european markets


MAS eyes bigger share in Muslims pilgrims flights


Izham: Rather than just delivering the normal service, we will offer our services with Malaysian hospitality for our hajj and umrah flights. PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS) is aiming for a 10% market share of flying Muslim pilgrims on charter flights to Saudi Arabia, as it prepares to launch its new charter services using the reconfigured A380 aircraft sometime in October this year. There are about one million pilgrims who perform their hajj and umrah yearly from the region, and the airline already controls about 6% of this market, said its new group CEORead More

Global markets extend 2018 rally with fresh records

NEW YORK: The 2018 global equity rally continued apace Friday, with Asian and European markets posting healthy gains and Wall Street powering to fresh records once again.

One day after the Dow finished above 25,000 for the first time, the blue-chip index moved higher still, picking up momentum throughout the day before finishing at 25,295.87, up nearly one percent.

The rise came despite a disappointing US jobs report. The US added just 148,000 jobs in December, the Labor Department reported, far below expectations, although unemployment held steady at its 17-year low of 4.1%.

But investors, who opened 2018 in a fever pitch to buy equities, were unfazed by the lackluster data, much as they have also overlooked any concerns about US-North Korea tensions or domestic political controversies.

“Whatever the news, the reaction thus far continues to be more of what we have been seeing,” said Adam Sarhan, founder of 50 Park Investments.

“Investors are buying, dismissing all negative news, whether economic or geopolitical and they are just buying stocks.”

All main European markets were higher at the close, with standout Frankfurt clocking up a gain of just under 1.2% despite a share price plunge for heavyweight Deutsche Bank after a profit-warning.

Paris followed not far behind with a 1.1% rise.

London hit a new intra-day record peak at 7,727.73 points, and also set a new closing high, buoyed by the weak pound, which lifts the share prices of multi-national companies.

In Asia on Friday, Tokyo stocks ended up 0.9% at a 26-year high following its more than three percent jump Thursday, while Sydney added 0.7%.

Seoul rose 1.3%, with dealers buoyed by news that North Korea had accepted the South's offer of talks next week, further easing geopolitical tensions in the region.

Hong Kong gained 0.3% to chalk up a ninth-straight gain.

'Economic strength'

Equity optimism has been fueled by US tax cuts, healthy corporate profits and strong manufacturing figures worldwide.

Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader, said in a note that data from the manufacturing and services sectors “suggests economic strength across the globe remains robust.”

He noted that an index of world factory activity was at its highest level in seven years.

While oil prices inched down, they remain elevated after recent rises to around three-year highs thanks to Middle East tensions.

Crude futures have also been boosted this week on keen US demand as the nation's stockpiles fall on the back of a severe cold snap.

Key figures around 2140 GMT

New York – DOW: UP 0.9% at 25,295.87 (close)

New York – S&P 500: UP 0.7% at 2,743.15 (close)

New York – Nasdaq: UP 0.8% at 7,136.56 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.4% at 7,724.22 points (close)

Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 1.2% at 13,319.64 (close)

Paris – CAC 40: UP 1.1 percent at 5,470.75 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 1.1% at 3,607.63

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.9% at 23,714.53 (close)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.3% at 30,814.64 (close)

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.2% at 3,391.75 (close)

Euro/dollar: DOWN at US$1.2030 from US$1.2068 late on Thursday

Pound/dollar: UP at US$1.3564 from US$1.3552

Dollar/yen: UP at 113.10 yen from 112.72 yen

Oil – Brent North Sea: DOWN 45 cents at US$67.62 per barrel

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 57 cents at US$61.44 per barrel

Morning Briefing, Thursday

US Market : U.S. stocks eked out a positive close Wednesday, with gains in real estate and utilities offsetting declines in energy and telecommunications stocks. Trading volume was on pace for the second-lowest of the year, with only Black Friday’s half-day of trading posting lower volume. Europe Market : European markets closed mixed on Wednesday, amid light trade across markets worldwide due to the holiday period. Precious Metal Gold : Gold rose for an eighth straight session on Wednesday as a retreat in the dollar encouraged some investors to buyRead More

Morning Briefing, Wednesday

US Market : U.S. equities fell on Tuesday, as a decline in Apple shares pushed the broader tech sector lower. House members voted to pass the tax bill on Tuesday. The Senate is also expected to pass the measure. The bill would cut the federal corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent. Europe Market : Europe markets closed lower Tuesday afternoon, despite investors monitoring the progress of a long-anticipated and market-friendly U.S. tax overhaul which appears highly likely to pass this week. Precious Metal Gold : Gold dippedRead More

Morning Briefing, Thursday

US Market : U.S. equities closed little changed on Wednesday as Congress approved a bill that would cut corporate taxes. Investors have been eagerly waiting for lawmakers to move forward with the bill, sending the major stock indexes to record highs this year. Europe Market : European markets closed lower Wednesday afternoon as the long-awaited U.S. tax overhaul wound its way through Congress. Precious Metal Gold : Gold prices rose on Wednesday for a fourth straight session to reach a two-week high as U.S. data showing solid home sales butRead More

