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Friday, November 27, 2020

Bursa Malaysia continues upward momentum at opening

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KL shares today continued yesterday’s momentum to open higher today. — Bernama pic
KL shares today continued yesterday’s momentum to open higher today. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 — KL shares today continued yesterday’s momentum to open higher today, driven by strong demand from both local and international investors.

At 9.03am, the benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) was 6.12 points higher at 1,618.23 compared with yesterday’s close of 1,612.11.

The index opened 3.09 points higher at 1,615.20.

Across the broader market, gainers thumped losers 306 to 140 while 312 counters were unchanged, 1,413 untraded and 88 others suspended.

Volume stood at 672.90 million shares worth RM174.70 million. — Bernama




Source: Malay Mail

Dollar poised for weekly losses on improving risk sentiment

The dollar held steady in thin trade today but was on track for weekly losses against a basket of major currencies. — Reuters pic
The dollar held steady in thin trade today but was on track for weekly losses against a basket of major currencies. — Reuters pic

TOKYO, Nov 27 — The dollar held steady in thin trade today but was on track for weekly losses against a basket of major currencies as it remained under pressure on improving risk appetite.

US markets were closed for the Thanksgiving holiday yesterday.

“Today will be another quiet day, with almost no catalyst to move the market. The dollar, however, is broadly pressured on month-end selling,” said Shinichiro Kadota, senior strategist at Barclays.

The US dollar index was steady at 92.03 against a basket of major currencies, treading water around a near three-month low of 91.84 it hit overnight.

The dollar has been under pressure this week, as riskier currencies benefited from increased optimism over a string of Covid-19 vaccines news reports and hopes for a more stable period in US politics.

While the greenback will remain under pressure in near term due to prolonged “risk-on” sentiment led by vaccine hopes, Barclay’s Kadota said the market expects the currency to firm in mid-term.

“When looking at how economies have rebounded in the July quarter, the United States grew and made a strong rebound. In a scenario where vaccines becomes gradually available next year and economies return to normal, the US will probably be one of the most resilient among developed countries. And I think that will create a dollar-favourable environment,” he said.

Dovish messaging from the European Central Bank’s chief economist and the minutes from last month’s meeting provided further confirmation of widely expected stimulus at its December gathering.

The central bank’s minutes from its October meeting showed policymakers agreed they could not afford to seem complacent during the second wave of the coronavirus, opting instead to lay the groundwork for more stimulus.

The ECB’s chief economist Philip Lane had also warned that tolerating “a longer phase of even lower inflation” would hurt consumption and investment as well as cementing expectations for low price growth in the future.

The euro was little changed against the greenback at US$1.1905 , away from a more than two months-high of US$1.1941 it marked yesterday.

Sterling fetched US$1.3349, trading near a three-month high of US$1.3399 it touched yesterday, as market participants look for progress on Brexit talks.

The European Union chief negotiator Michel Barnier will talk today with some of the bloc’s ministers responsible for fisheries to discuss the state of play in the trade discussions with Britain, EU official said.

The Australian dollar firmed at 0.73605, having climbed to a near three-month high of 0.7374 yesterday.

Meanwhile, the Kiwi changed hands at 0.7006 against the greenback.

Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency, last fetched US$17,271.86 in a volatile trade. Overnight, the cryptocurrency plunged as much as 13 per cent to its lowest since November 16, having rallied close to its all-time high of US$19,666. — Reuters




Source: Malay Mail

Asian shares grind lower amid vaccine doubts, economic concern

Asian shares fell slightly today, pulling back from a record high hit earlier this week. — Reuters pic
Asian shares fell slightly today, pulling back from a record high hit earlier this week. — Reuters pic

TOKYO, Nov 27 — Asian shares fell slightly today, pulling back from a record high hit earlier this week, amid renewed doubts about a highly-anticipated coronavirus vaccine and concern about the economic impact from the pandemic.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.07 per cent. Australian shares were down 0.15 per cent. Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.09 per cent.

