Tuesday, August 6th, 2019


Sterling rises off lows but Brexit fears cap gains

LONDON, Aug 6 — The British pound rebounded today to hold above recent lows, although it remained vulnerable as traders still worry that Britain is headed for a no-deal Brexit. Sterling hit a new, almost two-year low against the euro overnight,…

Mastercard to buy Nets payments services for US$3.2b

STOCKHOLM, Aug 6 — US financial services company MasterCard has agreed to acquire Danish payment service company Nets’ account-to-account payment business for €2.85 billion (RM13.4 billion), the Danish company said today. The acquisition…

Trump wants trade pact with China but must be ‘right deal’, says White House advisor

WASHINGTON, Aug 6 — President Donald Trump wants a trade agreement with China but it must be “the right deal,” White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said today. Kudlow’s remarks came as markets attempted a recovery from yesterday’s…

China warns India of ‘reverse sanctions’ if Huawei is blocked, say sources

NEW DELHI, Aug 6 — China has told India not to block its Huawei Technologies from doing business in the country, warning there could be consequences for Indian firms operating in China, sources with knowledge of the matter said. India is due to…

Fed’s Bullard: US interest rates ‘in right neighbourhood’

WASHINGTON, Aug 6 — US interest rates now are “in the right neighbourhood,” James Bullard, a key member of the central bank policy board, told AFP today, seeming to wave off expectations of another cut soon, despite the relentless pressure…

US stocks open higher as Chinese yuan stabilises

NEW YORK, Aug 6 —  Wall Street stocks opened solidly higher today as China took steps to stabilise its currency amid an escalating trade war with the United States. About 20 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at…

Trump praises US economy amid China spat, vows to back farmers

WASHINGTON, Aug 6 — US President Donald Trump today dismissed concerns over a protracted trade war with China, saying the United States was “in a very strong position,” a day after his administration ratcheted up tensions by labelling Beijing…

KL prime homes defy sluggish property market

PETALING JAYA: Prices of prime residential properties in Kuala Lumpur rose 2.4% in the first half of the year (1H19) amid a sluggish property market, according to Savills Research.

According to The Savills World Cities Prime Residential Index, Kuala Lumpur’s average prime residential property prices stood at US$260 (RM1,088) per sq ft (psf) in 1H19. For the 12-month period ended June 2019, prices rose 2%.

The index considered a sample of both landed and high-rise residential units in prime areas of Ampang Hilir, Bandar Utama, Bandar Sunway, Bangsar, Bukit Tunku, Desa Parkcity, KLCC, Mont Kiara and Tropicana.

For five years up till June 2019, prime property prices in Kuala Lumpur rose 13.7% while the 10-year growth up till June 2019 was 84.2%.

Kuala Lumpur’s prime property prices recorded the fourth highest growth for 1H19 in the Savills World Cities Prime Residential Index, after Berlin (4.2%), Paris (3.9%) and Beijing (2.9%). Overall, the index rose 0.4% in 1H19.

Growth in Berlin and Paris were due to low supply levels coupled with increasing demand from domestic and international buyers while cities in China saw prices rising after declines in 2H18, due to a slight loosening in housing restrictions.

Meanwhile, values in Sydney and Cape Town are declining after significant increases over the past five years. Prices in Sydney and Cape Town fell 2.3% and 1.2% respectively in 1H19.

Prices in Singapore and London also declined in 1H19 by 1.1% and 1% respectively while the worst declines during the period was recorded in San Francisco at 3% and Miami at 3.4%.

“There are numerous reasons why prime residential markets all over the globe are going through slowdown. Some of them include global economic uncertainty, government policies, increased supply and many more. At home, we anticipate that values will remain flat over the medium term, especially in Greater KL,” said Savills Malaysia executive chairman Datuk Christopher Boyd.

In terms of price psf, Hong Kong remains the most expensive at an average value of US$4,730 psf followed by New York at US$2,520 psf and Tokyo at US$2,150 psf. At US$260 psf, Kuala Lumpur’s prime residential property prices remain the cheapest among the cities surveyed in the index.

