Saturday, February 16th, 2019


Merkel says US calling European cars a threat is ‘frightening’

MUNICH, Feb 16 — German Chancellor Angela Merkel today labelled as “frightening” tough US trade rhetoric planning to declare European car imports a national security threat. “If these cars… suddenly spell a threat to US national security,…

EPF’s 2018 dividends slightly lower than 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 16 — The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) has declared a dividend rate of 6.15 per cent for Simpanan Konvensional 2018, with payout amounting to RM43 billion and 5.9 per cent for Simpanan Shariah 2018, with a payout amounting…

Automakers brace for US government report on import tariffs

WASHINGTON, Feb 16 — A confidential Commerce Department report due to be sent to Donald Trump tomorrow is widely expected to clear the way for the US president to threaten tariffs on imported autos and auto parts by designating the imports a…

Ringgit to trade higher next week

KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit is expected to trade higher against the US dollar next week, supported by stable domestic growth drivers, gradual policy reforms and sustained current account surplus.

United Overseas Bank Malaysia (UOB Malaysia) senior economist Julia Goh said the ringgit would likely range between 4.05 and 4.10 against the US dollar in the near-term before a subsequent move towards 4.15 and 4.18 by mid- and end-2019, respectively, underpinned by the US Federal Reserve resuming its rate hikes in June and December.

“The ringgit remains undervalued compared to its peers and ringgit-denominated assets may offer safe-haven defence amid regional election events in the first half of 2019,” she said in a note.

Commenting on the US-China trade talks, Goh said the bank’s base case was for an extended period of negotiations between the world’s two giant economies with tariffs kept status quo.

Meanwhile, another dealer said the higher oil price, with international benchmark Brent crude oil now above US$65 per barrel, would also benefit the ringgit’s performance.

During the week just ended, the local unit was mostly traded lower against the US dollar due to worries over the outcome of the US-China trade talks.

However, the ringgit managed to climb to its six-month high of 4.0650/0690 against the US dollar on Wednesday after President Donald Trump commented that the US could extend the 90-day truce with China.

On a Friday-to-Friday basis, the ringgit was lower at 4.0870/0900 against the US dollar from 4.0670/0720 previously.

It also depreciated versus the Singapore dollar to 3.0082/0116 from 2.9988/9029 and weakened against the euro to 4.6110/6152 from 4.6059/6124.

However, the ringgit inched up against the Japanese yen to 3.7013/7050 from 3.7023/7079 and rose against the British pound to 5.2354/2409 from 5.2590/2667 last Friday. — Bernama

Stronger Ringgit, commodity prices to shore up Bursa Malaysia next week

KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia is expected to strengthen next week, driven by stronger ringgit and commodity prices, as well as rising forex reserves and higher national fourth quarter economic growth.

Phillip Capital Management senior vice-president (investment) Datuk Dr Nazri Khan Adam Khan said more upside is expected on the local stock market amid uncertainty over the outcome of the US-China trade negotiations.

“Despite global geopolitical concerns, the local market continues its near two-month upside movement above the 1,700-pt critical support mark,” he told Bernama.

He said another factor that would contribute to the market movement next week would be the release of economic data from Singapore, China, Japan and Taiwan.

Nazri Khan said the market would also be influenced by the outcome of the US-China trade talks.

“The talks between Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He and US trade representative Robert Lighthizer were the reason behind risk-averse attitude among investors,” he said.

Meanwhile, he said the gross domestic product (GDP) growth would also be one of the important catalysts as it improved above expectations, buoyed by a rebound in mining and quarrying, coupled with higher growth from the services and manufacturing sectors, albeit at a slower pace.

“Malaysia’s GDP grew 4.7% in the last quarter of 2018 compared with 4.4% in the previous quarter, slightly above our in-house and market expectations of 4.5 per cent and 4.6 per cent, respectively,” he said.

On the technical side, he said a further rise above 1,700 points in the FBM KLCI would indicate a bullish market sentiment.

“Having said that, we expect FBM KLCI to find its footing and enter into a short-term bullish movement,” he said.

For the week just ended, the local stock market was benign with investors mostly adopting a wait-and-see approach amid cautious sentiment over the US-China trade talks that began on Thursday.

On a Friday-to-Friday basis, the benchmark FBM KLCI settled 2.31 points higher at 1,688.83.

The FBM Emas Index was 24.75 points higher at 11,750.27, the FBMT 100 Index increased 11.36 points to 11,612.9 and the FBM Emas Shariah Index jumped 70.57 points to 11,663.6.

The FBM 70 eased 4.71 points to 14,028.19 while the FBM Ace Index rose 91.37 points to 4,646.59.

Sector-wise, the Financial Services Index erased 9.55 points to 17,632.56 while the Plantation Index increased 35.83 points to 7,335.43 and the Industrial Products and Services Index inched up 1.16 points to 163.13.

Weekly turnover rose to 14.85 billion units worth RM9.78 billion against 4.94 billion units worth RM3.8 billion.

Main Market volume expanded to 11.05 billion shares valued at RM8.99 billion versus 3.77 billion shares valued at RM3.57 billion.

Warrants turnover increased to 2.27 billion units worth RM480.02 million from 690.66 million units worth RM149.03 million.

The ACE Market volume improved to 1.52 billion shares valued at RM305.71 million against 483.1 million shares valued at RM83.25 million.

The gold futures contract on Bursa Malaysia Derivatives is expected to trade higher next week following the release of weak US economic data, thus reducing chances for the Federal Reserve to hike rates this year.

A dealer said the weak US retail sales, which fell 1.2% in December 2018 compared with November 2018, would encourage the Federal Reserve to hold interest rates steady for a while.

“This prospect is seen as beneficial for gold prices, given that higher interest rates will lift the opportunity cost of holding non-interest bearing assets,” he added.

On a Friday-to-Friday basis, spot month February 2019, March 2019, April 2019 and June 2019 were four ticks higher at RM172.20, RM172.20, RM172.50 and RM172.60 a gramme, respectively.

Weekly turnover amounted to four lots worth RM68,820 compared with nil last week, while open interest was at 22 contracts from 23 contracts previously. — Bernama

Dow climbs for 8th straight week amid trade optimism

NEW YORK, Feb 16 — Wall Street stocks finished another strong week on a positive note today, rising again on optimism over US-China trade talks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 1.7 per cent to 25,883.25 to close its eighth straight week of…

Uber narrows losses, growth slows on the road to IPO

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 16 — Uber today released earnings figures that showed its loss narrowed in the final quarter of last year while revenue growth slowed as the ridesharing giant prepares for a stock market debut. The loss for the final three…

Samsung to launch US retail stores in smartphone push

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb 16 — Samsung announced today it will open three US retail stores to promote its Galaxy line of smartphones as the South Korean giant sets to launch an updated flagship handset. The move ramps up Samsung’s efforts to compete on…

Progress in US-China trade talks sparks world stock rally

NEW YORK, Feb 15 — Progress in the US-China trade talks helped send world stock markets broadly higher today and pulled investors out of the safety of government bonds. Europe’s broad Stoxx 600 index rallied 1.4 per cent. The Dow Jones…

China offers to end market-distorting subsidies

BEIJING/WASHINGTON: China has pledged to end market-distorting subsidies for its domestic industries but offered no details on how it would achieve that goal, according to three people familiar with the US-China trade talks in Beijing this week. China promised to bring all subsidy programs into compliance with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, the sources said, […]