Malaysian bonds stay attractive – foreign holdings at 25%

INVE$T #58 | Market Sentiments – 21 May 2021

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According to Securities Commission (SC) chairman Datuk Syed Zaid Albar, Malaysian bonds continue to attract interest, with foreign holdings amounting to 25% of outstanding government bonds. As at end April 2021, foreign investment in the government bond market stood at RM232bil. In his keynote address at the MARC virtual Malaysian bond and sukuk conference themed “Riding the Wave” he noted the SC has long recognised the role of private debt securities as a source of funding, particularly for large-scale, long-term projects. It also increases private sector participation in economic development. According to the Asian Development Bank, in gross domestic product (GDP) terms, the three largest bond markets in Asia are Japan, followed by South Korea and Malaysia. Given the outlays required for infrastructure development, opportunities abound for the Malaysian bond and sukuk markets to continue to be a major funding source for nation building initiatives. This, however, is not unique to Malaysia. In fact, 79% of the respondents to the 2020 Global Infrastructure Index believe that infrastructure investments will be one of the main drivers that will create new jobs and boost their economies. At end2020, the domestic bond market grew to RM1.6 trillion (government bonds constituting 53% and corporate bonds 47%) despite the challenging environment, up from RM1.49 trillion as at end2019. While this augers well for the country’s recovery and future growth, more needs to be done for growth to be sustainable. There was a need to broaden the credit spectrum to include smaller bond issuers, given the significant contribution of MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) to GDP and employment. The challenge is adapting the bond and sukuk markets to provide cost-effective means for small and lower-rated issuers to raise funds to meet their growth and expansion plans. This is particularly important because the greater or more inventive use of traditional assets alone will not be enough to foster better growth. Securitisation transactions embedded with the necessary safeguards had the potential to be a valuable financing tool, transforming illiquid assets into liquid and tradable assets.

Malaysia’s economic performance doesn’t depend only on Covid-19, MCO impact: MARC research head

According to Malaysian Rating Corp Bhd (MARC) head of economic research Firdaos Rosli, Malaysia’s economic performance depends largely on internal and external factors, and not only on how the Covid-19 pandemic and the movement control order (MCO) play out. There have been narratives by economists and opinion makers that the country’s economy is dependent on the MCO, given its impact on business activities and the economy in general. However, it is not really dependent on the pandemic per se as all economic sectors are open, even with the MCO in place. He was presenting on ‘Economic Report & Capital Market Outlook 2021’ at the MARC Malaysian Bond and Sukuk Conference 2021. We are seeing that economic activities are running as usual, and that will give some rebound compared to what it was in the previous year. Externally, the performance of Malaysia’s economy is linked to its major export markets. Major trade partners such as the US and the UK have ramped up their Covid-19 inoculation drive, which will translate into heightened demand for Malaysian exports, particularly for electrical & electronic and petroleum products. There has not been much communication on the government’s medium to long-term economic action plan as it is busy fighting the pandemic. There is the need for signals on policy since the pandemic differs from the Asian and the global economic crises in the past, which were due to financial and trade factors. This crisis is non-financial and non-export led, which means that as the balloon is squeezed, the economy will still be in contraction mode. The country will see continued positive growth in the future as the government eases the restrictions. On foreign direct investments (FDI) in equities, the foreign investors have left the market, but in the debt market there has been a healthy inflow since the start of the year. However, for manufacturing FDI, it is a completely different perspective altogether. As far as incentives are concerned, what Malaysia has been offering are generic, whether it is pioneer status or tax perks, as there is nothing it can offer that its neighbours cannot. To gain a competitive edge, there has to be something “magical” that the government can offer to attract such investments. The country can examine the trade agreements which it has participated in but has yet to ratify, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Transpacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, to obtain such advantage. While this would be one way to look at it, the other is the autonomous liberalisation route, similar to what was done in the 1980s following the commodity crisis, where liberalised foreign equity in manufacturing allowed 100% equity to foreign manufacturers. But such a move will require indepth policy justification. On the possibility of more stimulus measures, his educated guess was that they will be related to the social security net, particularly with regard to employment and the job market. This was in reference to Finance Minister’s statement that the reason behind the government’s decision to keep the economy open was primarily to address the unemployment rate. Noting that in the past, the unemployment rate following a crisis is responsible for projecting the country’s growth trajectory in the post-crisis era. The country would likely see slow growth in private consumption if it is not able to contain the unemployment rate this time around. However, he is not sure that more cash handout is the answer as people are likely to turn it into savings but it is left to be seen what the government has in store.

