BNM international reserves up 0.2% to US$102.3b as at Feb 15

PETALING JAYA: Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) international reserves stood at US$102.3 billion as at Feb 15, 2019, 0.2% higher than the US$102.1 billion as at Jan 31, 2019.

The central bank said in a statement today that the reserves position is sufficient to finance 7.3 months of retained imports and is 1.0 time total short-term external debt.

RAM Ratings expects Bank Negara to maintain OPR at 3.25pc

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21 — The overnight policy rate (OPR) is expected to be retained at 3.25 per cent by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) given the need to balance between capital outflow pressures and growth support, says RAM Ratings. The research house…

Zeti: Strong economic momentum to continue this year

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz (pix) has described Malaysia’s 2018 gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 4.7% as steady despite the challenging environment and expected the strong economic momentum to continue in 2019.

She noted that the growth of between 4% and 6% in 2019 remained positive amid the current economic situation.

“For this year’s outlook, it should be as good if not better and this would be presented by all the investment houses, as well as the official one by the central bank and the Ministry of Finance,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the Nomura Islamic Asset Management 10th Anniversary Investment Forum today.

BNM, last week, reported that the Malaysian economy, as measured by GDP, grew 4.7% in the fourth quarter of 2018 from a year earlier, bringing full-year 2018 GDP growth to 4.7%.

The central bank said private sector activity remained the main driver of growth, while a rebound in exports of goods and services contributed towards net export growth.

BNM is expected to announce the Malaysian economy 2019 outlook next month.

Zeti, who is Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) chairman, said while economists and research houses projected lower GDP growth this year, PNB’s dividend would not be affected by a possible slowdown in the economy, driven by the fund’s diversified investment portfolio.

“Investment is all about diversification. If you learn to diversify, when one market does not perform, another does.

“The idea is to achieve a sustainable return and I have full confidence in PNB team that they will give their best effort to achieve such sustainable returns,” she said.

On the formation of the Economic Action Council (EAC), of which she is a member, Zeti described it as a great opportunity to get the economy going again.

Asked about top priorities to be discussed at the first EAC meeting, she said, “I want to save it when the meeting commences in the next few weeks. It will be very soon.”

On Feb 11, the Prime Minister’s Office announced the appointment of 16 members of the EAC which would be chaired by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Strong Malaysian economic momentum to continue in 2019, says Zeti

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 18 — Former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz has described Malaysia's 2018 gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 4.7 per cent as steady despite the challenging environment and expected the strong…

High foreign outflow due to investment recalibration, says expert

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 ― A high net foreign fund outflow of RM263.5 million was recorded between Monday to Thursday, a level last seen since the third week of December 2018, as investors recalibrated their investments due to periodic adjustment…

GDP last year a good sign, but analysts still cautious

KUCHING: Malaysia’s real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 4.7 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) in the fourth quarter of 2018 (4Q18) generally exceeded market expectations but analysts are still less sanguine on the country’s economic prospects for 2019. According to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), Malaysia’s economy grew by 4.7 per cent y-o-y in 4Q, driven […]

EAC should identify ways to reinvigorate private investment — BNM

KUALA LUMPUR: The Economic Action Council (EAC) should look at ways to reinvigorate private investment to spur the country’s economy, said Bank Negara Malaysia governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus. She said the council could look into current incentives to see if they were attracting the right kind of foreign direct investments and if the […]

FDI records larger net inflow of 12.9 bln in 4Q18

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s foreign direct investment (FDI) improved in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2018, registering a larger net inflow of RM12.9 billion from RM4.3 billion in the third quarter (3Q) of 2018. According to Bank Negara Malaysia’s (BNM) Quarterly Bulletin for the Fourth Quarter 2018, FDI inflow was channelled mainly into the manufacturing and […]

Bank Negara Malaysia rules out global recession this year

KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) does not expect a global recession to happen this year after the International Monetary Fund’s warning of a sharp slowdown triggered by trade tensions.

In fourth quarter 2018, Malaysia’s economy grew 4.7% driven by resilient private consumption and some recovery from earlier supply disruptions in commodity-related sectors. Overall, the economy grew 4.7% in 2018 supported by resilient private sector spending, lift from net exports and continued expansion in the services and manufacturing sectors.

Speaking to reporters at a briefing on Q4 2018 GDP figures today, BNM governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said global growth is returning to its long-term trend and she does not think that a global crisis will happen.

“Under that situation, with an open economy and having a diversified economic structure, Malaysia will continue to experience quality growth in external demand and that would provide support to growth in 2019,” she added.

In its Q3 bulletin last year, the central bank said trade tensions in the form at that time were expected to weigh down GDP growth this year, by 0.3 to 0.5 percentage points.

“We have not seen that impact from trade tensions. Growth in exports rebounded in Q4 and we are seeing also, within certain segments of the E&E sector, our market share to the US has increased. So there is some sort of trade diversion happening and that has also supported the favourable performance in the external sector,” said Nor Shamsiah.

However, she said there are downside risks which have been imput into BNM’s projections for 2019 which will be announced during the launch of its 2018 Annual Report next month.

She said income growth, amid a stable labour market and policies to buffer the rising cost of living, will drive consumption and lend support to growth.

Malaysia’s current account registered a surplus of RM10.8 billion in Q4 while the full-year current account surplus reached RM33.5 billion.

Headline inflation declined to 0.3% in Q4 mainly due to transport inflation turning negative. In 2018, headline inflation average 1% and it is expected to average moderately higher this year as the impact of the consumption tax policy will start to lapse towards the end of the year.

However, Nor Shamsiah said, underlying inflation is expected to be broadly stable.

She said the total cumulative reserves in terms of foreign currency assets held are enough to buffer any impact of a weaker ringgit on external debt.

“In terms of buffers, we still have current account surplus, excess liquidity in the system and the banks are in a very strong position in terms of the capital that they hold and liquidity that they hold,” she said.

Speaking of the Economic Action Council, Nor Shamsiah said it could look at measures to invigorate private investment such as a review of incentives offered, and issues related to cost of living such as structural issues on how to grow income, policies to lower dependence on foreign workers, and increasing salaries and wages by improving productivity.

On the management changes at Bank Pembangunan, Nor Shamsiah said all development financial institutions (DFIs) face challenges in attracting talent and most of them lack the scale and the diversified nature of operations in order to remain sustainable in the long run.

She said this year, BNM will review the mandates of DFIs to ensure they are able to play their catalytic role in the new economic landscape, and will be engaging with ministries to share its assessment.

Malaysian economy to experience moderate growth in 2019, says BNM

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 — The Malaysian economy will continue to experience moderate growth this year, supported mainly by external demand and resilience in private consumption among others, says Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah…