Tuesday, July 23rd, 2019

 

UK’s Johnson to take helm of economy as warning signs flash

LONDON, July 23 — Britain’s incoming Prime Minister Boris Johnson will inherit an economy that could be heading for a slowdown or even a recession, weakening his hand in the battles ahead as the country prepares to leave the European Union….


Wall Street gains on robust Coca-Cola, United Tech earnings

NEW YORK, July 23 — US stocks rose today boosted by better-than-expected earnings and forecast raises from blue-chip companies including Coca-Cola and United Technologies, soothing concerns over the pace of economic growth. Over the last 24 hours…


737 MAX crisis hangs over Boeing’s Q2 results

NEW YORK, July 23 — Boeing could report its biggest loss ever tomorrow, sagging under the weight of US$5.6 billion (RM23 billion) in costs so far due to the crisis surrounding the 737 MAX aircraft.  The top-selling plane has been grounded…


IMF downgrades world growth, warns of ‘precarious’ 2020

WASHINGTON, July 23 — Global trade tensions and continued uncertainty are sapping the strength of the world economy, which faces a “precarious” 2020, the International Monetary Fund warned today. Trade conflicts are undercutting investment,…


Malaysian property market bottoming out, says Knight Frank

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s property market is showing signs of bottoming out, with “rays of hope” in the housing market, according to Knight Frank Malaysia in its latest research report, “Real Estate Highlights 1st Half of 2019”.

Knight Frank Malaysia managing director Sarkunan Subramaniam said Malaysia’s property market is poised to gather further momentum moving into the second half of 2019 as the market is “firing various cylinders”.

In the residential segment, the extended National Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) will continue to stir interest among home buyers while providing an opportunity for developers to clear existing stock.

The first half of the year also saw the launches of a few high-end condominium/serviced apartment projects on pockets of land in Kuala Lumpur city.

As for the retail sector, while consumer sentiments remain subdued, retail sales remain in the expansionary territory. Operators of existing shopping malls need to continuously review their trade and tenant mix to ensure that they remain attractive and cater to consumers within their trade areas, while retailers must innovate and refresh their stores by embracing technology for improved in-store experiences in the diluted retail market.

In the residential market, Sarkunan said many developers are participating in the HOC as it presents a good opportunity for them to clear their existing inventories and is positive for the residential market.

“We may finally be seeing rays of hope in the housing market. The HOC 2019 campaign, which has been extended until Dec 31, 2019, is expected to provide further traction to the housing market, including the high-end condominium/serviced apartment segment.”

In the commercial market, looming supply and weak absorption continue to impact the Klang Valley office market although rental and occupancy levels are seen to be holding firm in KL Fringe and Selangor. The availability of good grade office supply at competitive rentals and the expanding public rail transit lines have boosted the popularity of decentralised office locations.

Knight Frank Malaysia executive director of valuation & advisory Keith Ooi said in this tenant-led office market, landlords need to be realistic on their rental expectations although the growing co-working/shared services segment provides a small window of opportunity for letting.

“Retail sales growth have improved although consumers remain prudent in their spending amid rising cost of living and slower income growth. Mall operators are allocating a higher percentage of their leasable space for experiential retail purpose while more retailers are integrating their digital and brick-and-mortar outlets in line with rapid changes in the retail trends and consumer behaviour.

“Despite heightened competition in the retail market, prime malls continue to enjoy high occupancies with most garnering single-digit growth in terms of rental reversion.”

While challenges remain in selected market segments where mismatch between supply and demand continues to widen, the report said, the overall property market was sustained with slight uptick in activities.

In the Klang Valley, Knight Frank Malaysia executive director of capital markets Allan Sim said, with semiconductors and E&E players looking to expand within Malaysia, it anticipates more construction activities of factories and warehouses to cater to the relocation and expansion of these foreign manufacturers.

“Another exciting chapter to watch out for is the e-commerce logistics warehousing sector. The 1.2 million sq ft air logistics hub within the Digital Free Trade Zone is slated for completion by end of this year and we expect to see further activities in the e-commerce warehousing and logistics market.”


MHB bags Kasawari Gas deal from Petronas

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering Holdings Bhd (MHB) has been awarded a contract for the Kasawari Gas Development project.

MHB told Bursa Malaysia that its wholly owned subsidiary Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering Sdn Bhd had received the contract from Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd to undertake the engineering, procurement, construction, installation and commissioning (EPCIC) works for the Kasawari project.

The EPCIC contract includes the construction of 47,000 tonnes of central processing platform (CPP), 8,600 tonnes of wellhead platform (WHP) and a flare structure, together with two bridges linking the CPP to the WHP and the flare structure.

The contract also involves the transportation and installation of an 85-kilometres pipeline linking the Kasawari CPP to the existing E11R-A platform.