Eye On The Markets This week

On Thursday (20May), the Ringgit was 4.1443 against the USD from 4.1310 on Monday (17May). Meanwhile, the Ringgit was 3.1085 to the Sing Dollar on Thursday (20May). On Monday (17May), the FBM KLCI opened at 1577.49. As at Friday (21May) 10:00am, the FBM KLCI is down 12.42 points for the week at 1565.07. Over in US, the overnight Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 188.11 points (+0.55%) to 34,084.15 whilst the NASDAQ added 236.00 points (+1.77%) to 13,535.74.

Malaysia’s economy further improving in Q2 – Statistics Dept

Invest #59 | Market Sentiments – 28 May 2021

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Inve$t #59 | Market Sentiments – 28 May 2021

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM) chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin, Malaysia’s economy is expected to further improve in Q2 2021 especially on the back of a low base as the economy contracted 17.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2020, based on the performance of several key economic indicators. However, the recovery is also highly dependent on the extent to which the infection of Covid-19 could be brought under control and the consequence of movement control order (MCO) 3.0 with tightened standard operating procedures for the economic sectors and social aspects. Further to this, the leading index (LI) for March 2021 achieved strong growth at 17.3 per cent, mainly due to the low base effect of March 2020 following a nationwide lockdown and the better performance of LI components. Taken together, the LI performance and the current state of Covid-19 outbreak, it seems that the near term economic prospect is encouraging but prevailing challenges persist. The utmost commitment in easing the current pandemic situation is vital so as to regain the economic momentum in the upcoming months. Malaysia’s economic situation, gross domestic product (GDP) declined marginally by 0.5 per cent in Q1 21, continuing its recovery from a contraction of 3.4 per cent in the preceding quarter. The improvement was supported by the expansion in the manufacturing sector, the rebound of the agriculture sector and the better performance recorded by all economic sectors compared to the last two quarters. Malaysia’s economy in this quarter gradually recovered as more economic activities were allowed to operate following MCO 2.0, less stringent than the MCO 1.0 imposed in March 2020. Various stimulus packages introduced also steered the economic recovery and cushioned the potential economic losses of this country. Adding to this, the encouraging economic environment during Q1 2021 was largely driven by the better performance of key economic indicators in March 2021. Malaysia’s current account balance continued to record a surplus registering RM12.3 billion in the Q1 2021 compared to RM18.6 billion in the previous quarter, contributed by the positive momentum of the net exports of goods. Whereas foreign direct investment recorded a higher inflow of RM9.1 billion against RM6.8 billion in the preceding quarter owing to higher inflow in equity and reinvestment of earnings and lower inflow in debt instruments. Concurrently, direct investment abroad by Malaysian companies has also increased, gaining from the reopening of the global economy, posting RM7.8 billion in Q1 2021 from RM5.2 billion in the preceding quarter due to the high investment in equity abroad and retained earnings in this quarter. Meanwhile, Malaysia’s trade continued to rise, with total trade recording a double-digit increase of 14.8 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y). In line with this, Malaysia’s trade balance remained surplus at RM58.6 billion. In terms of the labour market, amid targeted measures to manage the Covid- 19 pandemic in the country, uneven recovery momentum in the labour market was observed as the number of employed persons decreased slightly y-o-y by 0.04 per cent to 15.24 million persons while the unemployment rate remained high above four per cent registering 4.8 per cent in the Q1 2021. From the view point of labour demand, the number of jobs in the economic sector decreased marginally as filled jobs declined while vacancies posted a small increase. Overall, the labour market remains in a challenging situation as it has not returned to the way it was during pre-Covid times.