US S&P 500 e-mini stock futures fell 0.24 per cent in early Asian trade. US financial markets were closed yesterday for the Thanksgiving holiday and will trade on a partial schedule later today.

Oil prices looked set to extend their declines from a seven-month high due to signs of oversupply.

British drugmaker AstraZeneca’s coronavirus drug was touted as a “vaccine for the world” due to its inexpensive cost, but the efficacy of the vaccine is now facing more intense scrutiny, which experts say could delay its approval.

Several scientists have raised doubts about the robustness of results showing the shot was 90 per cent effective in a sub-group of trial participants who, by error initially, received a half dose followed by a full dose.

“With global case numbers having now topped 60 million... there is certainly some rough terrain ahead for the global recovery, and that can create economic scarring,” analysts at ANZ Bank wrote in a memo.

MSCI’s broadest gauge of world stocks was up 0.02 per cent today in Asia, sitting just below a record high reached in the previous session.

Doubts about the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine have placed renewed focus on the current state of the pandemic, which looks grim for many places.

US hospitalizations for Covid-19 are at a record and experts warn that Thanksgiving could lead to further infections and deaths.

More than 20 million people across England will be forced to live under the toughest restrictions even after a national lockdown ends on December 2. Partial lockdowns in some European countries have also raised concern about economic growth.

The European Central Bank’s chief economist highlighted these concerns in dovish comments on Thursday, which pushed European bond yields lower.

The euro, which last bought US$1.1910, showed little reaction because currency traders have largely priced in expectations for additional ECB easing next month.

The dollar index was near its lowest in more than two months, but moves were subdued due to the US trading holiday.

US crude dipped 1.71 per cent to US$44.93 a barrel.

Fuel demand is falling due to renewed coronavirus lockdowns, but some oil producers are not complying with agreed production cuts, which raises concerns about oversupply.

Spot gold, which is often sought during times of uncertainty, was little changed at US$1,809.51 per ounce following a 0.3 per cent gain yesterday.

Bitcoin, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency, steadied at US$17,180 yesterday, but it tumbled by 8.4 per cent in the previous session after failing to take out its record high of US$19,666.

Bitcoin has rallied around 140 per cent this year, fuelled by demand for riskier assets. — Reuters




Source: Malay Mail

Britain to curb Google and Facebook with tougher competition rules

Britain will impose a new competition regime next year to prevent Google and Facebook using their dominance to push out smaller firms and disadvantage consumers. — AFP pic
Britain will impose a new competition regime next year to prevent Google and Facebook using their dominance to push out smaller firms and disadvantage consumers. — AFP pic

LONDON, Nov 27 — Britain will impose a new competition regime next year to prevent Google and Facebook using their dominance to push out smaller firms and disadvantage consumers.

The code will be enforced by a dedicated unit within the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which this year said it needed new laws to keep the tech giants in check.

Google and Facebook dominate digital advertising, accounting for around 80 per cent of £14 billion (RM76 billion) spent in 2019, Britain’s competition regulator the CMA said.

The two US companies have said they are committed to working with the British government and regulator on digital advertising, including giving users greater control over their data and the ads they are served.

While “unashamedly pro-tech”, Britain’s Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said there was a growing consensus that the concentration of power in a small number of companies was curtailing growth, reducing innovation and having negative impacts on the people and businesses that rely on them.

“It’s time to address that and unleash a new age of tech growth,” Dowden said today.

The newly-created Digital Markets Unit, which will begin work in April, could be given powers to suspend, block and reverse decisions made by technology firms and to impose financial penalties for non-compliance.

Companies will have to be more transparent about how they use consumer data and restrictions that make it hard to use rival platforms will be banned, the government said, adding that the rules will also support the news industry, rebalancing the relationship between publishers and platforms.

The CMA said on Monday it was assessing whether a complaint about Google technology warranted a formal investigation.

Marketers for an Open Web (MOW), a coalition of technology and publishing companies, said Google was modifying its Chrome browser and Chromium developer tools to give it greater control over publishers and advertisers.

