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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bursa Chat News Highlights (25.03.2009)

Vietnam’s An Binh Bank said yesterday it would sell another 5% stake to Maybank (MAY MK, Hold, TP: RM5.45) in May, raising the latter’s ownership to the ceiling rate of 20%. The unlisted bank said it would issue new shares to Maybank and the stake sale was to boost their capital base by 28.7% to US$205m. (Reuters)

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Malaysia' two low-cost carriers (LCCs) have been granted rights to fly to Singapore from several domestic destinations, including Subang and Penang. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said that the Cabinet had granted permission to turboprop operator Firefly to fly to Singapore from Subang, Penang, Kuantan and Terengganu. It also allowed AirAsia (AIRA MK, BUY, TP: RM1.90) to fly to Singapore from Penang in addition to Langkawi, Sandakan and Tawau. Ong said that apart from the Penang-Singapore route, AirAsia has also obtained the go-ahead to fly from Kuala Lumpur to four Indian cities: Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkatta and Bangalore. (BT)

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Glomac Bhd (GLMC MK, Hold, TP: RM0.62) appointed Datuk Fateh Iskandar Mohamed Mansor as its chief executive officer effective yesterday, taking over the post from his father, Tan Sri Mohamed Mansor Fateh Din. Fateh, 41, is also the group managing director, while Mohamed Mansor remains as the executive chairman. (Financial Daily)

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Steel players are concerned that banks will further cut their lending exposure to the sector, which is being plagued by a steep drop in prices and waning demand. Industry sources warned that the sector could fall into a dangerous financial whirlpool if banks were to severely cut lending due to the higher business risks in the steel industry, which has already been battered by shrinking profit margins and low capacity Among the listed steel companies in Malaysia are Ann Joo Resources Bhd, Kinsteel Bhd, Lion Corp Bhd and Mycron Steel Bhd. (Malaysian Reserve)

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The government is considering mandating owners of palm oil mills to upgrade their plants to be more friendly towards the environment as there are incentives already available. Datuk Peter Chin said the present technology used by millers in Malaysia are from the 1960-70’s, and are not good enough to minimise the amount of harmful gas emitted into the atmosphere. A dialog has been proposed with the Palm Oil Millers Association which represents some 400 mill owners in the country. Currently, only 20 out of 406 palm oil mills in Malaysia are involved in the clean development mechanism projects under the Kyoto Protocol. (Malaysian Reserve)

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The government may not defer the mandatory implementation of the B5 blend biofuel programme by 2010, but to address several critical issues first to ensure its success. Major issues to be addressed are logistics, infrastucture cost, blending facilities and the transportation of palm biodiesel. Datuk Peter Chin said also that the ministry was in talks with the Treasure to provide more incentives to biodiesel producers in Malaysia to ensure the business in viable. (Starbiz)

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RAM Ratings Services expects the local banking sector’s gross NPL’s ratio to reach about 9% this year. RAM ratings has an overall stable outlook on the banking sector given its parameters like asset quality, profitability, capitalisation and liquidity are healthy. (Starbiz)

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Felda and its Brazilian partner will embark on an oil palm cultivation project in Tefe this year, said Brazilian ambassador Sergio Arruda. The initial cultivation will involve 30,000 ha, and will be increased up to 100,000ha, he said. Felda was offered to open a 100,000 oil palm plantation in Manaus and Tefe near the Amazon River in Brazil. The joint venture, Felda Global Ventures Brazil Sdn Bhd, was set up with a paid-up capital of RM25m, in which Felda holds 70% equity while Braspalma of Brazil holds the rest. Arruda said a new port will also be available for transporting palm oil to refineries and the Manaus industrial area down river. (BT)
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INVESTMENT RESEARCH
Global
Technology and bank shares led a selloff Tuesday, as investors stepped back after the previous session' big rally, Wall Street' best in four months. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 1.5% (-115 pts, close 7,660.21). The S&P 500 index lost 2% (-17 pts, close 806.25) while the Nasdaq composite lost 2.5% (-40pts, close 1,516.52). In currency trading, the dollar gained against the euro and fell against the yen. U.S. light crude oil for May delivery rose 18 cents to settle at $53.98 a barrel. (CNNMoney)

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U.S. home prices rose 1.7% in January compared with December, the Federal Housing Finance Agency reported Tuesday. It was the first monthly increase in a year. Home prices are down 6.3% in the past year and are down 9.6% from the peak in April 2006, the agency said. In December, the year-over-year decline was 8.8%. The "unexpected rise" in January was partially due to stronger sales in some markets, FHFA said. The FHFA index attempts to control for such changes in sales patterns, but the adjustment is not perfect, the agency said. The agency warned that its estimate was uncertain and subject to large revisions. December' index, originally reported as a 0.2% increase, was revised down to a 0.1% decline.

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U.K. consumer price inflation accelerated on an annual basis in February, the Office for National Statistics said Tuesday, surprising economists who had expected a sharp decline. The unexpected rise required Bank of England Governor Mervyn King to write a letter to the treasury explaining why inflation was more than one percentage point above the 2.0% target. The consumer price index rose 0.9% on a month-to-month basis and 3.2% on a year-to-year basis. In January, the index fell 0.7% from a month earlier and increased 3% from a year earlier. (WSJ)
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Europe’s manufacturing and service industries contracted for a 10th month in March and job cuts accelerated, as companies slashed production and costs in response to the deepening global recession. A composite index of both industries was at 37.6 compared with a record low of 36.2 in February. The index is based on a survey of purchasing managers by Markit Economics and a reading below 50 indicates contraction. The measures of employment and output prices both fell to record lows. (Bloomberg)
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South Korea unveiled a 28.9trn won ($20.83bn) supplementary budget, its largest ever, in an effort to cushion the economy' fall into its first recession in more than 10 years. Economists said the spending will provide much-needed support for the economy but won' likely head off a deep slump this year, driven by falling demand for Korean exports. Debt valued at 16.9 trillion won to pay for the package could also hurt the government' fiscal health in the longer term, they said. (WSJ)
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Global rubber demand could fall more sharply than expected this year, dropping as much as 8% if the recession that has slashed demand for cars worsens, industry officials said yesterday. Physical rubber prices have more than halved from July' peak above US$3 (RM11) a kg. "Our best scenario is still 6.4% down (in 2009) but it may even fall to 8 per cent if really the recession is worse than the IMF predicted in January," said Hidde Smit, secretary-general of the International Rubber Study Group (IRSG). (BT)

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World airlines are set to lose US$4.7bn (RM17.01bn) this year as a result of the global recession that shrunk passenger and cargo demand, said the International Air Transport Association (IATA). IATA also raised its estimate of international airline losses in 2008 to US$8.5bn, from its previous US$8bn estimate. It expects better prospects toward the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010. (Financial Daily)
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