Wednesday, July 17th, 2019


WTO future a concern for global finance chiefs

PARIS, July 17 — Global finance chiefs meeting in France have warned that the World Trade Organization’s internal court risks becoming paralysed by a bitter disputes between member states. Several countries have for years raised concern over the…

Prime Day sets fresh sales records for Amazon

WASHINGTON, July 17 — Amazon said today its two-day extravaganza known as Prime Day was its biggest shopping event ever, with sales surpassing the two key holiday spending days combined. The e-commerce leader said members of its Prime subscription…

PChem drags Bursa Malaysia to end lower, CI down 0.68%

KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia finished 0.68% lower today, dragged down by Petronas Chemicals (PChem), amid profit-taking in the second and third liners.

PChem, which contributed 4.46 points to the loss in the composite index, fell 32 sen to close at RM7.92.

At 5 pm, the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) shrank 11.41 points to 1,657.53 compared with 1,668.94 yesterday.

The benchmark index opened 1.44 points easier at 1,667.50 today and moved between 1,656.76 and 1,667.79 throughout the day.

Losers trounced gainers by 618 to 226, while 400 counters were unchanged, 612 untraded and 21 others suspended.

Citigroup Investment Research has downgraded PChem yesterday to “sell” from “neutral” with a revised target price of RM7.20 from RM9.00.

The research house noted the de-rating was due to lower return on equity of 11% and weaker earnings uplift from the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) expansion versus consensus.

It also said that PChem’s monoethylene glycol plant would be a key drag as it will be barely profitable due to massive glut, as well as weak China buying sentiment.

Meanwhile, Maybank IB research analyst Nik Ihsan Raja Abdullah told Bernama that profit-taking was actively seen in the second and third liner stocks.

“We can see that the small capital index hit 12,319.91 in May 25 and it now has reached 13,808.89 … it went up significantly and now investors are raking in the profits,” he told Bernama.

Among heavyweights Tenaga Nasional and Malaysian Airports both shed 22 sen to RM13.56 and RM8.56 respectively, Maxis was down six sen to RM5.64, while Sime Darby and Digi were five sen easier to RM2.20 and RM4.93 respectively.

As for the actives, market debutant i-Stone was 8.5 sen higher to 24.5 sen, Sumatec Resources added half-a-sen to 3.5 sen, Sapura Energy slid half-a-sen to 30.5 sen and its warrant was flat at 13 sen, while NETX was unchanged at 1.5 sen.

The FBM Emas Index was down 79.70 points to 11,777.58 and the FBMT 100 Index slipped 78.94 points to 11,601.55, while the FBM Emas Shariah Index dipped 109.83 points to 12,148.86.

The FBM Ace declined 31.22 points to 4,669.51 and the FBM 70 shed 97.39 points to 14,853.28.

Sector-wise, the Financial Services Index fell 23.66 points to 16,591.56, the Plantation Index shed 9.62 points to 6,876.03 and the Industrial Products and Services Index eased 2.64 points to 157.57.

Turnover rose to 3.82 billion units worth RM1.96 billion compared with 3.32 billion units worth RM2.09 billion yesterday.

Main Market volume was slightly higher at 2.59 billion shares worth RM1.71 billion against 2.54 billion shares worth RM1.94 billion on Tuesday.

Warrants turnover declined to 389.17 million units worth RM74.17 million from 399.41 million units worth RM82.62 million yesterday.

Volume on the ACE Market soared to 843.76 million shares worth RM178.39 million from Tuesday’s 380.0 million shares worth RM65.76 million.

Consumer products and services accounted for 346.06 million shares traded on the Main Market, industrial products and services (202.66 million), construction (144.23 million), technology (174.88 million), SPAC (nil), financial services (37.30 million), property (98.99 million), plantation (9.94 million), REITs (16.34 million), closed/fund (2,000), energy (1.37 billion), healthcare (15.54 million), telecommunications and media (118.85 million), transportation and logistics (24.32 million) and utilities (24.89 million).

The physical price of gold as at 5.00pm stood at RM179.41 per gramme, down RM1.32 from RM180.73 at 5.00pm yesterday. — Bernama

Perodua ramps up production volume to shorten delivery time

KUALA LUMPUR: Perodua, which has revised upward its sales target by 4,000 units this year, aims to increase its production volume to 249,000 units this year in a bid to address the delivery time issue.

