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Friday, March 13, 2009

Bursa Chat - News Highlights (13.03.2009)

Malaysia

Telekom Malaysia Bhd (T MK, Hold, RM2.74) is set to reveal next Monday all the terms and conditions of access to the high speed broadband (HSBB) network that it is building for industry players. TM will also brief them on the wholesale transmission services it will offer under the HSBB. The pricing structure would be another major focus for industry players but this was something that TM was not likely to announce on Monday as it was still working on the structure, sources said. (Bloomberg)

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KFC Holdings Malaysia Bhd, operator of KFC restaurants in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, sees better sales this year as it expects people to continue eating out despite a sluggish economy. Managing director Jamaludin Md Ali said the company aims to grow sales by double digits in percentage terms for the year to December 31, 2009. The company is pending RM3m on the marketing blitz. It has also budgeted RM25m to open 30 new outlets this year throughout the country. (BT)

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Kencana Petroleum Bhd is investing US$17m (RM62.73m) in an offshore support vessel business to broaden its earnings base. Its unit Kencana Petroleum Ventures Sdn Bhd will invest US$3m (RM11.07m) for 21% of Malaysian Engineering & Oilfield Services Sdn Bhd (MEOSSB) and US$14m (RM51.66m) for 27% of Teras Muhibbah Sdn Bhd. Teras is the firm that owns the vessels while MEOSSB is the service provider. (BT)

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Perwaja Steel Bhd has delayed expansion plans, is running at half capacity and has reduced inventory turnover as it braces for the country’s first recession in 10 years, a top company official said yesterday. However, the country’s largest steel maker had no plan to restructure its borrowings to tap shareholders’ money to raise fresh capital. The group expects global steel prices to remain highly volatile this year, and stated that it would be good enough if it could just break even this year. (Financial Daily)

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Construction of the RM2.5bn Four Seasons Place in Kuala Lumpur will go ahead although a global economic crisis threatens to hurt demand for expensive hotels and apartments. The much awaited property, located next to the Petronas Twin Towers, will be ready in 2012, says its developer Tan Sri Syed Yusof Syed Nasir. It comprises a hotel, apartments and a mall, and will be the world' tallest Four Seasons development. Four Seasons Place is being built by Venus Assets Sdn Bhd, a firms controlled by Ipoh-born tycoon Ong Beng Seng, Syed Yusof and the Sultan of Selangor. The 140 units of luxury apartments at the Four Seasons Place may fetch as much as RM1.4bn in sales when they are launched in the third quarter of the year. The 140 units will be sold for about RM2,500 psf. The smallest unit size starts at 3,000 sq ft. (BT)

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Malaysia’s industrial production index (IPI) plunged 20.2% in January from a year earlier, as output from the manufacturing, electricity and mining sectors continued to be suppressed by the global demand slowdown. According to the Statistics Department yesterday, the industrial production in the manufacturing sector fell 26.7%, followed by electricity and mining sectors that dropped 12.4% and 6.1% respectively. The IPI fell 15.9% y-o-y in December 2008 mainly ue to a contraction in manufacturing sector, especially in the electrical and electronics (E&E) industry. (Financial Daily)
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Malaysia is unlikely to achieve a firm recovery in growth until 2011 but will use the downturn to form a “new economic model” focused on services rather than manufacturing, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday. Najib, who is expected to become Malaysia’s prime minister on March 31, said his goal was to increase the service sector to 70% of gross domestic product, from 54%, in an effort to establish “a knowledge-based economy” that would be less reliant on manufactured exports. (Financial Daily)

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Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said yesterday his ministry would submit proposals to the Finance Ministry, on a case-by-case basis, for additional measures to help the manufacturing sector. He said MITI had received feedback from the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) on the lack of direct measures in the mini-budget to assist them and would look into proposing measures to the government from time to time. FMM, in an earlier response to the recently announced RM60bn mini-budget, lamented that there were no specific measures identified to address the decline in exports and to stimulate domestic demand and consumption. (Financial Daily)

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Bursa Malaysia is looking at launching its Commodity Murabahah House (CMH), a commodity-based transaction that utilises crude palm oil (CPO)-based contracts as its underlying asset, by mid year. The exchange was keen to offer an alternative Islamic trading infrastructure to the world’s Islamic financial institutions that had been utilising commodities traded on the London Metal Exchange as the underlying assets for Islamic finance and investment products. (StarBiz)

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The local information and communications technology (ICT) industry may grow 4% to 5% in 2009, its lowest in 10 years, as demand for ICT products and services has been slow due to market turbulence. Since the dot-com boom in 2000, the sector has been growing by 10% to 12% year-on-year. But last year, it grew by 7% to RM43bn as it was hit by the subprime crises, said Ang Chin Joo, president of the Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry Malaysia (Pikom). (BT)
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INVESTMENT RESEARCH
Global

