Friday, June 30, 2023

Federal Reserve chief signals fresh US rate hikes ahead

MADRID: US central bankers are likely to resume their rate increase campaign after a break earlier this month, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell signalled on Thursday (June 29), as a fresh slew of stronger-than-expected US economic data underscored why more monetary tightening is likely needed.

“We did take one meeting where we didn’t move,” Powell said during an event held by the Spanish central bank here. “We expect the moderate pace of interest rate decisions to continue.”

The labour market, with unemployment at 3.7%, is very tight, Powell noted. Underlying inflation, while down from its peak last year, is still running at more than twice the Fed's 2% target.

“Inflation pressures continue to run high, and the process of getting inflation back down to 2% has a long way to go,“ he said.

Earlier this month, after 10 straight rate increases, Fed policymakers opted to leave the policy rate unchanged at the 5%-5.25% range to give time to assess the still-to-come impact of rate increases to date and from credit tightening stemming from the banking stresses that emerged in March.

But “a strong majority” of Fed policymakers expect they will need to raise interest rates at least twice more by year’s end, Powell said on Thursday. On the surface he was merely restating Fed policymaker forecasts published in mid-June, but his remarks served to emphasise the likelihood of that trajectory.

The Fed will hold four more policy meetings this year, with the next one on July 25-26.

Data released after his remarks on Thursday showed new claims for US unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell last week, while first-quarter gross domestic product growth was much stronger than reported in earlier estimates.

Traders added to bets on a Fed rate hike in July and are now pricing about a 40% chance of a further rate increase in November, up from about 30% before the data.

Some economists digesting the fresh data cautioned against reading too much into it.

Regions Financial Corp’s Richard Moody, for instance, said the upward GDP revision has “trivial” implications for Fed policy, arguing that it mostly reflected healthcare outlays and underneath the hood even pointed to a deterioration in business investment.

Speaking in Dublin, Atlanta Fed president Raphael Bostic made the case for continuing to hold steady on rates.

“I don’t see as much urgency to move as stated by others, including my chair,” he told reporters ahead of a speech at the Irish Association of Investment Managers in which he argued that the current policy rate is high enough to bring inflation down to 2% “over an acceptable time frame”.

Still, he said, his comments should not be taken to mean he is not concerned about inflation, which Fed policymakers often describe as a tax that weighs most heavily on people making low wages.

“I do recognise that if inflation moves away from target or seems to significantly stall out, then we’ll probably have to do more or if inflation expectations start to move in a difficult way, we might have to do more.”

The core personal consumption expenditure index – the Fed's preferred measure of underlying price pressures – is estimated to have risen 4.7% in May from a year earlier.

Such a figure would show little progress on underlying inflation for more than six months. The official figures will be released on Friday. – Reuters



Source: The Sun Daily

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Dow S&P gain with bank rally countering rate worries

NEW YORK: The Dow and the S&P 500 advanced on Thursday (June 29) as bank shares rallied after major lenders cleared the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) annual stress test, while strong economic data stoked expectations of further interest rate increases from the central bank.

Stronger-than-expected economic data pushed Treasury yields higher and steered investors toward economically sensitive sectors as recession fears eased. But buyers shied away from some rate-sensitive growth sectors due to concerns the Fed would keep interest rates higher for longer.

After a health check showed that the biggest US banks have enough capital to weather a severe economic slump the S&P 500 banks index closed up 2.6%. The relief rally also helped advance the KBW Regional Banking index by 1.8%.

Data showed an unexpected weekly decline in the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits, and the US gross domestic product increased at a 2% annualised rate in the first quarter, up from the 1.3% pace reported previously.

“The upside surprise economic data has pushed yields higher today and the move higher has put some downward pressure on technology and growth stock stocks while supporting value and cyclical parts of the market,” said Mona Mahajan, senior investment strategist at St. Louis based Edward Jones.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 269.76 points, or 0.8%, to 34,122.42, the S&P 500 gained 19.58 points, or 0.45%, to 4,396.44 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.42 point to 13,591.33.

The economically sensitive Russell 2000 index of small-cap stocks rose 1.2% while the cyclical materials index finished up 1.3% and was the second strongest performer among the S&P 500's 11 sectors behind financials, which gained 1.7% as banks rallied.

Economic strength fuelled bets the US central bank will maintain tight monetary policy for longer, a day after hawkish comments from Fed chair Jerome Powell.

Traders were pricing in a roughly 86.8% chance the Fed would hike interest rates by 25 basis points to the 5.25%-5.50% range at its July meeting, according to CME Group's Fedwatch tool, up from bets for 81.8% probability a day earlier.

The Fed's preferred inflation gauge, the Personal Consumption Expenditure index (PCE) for May, will be released on Friday. Economists polled by Reuters expect core rates to remain steady at 4.7%.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq was still on track for a gain of more than 29% in the first half of the year, its biggest such gain in 40 years. On Thursday it managed to pare losses and close barely lower but was under pressure throughout the day from losses in megacaps including Amazon, Meta Platform, Nvidia and Microsoft.

The Philadelphia semiconductor index managed a small 0.13% gain but underpeformed during the session, with a 4% decline in Micron Technology shares leading losses even though the chipmaker beat estimates for third-quarter results.