Speaking at a media conference on its first-half performance review today, its president and CEO Datuk Zainal Abidin Ahmad said the increase in production will improve its stock levels to 0.5%, based on its monthly production level, from the current 0.1%.

This will effectively reduce the waiting time to less than a month for its customers.

“At the moment, there is a two-month waiting period for our vehicles and this is due to our stock levels being very low, but the production volume increase will address this issue… hopefully, next year we’ll have the right footing with a good level of inventory so that we do not have the same problem with this year.”

The 249,000 production target represents a 12.9% increase from the 220,600 units produced in 2018. Currently, its monthly production ranges between 18,000 and 20,000 units.

At present, both of its production facilities are running at full capacity of 97%.

On sales, Perodua sold 121,800 units in the first half of the year, a 4% increase from 117,100 units recorded in the same period last year.

Following that, it has set a higher sales target of 235,000 units from its previous estimate of 231,000 units.

In 2018, Perodua sold 227,243 vehicles, the highest annual sales achievement in its history.

As for its export market, Perodua has a target of 3,270 units for 2019, of which 2,170 units from the Indonesian market.

Last year, it exported 2,184 units, significantly lower than the 9,000 units achieved in 2012.

Zainal explained that Perodua needs to fulfil domestic market requirements before exporting overseas and it also depends on whether the group could achieve cost competitiveness.

With regard to capital expenditure, Perodua has spent RM102.2 million in the first half of 2019, out of the RM667.6 million allocated for the year.

Zainal said the bulk of it will be utilised towards expanding its test track in its research and development facilities to ensure that Perodua is ready to meet any new regulatory development that will be introduced in the future.

For 2019, Perodua estimates that it will have a market share of 40%.

Trump: We’ll look into Google’s work with China

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday his administration would investigate whether Alphabet Inc’s Google supports the Chinese government, following accusations that a company official refuted hours later at a Senate hearing.

The president repeated accusations made previously by Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and venture capitalist, that Google may be infiltrated by Chinese intelligence agents.

“A great and brilliant guy who knows this subject better than anyone! The Trump Administration will take a look!” the president wrote on Twitter.

Trump later told reporters he would have various agencies, including potentially the Justice Department, “see if there’s any truth to” Thiel’s accusations.

Thiel has called on the FBI and the CIA to probe Google on its relations with China, and alleged that the company worked with the Chinese military.

The top US general, Marine General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed similar concerns about Google in a congressional hearing in March.

Google said in an email statement: “As we have said before, we do not work with the Chinese military.”

At a wide-ranging US Senate subcommittee hearing on Tuesday about Google’s content policies, the company’s top government affairs official told Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, that it did little business in China.

“Fundamentally in China we actually do very little today, certainly compared to any other major technology company,” said Karan Bhatia, vice president for government affairs and public policy.

Bhatia rejected accusations that Google has been infiltrated by Chinese intelligence agents or that it has turned a “blind eye” to theft of its code. Its decisions about contracts with the US government have not been based on pressure from China, he said.

He added that Google had “terminated” an effort to develop a search engine that abides by China’s political censorship rules. Google would only launch such a service now in consultation with “key stakeholders”, Bhatia said.

But under questioning from senators, Bhatia declined to commit to not censoring content in China or to undergoing a third-party audit of its content moderation policies.

The lack of commitment drew sharp criticism from Hawley.

“Clearly our trust and patience in your company and the behavior of your monopoly has run out,” he said. “It’s time for some accountability.”

Thiel has financially backed several Republican politicians at the state and federal level, including Trump and Hawley, who have expressed concern about the influence of Google’s search and advertising businesses.

Thiel invested in Facebook Inc soon after its founding and is a director at the social media company, which is Google’s top rival for online ad spending. He also is a director at data analytics software firm Palantir Technologies, which, like Google, competes to secure government technology contracts.

Senators on Tuesday criticised Google over several issues, including whether it was biased against conservative content and why it has been slow to stop the spread of some graphic material.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, said Google’s YouTube needed to do a better job of policing content.

