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Tencent wins key approval to sell Nintendo’s Switch in China

BEIJING, April 18 — China’s Tencent has won a key approval to start selling the Nintendo Switch in the country, paving the way for the console to enter the world’s largest video games market two years after it was first released worldwide….


London’s FTSE 100 tugged down by miners; IWG lifts midcaps

LONDON, April 15 — Britain’s main index lost ground today as miners and oil majors fell, more than offsetting gains in bank stocks. The FTSE 100 was 0.2 per cent lower, lagging its European and Asian counterparts, while the FTSE 250 added 0.2…


Tips on a stressless tax season

KUALA LUMPUR: Tax season may be one of the most stressful times for taxpayers, especially when there are changes to the tax system, but planning ahead and equipping oneself with knowledge is key to avoiding mistakes when the time comes to file income tax.

“My biggest tip for planning ahead is to go through the reliefs and see what changes are there from year to year. You cannot just assume things remain static year on year. For example, for Year of Assessment 2019, for the first time ever, they have reduced the effective relief for EPF (Employees Provident Fund) alone. But the combined EPF and life insurance relief has increased actually, to RM7,000,“ said RinggitPlus CEO Liew Ooi Hann (pix).

“This sounds very little but it affects a very large segment of the population, specifically the segment of the population who previously had been enjoying the full EPF tax relief but have no life insurance. If you earn above RM3,000 a month and you don’t have life insurance, you are actually slightly worse off this year than last year. But for people who do have life insurance, when combined with EPF they can maximise, the deductions are actually more,“ he told SunBiz in an interview.

Taxpayers should also look at ways to improve the way they are doing things for example, using the National Education Savings Scheme (SSPN) instead of a savings account or fixed deposit to save up for children’s education.

“Consider doing it in SSPN because in addition to getting a reasonable rate, you also get tax relief. If you’re investing in mutual fund, unit trust, you can do the same thing with the same provider but in a PRS scheme. So, switch to PRS. If you are already with an asset manager, most asset managers have a PRS version of the same investment,“ he said.

According to Liew, soft copies of receipts are acceptable thus he recommends taking photos of receipts so that a digital record is available if the receipts are misplaced.

Lee Hishammuddin Allen & Gledhill (LHAG) partner S. Saravana Kumar said the most important aspect of tax planning and preparation for YA2019 is knowledge, and staying up to date on tax matters is necessary to ensure tax compliance and avoid missing out on any available tax reliefs and rebates.

“One of the tax reliefs is an allowance of up to RM2,500 for lifestyle expenses, which includes purchasing reading materials, gadgets, gym memberships and internet subscription. Further, individuals may also claim for, among others,

insurance schemes, medical expenses and own education fee,“ he said.

Another aspect of good tax preparation and planning is good bookkeeping. Saravana advises taxpayers to keep records of relevant documents such as accounts, receipts and invoices as these are required as proof of tax reliefs claimed. Such documents should be kept for at least seven years.


Ekovest, IWCity shares surge on fresh optimism over mega projects

PETALING JAYA: Tycoon Tan Sri Lim Kang Hoo-linked Ekovest Bhd and Iskandar Waterfront City Bhd (IWCity) emerged as the most active stocks on Bursa Malaysia today, driven by market optimism over the possible revival of mega projects.

IWCity’s parent company Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd (IWH), together with China Railway Engineering Corp (M) Sdn Bhd (CREC) were the winners of the Bandar Malaysia project before their status as the master developer was scrapped in May 2017.

Ekovest’s share price has been on the rise since the end of March, gaining 27% from its closing price of 50 sen on March 29. Today, the stock soared as much as 19.3% to 65 sen before closing 16.51% higher at 63.5 sen.

IWCity’s share price has also seen strong buying momentum over the past few weeks, rising 46.38% from its closing price of 32 sen on March 28. The stock rose to an intra-day high of RM1.10 and closed 18.13% higher at RM1.01 today.

Ekovest was the most active stock on the bourse with 196.90 million shares traded, followed by Ekovest-WB which saw 184.32 million shares changing hands. IWCity was the third most heavily traded stock with 151.03 million shares traded.

This comes after a rally in construction and building materials stocks on hopes of the revival of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) and the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) projects.

MyHSR Corp Sdn Bhd has disclosed plans to appoint a consultant to review the technical aspects of the HSR project’s cost-reduction options.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said the government is looking at proposals aimed at reducing the cost of the HSR, which will be discussed further with Singapore before the end of the project suspension period on May 31, 2020.

Meanwhile, negotiations on the ECRL are expected to be concluded before Mahathir leaves to attend the Belt and Road Forum that starts on April 26 in China.

Latest developments on these two projects have in turn driven optimism in the market on the possible revival of Bandar Malaysia.

Bandar Malaysia is a mixed development with an estimated gross development value of RM160 billion. The transit-oriented development was planned as a transport hub connecting the HSR, MRT, KTM Komuter and Express Rail Link networks.

In May 2017, TRX City Sdn Bhd, an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of the Finance Ministry, announced that the sale of its 60% interest in Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd had lapsed after IWH CREC Sdn Bhd’s failure to meet the payment obligations outlined in the conditions precedent under the share sale agreement, despite repeated extensions being granted.

IWH CREC was a 60:40 joint venture between IWH and CREC.

After the Pakatan Harapan government came into the power, Ministry of Finance special officer Tony Pua has said there was no interest in the government’s call for tender proposals for the Bandar Malaysia project.


