Wednesday, March 20th, 2019


US Fed resumes meeting with no rate hike expected

WASHINGTON, March 20 — The US Federal Reserve today resumed its second meeting of the year, having all but assured markets it will leave benchmark interest rates untouched. But markets and many economists expect the central bank will cut its…

With 737 MAX grounded, airlines face daily scheduling challenges

CHICAGO, March 20 — Following the global grounding of Boeing Co’s 737 MAX jets, US and Canadian airlines that fly the roughly 175-seat aircraft face a fresh logistical challenge every day: which flights to cancel and which to…

Vietnam’s FastGo revs into Singapore’s ride-hailing market

SINGAPORE, March 20 — The ride-hailing market here is about to heat up again, with Vietnamese firm FastGo to launch in Singapore next month as part of its expansion plan in South-east Asia. Singapore is the third country that FastGo will be…

Brexit delay request sends pound reeling

LONDON, March 20 — The pound fell sharply today after British Prime Minister Theresa May announced it was seeking a delay to its exit from the European Union until June 30, while investors awaited the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate call….

Key Jet Airways lender SBI says bankruptcy ‘last option’, rescue almost ready

NEW DELHI, March 20 — Bankruptcy is the “last option” for Jet Airways, State Bank of India’s (SBI) chairman said today, adding that it might still be possible to draft in a new investor to keep the airline flying. “We believe it is in…

Asian business sentiment lingers near three-year low in Q1

SEOUL: Confidence among Asian companies held near three-year lows in the first quarter as a US-China trade dispute dragged on, pulling down a global economy that is already on a downward path, a Thomson Reuters/INSEAD survey found.

The Thomson Reuters/INSEAD Asian Business Sentiment Index tracking firms’ six-month outlook was flat in the March quarter from the previous quarter’s 63, compared with a near three-year low of 58 set in the September quarter.

A reading above 50 means optimistic respondents outnumbered pessimists, but the latest index still marks one of the five worst since the world started its recovery from the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

“Things have not gotten worse but a lot of uncertainty is putting companies in wait-and-see mode,” Antonio Fatas, a Singapore-based economics professor at global business school INSEAD, said of US-China talks on trade relations.

“In one week, it looks like they are promising and the week after it looks like they are going nowhere, and so there’s a lot of wait-and-see attitude,” he added, saying the uncertainty is forcing companies to put off investment decisions.

A global trade war was cited as the chief business risk by respondents for the third quarter in a row, though by a smaller margin. Higher interest rates emerged as the second-biggest risk, outpacing a slowing Chinese economy.

A total of 100 companies from a range of sectors responded to the survey, conducted from March 1-15 in 11 Asia-Pacific countries where 45 percent of the world’s population live and 32% of global gross domestic product is generated.

The United States and China have put on hold a planned escalation of their trade war pending negotiations, but the much-awaited conclusion of the latest round of talks has also been delayed even though remarks from the two sides have been optimistic.

Global agencies including the International Monetary Fund and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development have said failure to resolve trade tension could further slow a downward-trending global economy.

Regional powerhouses China, Japan and South Korea all saw exports fall last month, with China and South Korea suffering their worst annual declines in overseas sales in around three years.

The index staying above the neutral point of 50 suggests companies in Asia are not expecting an imminent global recession, but languishing near multi-year lows indicates companies are exerting caution.

“We don’t see a global hard landing as a likely scenario when we look at economic factors such as inflation and credit conditions,” said Young Sun Kwon, economist at Nomura in Hong Kong. “But there are big uncertainties in politics.”

Lessons from the 2008-2009 global financial meltdown have forced countries to strengthen economic defences, but factors such as Britain’s planned exit from the European Union and the US Federal Reserve’s uncertain path are posing threats.

With less than two weeks before the March 29 divorce date, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government is still struggling to push a departure deal with the EU through the British parliament.

In the US, the Fed has declared a pause in its tightening campaign, but economists foresee at least one more increase later this year despite increasing signs of slowdown in major economies.

Respondents to the survey included Canon Inc, Suzuki Motor Corp, Thai Beverage PCL, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Co and Delta Electronics Thailand PCL. Companies surveyed can change from quarter to quarter.

KKB bags 3 contracts worth RM30.8 million

PETALING JAYA: KKB Engineering Bhd has bagged three contracts worth RM30.8 million.

KKB received a letter of award from Petronas Dagangan Bhd (PetDag) for the price agreement for new and refurbishment of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders for PetDag: fabrication, reconditioning of LPG cylinders and for the supply & delivery of LPG compact valves.

Its associate company Edisi Optima Sdn Bhd received s letter of award from PetDag for the price agreement for refurbishment of LPG cylinders for PetDag: requalification and shot-blast repainting of LPG cylinder.

KKB also received a purchase order from Laras Jaya Engineering Sdn Bhd (LJE) for the supply of mild steel concrete lined (MSCL) pipes for Sarawak Water Supply Grid Programme – stressed areas.

Both PetDag contracts are effective from March 15, 2019 and shall be valid for a period of three years, unless terminated earlier with an option to extend the contract period for a further period up to two years.

The completion date for LJE is scheduled within nine months.

“The contracts/purchase order(s) are expected to contribute positively towards the earnings and net assets of the company and group for the duration of the supply period,” KKB said in a stock exchange filing.

Berjaya Land posts RM67.34m pre-tax profit in Q3

PETALING JAYA: Berjaya Land Bhd’s (BLand) pre-tax profit for the third quarter ended Jan 31 fell 22.5% to RM67.34 million from RM86.84 million a year ago as Sports Toto Malaysia Sdn Bhd (STMSB) reported higher prize payout along with its lower revenue.

BLand also recorded lower share of profit from associate companies, mainly from Berjaya Kyoto Development (S) Pte Ltd (BKDS) on the back of lower registered sales of residences.

BLand’s revenue for the quarter decreased 6% to RM1.47 billion from RM1.56 billion, mainly attributable to the marginal drop in gaming revenue reported by STMSB; lower revenue from HR Owen Plc due to lower sales from the used car sector; lower progress billings from the property development segment; and lower revenue reported by the hotels and resorts segment from lower overall occupancy rates.

For the nine-month period, BLand’s pre-tax profit almost tripled to RM265.45 million from RM90.51 million in the previous year’s corresponding period, with revenue declining 3.7% to RM4.60 billion from RM4.78 billion.

Its directors expect the number forecast operation business to be satisfactory and that it will continue to maintain its market share for the remaining quarter of the financial year ending April 30. The performances of both hotels and resorts and property development business segments are expected to remain satisfactory.

The group also expects to record a significant gain upon the successful disposals of Berjaya Vietnam International University Town One Member Limited Liability Company, a Vietnamese subsidiary and TPC Nghi Tam Village Ltd.

Lazada organising sales campaign to mark 7th birthday

KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 — Online shopping platform Lazada is organising a sales campaign to mark its seventh birthday starting tomorrow until March 27 which will see the participation of over 70,000 selling sellers. Chief marketing officer Andrew…

Toyota to build new hybrid cars in Brexit-facing UK

LONDON, March 20 — Toyota today said it will build a new hybrid car in Britain for Japanese peer Suzuki — a welcome boost for the UK auto sector which has been hit by Brexit uncertainty. “Seeking to produce additional volume for other…