Occidental Petroleum rose 1.8% after Berkshire Hathaway Inc said it added more shares of the oil firm, boosting its stake to above 25%. – Reuters



Source: The Sun Daily

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Heres the New Magic Number for Living Comfortably in Retirement

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How much money will you need to retire? Your answer is likely to differ depending on your age. Recently, Northwestern Mutual surveyed 2,740 adults for its 2023 Planning & Progress Study and asked them how much money they need to save to retire comfortably. As a group, they answered $1.27 million. That is up from $1.25 million in 2022 — and it also is considerably higher than the $89,300...



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7 Reasons Not to Take Social Security at Age 62

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Some people believe in starting to collect Social Security as early as possible, which is generally at age 62. “Live while it is yet possible to live!” the early birds cry. “After all, I could die tomorrow, and then the government will keep my money.” What’s more likely is that you’ll live a lot longer than 62. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the average woman reaching the...



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Thursday, June 29, 2023

How to Make and Save Money at Garage and Yard Sales

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on Living on the Cheap. Even though we can buy just about anything with the click of a mouse, garage and yard sales are bigger than ever. Sellers want to declutter their homes and are tempted by an easy path to making extra money. Shoppers are eager to score great deals at other people’s sales, rather than paying top retail dollar.



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7 Ways to Guarantee Yourself a Steady Retirement Income

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If you want a smooth retirement, it’s not enough to simply tuck away part of your paycheck during your working years and worry about the rest later. You must make sure money will keep flowing when you need it and make plans to weather an unpredictable future. The sooner you look at options, the more bumps you can avoid on your retirement ride. Here are some ways to plan ahead to ensure you have a...



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14 Things That Are Free With Medicare

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If you have Medicare or will soon, you probably know the basics of what it covers. But how much do you know about all the lesser-known benefits that are included with Medicare health insurance coverage? They aren’t exactly free, because the Medicare program itself isn’t free. But these included services have no out-of-pocket costs for many Medicare beneficiaries. There are some caveats.



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15 Tips for People 5-10 Years From Retirement

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on NewRetirement. On your marks, get set … RETIRE! If you are in your 50s or 60s, you are probably about 10 years from retirement (give or take). Maybe you are even just a year from retirement. Regardless of the exact timing, you are in the home stretch of a lifelong race to this exciting time of your life. Here are 15 things to do now to improve your...



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Wednesday, June 28, 2023

US consumer confidence new home sales surge

WASHINGTON: US consumer confidence surged unexpectedly to an 18-month high in June, fuelled by an uptick in the outlook for family finances, according to survey data released on Tuesday (June 27).

The surprise jump in confidence indicates consumers are feeling buoyant about their finances despite the US Federal Reserve’s (Fed) aggressive campaign of interest rate increases to tackle high inflation.

The consumer confidence index rose to an 18-month high of 109.7 in June, up from a revised 102.5 in May, according to the Conference Board, a non-profit group.

“While income expectations ticked down slightly in June, new questions included in this month’s release found a notably brighter outlook for consumers’ family finances,” Dana Peterson, chief economist at the Conference Board, said in a statement.

“Around 30% expect their family’s financial situation to be ‘better’ in the next six months, compared to less than 14% expecting it to be ‘worse’,” she said.

“Greater confidence was most evident among consumers under age 35, and consumers earning incomes over US$35,000 (RM163,275),” she added.

Despite the rosy picture for June, the expectations gauge “continued to signal consumers anticipating a recession at some point over the next six to 12 months,” Peterson said.

Separately, new home sales in the US surged unexpectedly in May, the Commerce Department said, reaching the highest rate in over a year despite efforts to cool the economy.

Sales of new properties have been rising in recent months, with a lack of inventory elsewhere pushing buyers into the market.

May sales of new single-family houses jumped 12.2% over the previous month – to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 763,000 – the Commerce Department said in a statement.

That defied expectations of a decline, and is markedly higher than April’s revised rate of 680,000.

Compared with the same period a year ago, new home sales in May were 20% higher.

The median price of new homes sold also picked up to US$416,300 in May, the Commerce Department added.

While monthly data can be volatile, sales of new homes have been higher on average in the second quarter than in the first, said Rubeela Farooqi, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics.

Although higher mortgage rates have been a “headwind for buyers”, borrowing costs have come down from peaks, she added. With inventory of existing homes still tight, demand seems to be moving towards the sales of new properties.

“The existing home market is effectively frozen until mortgage rates drop considerably,” said Ian Shepherdson and Kieran Clancy of Pantheon Macroeconomics in a recent report.

A fall in rates would enable potential sellers to take action without incurring a massive increase in mortgage payments, the report added.

“Once that happens, existing home inventory will spike from its currently depressed level, sales volumes will rise, and prices will fall,” the Pantheon economists said.

But the timing of this development remains uncertain.

The market for existing homes makes up the vast majority of the US market. – AFP



Source: The Sun Daily

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US stocks rebound on bullish economic data

NEW YORK: US stock indices rebounded on Tuesday (June 27) from a recent losing streak as upbeat economic data soothed investor worries about an imminent recession triggered by the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate increases.

The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average snapped a six-day losing streak on Tuesday while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was eyeing its best first-half performance in 40 years and the S&P 500 advanced after falling in five of the last six sessions.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 212.03 points, or 0.63%, to 33,926.74; the S&P 500 gained 49.59 points, or 1.15%, at 4,378.41; and the Nasdaq Composite added 219.90 points, or 1.65%, at 13,555.67.

“There was a lot of US economic data released today and the key takeaway was that the economy is not breaking just yet,” said Oanda’s Edward Moya.