“You can’t simply unleash the monster and say it’s too big to control,” Blumenthal said. “The hourglass has run out.” – Reuters

Brexit pounds sterling as stock markets retreat

LONDON, July 17 — Rising concerns about a no-deal Brexit hit the pound once more today, while stock markets retreated amid renewed trade war worries and uncertainty over the outlook for US interest rates. The pound dropped to US$1.2382 (RM5.09), a…

Zhulian’s net profit jumps 62% in Q2

PETALING JAYA: Zhulian Corp Bhd’s net profit for the second quarter ended May 31, 2019 rose 61.79% to RM19.53 million from RM12.07 million a year ago due to higher sales with cost control and higher share of profit from an associate.

Revenue for the quarter rose 18.87% to RM52.32 million from RM44.02 million a year ago due to higher sales both locally and to Thailand.

For the six months ended May 31, 2019, net profit rose 43.78% to RM30.32 million from RM21.09 million a year ago while revenue rose 5.06% to RM91.78 million from RM87.35 million a year ago.

The group declared a second interim single tier dividend of 2 sen per share, totalling RM9.2 million in respect of financial year ending Nov 30, 2019, to be paid on Sept 11, 2019. The entitlement date has been set at Aug 16, 2019.

The group said its business is closely linked to the sentiments of general consumer market and the fluctuating currency, therefore any strengthening or weakening of the ringgit against US dollar will have an impact on its performance as all export revenues are transacted in US dollar.

As the regional economy is expected to be quite favourable this year, supported by strong consumption growth and a solid manufacturing sector, Zhulian will take advantage of the positive market sentiments to be more competitive in the MLM market both locally and abroad.

Strong consumer business boosts Bank of America earnings

NEW YORK, July 17 — Bank of America scored record profits in the second quarter, as strong consumer banking results offset a decline in earnings from trading worldwide. Bank of America, the second biggest US bank by assets, reported today that…

Boustead Plantations names 5 new directors

PETALING JAYA: Boustead Plantations Bhd has appointed five independent non-executive directors to its board effective July 22.

The five new directors are Tan Sri Aziah Ali, Datuk Syed Tamim Ansari Syed Mohamed, Datuk Chan Kong Yew, Datuk Ahmad Rizal Abdul Rahman and Datuk Seri Ghazali Mohd Ali.

Aziah, 67, has vast experience in law and served the government for over 40 years in various positions in the judiciary. She was also recently appointed to the board of Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation Bhd.

Syed Tamim, 71, has 36 years of experience in various fields in both public and private sectors. He held several senior managerial positions in the Sime Darby group of companies from 1987 to 2007, with his last position as managing director of Consolidated Plantation/Sime Darby Plantation from 1999 to 2007.

Chan, 47, is the founder and managing director of logistics provider Infinity Logistics & Transport Sdn Bhd. He had previously contributed to the National Export Strategy Lab, organised by Malaysia External Trade Development Corp to boost Malaysia’s exports.

Ahmad Rizal, 50, has over 25 years of experience in business, strategy, corporate finance and operations. He was group CEO of Kumpulan Perbadanan Pembangunan Pertanian Negeri Perak from 2010 till 2018.

Ghazali, 71, joined the board of Boustead Holdings Bhd in 2007 and is currently the executive director/divisional director for property.

DNeX wins RM11.8m Petronas contract

PETALING JAYA: Dagang Nexchange Bhd’s (DNeX) wholly owned subsidiary OGPC Sdn Bhd has been awarded a RM11.8 million contract from Petronas Dagangan Bhd.

According to its Bursa filing, the contract is for the supply, installation, testing, commissioning and maintenance automatic tank gauging (ATG) and accessories for 200 Petronas stations nationwide.

Works on the project also include the supply, installation, testing, commissioning and maintenance of the Wetstock Management System (WMS) connected to ATG and its accessories, as well as relevant hardware, software on cloud-based platform and cybersecurity systems.

According to DNeX, the ATG and its accompanying hardware and software system provides automatic measurement of fuel storage tanks thus enabling more accurate and improved, real time reading.

“The project augurs well with efforts to boost book order, and further expand on business growth of OGPC including contracting work in downstream sector,” said DNeX executive deputy chairman Datuk Samsul Husin (pix).

He said OGPC, which is a supplier, service provider and contractor for oil and gas, petrochemical, power, palm oil and general industries, has contributed a new stream of revenue for DNeX since the group acquired the company in 2016.

“We are continuously growing this business to get more jobs, which OGPC has been delivering this year,” he added.

The two-year contract, which commenced on July 12, 2019, comes with an option to extend for another two years.