Thursday, August 15th, 2019

 

Wall Street rises after strong retail sales data, Walmart earnings

NEW YORK, Aug 15 — US stocks rose in choppy trading today, as strong July retail sales data and Walmart’s upbeat results eased some fears about the economy slipping into recession, but a slump in shares of network gear maker Cisco limited gains….


ECB shuts down one of its websites after hacker attack

FRANKFURT, Aug 1 — The European Central Bank shut down one of its websites today after it was hacked and infected with malicious software. The ECB said no market-sensitive data had been compromised, but that the email addresses, names and titles…


WTO quarterly trade growth indicator drops from May

GENEVA, Aug 15 — The World Trade Organisation (WTO) said today that its latest economic barometer showed that the growth in merchandise trade was likely to weaken further in the third quarter. Its quarterly trade growth indicator showed growth in…


IBC Assets: Malaysian economy to grow above 4pc in Q2

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 15 — Malaysia’s economy is projected to expand at a rate of at least 4.0 per cent in the second quarter this year, supported by exports, said IBC Assets Bhd head of research Dr Serge Pierre Besanger. He said while imports…


Walmart reports strong earnings, defends gun sales

NEW YORK, Aug 15 — Walmart reported improved results today on solid US sales and e-commerce growth and again defended its decision to keep selling some guns after a mass shooting at a Texas store. Net income was US$3.6 billion (RM15.1 billion), up…


Challenging near-term outlook for building materials sector

PETALING JAYA: The near-term outlook for the building materials sector remains challenging despite the improving news flows for the construction sector stemming from the revival of various construction activities, according to Hong Leong Invest-ment Bank (HLIB) Research.

It said that construction activities should remain tepid for the second half (2H) of the year before gradually picking up in the first half of next year.

For the cement subsector, HLIB Research believes that consumption will remain lacklustre for 2H’19 on the back of still-weak property development and construction, as work on mega project revivals have yet to begin, which will translate to a weak near-term cement price.

Meanwhile, it also noted that the price of coal, a key energy source in cement production, has fallen by more than 20% since December 2018. This should help to lower production costs.

“Beyond 2019, we expect cement prices to recover gradually, as construction activities pick up (expected by 1H’20),” it said.

However, the research house reckoned the expected pick-up next year will happen on a gradual basis as work contribution from mega project revivals may be partially offset by lower construction contract awards following the 14th General Election and weak property sentiment, which translates to low property development activities.

Primarily, the tepid construction activities are expected to be a primary driver for a weak near-term prospects for steel sub-sector, along with a new market entrant, Alliance Steel.

“Demand aside, we believe rising iron ore price (one of the key inputs in making steel) will push steel production costs higher, and this will squeeze profitability of steel producers further,” HLIB Research said.

Although the price of iron ore is expected to ease from its recent high due to high iron ore inventory levels and lower steel production in China, HLIB Research opined that it would take a while for the iron ore price to normalise from its previous level of US$80 (RM355.48) per metric ton, hence resulting in high production cost in the near term.

However, the research house believes that the risk of dumping of steel products into Malaysia remains remote for the moment, until the safeguard measure expires by mid-April 2020.

“Besides, we note that steel prices in China are higher than in Malaysia, even before taking the safeguard duties into account.”

For the construction materials sector, the research house expects the subdued earnings performance of cement and steel players to persist in the second half of this year.


Six-day biennial world statistics congress starts in KL on Sunday

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will host the prestigious biennial International Statistical Institute World Statistics Congress (ISI WSC) 2019 for the first time at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from Aug 18-23, 2019.

The congress is organised by the International Statistical Institute (ISI), in collaboration with the Department of Statistics Malaysia, Bank Negara Malaysia and Malaysia Institute of Statistics, supported by the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau.

This flagship event of ISI, in its 62nd edition, will see thousands of professionals and experts from the industry, academia and policy makers from around the world converge in Kuala Lumpur to exchange and explore new ideas in statistics. The organisation of this international congress in Malaysia will further strengthen the statistical ecosystem in the country and enhance its inter-linkages with the statistical systems of the world.

Chief statistician Malaysia and ISI WSC 2019 chairman Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said to date the congress has attracted over 1,500 speakers from 130 countries, with topics ranging from statistical methods and concepts, data compilation and management, technology, data science and analytics, big data and their applications across all segments of the economy and life.

Several pre-congress events, such as seminars, workshops, short courses and meetings, will be held in Sasana Kijang from August 13-17.

“We aim for it to be far reaching with a platform to create a bigger spectrum to show people that statistics matter. When everyone is efficient it benefits the world as a whole. People don’t realise that statistics are important, that it is in our everyday life, as statistics equals planning,” said Uzir.


Six-day biennial world statistics congress starts in KL on Sunday

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will host the prestigious biennial International Statistical Institute World Statistics Congress (ISI WSC) 2019 for the first time at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre from Aug 18-23, 2019.

The congress is organised by the International Statistical Institute (ISI), in collaboration with the Department of Statistics Malaysia, Bank Negara Malaysia and Malaysia Institute of Statistics, supported by the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau.

This flagship event of ISI, in its 62nd edition, will see thousands of professionals and experts from the industry, academia and policy makers from around the world converge in Kuala Lumpur to exchange and explore new ideas in statistics. The organisation of this international congress in Malaysia will further strengthen the statistical ecosystem in the country and enhance its inter-linkages with the statistical systems of the world.

Chief statistician Malaysia and ISI WSC 2019 chairman Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said to date the congress has attracted over 1,500 speakers from 130 countries, with topics ranging from statistical methods and concepts, data compilation and management, technology, data science and analytics, big data and their applications across all segments of the economy and life.

Several pre-congress events, such as seminars, workshops, short courses and meetings, will be held in Sasana Kijang from August 13-17.