Google said advertising practices needed to adapt to changing expectations around how data was collected and used. — Reuters




Source: Malay Mail

Indian economy probably picked up in Sept quarter as vaccine hopes grow

India’s economy is likely to have shown signs of a pick-up in the quarter to September after a record contraction the previous quarter, and is expected to recover early next year. ― Reuters pic
India’s economy is likely to have shown signs of a pick-up in the quarter to September after a record contraction the previous quarter, and is expected to recover early next year. ― Reuters pic

NEW DELHI, Nov 27 — India’s economy is likely to have shown signs of a pick-up in the quarter to September after a record contraction the previous quarter, and is expected to recover early next year on hopes of better consumer demand fed by progress on coronavirus vaccines.

Economists in a Reuters poll forecast gross domestic product in Asia’s third largest economy to shrink 8.8 per cent in the September quarter, after a contraction of 23.9 per cent in the previous quarter, amounting to a technical recession.

They also predict a contraction of 3 per cent and growth of 0.5 per cent in the December and March quarters respectively, with the economy shrinking 8.7 per cent over the whole financial year for its worst performance in at least four decades.

Economists have marginally raised forecasts this month after a pick-up in consumer demand for autos, non-durables and rail freight during the festival season, as prospects grow for Covid-19 vaccines to be launched early next year.

Effective widespread distribution of vaccine could help speed economic recovery next year, said Shilan Shah, an India economist at Capital Economics in Singapore.

“In particular, monthly data on capital goods production suggests that investment has bounced back more sharply than we had thought likely,” he said in a note this week.

Despite improvement in the growth outlook, however, a recent surge in infections presents downside risks for the economy, said Shaktikanta Das, the governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

“We need to be watchful about the sustainability of demand after the festivals and a possible reassessment of market expectations surrounding the vaccine,” he said yesterday.

India’s tally of infections has crossed 9.27 million to stand as the world’s second highest after the United States, with more than 135,000 deaths in the south Asian nation.

As some states re-imposed curbs this week to fight a second wave of infections, businesses feared the restrictions could slow the pace of recovery in the next two or three months, as well as heightening the risk of inflation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose party won elections this month in the eastern state of Bihar, expects the recent easing of farm and labour laws, along with tax incentives, to bolster manufacturing and lure more foreign investment.

But critics say the economy, which must grow at more than 8 per cent a year to create jobs for millions of young people entering the workforce, faces a prolonged slowdown, thanks to a delay in resolving a banking crisis and inadequate stimulus measures.

“Even widespread vaccination would not restore India to economic health, as tepid fiscal support and a beleaguered banking sector will weigh on economic growth long after the virus is brought under control,” said Shah. — Reuters




Source: Malay Mail

Thursday, November 26, 2020

German shoppers gloomy as virus mars holiday season

People walk past Berlin’s famous KaDeWe shopping centre on the Kurfuerstendamm boulevard during the spread of coronavirus disease in Berlin, Germany, March 26, 2020. The GfK survey of some 2,000 people found that respondents were more pessimistic about Germany’s economic prospects as well as their own income expectations. — Reuters pic
People walk past Berlin’s famous KaDeWe shopping centre on the Kurfuerstendamm boulevard during the spread of coronavirus disease in Berlin, Germany, March 26, 2020. The GfK survey of some 2,000 people found that respondents were more pessimistic about Germany’s economic prospects as well as their own income expectations. — Reuters pic
FRANKFURT, Nov 26 — German shoppers are heading into the annual holiday season feeling more downbeat about money and jobs, a key survey showed today, as the country battles a second coronavirus wave.

The GfK institute’s forward-looking assessment of consumer confidence fell to minus 6.7 points for December, down from a slightly revised minus 3.2 in November.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government introduced new measures in November to halt a rapid rise in coronavirus infections, closing restaurants, hotels, sports and cultural centres.

“Only a noticeable decrease in infection numbers and a loosening of the restrictions will bring more optimism again,” GfK’s Rolf Buerkl said in a statement.

Merkel and the leaders of Germany’s 16 states agreed late yesterday to extend the measures until December 20 at the least.