Separate reports showed new orders for key US-manufactured capital goods unexpectedly rose in May, and sales of new single-family homes surged in the same month, while US consumer confidence increased to a near 1½-year high in June.

The data gave investors a reason to buy back into stocks after a “pretty vicious correction” in the last several sessions, said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

“What we have today is this series of economic releases that on balance fit this setting of an economy that continues to be in an expansionary mode, without at the same time suggesting there’s any condition that’s running too hot.”

And just days before the second quarter ends, Luschini said it was notable that some the top sector performers on Tuesday, such as consumer discretionary and technology , were also the market's biggest gainers on a year-to-date basis.

While the economic data was encouraging, Rhys Williams, chief strategist at Spouting Rock Asset Management, said the market was likely helped by so-called window-dressing, when fund managers add outperforming assets to their portfolio for their quarter-end statements.

“You’d a bad week in the stock market last week and a bad day on Monday. It’s just a bit of recovery,” he said. “There could be some quarter-end window-dressing too as we get close to the end of the quarter.”

Traders were pricing in a roughly 77% chance the Fed will raise interest rates by 25 bps to the 5.25%-5.50% range in its July meeting, according to CME Group's Fedwatch tool, up from 74.4% a day earlier.

“Today (was) a very strong indication that the bulls remain in control,” said Adam Sarhan of 50 Park Investments. “The market had every chance in the world to fall and instead it’s going up.”

More economic data is expected this week, including a key inflation measure, as well as Fed chair Jerome Powell’s speech at the European Central Bank Forum in Sintra, Portugal, which could provide cues on the path of interest rates.

Market heavyweights Microsoft Corp and Apple Inc were among the biggest boosts to the S&P 500 during the session, along with Amazon.com Inc, Tesla Inc and Nvidia Corp.

Meta Platforms Inc shares rose 3% after Citigroup raised its price target on the stock. – Reuters, AFP



Source: The Sun Daily

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Oil prices drop over 2% on interest rate hike worries

NEW YORK: Oil prices slumped over 2% on Tuesday (June 27) on signals that central banks may not be done with interest rate hikes, while industry data showed lower US crude and petrol inventories during the peak summer driving season.

Brent crude futures settled down US$1.92, or 2.6%, at US$72.26 (RM337.09) a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) futures dropped US$1.67, or 2.4%, to US$67.70 (RM315.82).

Both contracts are trading broadly within a US$10 range traced since early May. Oanda analyst Craig Erlam said prices were mainly at the mercy of “the ever-changing expectations for interest rates.”

European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde said on Tuesday that stubbornly high inflation will require the bank to avoid declaring an end to rate increases. Higher interest rates can weigh on economic activity and oil demand.

“Despite concerns for the slowing economy in Europe, they are going to put the pedal to the metal with interest rates and that puts pressure to the downside,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group.

In the United States, US consumer confidence increased in June to the highest level in nearly 1½ years amid renewed labour market optimism.

But the upbeat data suggested the Federal Reserve will likely have to continue raising interest rates to slow demand in the overall economy. The US central bank, which has raised its policy rate by 500 basis points since March 2022, signalled this month that two additional rate increases were warranted this year.

US. inventory data from the American Petroleum Institute industry group showed on Tuesday that crude oil and petrol inventories fell last week, according to market sources citing the data.

Crude stocks fell by about 2.4 million barrels in the week ended June 23, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Petrole inventories fell by about 2.9 million barrels.

US government data on stockpiles is due on Wednesday.

Brent's six-month backwardation – a price structure whereby sooner-loading contracts trade above later-loading ones – reached its lowest since December and was barely positive, indicating shrinking concern about supply crunches.

For the two-month spread, the market is in shallow contango, the opposite price structure, indicating that traders are factoring in a slightly oversupplied market.

The market, meanwhile, has shrugged off the aborted mutiny by mercenary group Wagner in Russia over the weekend, with Russian oil loadings having remained on schedule.

“The latest geopolitical flare-up quickly pales into insignificance compared to persistent macroeconomic considerations,” said PVM’s Tamas Varga.

This is the case despite Saudi Arabia's pledge to reduce output from July.

Much depends on whether Chinese oil demand picks up in the second half, with Premier Li Qiang saying China will take steps to invigorate markets but providing no details. – Reuters



Source: The Sun Daily

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15 Tips to Successfully Downsize in Retirement

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Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on NewRetirement. The decision to relocate for retirement can be an emotional roller coaster, hugely exciting and a massive financial event. While some people buy bigger, grander or more expensive retirement homes, downsizing for retirement is the savvy strategy — especially for those of us who have not quite saved enough for our golden years.



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Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The 10 Best Cities to Ride Out a Recession

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Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend. While the bear market is over, the U.S. economy is not in the clear yet. Indeed, many business leaders continue to warn that a recession is imminent. If that happens, could the city you live in help you weather the economic storm?



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13 Things Retirees Can Get for Free or Almost Free

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Growing older has its advantages. As time passes, you get a little wiser. After retiring, you have more free time to channel that wisdom into doing the things you enjoy. Even better, all that fun often can be had at a steep discount. There are many ways for seniors to get cheap — and even free — entertainment and services. Some of these offers are available based on age or income while others are...



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How I Make a Roll of Paper Towels Last All Year

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It takes me forever to use up a roll of paper towels, it seems. It’s not that I’m particularly neat. It’s that I see no reason to use paper towels when I have plenty of rags. Sure, paper towels are convenient. But they’re expensive, too. Why use and toss wads of paper when I can use a piece of cloth, launder it and use it again? And if you’re just draining salad greens or wiping up spilled water...