GDB buys 70% of Eco Geotechnics

PETALING JAYA: GDB Holdings Bhd is acquiring a 70% stake in Eco Geotechnics Sdn Bhd for RM5.96 million.

The construction services firm said in a filing with the stock exchange that its wholly owned subsidiary Grand Dynamic Builders Sdn Bhd had entered into a share sale agreement with Goh Eng Ngai, Tan Loo Loo and Wong Choo Keong for the purchase.

Founded in 2011, Eco Geotechnics is a construction contractor specialising in major geotechnical and foundation engineering works. To date, it has successfully delivered more than RM240 million worth of piling and foundation works for construction and property development firms.

GDB said the proposed acquisition will enable the group to benefit from Eco Geotechnics’ bored piling and foundation works speciality, strengthen its competitive edge as an integrated builder, and create opportunities to expand its customer base.

“The proposed acquisition will also enhance the group’s prospects when tendering for jobs which involve sub-structure works as well as to create opportunities in securing superstructure works where contract owners call for separate substructure and superstructure tenders for a project.”


GDB buys 70% of Eco Geotechnics

PETALING JAYA: GDB Holdings Bhd is acquiring a 70% stake in Eco Geotechnics Sdn Bhd for RM5.96 million.

The construction services firm said in a filing with the stock exchange that its wholly owned subsidiary Grand Dynamic Builders Sdn Bhd had entered into a share sale agreement with Goh Eng Ngai, Tan Loo Loo and Wong Choo Keong for the purchase.

Founded in 2011, Eco Geotechnics is a construction contractor specialising in major geotechnical and foundation engineering works. To date, it has successfully delivered more than RM240 million worth of piling and foundation works for construction and property development firms.

GDB said the proposed acquisition will enable the group to benefit from Eco Geotechnics’ bored piling and foundation works speciality, strengthen its competitive edge as an integrated builder, and create opportunities to expand its customer base.

“The proposed acquisition will also enhance the group’s prospects when tendering for jobs which involve sub-structure works as well as to create opportunities in securing superstructure works where contract owners call for separate substructure and superstructure tenders for a project.”


Private sector urged to take initiative in driving financial literacy

KUALA LUMPUR: The private sector should take the initiative to provide financial education in the workplace and not rely on the government to drive financial literacy, said Fi Life Sdn Bhd founder Malek Ali.

“Employers should be the first line of defence for situations like this (financial distress),” he said at a forum during the launch of the National Strategy for Financial Literacy 2019-2023 today.

“Given my own personal experience, I’ve come to realise that that is such an essential part. It provided me a lifeline. I think employers as the first line of defence are able to provide a life line in such a situation. As employers, we need to have a financial literacy programme as well within the workplace,” he said.

He said financial literacy is needed within the workplace and companies can collaborate with independent financial planners and associations such as the Financial Planning Association of Malaysia to develop various financial education programmes for employees.

He said it is important to have financial education for Malaysians at all stages of life, from school, college and at the workplace as financial requirements are different at various stages.

Emeritus Professor and director of Social Wellbeing Research Centre at University of Malaya Datuk Dr Norma Mansor said financial education should begin at an early age, citing England as an example where financial education begins at age three.

She said this would be more effective in inculcating the right mindset and habit towards sound financial management.

She added that all stakeholders including parents, schools and the government must play their roles in order to improve financial literacy among Malaysians.

According to Norma, many married couples start to face problems in managing their finances when they begin having children, thus it could be a good idea to include financial education as part of pre-marriage courses.

Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency CEO Azaddin Ngah Tasir concurred, adding that 18,000 out of 50,000 divorce cases involved some form of financial distress.

“It would be a good start, as it would help enhance financial planning knowledge before the couples make a commitment,” he said.

Commenting on financial literacy among the low-income group, Azaddin said it is possible to have sound financial planning even with low wages and a high cost of living.

Although the higher income group would have better chances at surviving financial distress, he said there are pockets of people with low income but are still able to manage their finances well.

“I think it’s because they have the right attitude, they have good financial goals and they really commit and are disciplined towards it.

“It’s about self-discipline. Temptation is difficult to resist but you must have your own financial goals,” he added.

On the government’s decision to allow National Higher Education Fund Corp defaulters to take up housing loans, Azaddin said it is to provide them the opportunity to own a home.

However, he stressed that buying a house is about affordability and these buyers should consider what they can afford before committing to a loan.


Sterling prepares for rocky ride as Johnson wins race to be PM

LONDON, July 23 — Sterling, already trading near its lowest in two years, was little moved today after Boris Johnson won the contest to be Britain’s new prime minister, as investors worried whether he would lead Britain towards a no-deal Brexit….