Although the shutdowns are milder than the lockdown imposed during the first coronavirus wave in the spring, the curbs have slammed the brakes on the economic recovery that started over the summer.

The GfK survey of some 2,000 people found that respondents were more pessimistic about Germany’s economic prospects as well as their own income expectations.

Fears are growing that businesses hardest hit by the latest shutdowns may not survive, fuelling concerns about job losses, the pollster said.

While respondents said they were less likely than last month to make large purchases, GfK noted that the overall tendency to spend as Christmas approaches remains at a “satisfactory” level.

Unlike in the spring, retailers have been allowed to stay open throughout the latest curbs.

Government officials have urged the public to do their gift shopping on weekdays to avoid stores getting too crowded. — AFP




Source: Malay Mail

South-east Asia IPO proceeds buck downtrend to hit US$6.4b as of mid-Nov

Total initial public offering (IPO) activity across South-east Asia as of mid-November this year bucked the overall downward trend to inch up to pre-Covid-19 levels. — Bernama pic
Total initial public offering (IPO) activity across South-east Asia as of mid-November this year bucked the overall downward trend to inch up to pre-Covid-19 levels. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 — Total initial public offering (IPO) activity across South-east Asia as of mid-November this year bucked the overall downward trend to inch up to pre-Covid-19 levels, with US$6.44 billion (US$1=RM4.09) in funds raised from 100 IPOs.

Deloitte South-east Asia and Singapore disruptive events advisory leader, Tay Hwee Ling, said compared to full-year 2019, the number of IPOs fell 38 per cent from 161 and total IPO proceeds slipped 12 per cent from US$7.34 billion, but the total IPO market capitalisation this year increased by three per cent to US$25.96 billion.

Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines saw year-on-year increase in IPO funds raised.

“Capital markets stayed resilient despite a host of uncertainties from the evolving global health crisis to the worsening United States-China trade tensions and the impact of the US presidential elections,” she said during a virtual media conference on Deloitte’s perspectives on South-east Asia’s IPO market performance and outlook for 2021 today.

Thailand remains in number one position in the region with the highest funds raised across South-east Asia at US$3.94 billion as of November 15. Taking the top two spots on the region’s leaderboard are Central Retail Corporation Public Company Limited and SCG Packaging Public Company Limited with US$1.77 billion and US$1.27 billion funds raised, respectively.

Indonesia was responsible for 46 IPOs in the first 10.5 months of 2020, which accounted for the highest number of IPOs across South-east Asia.

For Malaysia, Deloitte Malaysia disruptive events advisory leader Wong Kar Choon said Bursa Malaysia scored the biggest boost from the listing of Mr DIY Group (M) Bhd which raised US$362 million, making it the largest listing in three years, while new listings fell to 18 this year compared with 30 listings last year.

“The average trading volume increased by about 86 per cent and 208 per cent for the second and third quarters of 2020 as compared with the same quarters in 2019.

“The high trading volume with buying momentum should remain strong where investors are generally looking at stock-specific (investments) rather than sectors, especially those related to technology and healthcare,” he said.

The movement control order and pandemic also created positive elements on the capital market, he said, noting that the funding from the government helped protect the livelihoods of many people and also became opportunities to access funds and do trading.

Elaborating on the Covid-19 challenges and outlook for 2021, he said the region would continue to see growth and he expected an upswing in listings as soon as a vaccine was proven safe and effective.

“Covid-19 has made companies reevaluate their business and growth forecast while looking into opportunities to raise funds from stock markets to support their growth and stay resilient in this challenging climate,” he said.

Wong added that the growth potential for real estate investment trusts (REITs) across the Southeast Asia region was also promising, given the region’s population and urbanisation-led growth trends.

“Certain industries and companies are doing well, such technology, gloves and pharmaceutical, and there will be a lot of companies coming in through digital platforms with planning for three-year strategies,” he said. — Bernama




Source: Malay Mail

Cargill to invest US$20m to expand production facility in Port Klang

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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 — Global food corporation, Cargill is investing US$20 million (US$1=RM4.08) to expand and modernise its palm oil production facility in Port Klang, Selangor to meet the growing needs of the market and to better service its food and beverage customers in the region.

