an…


Crowds jostle for Hong Kong flats, no end in sight to housing boom

HONG KONG, Jan 13 — Hong Kong’s red-hot property market kicked off 2018 with hundreds queuing to buy flats in the first major property launch of the year today, backing expectations strong demand will further lift record prices by 5 to 20 per…


Titijaya has ongoing, future projects of RM12.3b GDV

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — Titijaya Land Bhd, a leading Malaysian property developer, has currently ongoing and future projects of about RM2.3 billion and RM10 billion in gross development value (GDV) respectively. Deputy Group Managing Director,…


US stocks end at records again, extending rally

NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks surged to another round of records Friday as earnings season kicked off amid optimism ignited by the US tax reform.

All three major indices again ended at records, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.9% at the closing bell to 25,803.19.

The broad-based S&P 500 finished at 2,786.24, jumping 0.7% from Thursday's record, as did the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index which closed the week at 7,261.06.

Earnings from big banks were mixed, with JPMorgan Chase rising 1.7% after beating expectations, even as profits were hit by one-time effects of the tax law changes. But JPMorgan expressed confidence the tax changes would boost results long-term.

Wells Fargo shed 0.7% as fourth-quarter earnings rose 17% to US$6.2 billion, (RM24 billion) but were marred by US$3.3 billion in litigation costs, some in the aftermath of the fake accounts scandal.

Many analysts believe the market has not yet priced in the higher profits that the corporate tax cut is expected to generate.

“Over time they will have to revise their estimates for earnings higher,” said Hugh Johnson of Hugh Johnson Advisors.

Friday's gains also followed a strong Dec US retail sales report, which lifted annual retail sales by 4.2%, the biggest increase since 2014.

Some consumer-oriented companies enjoyed big gains, including home-improvement retailer Lowe's, up 5.3%, big-box store Target, up 3.8%, and discount retailer Dollar Tree, up 3.1%.

Most large technology shares also rose, with Apple, Amazon, Google-parent Alphabet and Microsoft all winning one percent or more.

But Facebook sank 4.5% after announcing a plan to update its newsfeed to emphasize posts from friends and family over other content.

The shift prompted fears it could drive away advertisers if people spend less time on the social network. — AFP


Euro scales 3-year dollar pinnacle on German deal hopes

NEW YORK: The European single currency surged Friday to a three-year peak against the dollar as German Chancellor Angela Merkel moved closer to a new coalition government.

The euro's advance came as most global equity markets pushed higher, with US stocks again surging to fresh records as earnings season got underway amid optimism following tax reform.

Near 2140 GMT, (5.40 Malaysia time) the euro was at US$1.22, (RM4.84) up 1.4% on news that Merkel's conservatives have reached a “breakthrough” deal with Germany's second biggest party, the Social Democrats, toward building a new coalition.

In the all-night negotiations in Berlin, Merkel and her Christian Democrats, Horst Seehofer of her Bavarian allies the CSU, and Social Democrats (SPD) chief Martin Schulz hammered out a 28-page paper that will form the basis for the talks ahead.

The euro “jumped to its highest level in three years as the improving political sentiment in Germany and the upbeat comments from the ECB yesterday are fuelling the rally,” said market analyst David Madden at CMC Markets UK.

“Merkel is one of the biggest proponents of the eurozone project, and her ability to remain in power will be key to ensuring stability as we go forward,” said IG analyst Joshua Mahony.

European bourses also finished higher, with Frankfurt rising 0.3% and Paris 0.5%.

In the US, meanwhile, investors continued to aggressively add to stock holdings. All three major US indices finished at records, with the broad-based S&P 500 winning 0.7%.

Many analysts believe the market has not yet priced in the higher profits that the corporate tax cut is expected to generate.

“Over time they will have to revise their estimates for earnings higher,” said Hugh Johnson of Hugh Johnson Advisors.

Most large technology shares also rose, with Apple, Amazon, Google-parent Alphabet and Microsoft all winning one % or more.

But Facebook sank 4.5% after announcing a plan to update its newsfeed to emphasize posts from friends and family over other content.

The shift prompted fears it could drive away advertisers if people spend less time on the social network.