Rail boost for construction, building materials stocks

PETALING JAYA: The recent headlines on the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) and the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) projects are putting construction and building materials stocks on the radar of investors on Bursa Malaysia.

Some construction and building materials companies have seen their share prices rally since Monday after MyHSR Corp Sdn Bhd revealed its plans to appoint a technical advisory consultant to review the technical aspects of the HSR project’s cost-reduction options.

The HSR, which is currently on hold, could be revived as Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today the government is looking at proposals aimed at reducing the cost of the project. It will be discussed further with Singapore before the end of the suspension period on May 31, 2020.

Notably, negotiations on the ECRL, which has been suspended due to its escalating price tag, are expected to be concluded by the end of this month, before Mahathir leaves for China for the Belt and Road Forum that starts on April 26.

Among the top gainers on Bursa Malaysia today were George Kent (Malaysia) Bhd, Ann Joo Resources Bhd-PA (preference shares) and Ann Joo Resources, which rose 11.67%, 18.18% and 4.54% to RM1.34, 65 sen and RM1.84, respectively.

Other construction and building materials counters that saw heavy buying included cement producer Lafarge Malaysia Bhd, Advancecon Holdings Bhd, IJM Corp Bhd, Ajiya Bhd and Tasek Corp Bhd which increased 2.41%, 5.62%, 1.3%, 1.83% and 0.55% to RM2.55, 47 sen, RM2.33, 55.5 sen and RM5.53, respectively.

“The KL Construction index has rebounded 33% from a low base year to date and from here the trend will be sustained when ECRL, HSR all come back to life,” Rakuten Trade Sdn Bhd vice-president of research Vincent Lau told SunBiz.

“We have been advocating the construction sector since February during our market outlook. Sentiment driven with the news of mega infrastructure projects headlines (are) driving the stock price now,” he added.

The proposed 350km HSR track between Bandar Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur and Jurong East in Singapore includes six stations in between – Putrajaya, Seremban, Air Keroh, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Putri. The journey from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore would be about 90 minutes with the travelling speed exceeding 300 kilometres per hour.

For the ECRL, Transport Minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook has confirmed that its alignment will be rerouted to benefit Negri Sembilan when it resumes after negotiations with the Chinese government at the end of this month. The new construction cost for the ECRL is expected to be much lower than the initial cost of RM81 billion.


Huawei P30 series lands in Malaysia, priced from RM2,699

KUALA LUMPUR, April 8 — Huawei has officially announced the arrival of the new P30 series of smartphones in Malaysia. Touted as smartphones that "rewrite the rules of photography", the new devices are available for pre-order immediately, and in…


US-China trade talks continue, Trump not expected to announce summit, says official

WASHINGTON, April 4 — The White House is not expected to announce a date today for a trade summit between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, a senior administration official said, as negotiators for the two sides launch…


Brent edges further away from US$70 level

TOKYO: Oil prices slipped a second day today, with Brent edging down further from the US$70 mark after weekly US oil data showed a surprise build in crude inventories and record production.

Brent futures were down 3 cents at US$69.28 a barrel by 0603 GMT. Brent fell 6 cents on Wednesday, after touching US$69.96, highest since Nov 12, when it last traded above US$70.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell 8 cents, or 0.1%, to US$62.38 a barrel. The contract dropped 12 cents in the previous session after briefly hitting US$62.99, also the highest since November.

Global benchmark Brent has gained nearly 30% this year, while WTI has gained nearly 40%. Prices have been underpinned by tightening global supplies and signs of demand picking up.

“There is a clear bias to the upside with the supply restrictions,“ said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, pointing to supply cuts by Opec and others, along with sanctions on Iran.

“And there’s a much-better-than-expected demand picture after the recent China and US PMI numbers, along with a potential kicker from any US-China trade agreement,“ he said.

The Caixin/Markit services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose to 54.4, the highest since January 2018 and up from February’s 51.1, a fourth-month low, a private business survey of China’s service sector showed on Wednesday.

Trade talks between the United States and China made “good headway” last week in Beijing and the two sides aim to bridge differences during further talks, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Wednesday.

Crude oil is also supported by an agreement between the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) and allies such as Russia, a group known as Opec+, to reduce oil output by about 1.2 million bpd this year.

US pressure on Iran is increasing, with a senior Trump administration official saying earlier this week that Washington is considering more sanctions on the Middle Eastern country.

The refinery maintenance season is also drawing to a close and that will provide further demand for crude, said Virendra Chauhan, oil analyst at Energy Aspects in Singapore.

“The physical market is very strong and we are now starting to trade post-turnaround barrels, which should mean physical markets strengthen and flat prices should follow,“ he said.

Still, crude oil inventories in the United States rose by 7.2 million barrels last week, as net imports climbed, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday. Analysts had forecast a decrease of 425,000 barrels.

US crude production climbed 100,000 barrels per day (bpd) to a record 12.2 million bpd, after hovering around 12 million to 12.1 million bpd since mid-February, according to the EIA data.


Mavcom approves 53 ATR in 1Q2019 with AirAsia the highest recipient

KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — The Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) has approved 53 applications of Air Traffic Rights (ATR) for the period of January 1 to March 31, 2019 (1Q) with AirAsia Group received the highest…


EU hits Britain over illegal tax break to multinationals

BRUSSELS, April 2 — The EU’s powerful anti-trust authority today said a tax break from Britain for unnamed multinationals was illegal under state aid rules, firing a shot at London amid Brexit chaos. The European Commission gave no indication of…