President for global edible oil business Gonzalo Petschen said improvements at the facility included deploying new production technologies, upgrading equipment and adding new research and development (R&D) capabilities.

With new production technologies and expanded R&D capabilities, he said the facility would be able to produce significantly more oils, especially value-added special palm products, while continuing to meet stringent product quality requirements.

“This investment enables us to provide high-quality, value-added specialty palm solutions and advanced R&D capabilities for customers in a variety of market segments.

“By strengthening our assets in the region, we are reinforcing our commitment to our employees and the Port Klang community,” he said in a statement here, today.

Meanwhile, Cargill Palm Products Sdn Bhd managing director Xiuling Guo said by upgrading plant operations to world-class production standards, customers from various industry segments, including food service, confectionery, bakery and specialised nutrition, would experience reduced turnaround times for high-quality products to meet the needs of the growing food market.

He said the first scope of the project involved moving the production of all lauric oils, mainly refined coconut oil, to Cargill’s Westport facility.

This move opened up capacity at the Port Klang facility to become the hub for palm processing and production of its derivatives, he said, citing this first phase was expected to be completed by April 2021.

The second phase would involve upgrading the physical refining plant and palm oil fractionation process at Port Klang to be a state-of-the-art production facility, which will likely be completed and running by February 2022, he added. — Bernama




Source: Malay Mail

Sime Darby posts higher net profit of RM281m in Q1

Sime Darby Bhd posted a higher net profit of RM281 million in the first quarter ended September 30, 2020. — Reuters pic
Sime Darby Bhd posted a higher net profit of RM281 million in the first quarter ended September 30, 2020. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 — Sime Darby Bhd posted a higher net profit of RM281 million in the first quarter ended September 30, 2020 (Q1 FY2021) from RM246 million in the same period last year.

Revenue also firmed to RM10.88 billion from RM9.48 billion previously, it said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia.

Sime Darby said the net profit increased by 14.2 per cent on strong growth in the group’s motors division while profit before interest and tax (PBIT) was 17.6 per cent higher year-on-year (yoy) at RM447 million.

It said the motors division PBIT increased by 66.4 per cent yoy to RM223 million in the current quarter with most countries registering higher profits, supported by a 31.2 per cent increase in segment revenue and government grant income of RM33 million.

“Profit from the Greater China operations increased by 78.1 per cent, mainly attributable to strong vehicle sales in China while results from the Singapore operations improved due to higher BMW vehicle sales and lower inventory write-down and provisions,” it said.

It said the profit for the quarter includes net foreign exchange gains of RM7 million from the legacy oil and gas operations against a foreign exchange loss of RM3 million in the previous corresponding period. 

Meanwhile, the industrial division’s PBIT decreased by 24.6 per cent yoy to RM196 million in the current quarter, mainly due to lower equipment deliveries and parts sales in Australia following the fall in coal prices.

“For the logistics division, the port operations registered a decline in bulk cargo throughput by 36.5 per cent, mainly due to stiff competition,” it said.

On prospects, it said the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the remaining months of the financial year cannot be accurately estimated at this juncture as there is still uncertainty in the timing of vaccine administration and the possible risk of resurgence in Covid-19 cases.

In a separate statement, group chief executive officer Datuk Jeffri Salim Davidson said the motors division staged a comeback, with most markets posting an increase in profits, thanks to the easing of restrictions which facilitated consumer spending.

“However, we also saw the impact of lower coal prices in our industrial division, with a cutback in mining operations translating to lower equipment deliveries and parts sales,” he said. — Bernama




Source: Malay Mail

Westports posts better Q3 net profit of RM203.8m

Westports Holdings Bhd’s net profit improved 28 per cent year-on-year to RM203.85 million for the third quarter (Q3) ended September 30, 2020. — Reuters pic
Westports Holdings Bhd’s net profit improved 28 per cent year-on-year to RM203.85 million for the third quarter (Q3) ended September 30, 2020. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 — Westports Holdings Bhd’s net profit improved 28 per cent year-on-year to RM203.85 million for the third quarter (Q3) ended September 30, 2020, due to higher container revenue and lower operational cost.

