new record


MIDF expects distributive sales to remain positive in Q3

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — MIDF Research expects the positive momentum in distributive trade sales recorded in the second quarter of 2019 — which grew by 6.1 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) — to continue into the third quarter. The optimistic…

Global shares shunted after Argentina crash, safe-havens shine

LONDON, Aug 13 — Share markets fell for a third straight day today as fears about a drawn out global trade war, protests in Hong Kong and a crash in Argentina’s peso currency kept investors huddled in bonds, gold, and the Japanese yen for…

Asia stocks climb but tensions linger

HONG KONG, Aug 8 — Asian markets rose today on bargain-hunting by investors following a week of heavy losses due to anxiety over the deepening US-China trade war. But tensions remained high, prompting a rush on safe-haven assets such as bonds,…

Investors seek safety in bonds on fears over economic outlook

NEW YORK: Plunging bond yields jolted global markets Wednesday as interest rate cuts by three central banks and grim German economic data underscored worries about a weakening global economy amid the protracted US-China trade war.

Wall Street opened the day in sell-off mode, a familiar theme in August as the US and China have announced new measures targeting each other.

But after a bruising start, US stocks gradually pushed higher throughout the day while Treasury yields recovered from their lows. Two of the three major Wall Street indices finished in positive territory.

Decisions by more central banks to cut interest rates and weak German industrial data “reminded investors that economic growth in several other regions of the world remain at risk as the US and China trade dispute drags on,” said CFRA strategist Lindsey Bell in a note.

“While uncertainty is driving upside in defensive asset classes, we don’t think stocks should be abandoned at this time. A near-term recession is unlikely.”

Still, most banks were under pressure, with Italy’s UniCredit and Germany’s Comemrzbank both sharply lower following warnings on the hit from lower interest rates. Large US banks such as JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo also lost more than two percent.

Bond prices rise as more investors seek safe investments, and that pushes their yield or return lower. The benchmark US government 10-year note dropped to multi-year lows, while French and German bond yields, already in negative territory, set new record lows.

“Nobody wants to be vulnerable, everybody is in risk aversion mode, and all ingredients are in place to push yields lower,” Aurelien Buffault, bond manager at Meeschaert, told AFP.

Rates falling everywhere

Markets now believe that the world’s key central banks will cut interest rates further to stave off, or at least alleviate, any coming recession, analysts said.

“Rates falling everywhere,” analysts at Moneycorp said.

“They may not exactly be competing but the world’s central banks all seem to be pointing in the same direction towards lower rates. In every case there is concern, to a greater or lesser degree, about the global economy.”

Commodity markets also followed the logic of economic worry, with safe-haven investment gold surging and oil, the fuel of economic growth, falling.

Gold went above $1,500 per ounce for the first time since 2013.

Oil extended already steep weakness after the US Department of Energy reported a surprise increase in inventories — a sign of flagging demand.

European stocks had a rollercoaster session which started on an upbeat note but then turned sour when US stocks fell sharply at the New York opening bell as “escalated US-China trade concerns continuing to weigh on sentiment,” Charles Schwab analysts said.

But as Wall Street came off its morning lows, European equities regained their poise to close mostly higher. – AFP

Aussie stock market reaches all-time high

SYDNEY, July 30 — The Australian stock market hit a new record high today, with its benchmark share index climbing to 6,874 points this morning. The ASX200, Australia's blue chip share index, soared to levels not seen since it reached 6,851.5…

Westports Q2 profit up 36.5%, declares 6.74 sen dividend

PETALING JAYA: Westports Holdings Bhd’s net profit soared 36.5% to RM166.32 million for the second quarter (Q2) ended June 30, 2019 against RM121.81 million in the previous corresponding period, thanks to higher container throughput and stabel cost of sales.

Its revenue grew 15.3% to RM454.45 million from RM394.04 million previously.

The group has proposed to declare an interim dividend of 6.74 sen per share for the quarter under review.

For the first half of the year, Westports’ net profit increased 24.7% to RM306.22 million from RM245.61 million in the same period a year ago on the back of an 11.6% rise in revenue to RM869.64 million from RM779.13 million.

The group said in a statement that it handled 5.27 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) of containers during the first six months of 2019, 17% higher than the previous corresponding period, partly helped by a lower base in the previous year.

Transhipment containers increased to 3.54 million TEUs, whereas gateway volume grew to 1.73 million TEUs.

For Q2 alone, Westports achieved a record-breaking container throughput level by handling 2.74 million TEUs, driven by the increase to 1.83 million TEUs for transhipment containers and 900,000 TEUs for gateway boxes.

“Westports has set a new record for container terminal productivity by achieving an impressive 801 container moves in one hour during Q2 of 2019.”

Moving ahead, Westports managing director Datuk Ruben Emir Gnanalingam said despite a moderation in the industry’s volume growth rate, the group expects to achieve much higher overall container throughput in 2019, due to its exposure to the still-buoyant Intra-Asia segment as well as the favourable domestic export-oriented sectors.

