Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

 

Trump asks Opec not to cut production

WASHINGTON, Dec 5 — US President Donald Trump today urged Opec members not to slash production at their upcoming meeting, saying global oil prices should remain low. Trump’s comment came as members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting…


China confident on US trade pact, Trump cites Xi’s ‘strong signals’

SHANGHAI, Dec 5 — China expressed confidence today that it can reach a trade deal with the United States, a sentiment echoed by US President Donald Trump a day after he warned of more tariffs if the two sides could not resolve their differences….


Malaysia’s October exports, trade surplus hit record high

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s exports expanded at a faster pace of 17.7% year on year (yoy) in October to hit a new high of RM96.4 billion while imports grew 11.4% to RM80.1 billion, resulting in the largest trade surplus on record.

The trade surplus was RM16.3 billion in October, an increase of RM6.3 billion (+63.1%) from a year ago. It was also higher by RM1.1 billion (+7.2%) from the previous month. In September, the country’s exports grew 6.7% yoy.

Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said re-exports were valued at RM20.8 billion, registering a surge of 43.8% yoy and accounted for 21.6% of total exports.

“Domestic exports also recorded an increase of 12.1% or RM8.2 billion to RM75.5 billion. Total trade which was valued at RM176.4 billion increased RM22.7 billion or 14.8% from October 2017,” he said in a statement today.

Data from the Department of Statistics revealed that export growth was contributed by expansion in exports to China (+RM3.7 billion), Hong Kong (+RM2.2 billion), Singapore (+RM2.1 billion), Taiwan (+RM1.4 billion) and Australia (+RM1.3 billion).

Meanwhile, higher imports were mainly from Taiwan (+RM1.6 billion), Saudi Arabia (+RM1.3 billion), Indonesia (+RM1.1 billion), Singapore (+RM1.1 billion) and China (+RM1.0 billion).

The main contributors to the expansion in exports were electrical and electronic products (+RM7.2 billion), refined petroleum products (+RM1.8 billion), liquefied natural gas (+RM1.1 billion), crude petroleum (+RM937.0 million) and timber and timber-based products (+RM133.9 million).

However, exports of palm oil and palm oil-based products as well as natural rubber fell by RM807.1 million and RM9.2 million respectively.

Meanwhile, the increase in imports by end-use in October was mainly contributed by consumption goods and intermediate goods, which rose by RM454.6 million and RM402.7 million respectively. However, imports of capital goods declined RM153.0 million.


Willowglen clinches RM14m contract

PETALING JAYA: Willowglen MSC Bhd’s wholly owned unit Willowglen Services Pte Ltd has clinched a contract worth RM14.39 million from SP PowerAssets Ltd for the design, supply, install, test and commission of the SCADA and RFID system for existing cable tunnel.

The commencement date of the contract is on Dec 4, 2018 and will be completed by Dec 3 next year, it told the stock exchange.

The group expects the contract to contribute positively to its earnings and net assets per share for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2019.


Malaysian consumer confidence index rises to record high in Q3

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s consumer confidence index rose to a high of 127 percentage points in the third quarter (Q3) this year, making it the third most confident country behind India and Vietnam.

According to The Conference Board Global Consumer Confidence Survey, which was conducted in collaboration with Nielsen, the consumer confidence index was 10 points higher from the second quarter (Q2) and 31 points higher year-on-year.

The survey revealed improvements across all three indicators of the index on both quarterly and annual basis.

About 77% of Malaysians believe the state of their personal finances in the next 12 months will be excellent or good compared with 69% in Q2 2018 and 56% in Q3 2017 while 75% have a positive view on their job prospects in the next 12 months compared with 73% in Q2 2018 and 45% in Q3 2017.

In addition, 58% said that “now is the time to buy the things they want and need” compared with 50% in Q2 2018 and 31% in Q3 2017.

“We attribute this unprecedented level of confidence to continued post-election optimism. The announcement of the Sales and Services Tax during the quarter did little to dampen sentiment among consumers, who indicated an increased willingness to spend,” said Nielsen Malaysia managing director Raphael Pereda.

The survey showed that a majority (69%) of Malaysians still believe the country is in a recession (65% in Q2 2018). Of this, more than half (52%) are optimistic that the country’s economy will recover in the next 12 months.

Malaysians top five concerns in Q3 2018 were the economy (38% versus 40% in Q2 2018), job security (21% versus 26%), work-life balance (20% versus 18%), health (16% versus 13%) and political stability (16% versus 12%).


Consumer confidence index rise to record high

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s consumer confidence index rose to a high of 127 percentage points in the third quarter (Q3) this year, making it the third most confident country behind India and Vietnam.

According to The Conference Board Global Consumer Confidence Survey, which was conducted in collaboration with Nielsen, the consumer confidence index was 10 points higher from the second quarter (Q2) and 31 points higher year-on-year.

The survey revealed improvements across all three indicators of the index on both quarterly and annual basis.

About 77% of Malaysians believe the state of their personal finances in the next 12 months will be excellent or good compared with 69% in Q2 2018 and 56% in Q3 2017 while 75% have a positive view on their job prospects in the next 12 months compared with 73% in Q2 2018 and 45% in Q3 2017.

