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Asian shares spooked by rising US yields, cost worries

TOKYO, April 25 — Asian shares were under pressure today, with a rise in US bond yields above the 3 per cent threshold and warnings from bellwether US companies of higher costs driving fears that corporate earnings growth may peak soon. MSCI's…


Oil slips as Trump, France's Macron talk Iran deal

NEW YORK, April 25 — Oil prices slipped yesterday as concerns the United States might reinstate sanctions against Iran faded somewhat, reducing worries about the future of Iranian exports. US President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel…


Oil tops US$75, highest since 2014 Opec meeting that led to pump war

SINGAPORE, April 24 — Oil rose today above US$75 a barrel to its highest since November 2014, supported by Opec-led production cuts, strong demand and the prospect of renewed US sanctions on Iran. Brent crude, the global benchmark, hit its highest…


Shareholders positive after Lotte’s bumpy start

KUALA LUMPUR: Lotte Chemical Titan Holdings Bhd shareholders remain buoyant on the prospects of the petrochemical firm after a series of unfortunate events – share price slump, stop-work order and fire at its plant – in the first six months of listing marred the fanfare of being one of the largest listings the stock exchange has seen in the last five years.

Shareholders met by SunBiz at the group’s AGM today said they are more relieved now after all the distractions, as the business operations are back on the right track.

They acknowledged that while the share price movement is something beyond the group’s control, its rebound to above RM6 is seen as a good sign for the group which hit a low of RM4.14 just a month into its listing at RM6.50.

“I managed a handsome paper gain after I bought into the stock when it fell to below RM5 last year,” a minority shareholder said.

At today’s market close, the stock gained 2 sen or 0.3% to RM6.23, just 4.2% shy from its initial public offering (IPO) price which was slashed from the RM8 set initially, due to weak market sentiment.

Its share price dipped to a low of RM4.14 last August after announcing a 72% plunge in second-quarter net earnings ended June 30, 2017 on the back of high inventory cost carried forward from turnaround activities as well as higher production cost due to water supply interruption.

Giving truth to the adage of trouble coming in threes, in September, Lotte’s Pasir Gudang factory caught fire due to contact between residual vapour from the quench water drain pit and the steam line, causing an estimated loss of less than RM50,000.

The same plant was also issued a stop-work order by the Department of Environment in October after being identified as the source of a stench, which reached Singapore’s shores.

Looking ahead, Lotte’s executive vice-president of corporate planning Philip Kong believes the group will continue to see a reasonable profit margin given strong demand for petrochemical products with limited market supply capacity.

This is despite the rising oil prices, which could put pressure on petrochemical players. As at 7pm today, Brent crude oil stood at US$74.95 a barrel.

“Our business is a margin game. As long as there is strong demand with limited supply, the margin will be maintained. If oil prices go up, the polymer prices will pick up as well,” he told reporters after the group’s first AGM since its listing.

Lotte produces olefins and polyolefins, which are raw materials for plastic product manufacturing.

For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2017, its net profit declined 19.1% from RM1.32 billion to RM1.06 billion, due to lower sales volume resulting from two routine statutory turnaround exercise at the Malaysian site and water disruption in Johor.

For 2018, its utilisation rate is expected to increase to 90% from 75% currently in the absence of plant shut down and water disruption.

Speaking on the integrated petrochemical facility in Indonesia, Kong said Lotte will make a final decision on its planned integrated petrochemical facility in Indonesia within the year or early next year. The estimated cost of the project is between US$3 billion (RM11.7 billion) and US$4 billion (RM15.6 billion) and is scheduled to be completed by 2023.

He added that Malaysia and Indonesia, which make up 70% of the overall business, remain the two important markets for Lotte on the back of huge population and a slight premium against the international prices.


Asia stocks down with US bond yields close to four-year high

TOKYO, April 24 — Asian stocks slipped and the US dollar advanced today, as a deluge of US government debt this week and the spectre of inflation and a higher fiscal deficit drove US borrowing costs near four-year highs. MSCI's broadest index of…


Trump's revenge: US oil floods Europe, hurting Opec and Russia

MOSCOW, April 24 — As Opec's efforts to balance the oil market bear fruit, US producers are reaping the benefits — and flooding Europe with a record amount of crude. Russia paired with the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries last…


Crude surges to three-year high as Saudi-Yemen conflict heats up

NEW YORK, April 24 — Crude surged as strife in the Mideast region that’s home to almost half the world’s oil worsened. Futures in New York settled at their highest since December 2014, erasing earlier losses and nearing US$69 (RM269) a barrel,…


RM580m net inflow into Bursa, FBM KLCI hits record high

PETALING JAYA: Foreign investors lapped up RM580.2 million net worth of Bursa Malaysia-listed stocks last week, excluding off-market deals, bucking the trend of US$1.9 billion (RM7.4 billion) offloaded by foreign investors in seven exchanges in the region tracked by MIDF Research.

The highlight of the week was on Thursday when foreign investors pumped RM430 million net into Bursa Malaysia stocks, the highest amount since March last year.

Heavy inflows were also seen in other Asian bourses amid increasing Brent crude oil prices.The FBM KLCI followed the tide of foreign fund inflows to end the day at a record high of 1,895 points.

Malayan Banking, IHH Healthcare and Malaysia Airports Holdings recorded the highest amount of inflows from foreign investors last week.

On a year-to-date basis, foreigners have so far accumulated RM3.44 billion net of local equities. Meanwhile, foreign investors have been net buyers in 13 out of the 16 weeks this year compared with 14 during the same period in 2017.

Both foreign and retail participation remained healthy as both of their average daily trade value stood above the RM1 billionb level for the 15th and 12th week so far in 2018, respectively.


Foreign funds bought RM582m M’sian equity last week, says MIDF Research

foreign-funds-bought-rm582m-msian-equity-last-week-says-midf-research

KUALA LUMPUR (April 23): Foreign investors acquired RM582 million of Malaysian equity on Bursa Malaysia last week, up from RM324.7 million the prior week, according…


Oil prices dip on rising US rig count, but overall sentiment remains bullish

oil-prices-dip-on-rising-us-rig-count-but-overall-sentiment-remains-bullish

SINGAPORE, April 23 — Oil prices dipped early today as a rising US rig count pointed to further increases in the country's output, underlining one of only a few factors holding back crude markets in an otherwise bullish environment. Brent crude…