Saturday, April 14th, 2018


Malaysia retains pole position in US$220b Muslim travel market

KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 — Malaysia has retained its position as the foremost destination in the global Muslim travel market as rivals look to close the gap fast, according to the Mastercard-CrescentRating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2018….

Malaysia to lead protest against EU’s anti-palm oil move

SUNGAI PETANI: Malaysia has been given the honour of leading the protest among co-operatives against the European Union's (EU) plan to ban the use of palm oil in transport fuels by 2021, according to Angkatan Koperasi Kebangsaan Malaysia Bhd (Angkasa) President, Datuk Abdul Fattah Abdullah.

He said the International Co-operative Alliance (ICA) had given its approval to the national co-operative union's application requesting to be the voice of opposition against the EU's plan.

“We have been given the honour of writing the formal protest letter to the EU. It will be submitted to the ICA by the end of this month and which is expected to be presented to the EU in the near future.

“The protest by Malaysia will not only benefit the country, but also other countries represented in the ICA (an apex organisation for co-operatives worldwide), including in Asia, the Americas, Europe and Africa.

“We hope that through this protest, the EU will at least see a large movement among co-operatives worldwide to consider,” he told reporters after the Angkasa Kedah Conference 2018 ended here today.

In April last year, the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution that said only certified sustainable palm oil could be imported into the EU after 2020.

The resolution also claimed that oil palm plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia illegally used slash-and-burn methods to clear land, destroying the rain forests as well as the animal habitats, causing a severe haze that blanketed parts of Asia.

Abdul Fattah said the EU proposal would have a negative impact on Malaysia, affecting about 700,000 smallholders under the Felda land schemes and Felcra Bhd.

He added that so far, Malaysia accounted for about 35% of the world's palm-oil based products, alongside other major producers like Indonesia, Thailand and Africa. — Bernama

Stocks hit by profit-taking, selloff in US bank shares

NEW YORK: European stocks ran into profit-taking Friday as many investors, wary of global uncertainty and US President Donald Trump's volatile Twitter diplomacy, cashed out before the weekend, traders said.

Bourses in Paris and Frankfurt had posted solid gains earlier in the session after Trump put off a decision about military strikes in Syria, giving investor nerves a welcome break.

Although tensions appeared to be easing, few dared to carry positions into the weekend, fearing they may regret it come Monday morning. Equity markets in Europe finished with modest gains.

“Traders remain cautious heading into the weekend,” said Craig Erlam at OANDA. “Given the backdrop of a trade conflict with China and rising tensions with Russia over Syria, any rallies may be somewhat gradual”.

Despite the lackluster ending to the week, European markets “have pulled off a third straight week of gains”, said Jasper Lawler at LCG, crediting “Trump Twitter fatigue” for the overall resilience of equity markets.

US stocks opened in positive territory but quickly were under pressure after a batch of earnings reports from large US banks sparked a selloff in financial shares.

Although earnings from JPMorgan Chase and other large banks bested analyst expectations, the sector had risen in anticipation of the reports and the results — while good — were not strong enough to propel the stocks higher, analysts said.

“You had a sector selloff in financials,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. “When the group started selling off, it took the whole market with it”.

“It feels like we just ramped up expectations too much,” he added.

US earnings season picks up momentum next week with results from other large banks, as well as from General Electric, Netflix and others.

Analysts are hoping a successful US corporate earnings season will lift US stocks following a rocky period.

The market has been pressured by fears of a trade war, concerns about higher US interest rates and worries about the Trump administration's prospects following myriad controversies and the near-constant churn of White House staff.

Among other markets, oil prices finished at fresh three-year highs after a report by the International Energy Agency highlighted turbulence in Syria in the oil-rich Middle East and the effectiveness of a deal between OPEC and Russia to limit output.

Key figures around 2100 GMT, (5am Malaysia time)

New York – Dow: DOWN 0.5% at 24,360.14 (close)

New York – S&P 500: DOWN 0.3% at 2,656.30 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: DOWN 0.5% at 7,106.65 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.1% at 7,264.56 (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.2% at 12,442.40 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.1% at 5,315.02 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.2% at 3,448.12 (close)

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.6% at 21,778.74 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 0.1% at 30,808.38 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 0.7% at 3,159.05 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at US$1.2338 from US$1.2327 at 2100 GMT

Dollar/yen: UP at 107.35 yen from 107.33

Pound/dollar: UP at US$1.4241 from US$1.4228

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 56 cents at US$72.58 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 32 cents at US$67.39 per barrel — AFP

US$1 = RM3.87

Chinese urged to boycott US firms, but Big Mac fans unconvinced

BEIJING: The messages began to pop up on Chinese social media as the trade spat with the United States sizzled, urging people to boycott McDonald's and other American firms to “defend the economic Great Wall”.

US President Donald Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods have roused nationalist sentiment in the world's second largest economy, where consumers have a long track record of spurning foreign products when political nerves are frayed.

Appeals to shun the likes of McDonald's, KFC and Apple's iPhone have appeared on the popular WeChat messaging app and the Weibo microblogging website in recent days.

“Compatriots, our motherland is going through a difficult time. We must unite to support our national brands and help defend the economic Great Wall!” read one message being circulated on WeChat. AFP was unable to verify the original source of the message.

On Weibo, a car salesman from northwest China's Gansu province wrote: “The US has fired the first salvo in this trade war. It's everyone's responsibility to boycott American goods!”

The Chinese government has hit back at the US tariffs and vowed to retaliate to any new measures, but President Xi Jinping and Trump delivered conciliatory words this week that raised hope of a negotiated solution.

China's state-run Global Times tabloid has encouraged the government to take a tough stance, with an editorial last week saying China should fight with the same spirit as during the Korean War — one that “fears no sacrifice or loss”.