In addition, 58% said that “now is the time to buy the things they want and need” compared with 50% in Q2 2018 and 31% in Q3 2017.

“We attribute this unprecedented level of confidence to continued post-election optimism. The announcement of the Sales and Services Tax during the quarter did little to dampen sentiment among consumers, who indicated an increased willingness to spend,” said Nielsen Malaysia managing director Raphael Pereda.

The survey showed that a majority (69%) of Malaysians still believe the country is in a recession (65% in Q2 2018). Of this, more than half (52%) are optimistic that the country’s economy will recover in the next 12 months.

Malaysians top five concerns in Q3 2018 were the economy (38% versus 40% in Q2 2018), job security (21% versus 26%), work-life balance (20% versus 18%), health (16% versus 13%) and political stability (16% versus 12%).


Astro’s Q3 earnings rise on lower costs, fees

PETALING JAYA: Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd’s net profit for the third quarter ended Oct 31 rose 4.45% to RM153.22 million from RM146.68 million a year ago due to lower content costs, licence, copyright and loyalty fees and impairment of receivables.

However, it was offset by higher net finance costs due to unfavourable unrealised forex movement arising from unhedged finance lease liabilities and vendor financing, and increase in interest expenses from borrowings, according to its filing with Bursa Malaysia.

Revenue for the quarter fell marginally to RM1.38 billion from RM1.40 billion a year ago due to lower subscription revenue as a result of lower package take-up, offset by higher merchandise sales and advertising revenue.

The increase in merchandise sales was due to increase in number of products sold, driven by the tactical campaigns executed during the quarter while the increase in advertising revenue was due to advertising spend on telcos and new device launches.

Astro has declared a third interim single-tier dividend of 2.5 sen per share in respect of the financial year ending Jan 31, 2019 amounting to about RM130.36 million, to be paid on Jan 4, 2019.

The television division’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) grew 15.3% while revenue fell 2.4% year-on-year. The radio division’s ebitda and revenue fell by 8.2% and 11.1% respectively. For the home-shopping division, ebitda improved by RM2.6 million while revenue rose 35.1%.

For the nine months ended Oct 31, Astro’s net profit fell 41.49% to RM344.52 million from RM588.85 million a year ago, while revenue fell marginally to RM4.11 billion from RM4.14 billion a year ago.

“Overall, we’ve had a decent quarter predicated on our strong market reach which has grown 6% year-on-year to 5.7 million customers, or 76% of Malaysian households, enabling better monetisation across our verticals of pay, prepaid, adex (advertising expenditure) and eCommerce,” said CEO designate Henry Tan.

Moving forward, he said the group is implementing a strategic review of its business and organisational structure in view of the challenges. The review includes deeper cost rationalisation and workforce optimisation, which will incur one-off costs in the coming months.

“This exercise will enable us to remain competitive, efficient and agile so we can pursue opportunities in key growth areas such as broadband, membership and rewards, production of premium content, adex and eCommerce,” he added.


BIMB appoints Muazzam as CEO

KUALA LUMPUR: BIMB Holdings Bhd (BHB) has appointed its acting CEO Mohd Muazzam Mohamed as its new CEO.

Having formerly served as the group’s CFO, Mohd Muazzam took on the role of acting CEO on July 20, following the departure of Khairul Kamarudin.

He will serve as the CEO of both BHB and Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd.

A former partner of KPMG and executive director of KPMG’s Management Consulting Practice from 1997 to 2015, Mohd Muazzam has 22 years of experience in the field of audit, finance and consulting.

He has played a key role in the bank’s strategic direction, capital and balance sheet management, corporate finance, credit, market positioning, financial planning & control and general administration.

He also sits as a director on the board of several companies within the BHB Group.

In addition to that, he is also a member of various executive committees in Bank Islam and chairs several project steering committees.


EU Commission pushes for wider use of euro in global markets

BRUSSELS, Dec 5 — The European Commission published today non-binding proposals to boost the role of the euro in international payments and as a reserve currency to challenge the dominance of the dollar. The move follows the United States’…


Straits Inter Logistics to diversify into land transportation, logistics

PETALING JAYA: Straits Inter Logistics Bhd has proposed to diversify its existing business to include land transportation and logistics business through its wholly owned subsidiary Straits Alliance Transport Sdn Bhd to provide long-term sustainability to its financial position.

Currently, the group is involved in the provision of trading of oil products and oil bunkering services.

It told the stock exchange that the proposed diversification bodes well with the group’s strategy to identify new business opportunities within the logistics segment that is expected to provide additional revenue and income stream.

This also serves as an expansion strategy of the group’s business activities into land transportation and logistics business, mainly due to the requests from its existing customers for these two services.

Through the proposed diversification, the group is expected to widen its existing customer profiles to include customers from both land transportation and logistics industry as well as from marine transportation and logistics industry moving forward.

The group believes it has the existing capacities, capabilities and resources to venture into the land transportation and logistics business, as the nature and business processes of oil bunkering and land transportation are essentially similar.

Notwithstanding the proposed diversification, the group said it will continue with the current core business activities in the same manner and will continue its efforts to enhance the performance of its existing core business activities.