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PETALING JAYA: Total vehicle sales in February 2018 decreased 4.4% or 1,877 units to 40,578 units, compared with 42,455 units a year ago, according to the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA).
In a statement, MAA said sales for this month is expected to be slightly better than the previous month on the back of a longer working month and rush for deliveries by companies with financial year ending on March 31.
Meanwhile, the association said vehicle sales in February 2018 was 9% or 3,997 units lower than January 2018, attributed to a short working month due to Chinese New Year festive holidays.
WASHINGTON: The Federal Reserve (Fed) this week will fire the opening salvo in a series of interest rate increases this year, hoping to get out in front of an expected pickup in inflation.
The first rate increase of the year is overwhelmingly predicted by futures markets, analysts and investors alike to come on Wednesday at the conclusion of the Fed’s two-day policy meeting. It also will be the first under newly installed Fed chairman Jerome Powell (pix).
The US central bank is preparing to raise the key lending rate as economic conditions converge to put upward pressure on prices, including massive new tax cuts, a weaker dollar and even the threat of a trade war.
Fears the Fed could raise its benchmark interest rate at a faster pace, perhaps as many as four times this year, spooked markets last month, briefly sparking a global stocks selloff in early February.
But Fed officials have called for calm, signalling that even the planned steady but gradual monetary policy tightening should not interrupt the momentum of the world’s largest economy, which they say has enough slack to allow for continued low unemployment and some wage increases without sparking inflation.
“They’re trying to prepare the markets and say, ‘Let’s not go crazy’,” Joseph Gagnon, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told AFP.
But like other economists, he now expects four increases this year rather than three.
“I predict they will have to. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing,” Gagnon said.
Fed officials also will update their quarterly forecasts for the economy and the path of interest rates this week. With stocks on edge last month, Powell told lawmakers his outlook for the US economy had “strengthened since December”.
Since the Fed’s last policy meeting in January, economic data have been somewhat mixed, weighing on expectations for GDP growth in the first quarter: the trade deficit continues to widen, retail and auto sales as well as the housing market have been weaker, durable goods orders have undershot expectations and construction spending has been soft.
But surveys of sentiment in the manufacturing and services sectors show a strong head of steam in the economy while measures of consumer confidence and business sentiment are at record highs. – AFP
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