Savills expects a steadier growth trend to prevail across world city prime residential markets for the foreseeable future, with the search for security of tenure and title in cities where high-net-worth individuals wish to live and do business underpinning values.

“The world’s wealthy are expected to continue to want to hold one or more world city prime residential properties as part of their portfolio, both as a store of wealth and as a base for work and leisure,” it said in the report.

European cities are likely to see the highest rates of price growth in the short term, benefiting from Brexit, lower prices and renewed confidence in markets like Spain but in the long term, demographics, wealth generation and political stability will play crucial roles in determining changes in prime property markets worldwide.

Hartalega hit by lower sales, higher cost in Q1

PETALING JAYA: Hartalega Holdings Bhd’s net profit for the first quarter ended June 30, 2019 fell 24.67% to RM94.06 million from RM124.87 million a year ago, due to lower sales volume and higher cost.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, Hartalega said it incurred higher packaging, electricity, heat and labour costs during the quarter.

Revenue for the quarter fell 9.38% to RM640.1 million from RM706.35 million a year ago, dragged down by lower sales volume during the quarter.

Moving forward, the group said it is optimistic of longer term prospects underpinned by growing demand for rubber gloves, its ongoing Next Generation Integrated Glove Manufacturing Complex (NGC) expansion and potential growth of antimicrobial gloves sales, for which it has received orders from customers in over 20 countries.

Construction of Plant 6 structure at the NGC facility is currently underway while construction of the supporting facilities will follow in the second half of 2019. Plant 6 will have an annual installed capacity of 4.7 billion pieces.

Plant 7 is also in the expansion pipeline and will have an annual installed capacity of 3.4 billion pieces. Hartalega’s annual installed capacity is expected to increase to 44.7 billion pieces by financial year ending March 31, 2022 from 36.6 billion with the progressive commissioning of Plants 6 and 7.

Thai F&B biz adds fizz to F&N Q3 earnings

PETALING JAYA: Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd’s (F&N) net profit for the third quarter ended June 30, 2019 rose 10% to RM114.94 million from RM104.5 million a year ago driven by higher profits from food and beverages business in Thailand (F&B Thailand).

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, F&N said F&B Thailand reported a 72.7% jump in operating profit to RM99.1 million from RM57.4 million a year ago due to favourable input costs, lower advertising spending and withholding tax refund amounting to RM2.3 million received during the quarter.

The group said its food and beverages business in Malaysia (F&B Malaysia) recorded a 7.3% rise in operating profit to RM52.7 million from RM49.1 million, attributed to higher sales volume from beverages and dairy products, lower marketing spending and favourable input costs mainly for sugar, offset by higher freight costs and foreign exchange (forex) loss during the quarter.

Revenue for the quarter rose 10.86% to RM1.07 billion from RM961.89 million a year ago underpinned by higher contribution from both F&B Thailand and F&B Malaysia.

For the nine-month period ended June 30, 2019, F&N’s net profit increased 12.62% to RM342.23 million from RM303.89 million a year ago, while revenue was up 6.11% to RM3.10 billion from RM2.92 billion a year ago.

F&N expects the overall domestic market for F&B Malaysia to remain challenging due to intense competition, especially in the canned milk segment. For beverages, it has introduced an extensive portfolio of healthier options to mitigate the impact of the sugar tax.

“The prospects for F&B Thailand are better, following improvement in both sweetened condensed and evaporated milk segments. Management will continue to invest in brand building to strengthen our product portfolio and will increase significantly our advertising and promotions investment in the last quarter of this financial year,” it said.

For exports, F&N said slower off take from key customers and geopolitical tension in the Middle East have affected sales in certain markets while the strengthening of Thai baht has reduced its export competitiveness from Thailand.

The group expects raw and packaging material prices to remain volatile and has hedged most of its core commodity requirements and corresponding foreign currency exposure for the remaining quarter of the financial year.

For the next financial year, it is closely monitoring the dairies input prices that have increased and will take the necessary actions to mitigate any adverse impact.