Stock markets down, US tax cuts head for Trump’s desk (VIDEO)

NEW YORK, Dec 20 — US and European stock markets fell yesterday as investors paused for breath following recent gains, with a long-awaited US tax cut plan moving near the finish line. Equities have been on a broad upswing since last week when…

Morning Briefing, Friday

US Market : U.S. stocks rose on Thursday as technology stocks regained some of the ground they lost in the past week. Tech, which is the best-performing sector of the year, had been under pressure recently, but posted a three-day winning streak on Thursday. Wall Street also looked to Washington for clues about tax reform and a possible government shutdown. Europe Market : European markets closed up by only a tiny margin Thursday afternoon as investors reacted to merger and acquisition news and looked ahead to fresh economic data. PreciousRead More

Market Briefing, Tuesday

US Market : The Dow Jones industrial average notched a record closing high on Monday after the Senate narrowly passed a major tax bill over the weekend. Senate Republicans managed to narrowly pass a bill to revamp the country’s tax system on Saturday. Europe Market : European markets closed higher Monday afternoon as investors digested news that the U.S. Senate narrowly passed a major tax bill over the weekend. Precious Metal Gold : Gold prices fell on Monday toward the four-week lows hit last week as the U.S. dollar strengthenedRead More

Supermax bullish on contact lens business

SUBANG JAYA: Glove maker Supermax Corp Bhd, which expects its contact lens business to contribute positively to the group’s earnings by the second half of 2019, wants to be a top five contact lens player in the world with a minimum production capacity of one billion lens a year, in 10 years.

Supermax is the world’s second largest producer of rubber gloves and also Malaysia’s first contact lens manufacturer. SuperVision Optimax Sdn Bhd, its contact lens business unit, was set up to complement the group’s rubber glove business.

Supermax group managing director Datuk Seri Stanley Thai said its Sungai Buloh manufacturing plant produces 70 million contact lenses a year.

“It’s our objective to be the top five global (contact lens) players. We’re heading towards a capacity expansion to at least hit one billion lenses, and that will put us into the top global players (position with) the big four, depending on how quickly we can get our market penetration into Japan, US, Europe and China,” he told a press conference after its AGM today.

Thai said the group is selling its contact lenses to 30 countries now and is waiting for more licences to be issued by the health ministries of respective countries, including Japan and China, that will allow Supermax to market its lenses there.

“As we receive more licences in the designated countries, we’ll able to sell our products. We expect to get the Japan licence by Q4 next year. Our focus on lenses is to increase our market penetration through acquisitions. We’re focusing to acquire a few contact lens players in Japan. We want to be a dominant player in the Japanese market,” said Thai.

In Q4’16, Supermax entered into Japan and incorporated a 70/30 joint venture company Aime Supermax KK based in Japan. Japan is the second largest consuming market of disposable contact lens after the US.

“We’ve acquired one company. We’re looking at the acquisition of additional companies (to cover the various industries) and we’re talking to a few parties. In 2019, you’ll see contribution from the Japanese market for contact lenses substantially,” said Thai.

The group has allocated a capital expenditure of RM100 million for the contact lens business, which includes converting an old glove manufacturing facility in Sungai Buloh into a new contact lens manufacturing headquarters in three years.

Supermax Healthcare Inc, a wholly owned subsidiary of Supermax group based in the US, has started an e-commerce platform headquartered in Silicon Valley, California; selling contact lens, eye care and lens care products.

Thai said it is budgeting US$3-4 million (RM12.5-16.6 million) a year for the e-commerce platform and will launch the platform simultaneously in Singapore, Hong Kong, UK, Brazil and US in Q1 next year. The Singapore platform will cater for Asean, Southeast Asia, Middle East and African continents. The Hong Kong platform will focus on China whereas the UK platform will focus on the European markets.

“If we can sell gloves to 165 countries today, we should be able to sell lenses to the same number of countries. The contact lens (business) is promising, it’s an investment that we’re looking forward to contribute substantially to our bottomline,” said Thai.

Meanwhile, Supermax is currently producing 23.4 billion pieces of gloves per year and the group has identified capacity growth to 25.8 billion pieces by end of 2018 by improving efficiency and rebuilding its old plants. The group is committed to solving issues hindering capacity expansion and expects to churn new capacities by 10%.

“Going forward every quarter, we should be able to improve our ebitda margin,” said Thai.

Asia sluggish after Wall Street slips, dollar sags on White House woes

TOKYO, Oct 31 — Asian stocks were mostly sluggish today following weakness on Wall Street, while the dollar sagged following news that investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 US election had charged President Donald Trump’s…