“Westports is also progressing ahead with planning for the multi-billion proposed container terminal expansion as the latter would further strengthen the company and Port Klang’s role as the pre-eminent port for the nation’s gateway trade. The eventually enhanced terminal would also reinforce Port Klang as one of the main transhipment hubs in the Southeast Asia region for international container shipping alliances”.

At 3.15pm, the stock was trading 3 sen or 0.8% higher at RM3.98 on 618,700 shares done.

China’s duck farmers cashi in as disease slashes pork output

JIAXIANG: On a 30-hectare (74-acre) plot of land in China’s Shandong province poultry hub, more than half a million white-feathered ducks are busy eating, chattering and laying eggs to produce cheap meat for thousands of factory canteens.

With birds already packed into around 60 open-sided buildings, farm owner Shenghe Group is expanding further, aiming to raise output by 30% this year to capture record profits as a plunge in pig numbers shrinks production of pork, China’s favorite meat.

“The market prospects are very good now because of African swine fever,” said Shenghe Chairman Wang Shuhong, whose firm sells about 300,000 ducklings a day for fattening and slaughter.

The deadly pig disease has already reduced China’s hog herd by more than a quarter, according to official data. As many as half of the country’s breeding sows are thought to have died or been slaughtered to cope with disease outbreaks.

Pork production will fall by 30% or about 16 million tonnes, say analysts at Dutch lender Rabobank, pushing prices to new records and leaving a gaping hole in the country’s protein supply.


Higher pork prices – up about 35% in a year – have already fuelled a surge in poultry meat demand. Chicken breast is about 20% more expensive than a year ago, while duck breast has nearly trebled in price to 14,600 yuan ($2,125) a tonne, according to Shenghe.

This is still only about half the cost of pork, but such prices are unheard of in China, where breast is typically the cheapest part of the bird.

About 80% of the world’s ducks are raised in China, but are traditionally eaten in the south, where fried duck tongues, braised feet and spicy duck neck are popular snacks, and duck intestines make up a hotpot.

In recent years, however, more ducks have been processed for use by cost-conscious catering firms, supplying large canteens feeding schools, factories, businesses and the military.

These buyers are now switching as much pricey pork as they can to duck.

A procurement manager with a catering firm that supplies about 100 large clients around China said he has replaced about 20%-30% of the pork on menus with either chicken or duck meat. He declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.

“We may switch even more. But our concern is that the poultry price is now going up as well,” he said.

The price of day-old ducklings, sold by farms like Shenghe, has hovered around 6 yuan, three times the usual level, since July last year.

Prices eased last month as farmers held off restocking during hot summer weather, but are rising again and set to go higher, said Dong Xiaobo, China general manager for French genetics company Orvia, the No.2 supplier of breeding ducks.

Orvia is sold out six months ahead and has even had calls from pig farmers considering raising ducks after losing their hogs to African swine fever.

“I’ve never seen this in our 10 years in this market,” said Dong.


As swine fever continues to spread, China’s vice-premier Hu Chunhua has urged poultry farmers to help fill the protein gap to maintain social and economic stability.

Analysts warn the disease could hit some farms more than once, and ratings agency Fitch forecasts pork output will stay below 2018 levels through 2021.

With output of about 5 million tonnes last year, less than half China’s chicken production, duck meat has plenty of room for growth.

The barrier to entry is lower for ducks than broiler chickens and breeding stock is more available, said Pan Chenjun, senior analyst at Rabobank.

Broiler chicken farmers rely almost entirely on imported breeding stock, which has been restricted by China’s bans on imports from key markets because of bird flu outbreaks. Output may expand less than 5% this year, said Pan.

Any rapid expansion carries risks however. In densely stocked farms, diseases like bird flu, several strains of which are circulating in China, spread easily.

And it remains to be seen whether duck farmers can hold on to a bigger share of the meat market when pork output recovers.

Duck farmers were forced out of the industry in droves between 2012 and 2016 when overproduction killed profits, and most people still want more pork dishes than any other meat, said the catering company manager.

But Shenghe’s Wang, who is planning to expand downstream with a slaughterhouse later this year, is not worried.

“Pork output won’t go up in the next three years and will take at least five years to recover,” he said. – Reuters

Wall Street gains on robust Coca-Cola, United Tech earnings

NEW YORK, July 23 — US stocks rose today boosted by better-than-expected earnings and forecast raises from blue-chip companies including Coca-Cola and United Technologies, soothing concerns over the pace of economic growth. Over the last 24 hours…

Strong consumer business boosts Bank of America earnings

NEW YORK, July 17 — Bank of America scored record profits in the second quarter, as strong consumer banking results offset a decline in earnings from trading worldwide. Bank of America, the second biggest US bank by assets, reported today that…

Fed optimism sends Wall Street to fresh highs

NEW YORK, July 12 — Wall Street spiked to new records at the open today, as investors cheered the news an interest rate cut by the Federal Reserve is coming soon. The gains put US stocks on track to notch modest gains for the second week in a row….