Key figures around 2140 GMT

New York – DOW: UP 0.9 % at 25,803.19 (close)

New York – S&P 500: UP 0.7 % at 2,786.24 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.7 % at 7,261.06 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.2 % at 7,778.64 points (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.3 % at 13,245.03 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.5 % at 5,517.06 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.4 % at 3,607.98

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.2 % at 23,653.82 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.9 % at 31,412.54 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.1 % at 3428.94 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at US$1.2200 from US$1.2030 at 2200 GMT Thursday

Pound/dollar: UP at US$1.3737 from US$1.3537

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 110.98 yen from 111.29 yen

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 61 cents at US$69.87 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 50 cents at US$64.30 per barrel — AFP


Indonesia warns against owning, selling, trading cryptocurrency

JAKARTA, Jan 13 — Bank Indonesia is taking a firm stance against cryptocurrencies as it urges all parties to refrain from owning, selling or trading the tokens. “Owning virtual currencies is very risky and inherently speculative,” the…


US report raps Alibaba’s Taobao, others for pirated goods

WASHINGTON: Alibaba's Taobao website and numerous public markets around the world were cited Friday as purveyors of hundreds of thousands of dollars in pirated goods in the US government's annual “notorious markets” review.

The report by the US Trade Representative spotlighted online venues that sell pirated goods, but also faulted physical markets in South and North America, Europe and Asia as spots where it was easy to purchase knockoff clothing, watches or perfume.

“Marketplaces worldwide that contribute to illicit trade cause severe harm to the American economy, innovation, and workers,” USTR Robert Lighthizer said.

Imports of counterfeit and pirated goods are estimated at half a trillion dollars, or 2.5 percent of global imports, the USTR said.

In spite of some efforts by Alibaba to curb the sale of contraband products on Taobao.com, “the prevalence of infringing listings and sales continues to be a challenge,” the report said.

US trade associations have complained about Taobao's lax record of taking down counterfeit goods, and emphasized the need for action “given the sheer size, global reach, and growth of Alibaba's network,” the report said.

Businesses “continue to identify China as the primary source of counterfeit products,” USTR said, pointing to public markets in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen as places where sellers can make counterfeit sales “with impunity.”

But the report found violations outside of China as well, including the Swedish file-sharing site Pirate Bay.

Other physical markets listed included the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, where shops reportedly sell counterfeit handbags and wallets; the open-air “Friday Market” in Italy, where some 20,000 infringing articles are sold annually; and the Pacific Mall in Ontario.

“Vendors in Pacific Mall appear to operate largely with impunity, and requests for assistance from local law enforcement have reportedly gone unanswered,” the report said. — AFP


Italian govt mulling three offers for ailing Alitalia

MILAN: Italy's government said Friday it is considering three bids for troubled airline Alitalia from Lufthansa, EasyJet and a private equity firm, and hopes to have a deal wrapped up by May.

“I can confirm that the goal is to complete a deal before the elections”, Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda said on the La7 television channel, referring to Italy's general election due on May 4.

The three offers received are from German airline giant Lufthansa, US private equity group Cerberus, and a joint EasyJet-Air France bid, he added.

“The presence of Air France is not sure and I will verify on Monday with the Alitalia administrators,” Calenda said of the joint bid.

Alitalia, struggling to compete with low-cost European rivals, went into administration last May at the request of its shareholders after staff rejected job and salary cuts as part of a two-billion-euro (RM9.53 billion) rescue plan.

Workers had rejected a restructuring plan that called for cutting 1,700 jobs at Italy's largest airline, which is 49% owned by Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways.

Calenda admitted that there were likely to be job losses whatever the government's decision on the three bids, but promised these would be “kept to a minimum”.

According to local media reports, Lufthansa wants to lay off 2,000 employees — almost a quarter of the total on the aviation side — if its offer for Alitalia is accepted.

Alitalia has 11,500 workers in total. — AFP


Expect Ringgit to appreciate further – Johari

  KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit can be expected to appreciate further against the greenback amid the country’s positive economic outlook, says Second Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani. He was responding to the prediction of economists that the local note should be moving towards its fair value of between 3.50 to 3.70 to the US dollar. “I personally think there […]