economic prospects


Hup Seng fourth quarter earnings down 11.5% on lower margin

PETALING JAYA: Biscuits manufacturer Hup Seng Industries Bhd’s net profit for the fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2018 fell 11.5% to RM12.74 million from RM14.38 million a year ago mainly due to poorer margin in certain segment coupled with higher incentive and promotional sponsorship activities given to the distributors during the current quarter.

The group’s revenue for the current quarter decreased slightly by 0.4% to RM85.85 million from RM86.22 million in the quarter ended Dec 31, 2017 as domestic sales registered a drop of 2%.

For the full-year period, Hup Seng’s net profit fell 3.3% to RM42.96 million from RM44.45 million a year ago, with revenue increasing 2.6% to RM307.37 million from RM299.67 million.

It recommended the payment of a third interim dividend of 2 sen per share for the financial quarter under review.

Hup Seng said the operating environment over the next six months is expecting weak domestic growth, uncertainty in global demand and prudent investment in business expansion. Faced with uncertain global and domestic economic prospects, consumers will once again be expected to be more prudent with their spending, leading to weaker sentiment on retail consumption for 2019.

“The group witnessed some margin compression arising from costs pressures amid continued growth in revenue. Nevertheless, the group will continue its efforts to enhance operating efficiency to mitigate as much as possible the impact of higher input costs. The group will continue to focus in improving the group’s performance by innovating products portfolio, broadening the distributor network to safeguard the group’s revenue and profitability,” it said.

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 […]

Bursa Malaysia closes stronger on better corporate earnings optimism

KUALA LUMPUR: Share prices on Bursa Malaysia closed stronger today, backed by optimism that 2018 fourth quarter corporate earnings results will be better after Malaysia recorded a GDP growth of 4.7% for the fourth quarter of 2018 and the whole year, a dealer said.

At 5pm, the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) finished at 1,689.06, up 3.76 points, from Tuesday’s close of 1,687.41.

The index opened 0.32 of-a-point firmer at 1,687.73 and moved between 1,682.81 and 1,689.06 throughout the day.

Bank Islam chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said GDP growth accelerated for the first time since the third quarter of 2017, ending a streak of four quarters of slow growth.

However, he said Bank Negara Malaysia’s Quarterly Bulletin was dovish in their monetary stance while the Monetary Policy Committee felt the balance of risks was tilted on the downside, suggesting challenging economic prospects in 2019.

“Technically speaking, the FBM KLCI is in the neutral zone, implying that the index will likely remain timid. Perhaps, markets are awaiting corporate earnings announcements to be made for the fourth quarter of 2018 by the end of this month,” he told Bernama.

Among heavyweights, Maybank and CIMB were flat at RM9.55 and RM5.78, respectively.

Public Bank eased two sen to RM24.94, TNB shed four sen to RM13.02 and Petronas Chemicals slipped one sen to RM8.47.

Of actives, Sapura Energy gained three sen to 30.5 sen, Bumi Armada and KNM climbed two sen each to 24.5 sen and 11 sen, respectively, Hibiscus perked 6.5 sen to RM1.06 and Barakah added half-a-sen to 14.5 sen.

Market breadth was positive with 463 gainers and 359 losers while 381 counters remained unchanged, 650 untraded and 35 others were suspended.

Total volume rose to 3.88 billion units valued at RM2.28 billion from Wednesday’s 2.63 billion units valued at RM1.87 billion.

The FBM Emas Index increased 31.271 points to 11,745.57, the FBMT 100 Index rose 28.01 points to 11,606.41 and the FBM Emas Shariah Index jumped 47.01 points to 11,624.21.

The FBM 70 rose 42.62 points to 13,986.84 while the FBM Ace Index eased 6.46 points to 4,640.86.

Sector-wise, the Financial Services Index erased 10.09 points to 17,719.56, the Plantation Index retracted 10.44 points to 7,288.07 while the Industrial Products and Services Index added 0.26 of-a-point to 162.73.

Main Market volume rose to 3.09 billion shares, valued at RM2.11 billion, from Wednesday’s 1.88 billion shares worth RM1.7 billion.

Warrants’ turnover widened to 497.67 million units, worth RM108.6 million, from 477.65 million units valued at RM110.55 million transacted yesterday.

Volume on the ACE Market expanded to 293.46 million shares, valued at RM61.14 million, from 269.16 million shares, worth RM61.34 million, recorded on Wednesday.

Consumer products and services accounted for 239.75 million shares traded on the Main Market, industrial products and services (384.43 million), construction (127.61 million), technology (299.23 million), SPAC (nil), financial services (40.46 million), property (96.38 million), plantations (27.19 million), REITs (8.76 million), closed/fund (101,200), energy (1.72 billion), healthcare (21.58 million), telecommunications and media (65.89 million), transportation and logistics (32.76 million), and utilities (24.06 million). — Bernama

IMF lowers growth forecast for Saudi Arabia, region

DAVOS, Jan 21 — The International Monetary Fund today lowered its 2019 economic growth forecast for Saudi Arabia and the region over low oil prices and crude output along with rising geopolitical tensions. In its World Economic Outlook update for…

World Bank warns trade storm jeopardises economy

WASHINGTON: Trade conflict between the world’s two largest economic powers already is inflicting collateral damage and threatens to do yet more harm to the global economy, the World Bank warned. And the global slowdown is beginning as government and corporate debt rise, especially among the poorest countries, while mounting interest rates increase borrowing costs, the bank […]

World Bank sees slower global economic growth of 2.9% this year

BENGALURU: The growth of the global economy is expected to slow to 2.9% in 2019 compared with 3% in 2018, the World Bank said on Tuesday, citing elevated trade tensions and international trade moderation.