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Monday, June 26, 2023

SKS Airways appoints Dzuleira Abu Bakar as CEO

PETALING JAYA: SKS Airways has appointed Dzuleira Abu Bakar as CEO following an extensive search process.

Dzuleira will take over from the current acting CEO & executive director, Datuk Rohman Ahmad effective Sept 15, 2023.

Rohman will continue to be on the board of SKS Airways as executive director.

Dzuleira has more than 20 years of experience in venture capital, entrepreneurship, investments, and the technology industry. She is currently serving out her notice of resignation as CEO of the Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation.

Last month, SKS Airways forged strategic partnerships with aviation industry leaders, Embraer Asia Pacific and Azorra Aviation Holdings to lease 10 Embraer E195-E2 single-aisle jets in a deal worth more than US$840 million (RM3.9 billion) from Azorra.

With the arrival of the first two Embraer E195-E2 jets in January 2024, complementing the new fleet, SKS Airways will be the first regional airline operating out of Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (Subang Airport).

“We are delighted to welcome Dzuleira as our new CEO. She is a transformative, purpose-driven leader who has an excellent track record in the technology and innovation industry. She has exceptional strategic and organisational capabilities and proven operational effectiveness. We look forward to Dzuleira accelerating the full potential and growth of SKS Airways as a leading regional carrier that delivers long-term growth and value for all our shareholders,” said Rohman, on behalf of the SKS board.

“I am delighted to have been appointed as the CEO of SKS Airways. It is an interesting time to be in the aviation industry and I’m excited by the vision the shareholders have for SKS Airways. SKS Airways is ripe with potential and I’m looking forward to leading the airline,” said Dzuleira.



Source: The Sun Daily

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Ringgit opens marginally better vs US dollar

KUALA LUMPUR: The ringgit opened marginally better against the US dollar today despite the further strengthening of the greenback’s appeal as a safe haven currency following the chaos in Russia over the weekend, dealers said.

At 9 am, the local unit rose to 4.6725/6790 versus the greenback compared to 4.6760/6805 at last Friday’s close.

SPI Asset Management managing director Stephen Innes said risk sentiments were impacted by the aborted mutiny in Russia, and noted that global investors remained spooked by central bank monetary tightening.

He also highlighted that over the past month, the Malaysian ringgit has underperformed ASEAN peers alongside the Chinese yuan, adding that the ‘joined-at-the-hip’ affinity reflects deep trade ties and that policymaker’s focus is often on the ringgit-Chinese yuan cross rate.

“The Renminbi opened relatively quiet this morning. Given the expectations of further moderate weakness in the Chinese currency and no clear catalyst for improving portfolio flows, even if the ringgit improves a bit, we expect to see buyers of US dollars on dips,“ he told Bernama.

In the meantime, the ringgit was traded mixed against a basket of major currencies.

It was easier versus the British pound at 5.9495/9578 from 5.9469/9527 at Friday’s close and was weaker vis-a-vis the euro at 5.0954/1024 from 5.0781/0830 last week, but rose against the Japanese yen to 3.2577/2627 from 3.2645/2680 previously.

The local note was also traded mixed against other Asean currencies.

The ringgit went down against the Singapore dollar to 3.4578/4628 versus 3.4568/4604 at last Friday’s close and declined against the Thai baht to 13.2877/3115 from 13.2765/2950 previously.

However, it had strengthened against the Philippines’ peso to 8.37/8.40 from 8.38/8.40 last week and rose versus the Indonesian rupiah to 311.4/312.1 from 311.7/312.2 previously. - Bernama



Source: The Sun Daily

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Urgent need to address digital jobs-skills mismatch: LinkedIn country manager

PETALING JAYA: The rapid digital transformation taking place in Malaysia has amplified the need to bridge the mismatch between job roles and available candidates, warned LinkedIn, while stressing potential economic and business competitiveness impact if left unaddressed.

LinkedIn’s Malaysia country manager and Southeast Asia head of emerging markets, Rohit Kalsy, stated that its recent study has revealed a significant skills mismatch challenge, which has been exacerbated during the years of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“LinkedIn’s 2023 Future of Recruiting report showed that over half of recruiting professionals (55%) consider finding candidates with the desired skills for job roles as a major challenge in Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia,” he told SunBiz.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about acceleration in the adoption of technology globally, its impact has been particularly striking in Southeast Asia as the region added millions of new digital consumers in this period, he said.

“The region is undergoing a rapid and unprecedented digital transformation, and there is a greater need than ever to upskill and reskill its workforce. If left unaddressed, the skills gap challenge will hurt the economy and competitiveness of businesses,” he stressed.

Rohit said the way for businesses and professionals to navigate the current climate is to adopt a skills-first mindset.

“For businesses, I would advise learning and development (L&D) leaders and HR professionals to foster a culture of learning and development. This will help expand their talent pool by embracing a skills-first approach to hiring and developing talent. It is important for leaders to adopt an adaptive leadership approach, viewing this period as an opportunity to iterate and adjust. Doing so will benefit them greatly when the cycle ends,” he said.

He added that it is crucial for companies to stay updated with industry and skills trends, identify skill gaps within their workforce, in order to remain competitive and capitalise on opportunities within the growing economy.

“Forward-thinking organisations that invest in their people during these times will be the ones that outperform competitors and come out stronger,” Rohit said.

