Sunday, July 14th, 2019


American Airlines extends Boeing 737 MAX cancellations for fourth time

NEW YORK, July 14 — American Airlines Group Inc said today it is extending for a fourth time cancellations of about 115 daily flights into early November due to the ongoing grounding of the Boeing Co 737 MAX jets. The airline’s decision was…

Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency Libra under fire

LONDON: Facebook’s planned virtual unit Libra, already under heavy attack from US President Donald Trump and global regulators, faces scepticism among the wider cryptocurrency community as well.

One theme – besides Brexit – dominated discussion among the movers and shakers from London’s financial technology or FinTech industry as gathered for their annual get-together: the future of virtual currencies.

“Can I just ask you to raise your hand if you would not be willing to use Libra?” asked the moderator at an event at London’s recent FinTech Week.

In the room, filled with about 100 experts and media who closely track the sector, about two-thirds of participants raised their hand to express distrust at the upstart currency.

Helen Disney, founder and boss of Unblocked Events, which promotes the blockchain technology that powers many cryptocurrencies, acknowledged growing doubts over who exactly would oversee and regulate Libra’s operation.

People are “concerned about how the governance … would work”, she told AFP.

“The cryptocurrency community is very libertarian in thinking,” its “about giving power to the people, democratisation of finance, keeping away from big banks and companies who control (the) economy”.

Last week’s gathering came one month after Facebook announced to the world its plans for the virtual currency.

Libra, which is widely regarded as a challenger to dominant global player Bitcoin, is expected to launch in the first half of 2020.

Whereas Bitcoin is decentralised, Libra will be co-managed by 100 partner firms, including Facebook’s newly minted financial services division Calibra.

The companies behind Libra – which will be backed with a basket of real-world currencies – include payment giants Visa, MasterCard and PayPal, as well as taxi-hailing services Lyft and Uber.

To access Libra on smartphones, users will go through a virtual wallet that will also be named Calibra.

While Facebook boasts an enormous customer base dotted across the globe that should facilitate Libra’s uptake, it firm also been plagued by privacy concerns that could make users hesitate.

“Can’t wait for a cryptocurrency with the ethics of Uber, the censorship resistance of Paypal, and the centralisation of Visa, all tied together under the proven privacy of Facebook,” said on-profit research organisation Open Privacy Sarah Jamie Lewis.

Libra has meanwhile raised eyebrows among the world’s financial regulators, including the Bank of England, the European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve.

But Disney believes that Libra will finally force regulators to present clear regulation guidelines, as demanded by the cryptocurrency community itself.

But James Bennett, head of cryptocurrency research firm Bitassist, argues that Libra should not be seen in the same light as Bitcoin.

“In the long run, people may realise that Libra is not a cryptocurrency,” he said at FinTech Week.

“A true cryptocurrency should be resistant to attacks by all parties, from sovereign states to global corporations,” he said, adding that “cryptocurrency is a type of money used to transfer value over the internet that cannot be stopped, confiscated”.

Glove makers group slams Gas Malaysia over ‘sudden’ price increase

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (Margma) has taken a swipe at Gas Malaysia Bhd for the sudden increase in natural gas price, saying Malaysia stands to lose an estimated RM47.2 million foreign revenue in the next three months.

In a statement issued today, its president Denis Low Jau Foo said Gas Malaysia kept repeating its “bad habit” of making sudden announcements on gas price increases, with the latest coming into effect tomorrow.

“As mentioned repeatedly in the past, in rubber glove export business, orders are taken two to three months ahead based on prevailing production costs by the foreign buyers. The sudden new natural gas tariff has disturbed the market equilibrium forcefully and resulted in unanticipated cost increase.”

Low said Malaysian manufacturers must absorb the cost increase in order to honour the estimated RM5 billion of orders taken before the announcement. “As a result, Malaysia would stand to lose an estimated RM47.2 million foreign revenue resulting from this sudden gas tariff increase over the next three months.”

Margma estimates that the latest natural gas price hike will cause an increase in production cost of US$0.30 to US$0.80 (RM1.23 to RM3.29) per 1,000 pieces of nitrile gloves and US$0.35 to US$0.85 for latex gloves.

“Due to the slim profit margin, all manufacturers will have to manage their production costs carefully, depending on the product type and their manufacturing process and energy consumption profile, in order not to make losses.”

Calling Gas Malaysia’s move as too abrupt and destructive, Low said it will add cost to doing business, where such cost could have been passed on to buyers.

“If given sufficient time and notice, such increased cost could have been passed on to the international buyers. It is not smart and wise at all especially when Margma has time and again requested Gas Malaysia to give us early notice.”

The natural gas price increase from RM32.38 to RM34.12 per MMBtu is equivalent to 5.37% for Tariff Category F.

