Perodua aims to sell 231,000 cars in 2019

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua) sold over 227,243 vehicles in 2018, its highest ever sales record, and now aims to improve on that figure by four per cent to 231,000 units by end-2019. The…

Global Markets-Asian stocks pause amid worries over growth and trade

TOKYO: Asian stocks took a breather on Wednesday, with mounting signs of slowing global growth and concerns over a yet-unresolved Sino-U.S. trade dispute putting the brakes on investor appetite for risk assets.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was mostly unchanged, stalling after climbing to a seven-week high on Monday.

The Shanghai Composite Index was last up 0.1 percent, having flitted in and out of the red.

Australian stocks were a shade lower and Japan’s Nikkei nudged up 0.2 percent.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500, the Nasdaq and the Dow all posted their biggest one-day percentage drops since Jan. 3 on Tuesday.

Following a sharp drop in December, U.S. shares gained through much of January, supported in part by expectations for a thaw in U.S.-China trade tensions and a more dovish-sounding Federal Reserve. That also prompted global investors to plow into riskier assets.

But putting a dent on sentiment again was a report by the Financial Times that the Trump administration had rejected an offer from China for preparatory trade talks this week ahead of high-level negotiations scheduled for next week.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow denied the report, helping U.S. equities pare some losses though the fresh concerns about U.S.-China relations kept share prices in check.

Data published over the last 24 hours all pointed to a rough year ahead for the world economy.

U.S. home sales tumbled 6.4 percent in December, falling short of the weakest forecast, to their lowest in three years. Compared with a year earlier, they were down more than 10 percent for the first time since 2011.

House price increases slowed sharply, adding to evidence of a further loss of momentum in the housing market.

Canadian factory sales and wholesale trade both slumped more than expected in November, while in Germany a survey by the ZEW research institute showed morale among German investors improved slightly in January, but their assessment of the economy’s current condition deteriorated to a four-year low.

Japan’s exports and imports also fell short of market expectations, with exports posting their biggest fall in more than two years.

As expected the Bank of Japan kept monetary policy easy and trimmed its inflation forecast on Wednesday with the domestic economy facing headwinds.

The latest weak indicators came after the IMF trimmed its global growth forecasts for 2019 and 2020 on Monday, in its second downgrade in three months, just after China reported its 2018 growth slipped to the worst level in nearly three decades.

“Risk asset prices have been essentially supported just by easing of U.S. rate hike expectations,” said Shuji Shirota, head of macro-economics strategy at HSBC Securities.

“Economic data has been weak and the U.S. government shutdown should be hurting economic sentiment, but even that has been considered as positive for risk assets, on the grounds that they make it difficult for the Fed to raise rates.”

U.S. bond prices rebounded, with the benchmark 10-year yield slipping to 2.741 percent from Friday’s peak of 2.799 percent, the highest since Dec. 27, with money market futures pricing out any chance of a Fed rate hike this year.

The euro weakened against the dollar under the weight of recent weakness in the euro zone economy and worries about fallout from Brexit.

The common currency traded at $1.1365, having hit a three-week low of $1.1336 on Tuesday.

The dollar rose 0.35 percent to 109.73 yen, recovering the previous day’s losses-Reuters

Trump won’t soften hardline on China to make trade deal-advisers

WASHINGTON: As much as U.S. President Donald Trump wants to boost markets through a trade pact with China, he will not soften his position that Beijing must make real structural reforms, including how it handles intellectual property, to reach a deal, advisers say.

Offering to buy more American goods is unlikely by itself to overcome an issue that has bedeviled talks between the two countries. Those talks are set to continue when Chinese Vice Premier Liu He visits Washington at the end of January.

The United States accuses China of stealing intellectual property and forcing American companies to share technology when they do business in China. Beijing denies the accusations.

With a March 1 deadline approaching to reach an agreement or risk an escalation of tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, the two sides are still far apart on key, structural elements critical for a deal, according to sources familiar with the talks.

“We’re not yet in a position where our concerns have been addressed sufficiently,” one U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official said the Trump team, led by hardline U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, was focused on such structural issues as well as trade imbalances.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Reuters that forced technology transfers, IP theft and ownership restrictions remained a top priority for Trump.

