Monday, October 21st, 2019


World stocks climb on hopes for progress in trade; sterling edges up

NEW YORK, Oct 21 — Shares on world stock indexes mostly rose today, as hopes for resolving the US-China trade war pushed investors toward riskier assets, while the pound was near a 5-1/2-month high. The British parliament’s speaker refused to…

Dollar skids as Brexit optimism lifts pound and euro

NEW YORK, Oct 21 — The dollar was crawling toward its worst month since January 2018 today as intermittent waves of Brexit optimism pushed the pound to a 5-1/2 month high and kept the euro’s bumper October intact. Although Prime Minister Boris…

Wall Street rises on trade optimism; Boeing slides

NEW YORK, Oct 21 — Wall Street kicked off the week on an upbeat note today after the United States and China showed some signs of progress in resolving their trade war, but a fall in Boeing’s shares pressured the blue-chip Dow index. White House…

US Commerce chief: US-China trade deal doesn’t need to be inked next month

WASHINGTON, Oct 21 — The initial US-China trade deal does not need to be finalised next month, the US commerce secretary said today even as President Donald Trump has said he would like to sign the pact when he meet his Chinese counterpart at…

Drug companies reach US$260m settlement, averting first federal opioid trial

CLEVELAND, Oct 21 — Four large drug companies reached a last-minute US$260 million (RM1.08 billion) legal settlement over their role in the US opioid addiction epidemic, averting the first federal trial that was scheduled to start this morning in…

Malaysia moves up four spots in global pension fund index

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s position on the Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index (MMGPI) has improved to 16th and is now rated C+, compared with its ranking of 20th and a rating of C in 2018.

In a statement, MMGPI said Malaysia achieved an index score of 60.6, from 58.5 in 2018, surpassing the average global index of 59.3. This was primarily due to the updated data on the net replacement rate published by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The MMGPI’s data suggests as pension assets increase, individuals feel wealthier and therefore are likely to borrow more.

Mercer’s Dr David Knox, author of the study, said the growth in assets held by pension funds means households feel more financially secure in having future income from their nest egg, thereby allowing them to borrow funds prior to retirement to improve their current and future living standards.

“As the wealth of an individual grows, whether it be in home ownership, investment portfolios or their retirement savings, so does their comfort with amassing debt. The evidence suggests on a global basis, for every extra dollar a person has in pension assets, their net household debt rises by just under 50 cents,” he said.

Malaysia’s retirement income system is based on the Employees Provident Fund which covers all private sector employees and non-pensionable public sector employees.

According to data from the MMGPI, the overall index value for the Malaysian system could be increased by increasing the minimum level of support for the poorest aged individuals; raising the level of household saving and lowering the level of household debt; introducing a requirement that part of the retirement benefit must be taken as an income stream; and increasing the pension age as life expectancy continues to increase.

Meanwhile, Mercer’s Asia wealth business leader Janet Li said Malaysia also rated highly on the sustainability and integrity sub-indices.

“Both values are above the global average which are 51.3 and 71.7 for 2019. Malaysia proudly scored 60.5 and 76.9 respectively. The overall C+ rating shows that the system has some good features, but improvements can be made to increase long-term sustainability and provide more benefits.

“We remain hopeful with the recent Budget 2020 by the Malaysian government that more policies will be tabled to address this pressing issue,” she said.

The MMGPI, supported by the government of the state of Victoria, Australia, is a collaborative research project between the Monash Centre for Financial Studies and professional services firm, Mercer.

The index uses the weighted average of the sub-indices of adequacy, sustainability and integrity to measure each retirement system against more than 40 indicators. It compares 37 retirement systems across the globe and covers almost two-thirds of the world’s population.

The index highlights the broad spectrum and diversity of the world’s pension systems, demonstrating even the world’s best systems have shortcomings. The 2019 index includes three new systems – the Philippines, Thailand and Turkey.

Boeing may face billions more in losses as MAX crisis deepens, say analysts

NEW YORK, Oct 21 — Boeing Co may have to book billions of dollars in additional charges, two brokerages said today, following latest developments around the planemaker’s grounded 737 MAX jet that calls into question the timing of the…

TRC Synergy to build new Prasarana HQ

PETALING JAYA: TRC Synergy Bhd’s wholly owned subsidiary Trans Resources Corp Sdn Bhd has received a RM99.5 million contract from Prasarana Malaysia Bhd for the construction of its new headquarters.

According to the group’s filing with Bursa Malaysia, the contract is for the proposed design, construction and completion of the new headquarters in Lembah Subang, Selangor.

TRC Synergy expects the project will contribute positively to the earnings of the group in the future.

Miti to ensure Malaysia steers clear of US sanctions

KUALA LUMPUR: The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) will take the necessary action against any companies, including improper certificate issuers, that are using Malaysia as a transhipment point to get a certificate of origin for their manufactured goods for export to the US.

Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming said the ministry will not tolerate any untoward practices that would give reasons for the US to arbitrarily impose sanctions on Malaysia amid its trade conflict with China.

“For example, if we find out or hear any complaints that certain companies are using Malaysia as a transhipment point to get a certificate of origin for their manufacture goods for export to the US, we (will) take this seriously.

“We will do the necessary investigation against whoever issued those certificates in a way that is not proper, and further action against them, including the companies, (will be taken),” he said during a luncheon tete-a-tete session at the two-day ISIS Praxis Conference 2019 today.

He said MIT recognises the policy uncertainty and will try to minimise it as much as possible in order to continue to be part of the world’s larger trading ecosystem.

Hence, Ong noted that Malaysia needs to be open for business with all countries, especially with those that it has long historic alliances, including China.

He said the US is Malaysia’s top source of approved foreign direct investment followed by China and both countries will continue to be country’s very important trading partners.

“We expect that for the full year of 2019, these two countries will account for about 70% to 80% in terms of approved FDI,” he added. – Bernama

MGB completes first batch of IBS-built homes ahead of schedule

PETALING JAYA: MGB Bhd, a subsidiary of LBS Bina Group Bhd, has completed its first batch of Industrialised Building System (IBS)-built homes in LBS Alam Perdana in 12 months instead of 18 months.

Group managing director Tan Sri Lim Hock San said LBS Alam Perdana is MGB’s first IBS precast concrete development.

“The mobile IBS factory at LBS Alam Perdana has contributed significantly in terms of achieving greater efficiency, productivity and quality. It has enabled us to customise the precast units according to the project’s requirements, deliver the units within a shorter time frame and with superior quality. This has resulted in early completion of the homes,” he said in a statement.

The project, comprising 673 units of double-storey terraced homes, were constructed using IBS precast concrete components produced
by MGB’s first mobile factory which commenced operation in May 2018.

The 10-acre mobile factory is capable of producing up to 2,000 units of properties annually.

In its statement, LBS said with IBS, it was able to fast track the delivery of homes, enjoying up to 33% savings on construction time.

In addition, dependency on manual labour was reduced by 31%, achieving a 49% percent reduction in total on-site labour costs.

MGB has been producing IBS properties for the last 10 years. The group started producing IBS steel formworks and aluminium formworks, and recently added pre-cast concrete units to its offerings.

In March this year, MGB invested RM40 million to open its second IBS facility, a permanent precast concrete plant in Nilai.

The new permanent factory is a joint venture between MGB and Sany Construction Industry Development (M) Sdn Bhd, and is capable of producing up to 2,000 units of properties for Kita @ Cybersouth township.