This tariff is higher than the base tariff at RM32.74 per MMBtu as announced in the road map on Dec 28, 2016, said Margma.

The association also questioned the lack of clarity in the Energy Commission’s (ST) role in monitoring the energy sector.

“The ST is shoving the new third party access policy down the throats of natural gas users and Gas Malaysia. It is absurd that while the new policy is not properly explained, industry players are expected to sign new gas supply agreements without even been given a complete agreement for their review by September 30, 2019.”

Margma said it engaged with Gas Malaysia recently and understands that the gas price will increase tremendously when the deregulation of the gas market starts on Jan 1, 2020.

Association: Hike in gas price will lead to higher glove production cost in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — The sudden spike in gas price as announced by Gas Malaysia Bhd (GMB) will make the rubber gloves pricier going forward due to the substantial increase in production cost, said the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers…

RM35 million in potential exports from business matching session

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of RM35.12 million potential export value was generated from over 60 meetings, involving Malaysian building materials producers and global buyers, held during Malaysia-renowned business matching session at the International Sourcing Programme (INSP) early this month.

INSP was organised by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation’s (Matrade) in conjunction with the 20th edition of International Architecture, Interior Design and Building Exhibition on July 3.

In a statement today, Matrade said the session had seen meetings between 28 Malaysian companies and 10 foreign buyers from India, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea and Kenya.

“Among the Malaysian products sourced during the programme were timber products, plywood, sanitary fittings, sealants, doors and windows,” it said.

In 2018, Malaysia’s total exports of building materials were valued at RM29.87 billion with main export markets Singapore, Japan and Australia. Among the top exported building material products were wood products, non-metallic mineral products, sawn timber, and moulding and iron & steel products.

Matrade: International Sourcing Programme business matching generates potential export worth RM35.12m

KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — A total of RM35.12 million potential export value were generated from over 60 meetings, involving Malaysian building materials producers and global buyers, held during Malaysia-renowned business matching session at the…

Huawei plans extensive layoffs at its US operations, says WSJ

NEW YORK, July 14 — Huawei Technologies Co Ltd is planning extensive layoffs in the United States as the Chinese telecoms equipment company grapples with its US blacklisting, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the…

Foreign appetite for Bursa Malaysia, ringgit remains strong: Economist

KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign appetite for the Malaysian market continued to remain steady for both local equities and the ringgit, says Bank Islam Malaysia chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid.

He said foreigners remained as net buyers on Bursa Malaysia, acquiring RM214.73 million of local equities between July 8 and July 11 compared to RM253.8 billion recorded between July 1 and July 4.

He said positive developments in the trade war since the G20 summit at the end of June and the recent indication from US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell of a possible reduction in interest rates as soon as July have resulted in optimism in the equities market.

In addition, the ringgit saw an encouraging trend this week when the local currency appreciated 0.5% to RM4.11 against the US dollar.

“Going forward, investors would monitor closely developments in the trade war whether there would be discussions between China and the US in the immediate term and the Federal Open Market Committee on July 30-31, and whether the Fed would deliver the first rate cut since the Sub-Prime crisis in 2007/2008.

“The recent increase in the US core Consumer Price Index to 2.1% in June, which surpassed the 2.0% consensus estimates, may have prompted doubts on the rate cut to seep in,” he told Bernama.

Bursa Malaysia kicked the week off on a positive note as investor buying improved following Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) decision to retain the overnight policy rate (OPR) at 3.00%.

The market then turned negative from Wednesday onward as the local bourse succumbed to profit-taking amid an overbought market after a two-day rally.

Both local institutions and retailer investors remained as net sellers.

Local institutions sold RM277 million of equities between July 8 and July 11 compared to RM162.2 million between July 1 and July 4, while retail investors disposed of RM65.2 million, up from RM58.4 million previously.

Meanwhile, the ringgit, which started on a negative note, ended the week stronger as investors reacted positively to BNM’s OPR decision.

In addition, the local unit also continued to get a boost from the rise in global oil prices amid the weak dollar as investors prepared for a possible US interest rate cut.

Going forward, the market will be closely monitoring China’s second-quarter economic data to be released along with other key economic indicators on Monday, with the ringgit expected to remain within the 4.11- 4.13 range and Bursa Malaysia’s FBM KLCI to test the 1,680 level next week. — Bernama

Trump's favourite parts of US economy are also the weakest

WASHINGTON, July 14 — At rallies and whistle-stop campaign tours, President Donald Trump proclaims a renaissance in US factories rebuilding the nation with “American steel,” “American heart” and “American hands.” But in reality,…

Cuba takes first step in railways upgrade with Chinese, Russian help

HAVANA, July 14 — Cuba's first new train passenger cars in more than four decades set off on their maiden journey across the island yesterday in what the government hopes will prove a total revamp of its decrepit railway system with help from…