Stocks jumped Thursday, gaining for the third session in a row, as investors scooped up banks and other shares hit in a selloff that left the Dow at 12-year lows. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 3.4% (+239.6 pts, close 7,170.1). The Standard & Poor' 500 index gained 4.1% (+29.38 pts, close 750.7) and the Nasdaq composite gained 3.9% (+54.4 pts, closes 1,426.1). In currency trading, the dollar fell against the euro and gained against the yen. U.S. light crude oil for April delivery rose US$4.70 to settle at US$45.27 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. (CNNmoney)

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said he wouldn’t prevent banks from returning government capital and predicted that “many” would. Still, Geithner urged firms that get money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program to keep it until they can replace it with private capital to “provide lending to the economy.” Restoring the flow of credit will help consumers and businesses struggling in a recession, he said. The Treasury’s most recent tally shows the government has invested most of the first half of TARP in 489 banks nationwide. The Treasury chief defended the effort to fix the financial system as a way to help average Americans rather than reward Wall Street executives. (Bloomberg)

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Sales at U.S. retailers in February fell less than forecast and a gain in January exceeded the previous estimate, indicating the biggest part of the economy may be starting to stabilize. The Commerce Department’s figures mean the decline in gross domestic product this quarter will probably be less than anticipated. Still, a sustained recovery in purchases is unlikely until later in the year because of mounting unemployment, falling home and stock values and shrinking wealth. Retail purchases decreased by 0.1% following a 1.8% jump in January, the Commerce Department said yesterday. Excluding cars, sales climbed 0.7%. (Bloomberg)

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U.S. household wealth fell by a record US$5.1trn in 4Q08, almost twice the decrease in the previous quarter, as home values and stock prices plunged, Federal Reserve figures showed. Net worth for households and non-profit groups decreased to US$51.5trn, the lowest level in four years, from US$56.6trn in 3Q08, according to the Fed’s quarterly Flow of Funds report today. The erosion of Americans’ wealth is one reason households will save more in coming months, restraining spending and economic growth. (Bloomberg)

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European Central Bank (ECB) President Jean-Claude Trichet’s new weapon to battle the recession is taking him closer than it seems to zero interest rates. Trichet is allowing the ECB’s deposit rate, which lenders earn on overnight deposits with the central bank, to usurp the benchmark refinancing rate and become the main driver of short-term borrowing costs. At just 0.5%, the deposit rate matches the Bank of England’s key setting and is only a step away from the zero-to-0.25% range the Federal Reserve uses. That is pushing interest rates for banks down, helping Trichet answer critics who accuse him of not doing enough as the euro-region economy sinks into its deepest recession since World War II. (Bloomberg)

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Germany is facing the biggest economic slump since World War II as a reliance on exports shows itself to be the country’s Achilles heel. Industrial production fell 7.5% in January m-o-m, the most on record, a report showed yesterday. Factory orders plunged a record 38% y-o-y that month, and the economy is likely to shrink the most since modern records began in 1950 this year. (Bloomberg)
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French companies shed the most jobs in 40 years in 4Q08 as manufacturing slumped and employers braced for the worst recession since World War II. Payrolls, excluding government employees, farm workers and the self-employed, dropped by 117,300, or 0.7%, to 15.89m, the Finance Ministry said yesterday. The decline is larger than originally estimated on Feb. 13, when the ministry said payrolls fell by 88,700, or 0.6%. President Nicolas Sarkozy’s multibillion-euro package of tax cuts and incentives to support companies may not be enough to boost an economy that the government forecasts will contract 1.5% this year. Finance Minister Christine Lagarde said in January that joblessness will keep rising as growth deteriorates, and manufacturers’ confidence remains at a record low. (Bloomberg)

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Japan’s economy contracted at the fastest pace since 1974 in 4Q08 as exports, output and business spending collapsed. Gross domestic product shrank an annualized 12.1% in 4Q08, less than the 12.7% reported last month, the Cabinet Office said yesterday. Factory output and overseas shipments plunged by records in January and Toyota Motor Corp., Japan’s biggest automaker, will cut production by more than half this quarter. The economy contracted 3.2% from 3Q08, compared with the initial estimate of a 3.3% drop. The revision reflected a higher-than-expected gain in inventories, which added 0.5 percentage point to GDP compared with the initial estimate of a 0.4 point contribution. (Bloomberg)
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China’s industrial-production growth slowed in the first two months of the year as exports slid at a record pace. Bank lending jumped as the nation’s 4trn (US$585bn) stimulus began to take effect. Output rose 3.8% y-o-y in January and February, slowing from a 5.7% increase in December, the statistics bureau said yesterday. New lending quadrupled in February to 1.07trn yuan y-o-y, the central bank said. Industrial production rose 11% in February alone, buoyed by extra working days in the month compared with a year earlier because of the timing of the Lunar New Year holiday. Growth for the two months combined was the weakest since 2004, when comparable Bloomberg data began. (Bloomberg)
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