“Chinese living across the globe have considerable purchasing power. We can cause a lot of damage to the US economy,” wrote one reader in the article's online comment section.

But it may be tough to convince Chinese people to give up American brands that have become ubiquitous in streets and shopping centres across the vast country.

Hit 'delete'

The calls for boycotts certainly didn't ruin the appetite of the lunch crowd at a McDonald's in downtown Beijing this week, just a stone's throw away from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“I also received these messages, I just delete them,” said diner Wang Zhiyi, who was wolfing down a double cheeseburger with fries and a coke. “These people (who share such messages) just want to cause a ruckus.”

This isn't the first time American products have been targeted by boycotts.

Photos of individuals smashing their iPhones emerged on social media in 2016, purportedly to denounce US support for the Philippines in a territorial dispute with China over the South China Sea. Protesters also shouted slogans in front of a dozen KFC outlets.

But Ben Cavender, an analyst at Shanghai-based China Market Research Group, said he did not expect a boycott to gain much traction this time.

“Despite online slogans, surveys show that service brands that mostly employ Chinese nationals are viewed more positively,” Cavender told AFP.

At the Dunkin' Donuts outlet across the road from the McDonald's, bank employee Gao Junya sat sipping her afternoon coffee with a friend.

“Do you think this donut is a symbol of American overreach and imperialism?” she asked, biting into a gooey Boston Cream. “Small groups on social media are just trying to put up smokescreens.”

Watering down wine

Although many were quick to brush aside nationalist slogans, American wine has taken a hit.

“I've had a couple of corporate clients who've said they'd prefer to switch from a US wine to something else (for official events) in recent weeks because they are conscious of the image they are projecting,” Jim Boyce, a Beijing-based wine consultant, said.

According to the California Wine Institute, China was the fifth biggest importer of wine from the Golden State in 2017.

While China's new 15% tariff on US wine, announced last week, is threatening to make it less price-competitive, the nationalistic fervour could deal an even harder blow, Boyce said.

“The biggest concern is whether this negativity would turn into a long-term sentiment,” he said.

Other countries have felt the pain of running afoul of China.

Beijing hit South Korea with a string of measures against businesses last year after Seoul let the United States install an anti-missile defence system in its territory to defend against North Korean threats. China sees the hardware as a threat to its own security.

French retail giant Carrefour became the target of a string of protest ahead of the 2008 Beijing Olympics after pro-Tibet activists disrupted the Olympic torch relay in Paris.

And Norwegian salmon was left rotting in Chinese warehouses after the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, based in Oslo, was awarded to democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo, who died of cancer while still in custody last year. — AFP

Trump zig-zags on trade jarring but could get results, experts say

WASHINGTON, April 14 — President Donald Trump’s hard line on trade with China has fuelled fears of an economically-damaging trade war, while his swings from threat to praise have generated uncertainty among businesses. But trade experts…

Ringgit’s trajectory next week to be influenced by economic data

KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 — The ringgit’s trajectory next week is expected to be influenced by Malaysia’s economic data, as well as US interest rates. Both are slated for released next week, dealers said. FXTM Research Analyst, Lukman…

Bursa Malaysia to see slightly better trading next week

KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia is expected to trade slightly better next week with investors accumulating selected index-linked counter stocks, amid cautious sentiment which is largely to be influenced by external developments.

A dealer said the current bullish sentiment, spurred by an easing of the US-China trade war tensions and a threatened military strike by the US on Syria not imminent, would continue to fuel risk appetite next week.

“In addition, US President Donald Trump reconsidering rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade deal has sparked relief in the face of the China trade threat.

“Wall Street's performance will be closely monitored with confidence seeming to pile up ahead of the US corporate earnings season,” he told Bernama.

On the local front, another dealer said an upside bias in small and mid-cap stocks is expected to continue next week.

He anticipated reports on Malaysia's unemployment figures and inflation data to be released next week, would partly contribute to market sentiment.

On a Friday-to-Friday basis, the FBM KLCI was 31.46 points higher at 1,868.47 from 1,837.01 last week.

The key index moved on an upward momentum and ended almost at a four-year high on Thursday before retreating on Friday as profit taking emerged.

The FBM Emas Index surged 353.26 points to 13,129.52, the FBM Emas Syariah Index soared 459 points to 13,352.7 and the FBMT100 Index increased 300.72 points to 12,921.62

The FBM 70 jumped 651.67 points to 15,819.58 and the FBM Ace climbed 607.13 points to 5,646.13.

On a sectoral basis, the Finance Index chalked up 292.91 points to 18,261.84, the Plantation Index improved 137.78 points to 8,054.53 and the Industrial Index rose 22.48 points to 3,220.98.

Weekly turnover expanded to 16.59 billion units worth RM12.55 billion from 12.49 billion units valued at RM10.68 billion.

Main market volume surged to 10.17 billion units worth RM11.57 billion from 7.23 billion units valued at RM9.36 billion.

Warrants turnover increased to 3.42 billion units worth RM449.85 million from 1.3 billion units valued at RM945.69 million.

The ACE market volume widened to 2.97 billion shares worth RM529.98 million from 2.23 billion shares valued at RM363.88 million. — Bernama

Bursa to see slightly better trading next week

KUALA LUMPUR, April 14 — Bursa Malaysia is expected to trade slightly better next week with investors accumulating selected index-linked counter stocks, amid cautious sentiment which is largely to be influenced by external developments. A…

GE books US$4.2b charge, restates earnings as expected

NEW YORK, April 14 — General Electric Co said yesterday it took a US$4.24 billion (RM16.45 billion) equity charge and reduced earnings for the last two years by 30 cents a share, figures in line with expectations the company set earlier this…