Thursday, April 25th, 2019


Weak 3M results hit Dow, Nasdaq rises

NEW YORK, April 25 — The Dow nosedived early today on a bruising earnings report from industrial company 3M, while strong Microsoft and Facebook results boosted the Nasdaq. About 25 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down…

Aircraft sales drive rebound in US durable goods in March

WASHINGTON, April 25 — Sales of US-made manufactured goods unexpectedly surged to a six-month high in March, rising on strong demand for aircraft and communications equipment along with record auto sales, the government reported today. The gains…

Microsoft tops trillion-dollar mark for first time

NEW YORK, April 25 — Microsoft hit the trillion-dollar value mark today for the first time, becoming the third technology giant to reach the symbolic milestone. Shares in Microsoft rallied some five per cent to US$130.59 in early Wall Street trade…

US manufacturer 3M says to cut 2,000 jobs on slowing demand

NEW YORK, April 25 — US industrial products manufacturer 3M announced today it will cut 2,000 jobs worldwide, citing weakness in key markets that led to a drop in first-quarter sales. 3M, which makes a wide variety of industrial goods and tools as…

RBS boss resigns having turned around bailed-out bank

LONDON, April 25 — Britain’s state-rescued Royal Bank of Scotland said today that chief executive Ross McEwan is to step down after having steered it to a strong financial position. New Zealander McEwan has been at the helm since 2013 and helped…

Ghosn wins bail in Japan but banned from seeing wife

TOKYO, April 25 — Former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn emerged from his Tokyo detention centre in the late hours of today after accepting bail of US$4.5 million under strict conditions including restrictions on seeing his wife. The 65-year-old tycoon…

Suggestion on house price control sparks debate

KUALA LUMPUR: There should be a price control mechanism for residential properties to avoid the escalation of prices, suggested National House Buyers Association vice-president Brig Gen (R) Datuk Goh Seng Toh.

“We believe price control is feasible. We control the prices of sugar, cooking oil, petrol and a whole host of other things but yet we allow a laissez-faire situation to persist in the housing arena,” he told reporters after a panel discussion on “Housing in Malaysia: Policy Discourse” organised by Khazanah Research Institute (KRI) here today.

Goh emphasised that a roof over one’s head is more important than sugar and cooking oil, for example, where consumption of these items can be cut, and yet the country has allowed property developers to call the shots in setting house prices and let prices go up to dizzying heights.

“We’re practising certain limit and price control when we dictate the prices of affordable houses and low-cost houses so it’s a matter of extending that. Drastic measures need to be done before we end up with a homeless society,” he added.

According to KRI’s latest report “Rethinking Housing: Between State, Market and Society” launched today, housing affordability worsened significantly between 2012 and 2014 as supply did not cater to demand.

During this period, the median multiple affordability increased from 4.0 to 5.1, while the median house price increased at a compound annual growth rate of 23.5% from RM175,000 to RM280,000.

Based on the median multiple affordability, Malaysia’s housing market is categorised as “seriously unaffordable” and “severely unaffordable”, exceeding the 3.0 threshold for housing affordability.

The report also cited data which indicate that house prices in Malaysia have almost doubled since 2008 while construction costs have only increased slightly in the same period. Due to the lack of housing development cost data, the difference between normal profits and excess profits cannot be determined. The relationship between speculation, land price and house price also cannot be empirically tested without land data.

National Housing Department director-general Jayaselan K. Navaratnam said its ministry has never planned to implement price control of house prices as it is an open market where there is fair trade.

Any move to launch price control will also impact the economy and deter investments, he added.

However, he clarified that all states are already doing their own “price control”.

“It’s not to bring down the price but to manage the price,” Jayaselan said, citing Malacca, which sets a suitable price for houses.

KRI chairman Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi disagreed with the idea of price control, saying the setting of a ceiling price will also bring about a floor price, resulting in developers not offering anything below the floor price.

Instead of price control, KRI director of research Dr Suraya Ismail pointed to the need for regulations to deter abuse of market and the monopoly of high house prices dictated by some developers, adding that regulations must create a competitive market.

D-G: New laws covering property sector in the works

KUALA LUMPUR: The Housing and Local Government is working on developing four Acts related to the property sector which it hopes to table in two years,

The Acts are for residential tenancy, commercial building, wakaf land and a review of the Housing Development Act 1966.

National Housing Department director-general Jayaselan K. Navaratnam (pix) said for commercial building purchases, the sale and purchase agreements are not controlled and different developments will have different terms and guidelines.

“We want to standardise it so that the rights of the purchasers are guaranteed,” he told reporters after a panel discussion on “Housing in Malaysia: Policy Discourse” organised by Khazanah Research Institute here today.

Jayaselan said the ministry is reviewing the Housing Development Act 1966, in areas like the compound, buyer’s rights, extension of time and self-regulation with less government interference.

“Foreign countries are already doing it. We give them (purchaser and developer) controlled freedom. We’re looking at this, whether it is suitable and is it timely for this country to self regulate,” said Jayaselan.

Earlier, the government said it will take two years to conduct studies and develop the proposed Residential Tenancy Act, which will cover all landlords, tenants and tenancy agreements nationwide.

At present, there is no Act to govern the residential rental market and there is no tribunal for tenancy disputes.

The proposed Act will be modelled after the residential tenancies Acts of Victoria and New South Wales in Australia. Research is being conducted to assess the suitability of adopting these benchmarks in Malaysia.

It will also help to determine the affordable rental rates based on location and income of the people living in the area.

Nasdaq hits record high at open on strong tech earnings; 3M weighs on Dow

NEW YORK, April 25 — The tech-heavy Nasdaq index hit a fresh record at the open on today after strong results from Facebook and Microsoft, while a slump in industrial conglomerate 3M weighed on the Dow and limited gains on the S&P. The Nasdaq…

AEON credit net profit increases to RM354.62m in FY19

KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 — AEON Credit Service (M) Bhd’s net profit for the financial year ended Feb 28, 2019 (FY19) increased to RM354.62 million from RM300.06 million recorded in the previous financial year. Revenue rose to RM1.37 billion from…