In Malaysia, LinkedIn research has shown that the top skills required for a particular job have changed by an average of 27% since 2015, and the pace of change has accelerated during the pandemic. If this rate continues, it is projected that skills could change by nearly 50% (ranging from 43% to 47%) by 2025. Furthermore, between 2021 and 2025, it is likely that Malaysia will witness the emergence of three new skills among the top skills required for jobs in the country.

There is thus urgency to move towards a skills-first mindset, according to LinkedIn. Companies have traditionally hired based on educational qualifications, where someone went to school, and/or years of job experience, but more are now looking at skills. Now, there’s a massive shift under way that’s steadily moving the labour market from a pedigree-based model to a skills-first model.

Globally, almost half of the hirers on LinkedIn (45%) are using skills data to fill open roles. More than 365 million skills have been added to people’s profiles over the last year. Furthermore, LinkedIn’s Future of Recruiting 2023 SEA report shows that three-quarters of recruiting professionals say skills-first hiring will be a priority for their company in 2023. In Southeast Asian markets including Malaysia, since 2019, the share of recruiter searches on LinkedIn that include a skills filter has grown by 25% – and today, recruiters are 50% more likely to search by skills than by years of job experience.

Disruptive tech skills, or hard skills, are in high demand across the board by employers. In today’s increasingly complex and fast-evolving business environment, the importance of soft skills also cannot be overstated. The ability to think critically, collaborate across teams, handle ambiguity, and focus on customer centricity are some examples of soft skills that are valuable to employers. Soft skills are also more transferable across jobs and industries.

In Malaysia, for example, LinkedIn data showed that the top five most in-demand skills in the country include management, leadership and communication skills, indicating that companies are looking for talent to step up and lead teams through uncertainty while keeping them engaged and motivated in their jobs. While disruptive tech and digital skills are high in demand, skills that help businesses run efficiently as well as reach new customers and retain existing ones through sales know-how are also the ones companies need most right now.

“There are encouraging signs that professionals in Malaysia are equipping themselves with a combination of hard and soft skills, to enhance their employability and remain competitive and agile. Malaysian learners were among the 7.3 million globally who enrolled in the top 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses last year (1 June 2021 - 30 June 2022), almost double from the preceding year. This indicates that more are building skills to future-proof their careers.

“Our vision has been creating economic opportunities for every member of the global workforce since day one. Through the years, we have evolved to address this by providing a unique view of the economy through a skills-first lens. Momentum is already building, as we can see how both employers are shifting their mindset to put skills at the center of their hiring process and talent development and how members showcase skills and invest in learning,” Rohit said.

LinkedIn is also thrilled that the Malaysian government is putting upskilling and reskilling initiatives on the national agenda. In late 2022, HRD Corp, a company under the purview of the Ministry of Human Resources, and LinkedIn established a strategic collaboration to support workforce upskilling and reskilling efforts for HRD Corp stakeholders. The partnership with HRD Corp will allow 80 thousand employers and over 4.3 million talents across Malaysia’s key industries, including agriculture, manufacturing, construction, transportation, services, mining, and quarrying, access to some of the most in-demand courses consumed by professionals around the world, and will help the country’s workforce build important skills.

“However, we’re still in the early days of a paradigm shift where there are massive possibilities of how the workforce can have greater agility and/or mobility - an increasing priority for C-Suite. We’re seeing this in Malaysia as we work with top companies across varied industries, including finance, technology, energy, and infrastructure, in upskilling and reskilling their workforce as well as finding and attracting talent,” he concluded.

LinkedIn’s Malaysia country manager and Southeast Asia head of emerging markets Rohit Kalsy



Source: The Sun Daily

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Web Bytes launches Xilnex Retail Tech Experience Centre

PETALING JAYA: Web Bytes Sdn Bhd has launched its Xilnex Retail Tech Experience Centre in Malaysia, within its cafe, Wonders, in PJ Midtown.

The centre offers visitors a fully functional cafe experience, equipped with a range of Xilnex’s flagship solutions specifically for food and beverage (F&B) retailers such as its Self-service Ordering Kiosk, iPad POS, Restaurant Queue Management System, Kitchen Display System and the Live Rack.

Other retail tech innovations include its self-checkout kiosk and Live Display, a retail shelf with a built-in radio frequency identification (RFID) reader that enables shoppers to access detailed information about products on hi-fidelity screen by scanning the RFID tags.

CEO Ooi Boon Sheng said that by having a tech experience centre installed within a real-life cafĂ© and retail shop, retailers can witness its brand, Xilnex’s retail solutions in action.

He added that this can provide them with the firsthand experience of leveraging the right technology towards transforming their retail business, supporting the growing trend of hybrid stores that combine shopping and dining.

“In addition, we will use the centre to pilot and validate new customer experience models as well as use it as a testbed for our new retail technologies, to develop practical realworld applications and use cases.

“The experience centre, the most important part is that we are trying to run our own technology because we strongly believe that we can’t be pushing technology solutions to our customers without understanding their real actual pain point so in this real actual environment, we run customer engagements, data analytics, put (behavioural intelligence),” he told reporters during the cafe and centre launch recently.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Retail Chain Association deputy president Ken Phua said Malaysia’s retail industry is likely to register a double-digit growth, surpassing the estimated average growth of 9.0% year-on-year (y-o-y).

“Although 9% is a little bit moderate in terms of estimation but we will go pass the (double) digit percentage growth y-o-y retail growth,” he added.