“The president’s said many times how crucial that is, and he’s not going to back down,” Kudlow said.

Lack of progress led the Trump administration to decline an in-person meeting with a lower-level Chinese delegation for preparatory talks ahead of Liu He’s visit, a source familiar with the situation told Reuters.

The Financial Times also reported that an offer for preparatory meeting was rejected, but White House officials pushed back on the suggestion that any meeting was canceled.

“With respect, the story is not true,” Kudlow told CNBC, referring to the FT report.

“The teams remain in touch in preparation for high-level talks with Vice Premier Liu He at the end of this month,” said White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed on a ceasefire in their trade war at the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires last year, setting a 90-day period to discuss differences and agree a deal.

Those talks have yet to produce anything on paper.

“There’s progress in that the two sides are talking. But I look at it like this: there’s still nothing agreed on in writing,” said one source familiar with the discussions.

Trump has painted developments in the U.S.-China trade talks as largely positive, aware of the effect that the tensions have had on stock markets.

The S&P 500 registered its biggest four-week percentage gain since 2011 on Friday after dropping nearly 20 percent from its record September close on Christmas Eve. The benchmark index lost ground on Tuesday after a national holiday on Monday.

“We’ve really had a very extraordinary number of meetings, and a deal could very well happen with China. It’s going very well,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Saturday.

China has offered more than $1.2 trillion in additional commitments on trade, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said last month.

That is not sufficient for Trump or his team.

“To think that this is going to end with simple ‘commitments,’ I think, is overlooking the historical experience that we’ve had,” the U.S. official said.

Chinese officials pledged to buy enough U.S. products to wipe out the U.S-China trade deficit at talks in Beijing earlier this month but also hedged its position, saying it depended on the demands of Chinese companies, said Scott Kennedy, director of the Project on Chinese Business and Political Economy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Chinese have indicated they feel they already addressed U.S. concerns about intellectual property rights through a new law and other actions, Kennedy said.

“These weren’t sufficient to satisfy the U.S. negotiation team. So we’ll see if the Chinese give any more on those or if they still try to focus on sweetening the purchases side, and hoping that Trump bites on the potential big numbers,” he said.

Barring progress at the end of the 90-day period, the Trump administration is scheduled to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods from the current 10 percent to 25 percent.

“All I’ll say is the meetings coming up at the end of the month with Liu He are very important,” Kudlow said. – Reuters

US cancels trade planning meeting with China, source says


The White House has rejected a trade planning meeting with China this week due to outstanding disagreements over intellectual property rules. Should Beijing and Washington fail to agree on a permanent solution by March 1, President Donald Trump has said he will reinforce punitive tariffs. The White House tells CNBC that “the teams remain in touch in preparation for high level talks with Vice Premier Liu He at the end of this month.” The White House rejected a trade planning meeting with Chinese counterparts this week due to outstanding disagreementsRead More

Bursa M’sia opens sharply lower

KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia opened sharply lower today, driven by profit taking in selected heavyweights and finance counters after recent gains, in line with downtrend on the regional bourses, dealers said.

At 9.20 am, the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) was 13.82 points weaker at 1,688.30, from Tuesday’s close of 1,702.12 after opening 11.36 points lower at 1,690.76.

Market breadth was negative, as losers continued to outnumber gainers 271 to 93, while 194 counters were unchanged, 1,342 untraded and 25 others suspended.

Turnover amounted to 303.41 million shares worth RM128.43 million.

A dealer said that most of the Asian stocks went down in early session today over renewed concern on the ongoing US-China trade negotiations, as the White House reportedly cancelled a trade planning meeting with Beijing this week.

In a research note today, Maybank IB Research believed the the FBM KLCI would range between 1,690 and 1,720 points today, with downside supports at 1,658 and 1,644 points.

“While the big cap sentiment turned positive, we opine the focus now is back to export and import stocks following expected Ringgit weakness in the near-term. We expect FBM KLCI Index to challenge the immediate resistance before staging a pullback,” it said.

Among heavyweights, Maybank slipped three sen to RM9.48, Public Bank went down 32 sen to RM24.86, TNB declined 16 sen to RM13.54 while Petronas Chemicals fell nine sen to RM8.43.