Growth in container throughput pushed up revenue to RM528.36 million from RM460.43 million previously.

“Container throughput improved in Q3 2020 with a 6 per cent growth to 2.93 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) as global activities resumed after the earlier lockdown,” the port operator said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia today.

For the first nine months of the year, Westports handled lower container throughput of 7.73 million TEUs against the same period last year, as container volume and demand was affected by the various forms of lockdown,

Nonetheless, its net profit for the nine months rose to RM490.99 million from RM465.46 million previously while revenue climbed to RM1.43 billion from RM1.33 billion.

Group managing director Datuk Ruben Emir Gnanalingam said the rebound in container volume in Q3, after many countries emerged from the various forms of lockdown arrangements or movement restrictions, had cushioned the decline during the first six months of the year.

“As we enter into the fourth quarter, many regions and cities have reimposed various forms of lockdown. 

“However, we cautiously expect a less adverse impact from the latest lockdown compared to Q2 2020 as societies and economies adjust to these movement restrictions,” he added. — Bernama




Source: Malay Mail

Disney to lay off about 32,000 workers in first half of 2021

Walt Disney Co said yesterday it would lay off 32,000 workers, primarily at its theme parks. — Reuters pic
Walt Disney Co said yesterday it would lay off 32,000 workers, primarily at its theme parks. — Reuters pic

LOS ANGELES, Nov 26 — Walt Disney Co said yesterday it would lay off 32,000 workers, primarily at its theme parks, an increase from the 28,000 it announced in September, as the company struggles with limited customers due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The layoffs will be in the first half of 2021, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Earlier this month, Disney said it was furloughing additional workers from its theme park in Southern California due to uncertainty over when the state would allow parks to reopen.

Disney’s theme parks in Florida and those outside the United States reopened earlier this year without seeing new major coronavirus outbreaks but with strict social distancing, testing and mask use.

Disneyland Paris was forced to close again late last month when France imposed a new lockdown to fight a second wave of the coronavirus cases.

The company’s theme parks in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo remain open.

Disney did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on whether the 28,000 layoffs announced earlier were included in the latest figure, but a spokesperson for the company confirmed to Variety that the figure includes the previously announced number. — Reuters




Source: Malay Mail

TNB's Q3 net profit down to RM1b

The Tenaga Nasional Berhad logo is seen at its headquarters in Bangsar May 31, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
The Tenaga Nasional Berhad logo is seen at its headquarters in Bangsar May 31, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 26 — Tenaga Nasional Bhd’s (TNB) net profit for the third quarter (Q3) ended Sept 30, 2020 fell to RM1 billion from RM1.20 billion in the same quarter last year.

Revenue declined 12.1 per cent to RM11.10 billion from RM12.64 billion previously, it said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia today.

For the nine months ended Sept 30, 2020, TNB recorded a net profit of RM2.38 billion on the back of a turnover of RM33.65 billion, compared with a net profit of RM3.88 billion on a turnover of RM38.76 billion previously.

It said revenue for the period decreased by 13.2 per cent, mainly due to the over-recovery position of the Imbalance Cost Pass-Through of RM1.47 billion compared with an under-recovery position of RM1.99 billion posted during the last corresponding period, and a 6.5 per cent decline in sales of electricity.

“This was largely due to a decline in commercial and industrial customer segments affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Consequently, operating profit fell 13.9 per cent to RM5.90 billion from RM6.85 billion,” it said.

On prospects, TNB said it foresees a gradual recovery in the group’s performance for the remaining quarter of the financial year ending Dec 31, 2020 amid the challenging environment.

“This was underpinned by the timely rollout of the government’s stimulus packages, specifically the Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat and sustained momentum of business activities.

“The group has taken prudent measures in terms of operational and financial requirements to ensure it remains resilient,” said TNB. — Bernama




Source: Malay Mail