In terms of ringgit, he noted that there was a “slight” devaluation of the currency which he reckoned was due to the consumption pattern and revenge spending behaviour of Malaysians post-pandemic, such as travelling and buying foreign vehicles which affected or “depressed a little bit of our ringgit in exchange for foreign currency”.

“But this is not going to be in for long because indirectly the government, on a big picture has directed a lot of FDI such as in the first quarter of this year, have attracted US$70 billion into this country,” he said.

GD Express Carrier Bhd (GDeX) owns a 38% stake in Web Bytes, which is a cloud-based retail management software company.

Since 2015, Xilnex has expanded its presence beyond Malaysia to Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Canada and Australia.



Source: The Sun Daily

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Sunday, June 25, 2023

Malaysia-UK collaboration will advance palm oil industry: Council

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) is confident that collaboration between United Kingdom (UK) research institutions and Malaysian producers will bolster sustainability and drive industry advancements in the palm oil industry.

The move comes as the UK prepares to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Transpacific Partnership (CPTPP) that will be finalised at the upcoming CPTPP Ministerial Meeting in Auckland, New Zealand, next month, presenting new trade opportunities and fostering closer ties between the two nations.

The MPOC said in its recent Market Highlights report that in recognising Malaysia’s position as a major global player in sustainable palm oil, UK research institutions should explore enhancing the industry’s sustainability practices and industry advancements.

“Examples of such cooperation are yield improvement, by-product generation, and other critical aspects.

“By pooling expertise and resources, such collaborations aim to further strengthen Malaysia’s position as a leader in sustainable palm oil production and drive economic development in the country,” it said.

MPOC said palm oil is renowned for being the most cost-effective and environmentally beneficial vegetable oil, boasting high productivity per hectare compared to other alternatives.

“By fostering closer relations within the CPTPP, the collaboration between UK research institutions and Malaysian producers can unlock new opportunities for enhancing the industry’s sustainability practices.

“This includes implementing advanced techniques to minimise the environmental impact of palm oil production,” it said.

Furthermore, MPOC opined that the partnership would address existing challenges related to traceability in complex derivative and by-product supply chains, particularly in sectors such as home and personal care and animal feed.

“By pursuing partnerships with palm oil-producing countries like Malaysia, the UK aims to enhance traceability and transparency throughout the supply chain, thereby strengthening the overall sustainability standards of global palm oil production,” it said.

The UK has already made significant progress in sourcing sustainable palm and palm kernel oil, with the proportion of imports classified as “certified sustainable” increasing from 16% in 2010 to an impressive 72% in 2021.

“However, there is room for improvement, particularly in the areas of complex derivative supply chains. By collaborating with Malaysian producers, the UK seeks to overcome these challenges and ensure sustainability standards are met throughout the palm oil supply chain.

“With knowledge sharing, technological advancements, and best practices, both nations can aim to establish more sustainable and environmentally friendly palm oil production methods,” MPOC said.

It noted that these collaborations align with Malaysia’s ambition to integrate regional and global value chains, further solidifying its position as a preferred investment and manufacturing hub.

“As Malaysia looks beyond the CPTPP and envisions broader trade agreements with key partners such as the European Union, collaborations like these will play a crucial role in addressing sustainability concerns and reducing trade barriers,” MPOC added. – Bernama



Source: The Sun Daily

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Reservoir Link launches rooftop solar PV project

Embracing renewable energy adoption through sustainable solutions

KUALA LUMPUR: Reservoir Link Energy Bhd, an energy related services provider, announced that its subsidiary RL Sunseap Energy Sdn Bhd, has completed the design, construction and installation of a solar photovoltaic (PV) energy generating system on the rooftop of the Design Village Outlet Mall in Penang, for PE Land (Penang) Sdn Bhd. A ceremony was held to commemorate the commercialisation of the project which was attended by Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

Following the completion of the project, Reservoir Link will continue to own, operate and maintain this rooftop solar PV system which has a capacity of 1971.2 kWp. The project will provide the Group with continuous earnings over the next 15 years through the generation and supply of solar PV energy.

Reservoir Link executive director Thien Chiet Chai said, “We are delighted to be onboard with PE Land (Penang) Sdn Bhd to embrace the renewable energy adoption through sustainable solutions such as solar renewables. As Malaysia is working towards ensuring that renewable energy accounts for 70% of the country's electricity generation by 2050, we expect investments for renewables to be ramped up exponentially. Reservoir Link is committed to do its part in helping others to embark on the renewable journey, thereby expediting Malaysia’s transition towards a net zero future.”

Meanwhile, Chow said, “The Penang State Government has been actively promoting the adoption of green energy, particularly solar energy within the state to ensure that Penang continues its social and economic development without neglecting the environment.”

“In keeping with the Penang2030 vision, the state government through the Penang Green Council launched the Penang Green Agenda 2030 in 2021. Under the Penang Green Agenda 2030, the state has achieved several milestones including the formation of the Penang Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Taskforce which aims to substantially increase the uptake of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Penang by 2023,” he added.



Source: The Sun Daily

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Saturday, June 24, 2023

How to Get Ahead at Work Without Overworking

Businesswoman looking at iPhone while working at her desk in an office
Stock 4you / Shutterstock.com

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com. Did the end of the day roll around, and once again, you’re not even close to being able to clock out? You’d love to enjoy your personal life, but your to-do list always seems to be a mile long. Sure, you could blow it off, but you have your eye on a promotion at the end of the year. No question — working hard is vital if you want to be...



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Malaysian businesses investors urged to gear up for opportunities in China

NANNING (China): Malaysian businesses and investors must be prepared to compete for investment opportunities from or in China.