Of actives, Bumi Armada perked 1.0 sen to 22.5 sen, Sapura Energy earned half-a-sen to 28.5 sen, while Panpages eased half-a-sen to 26 sen and Bina Puri shed one sen to 27 sen.

The FBM Emas Index was 87.61 points lower at 11,653.65, the FBMT 100 Index decreased 89.20 points to 11,538.30, the FBM Emas Shariah Index dipped 89.07 points to 11,553.83, the FBM 70 slipped 83.62 points to 13,645.02 and the FBM Ace Index declined 8.14 points to 4,433.58.

Sector-wise, the Finance Index slipped 98.09 points to 17,527.33, the Plantation Index went down 32.44 points to 7,210.35 and the Industrial Products and Services Index fell 1.03 points to 162.01.

Gold futures contracts on Bursa Malaysia Derivatives opened untraded today.

As at 9.34 am, January 2019, February 2019, March 2019 and April 2019 remained at RM170.00, RM170.00, RM170.50 and RM170.60 a gramme, respectively.

Volume was nil, while open interest amounted to 23 contracts.

At 9.30 am, the price of physical gold was up by 21 sen to RM165.20 per gramme from RM164.99 per gramme at the close yesterday. — Bernama

Davos bankers try to put brave face on gloomy outlook

DAVOS, Jan 23 — The International Monetary Fund has cut its global growth forecasts for the second time in three months. Central banks in the US and Europe are reversing a decade of ultra-loose monetary policy. Trade tensions between Washington…

Sheda roadshow a chance to seek property opportunities

KUCHING: Sarawak Housing and Real Estate Developers’ Association (Sheda) Kuching Branch’s 1st Home & Property Roadshow 2019 is a great time for buyers to take advantage of the stamp duty exemption on residential properties priced RM1 million and below. According to Sheda, there will be an exemption of stamp duty for purchase of residential properties […]

Japan firms wary of boosting investment amid intensifying trade war

TOKYO: Over a third of Japanese firms aim to raise capital expenditure in the fiscal year starting April, with many others worried about the impact on spending plans of a trade war between major markets China and the United States, a Reuters survey showed. Tit-for-tat import tariffs and ensuing uncertainty have started to drag on global […]

China to remain Malaysia’s largest trading partner: Miti

KUALA LUMPUR: China will likely remain as Malaysia’s largest trading partner, looking at the current trend, said Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming.

He said even with the spectre of the US-China trade war looming, Malaysia-China trade continued to grow at a higher rate compared with other trading partners.

In a statement today, Ong said from January to November 2018, Malaysia’s total trade rose 6.2% as compared with the same period in 2017, contributed by 6.9% growth in exports and 5.3% rise in imports.

During the period, Malaysia-China total trade expanded by 8.5%, with an 11.3% increase in exports and 6.3% growth in imports.

He said Malaysia was also poised to attract more investments and benefit from import substitution as a result of the US-China trade war.

Ong said there were about 300 out of the top 500 Chinese companies listed by Fortune Magazine which had yet to invest in Malaysia.

“These are the companies that we want to entice to Malaysia by showing off our natural and strategic advantages as an investment location,“ he said.

From January to September 2018, approved manufacturing foreign direct investment (FDI) from China had already reached RM15.62 billion.

“More than 50% of the approved manufacturing FDI from Chinese companies came after the 14th General Election (in May 2018), showing that companies from China continue to demonstrate confidence in the Malaysian economy under the new government,“ he added.

He said a recent study by Nomura Global Economics ranked Malaysia as the top country, based on its aggregated Nomura Import Substitution Index scores, that could benefit in particular from the exports of electronic integrated circuits, liquefied natural gas and communication apparatus.

Meanwhile, the Economist Intelligence Unit projected Malaysia to be a beneficiary in diverted production and investment in the automotive, as well as information and communications technology products.

“While a prolonged US-China trade war would not be welcomed by a small and open economy like Malaysia, there are mitigating factors that will somewhat cushion the impact for us,“ Ong added.

Deutsche Bank shares slide on new legal case

FRANKFURT, Jan 22 — Shares in Germany's biggest lender Deutsche Bank slid today, as the institution dismissed claims for €11 billion (RM51.7 billion) from the plaintiff in a new legal case. By 1:10 pm (1210 GMT), stock in the financial firm was…