“We aim for it to be far reaching with a platform to create a bigger spectrum to show people that statistics matter. When everyone is efficient it benefits the world as a whole. People don’t realise that statistics are important, that it is in our everyday life, as statistics equals planning,” said Uzir.


Genting Malaysia downplays Empire Resorts liquidity crunch

PETALING JAYA: Genting Malaysia Bhd (GenM) has given an assurance that the present liquidity challenges faced by loss-making Empire Resorts can be resolved following news that the latter may file for bankruptcy.

GenM has come under fire after it announced the acquisition of a 46% stake in Empire from Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay’s Kien Huat Realty Ltd (KH) for RM538.8 million.

“Empire stated that it believes that its current cash, cash equivalents, cash generated from operations and available funding pursuant to KH’s current commitments will provide sufficient liquidity to fund debt service requirements, Empire’s operations and the expected costs of developing the golf course adjacent to its casino, Resorts World Catskills (RWC), until the first quarter of 2020,” GenM said today in response to a query by Bursa Malaysia.

“Furthermore, based on our analysis from public filings, we believe that, with immediate improvements to Empire’s operations following an expeditious consummation of the proposed merger, Empire’s present liquidity challenges can be met,” it added.

GenM highlighted that Empire had identified multiple options to address its current liquidity challenges, including, seeking arrangements to provide additional liquidity, making reductions to its cost structure, restructuring of its and its subsidiaries existing debt terms and pursuing the joint non-binding proposal submitted by GenM and KH to acquire all outstanding shares of capital stock held by Empire stockholders unaffiliated with KH.

However, if these alternatives are unsuccessful, GenM said Empire had indicated that it may pursue a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding in respect of its subsidiary that owns the Catskills casino operations.

“GenM strongly believes that the proposal is the best alternative available to Empire’s stockholders and that the proposal is also in the best interests of GenM’s shareholders.”

GenM said it has carefully evaluated the investment into Empire and has deemed it a worthwhile investment as RWC is one of the newest and highest quality gaming assets in the northeast US, with over US$900 million (RM3.77 billion) invested.

“RWC is also nestled in a scenic mountain range development that includes the third party US$200 million Kartrite Resort. The Kartrite Resort is one of the most modern and state of the art indoor water park developments in the US, with 324 brand-new all suite luxury rooms that offer a family attraction for all ages.”

Due to established management in New York, GenM said, the group is in a unique position to take advantage of synergies between its existing operations at Resorts World New York (RWNY) and the RWC.

“This will provide both RWNY and RWC with economies of scale resulting in a net cost reduction, thus improving earnings.”

GenM has been inovlved in the New York gaming market for almost a decade and currently operates RWNY.

GenM opined that the successful execution of the proposed merger would place the group in a position to more deeply access the New York market and provide both GenM and Empire the opportunity to compete more effectively in northeastern US’s competitive gaming landscape.

GenM shares have tumbled 15% since the acquisition was announced last week. Today, the stock was down 1.3% to RM3.07 on 26.61 million shares done.


Genting Malaysia downplays Empire Resorts liquidity crunch

PETALING JAYA: Genting Malaysia Bhd (GenM) has given an assurance that the present liquidity challenges faced by loss-making Empire Resorts can be resolved following news that the latter may file for bankruptcy.

GenM has come under fire after it announced the acquisition of a 46% stake in Empire from Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay’s Kien Huat Realty Ltd (KH) for RM538.8 million.

“Empire stated that it believes that its current cash, cash equivalents, cash generated from operations and available funding pursuant to KH’s current commitments will provide sufficient liquidity to fund debt service requirements, Empire’s operations and the expected costs of developing the golf course adjacent to its casino, Resorts World Catskills (RWC), until the first quarter of 2020,” GenM said today in response to a query by Bursa Malaysia.

“Furthermore, based on our analysis from public filings, we believe that, with immediate improvements to Empire’s operations following an expeditious consummation of the proposed merger, Empire’s present liquidity challenges can be met,” it added.

GenM highlighted that Empire had identified multiple options to address its current liquidity challenges, including, seeking arrangements to provide additional liquidity, making reductions to its cost structure, restructuring of its and its subsidiaries existing debt terms and pursuing the joint non-binding proposal submitted by GenM and KH to acquire all outstanding shares of capital stock held by Empire stockholders unaffiliated with KH.

However, if these alternatives are unsuccessful, GenM said Empire had indicated that it may pursue a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding in respect of its subsidiary that owns the Catskills casino operations.

“GenM strongly believes that the proposal is the best alternative available to Empire’s stockholders and that the proposal is also in the best interests of GenM’s shareholders.”

GenM said it has carefully evaluated the investment into Empire and has deemed it a worthwhile investment as RWC is one of the newest and highest quality gaming assets in the northeast US, with over US$900 million (RM3.77 billion) invested.

“RWC is also nestled in a scenic mountain range development that includes the third party US$200 million Kartrite Resort. The Kartrite Resort is one of the most modern and state of the art indoor water park developments in the US, with 324 brand-new all suite luxury rooms that offer a family attraction for all ages.”

Due to established management in New York, GenM said, the group is in a unique position to take advantage of synergies between its existing operations at Resorts World New York (RWNY) and the RWC.

“This will provide both RWNY and RWC with economies of scale resulting in a net cost reduction, thus improving earnings.”

GenM has been inovlved in the New York gaming market for almost a decade and currently operates RWNY.

GenM opined that the successful execution of the proposed merger would place the group in a position to more deeply access the New York market and provide both GenM and Empire the opportunity to compete more effectively in northeastern US’s competitive gaming landscape.

GenM shares have tumbled 15% since the acquisition was announced last week. Today, the stock was down 1.3% to RM3.07 on 26.61 million shares done.