“At the beginning of 2018 the global economy was firing on all cylinders, but it lost speed during the year and the ride could get even bumpier in the year ahead,“ World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva said in the semi-annual Global Economic Prospects report.

The World Bank outlook comes as the United States and China have been engaged in a bitter trade dispute, which has jolted financial markets across the world for months. The two economies have imposed tit-for-tat duties on each other’s goods, although there have been signs of progress.

Growth in the US is likely to slow to 2.5% this year from 2.9% in 2018, while China is expected to grow at 6.2% in the year compared with 6.5% in 2018, according to the World Bank.

Emerging market economies are expected to grow at 4.2% this year, with advanced economies expected to grow at 2%, the World Bank said.

World Bank warns brewing trade storm jeopardises global economy

WASHINGTON, Jan 9 — Trade conflict between the world’s two largest economic powers already is inflicting collateral damage and threatens to do yet more harm to the global economy, the World Bank warned yesterday. And the global slowdown is…

With farms atop malls, Singapore gets serious about food security

SINGAPORE: Visitors to Singapore’s Orchard Road, the city’s main shopping belt, will find fancy malls, trendy department stores, abundant food courts – and a small farm. Comcrop’s 600-square-metre (6,450-square-foot) farm on the roof of one of the malls uses vertical racks and hydroponics to grow leafy greens and herbs such as basil and peppermint that […]

MARC: Foreign outflows to moderate in 2019

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Rating Corp Bhd (MARC) expects the amount of net foreign outflows to moderate in 2019, capped by the gradually increasing clarity in the Malaysian government’s macro policies going forward, a slowdown in the pace of interest rate hikes in the US and the increased stability of the ringgit.

“Going forward, uncertainties surrounding US-China trade, prospects of the US dollar, Brexit and the US government political gridlock as well as Malaysia’s moderating growth performance will likely affect foreign investors’ demand for local bonds,“ MARC said in a report today.

It said net foreign outflows from the local bond market surged in the first 11 months of 2018 to RM19.6 billion (Jan–Nov 2017: RM11.6 billion), thus bringing down total foreign holdings to RM187.1 billion (Jan–Nov 2017: RM204.0 billion).

Overall, foreign ownership of local bonds fell to 13.3% of the total outstanding (Jan–Nov 2017: 15.9%). This was mostly attributed to the lower foreign holdings in Malaysian Government Securities (MGS), which fell RM12.7 billion to RM147.6 billion (Jan–Nov 2017: RM160.3 billion) in the same period. By end-November, foreign ownership of MGS papers had declined to 38.8% (Jan–Nov 2017: 44.3%) of total MGS outstanding.

Foreign outflows from local govvies in the first 11 months of 2018 were also driven by slower Malaysian gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2Q 2018 and 3Q 2018; rebound in US dollar; faltering crude oil prices; rising UST yields; and four US rate hikes that occurred in 2018.

Meanwhile, MARC envisaged yields for MGS and corporate bonds to increase slightly in 2019 when compared with 2018.

“However, we are of the view that the upside in yields will be capped by a low inflation rate; the expectation of a possible cut in the overnight policy rate amid weaker economic prospects; and limited upside of UST yields as the rate hike pace slows. Against this backdrop, we expect yields for the 10-year MGS to range between 3.9% and 4.4% in 2019.”

MARC expects total gross issuance of MGS/Government Investment Issues (GII) in the primary market to range between RM115 billion and RM125 billion in 2019, premised on the government’s projected budget deficit of RM52.1 billion, as well as higher volume of matured MGS/GII papers.

In 2018, total gross issuance of MGS/GII papers was up by 0.8% to RM114.8 billion (2017: RM113.9 billion).

Going into 2019, MARC also foresee gross issuance of corporate bonds to normalise to between RM80 billion and RM90 billion, premised on lower growth of public investment, a more moderate real GDP growth of 4.6% and slower pace of global investment.

“We also expect a material decline in gross issuance of unrated government-guaranteed and infrastructure-related corporate bonds following the government’s reprioritisation efforts.”

In 2018, total corporate bond issuance in the primary market fell to RM103.9 billion, down by 15.4% from the previous year (2017: RM122.9 billion), mainly attributed to a significant drop in the unrated segment.

Business confidence drops to lowest level for 1H19

KUCHING: Greater concerns over the weak economic landscape has dragged down optimism among corporate and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to the lowest level since the inception of the RAM Business Confidence Index (RAM BCI) survey two years ago. The latest survey conducted by RAM Holdings Bhd and RAM Credit Information Sdn Bhd among 3,500 […]