Malaysia’s Consul-General in Nanning, Ahmad Phadil Ismail, said that in view of China’s vast and open domestic market, Malaysia can explore many new markets based on its advantage in agricultural commodity production.

China had reopened its international borders in January after almost three years of closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Malaysian business community must seize the resulting opportunities to explore new markets in the republic, he said.

“China has been Malaysia's largest trading partner all this while. (But) with the emerging competition from Vietnam, Malaysia must work harder.

“This is just the competition within Asean and not yet taking into consideration competition from Europe, other developed and developing countries,” he told Bernama TV in Nanning recently.

Ahmad Phadil said Asean's position, especially Malaysia, in the shifting world geopolitical landscape, should be viewed as an opportunity to attract investments.

According to him, China and Malaysia have continued to maintain very close relations despite changes in leadership.

“We must capitalise on this close bilateral relations. China is ready to receive foreign investments. The question is whether Malaysia's business community is ready to give the same commitment,” he said.

Ahmad Phadil said agricultural commodities are among the main exports from Malaysia to China, and products such as palm oil, durian and edible bird's nest are warmly received in the Chinese market.

Therefore, he expressed hope that the Malaysian business community would make use of the business opportunities at the 20th China-Asean Expo in September this year.

On attracting investments from China, Ahmad Phadil said electric vehicles, artificial intelligence and green technology are among the new areas that could be looked into.

In 2022, trade with China reached 17.1 per cent of Malaysia's total global trade of RM2.8 trillion.

Total trade between the two countries last year amounted to RM487.13 billion, an increase of 15.6 per cent compared to 2021. -Bernama



Source: The Sun Daily

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Costco Is Offering $2500 Off EVs This Summer

Costco
Prashanth Bala / Shutterstock.com

Costco members shopping for an electric vehicle can save a little extra money on their purchase through July 31. Incentives of $2,500 now are available on certain Volvo EV models. Additionally, incentives of $1,000 are available for specific Volvo non-electric models, including sedans, SUVs and wagons. The $2,500 incentive is being offered on two EVs: Non-electric cars that are part of the $1,000...



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11 Places Where Home Values Are Spiking

Suburban house near Detroit.
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

Home prices are spiking again in many cities across the U.S. Overall, home values grew 1.4% across the nation from April to May, the biggest jump since June 2022, according to Zillow. That is good news for sellers hoping for a big payday, but bad news for buyers looking for a bargain. The turnaround for housing comes as competition heats up for the relatively few homes that are on the market.



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Friday, June 23, 2023

Ford-backed electric battery venture to get up to US$9.2b govt loan

NEW YORK: A Ford joint venture to build three new electric vehicle battery plants is set to receive up to US$9.2 billion (RM42.7 billion) in US federal loans under a programme backed by President Joe Biden, officials announced on Thursday (June 22).

The US Department of Energy announced a “conditional commitment for a loan” to BlueOval SK, a joint venture between Ford Motor and SK On, a South Korean battery manufacturer, to build the new plants in the southern US states of Tennessee and Kentucky.

Biden has supported heavy public investment in such initiatives to address climate change and bolster US manufacturing.

The loan would be the largest in the history of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing programme, US officials said.

The US carmaker cheered the move as boosting electric vehicle adoption, “while powering thousands of good paying jobs and American manufacturing”, said Ford treasurer Dave Webb.

“Major technology transitions have always been accelerated by collaboration between the public and private sectors,” he said.

Electricity from batteries produced at the plants will replace more than 455 million gallons of petrol over the lifetime of the vehicles, the Department of Energy said in its press release.

The projects will create 5,000 construction jobs and 7,500 operations positions once the plants are up and running, the agency said.

Biden has set 2030 as a target date when EVs should reach at least 50% of the new car market.

He has also backed large public investments in new EV charging stations and tax credits for purchasing EVs. The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act linked tax incentives to requirements that batteries and critical resources in EVs come from North America.

Ford and SK Innovation unveiled the joint venture in September 2021, describing plans to spend US$11.4 billion on a battery plant in Stanton, Tennessee and twin facilities in Glendale, Kentucky.

Ford has said the plants will start production in 2025. The US automaker declined to provide details on the loans and did not respond to a question on how the loan sum relates to the earlier US$11.4 billion figure.

The Department of Energy’s conditional commitment follows a due diligence process in which the agency brought in outside experts to review the application and develop a term sheet.

The final loan depends on the party meeting additional conditions, such as receiving approvals from local authorities, according to the agency.

In the case of the BlueOval project, the White House is demanding robust labor agreements and support for the Biden administration’s “Justice40 Initiative”, which requires that 40% of overall benefits go to disadvantaged communities, the press release said.

The Tennessee site is located in a disadvantaged community as are communities surrounding both Kentucky sites, the agency said. – AFP



Source: The Sun Daily

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US and India agree to end six WTO disputes lift some tariffs

WASHINGTON: The United States and India have agreed to end six disputes at the World Trade Organization (WTO), US authorities said on Thursday (June 22), after a meeting between the countries’ leaders.

India also “agreed to remove retaliatory tariffs” on certain US products such as chickpeas, lentils and almonds, the US Trade Representative’s (USTR) office added in a statement.

The USTR announcement came during a visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United States, and both nations have also reached major deals on engines for fighter jets, semiconductor investment and space cooperation.

