Tuesday, April 16th, 2019


Sterling slips on Brexit talks concerns; volatility drops

LONDON, April 16 — Sterling slipped today after a newspaper report that Brexit talks between Prime Minister Theresa May’s government and the opposition Labour Party were stalling, but moves were broadly contained in a market lacking fresh…

Billions at stake as Apple vs Qualcomm trial begins

SAN FRANCISCO, April 16 — How much are iPhone chips worth? That more or less is the question to be decided by a US court as Apple seeks billions in damages from former chip supplier Qualcomm. Since Apple originally filed suit in January 2017, the…

Portugal orders truck drivers back to work as airports run out of fuel

LISBON, April 16 — Portugal’s government has ordered fuel truck drivers to return to work immediately after a major strike threatened to leave the country’s main airports without fuel just before the busy Easter tourist period. Demanding…

Wall St rises on tech boost, robust Johnson & Johnson earnings

NEW YORK, April 16 — US stocks rose today, powered by stellar results from healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson and gains in technology stocks, with the benchmark S&P 500 less than a per cent away from its all-time high. Johnson &…

EU lawmakers okay minimum rights for gig economy workers

STRASBOURG, April 16 — The European Parliament today approved a law setting minimum rights for workers in the “gig economy”, a move that may benefit Uber drivers, Deliveroo and Just Eat food couriers and others. Gig workers are usually treated…

US manufacturing flat in March, capping weak Q1

WASHINGTON, April 16 — American manufacturing was flat in March, which was good news after sharp declines in the prior two months that combined for a dismal first quarter, the Federal Reserve reported today. That weak performance has contributed…

Handal acquires 51% of Borneo Seaoffshore

PETALING JAYA: Handal Resources Bhd is acquiring a 51% stake in Borneo Seaoffshore Engineering Sdn Bhd (BSOE) for RM25.5 million in a related party transaction.

The offshore crane services provider told Bursa Malaysia that it had entered into a conditional share sale agreement with SeaOffshore Capital Sdn Bhd for the proposed acquisition. SOC is also a major shareholder of Handal.

The proposed acquisition comes with a profit guarantee of RM5 million for the financial year ending June 30, 2020.

Of the purchase sum, Handal said some RM15.86 million will be satisfied via the issuance of 42.86 million new Handal shares at an issue price of 37 sen per share while the balance RM9.64 million via the issuance of 26 million new irredeemable convertible preference shares (ICPS) in Handal at an issue price of 37 sen per ICPS.

BSOE in the provision of maintenance of riser and pipeline isolation services located at offshore platforms and/or offshore rigs.

MIER says there’s room for Bank Negara to cut policy rate

KUALA LUMPUR: There is room for Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to reduce the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) as domestic money supply growth is declining and the US Federal Reserve is adopting a stagnant rate stance, said Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) senior research fellow Dr Zulkiply Omar.

BNM has maintained the OPR at 3.25% since January 2018. It is widely expected that the central bank will cut the key rate within the year as the economic growth moderates.

Speaking at MIER’s 24th Corporate Economic Briefing here today, Zulkiply said the rate cut expectation is further supported by negative sentiment on domestic production and consumption due to the weak ringgit, which was pressured by the massive short-term capital outflow of RM44.4 billion last year.

Nonetheless, he said the pressure on the ringgit has diminished following the stable US interest rates, which have helped reduce the volatility of hot money flows.

With the increase in BNM’s international reserves to US$103 billion (RM423.3 billion) on March 29, 2019, he said this indicates that the ringgit has been strengthening after declining for four quarters in a row in 2018.

Looking ahead, he opined that the ringgit will remain stable and is unlikely to weaken further following the Fed’s dovish stance.

The ringgit weakened 0.51% to 4.1305 against the greenback as at 5pm today.

Meanwhile, MIER executive director Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Zakariah Abdul Rashid has proposed income policy to tackle deflation, apart from monetary and fiscal policies.

“When we increase income, we don’t have to worry about the increase in prices that will result in a reduction in consumer purchasing power. In fact, that’s the effect that we want. We want prices to go up, which are better and will stimulate demand and give incentives for people to work.”

He said fiscal policy may have its limitation as the government is faced with public debt problems, while the monetary policy is restrictive, having to consider interest rate differentials between Malaysia and the US.

MIER is maintaining its 2019 gross domestic product (GDP) growth projection for Malaysia at 4.5% on less encouraging domestic and external factors. This compares with BNM’s estimate of 4.3% to 4.8% growth.

On a separate note, Zakariah said Malaysia’s trade with China could take a hit due to the protracted trade war between the US and China. This is based on the RM178 billion trade between Malaysia and China in 2017.

The economic impact will cover over 550,000 employees, RM53 billion of value added production and RM769 million in taxes.

However, Zakariah reiterated that MIER has not detected a diversion in trade between Malaysia and China, since the start of the US-China dispute.

Hypothetically speaking, Zakariah said, the trade spat between the world’s two largest economies will definitely affect Malaysia, due to the spillover effect.

However, so far, for 2017 and 2018, the numbers for Malaysia’s imports from and exports to China have not declined, he added.

In 2017, Malaysia’s exports to China amounted to US$29 billion, and imports from that country totalled US$38 billion.

Gadang bags TRX job

PETALING JAYA: Gadang Holdings Bhd has secured a RM38.52 million contract for the proposed development of an elevated bridge at the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) project.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, the group said its wholly owned subsidiary Gadang Engineering (M) Sdn Bhd has received and accepted a letter of award dated April 16 from TRX City Sdn Bhd.

Under the contract, Gadang Engineering will undertake the proposed development of an elevated bridge connecting the north site to the south site of TRX, comprising passage for vehicles, walkways for pedestrians and closed passage for utility installations (ground floor).

The works will commence on July 1 and will be completed by the third quarter of 2020.

UEM Edgenta’s Opus is consultant for Sarawak road project

PETALING JAYA: UEM Edgenta Bhd’s asset consultancy arm Opus Consultants has been appointed by the Sarawak government as the project management consultant for the RM11 billion state’s Coastal Road Network and Second Trunk Roads project.

The project is estimated to be completed in eight years.

The first work package for the project, which is valued at RM50 million, was awarded to Opus Consultants recently and will see the company, working together with Sarawak Public Works Department, in providing overall project management and technical expertise.

This includes to oversee key deliverables within the project work scope such as preliminary and detailed designs of 20 work packages ranging from the development of new roads and bridges, including four iconic cable-stayed bridges and pavement rehabilitation works.

Opus Consultants will also be overseeing upgrading works of 300km of the existing 896km of coastal roads; construction of 10 new bridges for the Coastal Road Network Project; and construction of 232km for Second Trunk Roads project.

The Coastal Road Network and Second Trunk Roads project was launched by Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Zohari Tun Openg in Sarikei, Sarawak on April 6.

The Coastal Road Network is set to provide the state’s coastal area with better access and connectivity between towns namely – Kota Samarahan, Sadong Jaya, Sebuyau, Kabong, Tanjong Manis, Daro, Matu, Balingian and Bintulu to the Pan Borneo Highway network.

The Second Trunk Roads project on the other hand will link Kuching and Sibu to the Pan Borneo Highway network through Sebuyau, Seri Aman and the Betong link.