The tariffs India imposed came in response to US measures on steel and aluminium, and the USTR statement said “these tariff cuts will restore and expand market opportunities for US agricultural producers and manufacturers”.

“Today’s agreement represents the culmination of intensified bilateral engagement over the last two years,” said USTR Katherine Tai.

Of the six WTO disputes, three were initiated by the United States and the other three by India.

They involve measures on solar cells and solar modules, the renewable energy sector, as well as measures on steel and aluminium products, the statement said.

The United States is India’s largest trading partner but the US has much larger trading relationships with China, the European Union, and North American neighbours.

US President Joe Biden and Modi will sign off on a deal to allow General Electric to produce jet engines in India to power Indian military aircraft, through an agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics.

US chipmaker Micron Technology's plans a US$2.7 billion semiconductor testing and packaging unit, to be built in Modi’s home state of Gujarat. The US will also make it easier for skilled Indian workers to get and renew US visas.

On Thursday, Biden and Modi hailed a new era in their countries’ relationship after the White House rolled out the red carpet for the Indian prime minister, touting deals on defence and commerce aimed at countering China’s global influence.

The partnership is “stronger, closer and more dynamic than at any time in history,” Biden told reporters at a joint press conference with Modi after the two leaders emerged from Oval Office talks where differences on Russia and human rights were on the table.

The economic relationship is “booming”, Biden said, with trade more than doubling over the past decade.

After Biden and Modi spoke privately for more than two hours, a joint statement included a warning of rising tensions and destabilising actions in the East and South China Sea and stressed the importance of international law and freedom of navigation. – AFP, Reuters



Source: The Sun Daily

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Oil plunges 4% as rate hikes outweigh lower US oil supplies

*

NEW YORK: Oil futures fell about 4% on Thursday (June 22), as a bigger-than-expected Bank of England (BoE) rate increase prompted worries about the economy and fuel demand that outweighed support from a surprise draw in US oil supplies.

Brent futures settled down US$2.98, or 3.9%, to US$74.14 (RM344.83) a barrel. US West Texas Intermediate crude futures were down US$3.02, or 4.2%, at US$69.51 (RM323.29).

The benchmarks erased gains from the previous session, during which US corn and soybean prices raced to multi-month highs, raising expectations that crop shortfalls could lower biofuels blending and increase oil demand.

The BoE raised interest rates by a bigger-than-expected half a percentage point to fight stubborn inflation. It was the central bank's 13th straight rate increase.

Higher interest rates could slow economic growth and reduce oil demand.

Feeding the caution, US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said two more rate increases of 25 basis points each by the end of the year was “a pretty good guess”.

“We’re locked in a trading range but prices are held back by the concerns about the economy, the larger economy,” said Phil Flynn, an analyst at Price Futures Group.

Equities, which often move in tandem with oil, were also down.

In supply, US crude inventories fell by 3.8 million barrels in the last week to 463.3 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations in a Reuters poll for a 300,000-barrel rise.

US petrol stocks rose by about 480,000 barrels in the week to 221.4 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said, compared with analysts' expectations in a Reuters poll for a 100,000-barrel rise.​

Distillate stockpiles, which include diesel and heating oil, rose by about 430,000 barrels in the week to 114.3 million barrels, versus expectations for a 700,000-barrel rise, the EIA data showed.

“Given the decline in crude oil and the very modest increases in refined products inventories, I would have thought we would get a better response from the market, but the crude oil and refined product market is simply being weighed down by higher interest rates,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.

Investors are now awaiting Chinese factory activity data due next week, which could indicate the strength of China’s economy.

An executive at US shale producer EOG Resources said oil prices could rise as muted increases in US. oil production and cuts by Opec+ producers will limit supply in the months ahead. – Reuters



Source: The Sun Daily

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Nasdaq leads rally as US stocks shake off recent weakness

NEW YORK: Tech shares powered higher on Thursday (June 22) as markets shook off recent weakness even as the Bank of England (BoE) and other central banks increased interest rates again to counter inflation.

Google parent Alphabet rose 2.2% and Amazon won 4.3% as the S&P 500 and Nasdaq broke a three-day losing streak.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 4.81 points, or 0.01%, to 33,946.71, the S&P 500 gained 16.2 points, or 0.37%, to 4,381.89 and the Nasdaq Composite added 128.41 points, or 0.95%, to 13,630.61.

The gains came as Federal Reserve (Fed) officials continued to vow an aggressive stance on inflation. Fed governor Michelle Bowman said more rate increases were probably needed “to meaningfully and durably bring inflation down”.

But investors are sceptical the Fed will follow through.

“Investors are playing tug of war, as if they’re pulling petals from a daisy saying ‘bull market, not a bull market’,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist of CFRA Research in New York. “We don’t have much to trade on, second-quarter earnings don’t start in a couple weeks yet.”

“The market believes the Fed will raise rates one more time, not two more times as implied by the post FOMC meeting summary,” he added. “In addition, yesterday and today’s, Powell reiterated that they will be data dependent and Wall Street expects inflation to cool faster, and unemployment will start to creep higher which is what the Fed has intended with its rate increases.”

Among individual companies, Boeing shares shed 3% after Spirit AeroSystems, a key supplier on the 737 MAX, announced it was suspending factory production.

This came after workers represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers rejected a new contract.

Spirit shares dropped 9.5%.

Banking shares were under pressure as Martin Gruenberg, head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, said regulators were considering new capital requirements on larger banks.

JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs all lost more than 1.5%. – AFP, Reuters



Source: The Sun Daily

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