Malaysia to see 6% to 7.5% GDP growth in 2021 if Covid-19 can be stabilised — Mustapa

According to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, Malaysia can achieve its 2021 gross domestic product (GDP) growth target of between 6% and 7.5% if the Covid-19 health crisis can be stabilised after the eventual lifting of the Movement Control Order (MCO 3.0). The availability of vaccines and a comprehensive vaccination rollout for Malaysians would have a positive impact on the country’s economy. If assuming that the percentage of Malaysians vaccinated goes according to schedule or can be accelerated, while the Covid-19 situation can be placed under control, then we will be able to see a positive decline in infections. And this will definitely have a positive impact on the position of the Malaysian economy. The Leading Index (IP) surged 17.3% in March 2021, much higher than an increase of 8.2% in January and 8.6% in February. The good performance was in line with the country’s GDP growth of 6% in March 2021. This growth momentum would be affected if the government decided to implement full-scale movement restrictions from May 25 to June 7, 2021. Full-pledged movement restrictions will cause the unemployment rate to rise sharply, the number of poor households will increase, the performance of small and large companies will be affected, and the fiscal position will be in a more challenging condition. During an engagement with industry representatives, micro, small and medium enterprises, and hawker associations on May 22 and 23, 2021, most of them agreed with the government’s decision to implement MCO 3.0.

Eye On The Markets This week

On Thursday (27May), the Ringgit was 4.1390 against the USD from 4.1425 on Monday (24May). Meanwhile, the Ringgit was 3.1257 to the Sing Dollar on Thursday (27May). On Monday (24May), the FBM KLCI opened at 1563.78. As at Friday (28May) 10:00am, the FBM KLCI is up 19.66 points for the week at 1583.44. Over in US, the overnight Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 141.59 points (+0.41%) to 34,464.64 whilst the NASD

Banks maintain strong capitalisation levels

INVE$T #60 | MARKET SENTIMENTS – 04 June 2021

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According to Bank Negara in its Monthly Highlights – April 2021 report, all banks remained well-capitalised to withstand potential shocks and to continue supporting credit flows to the economy. Banks’ excess capital buffers amounted to RM124.2bil as at April 2021. The banking system’s asset quality also remained sound. Overall gross and net impaired loans ratios were sustained at 1.6% and 1.0%, as impairments moderated slightly during the month. However, banks continued to set aside additional provisions against potential credit losses, which currently stand at 1.7% of total banking system loans. Net financing expanded by 4.9% in April, reflecting the increase in outstanding corporate bond growth which stood at 7.7% versus 5.9% in March, while outstanding loan growth was sustained at 3.9% for both March and April. Outstanding household loan growth increased to 6.2% (March: 5.7%) as loan disbursements grew at a higher pace compared to loan repayments across most purposes. Businesses’ outstanding loan growth moderated to 0.4% (March: 1.1%), mainly reflecting lower growth in loans for working capital purpose. Domestic financial market conditions improved in April amid a confluence of external and domestic factors. Domestic bond yields moderated amid positive investor sentiments driven by Malaysia’s retention in the FTSE Russell World Government Bond Index and the decline in longer-term sovereign bond yields in most advanced economies after the sharp increase earlier in the year. Specifically, the 10-year Malaysian Government Securities yield declined by 12.2 basis points during the month. The ringgit appreciated by 1.3% against the US dollar supported by portfolio inflows to the domestic bond market and broad weakening in the US dollar. The FBM KLCI increased by 1.8%, supported mainly by the healthcare sector amid concerns surrounding the global and domestic resurgence of Covid-19 cases. Malaysia’s headline inflation rose to 4.7% in April versus 1.7% in March due to higher domestic fuel prices. Headline inflation is expected to temporarily spike in the second quarter, and moderate thereafter as the base effect subsides. Underlying inflation, as measured by core inflation, remained stable at 0.7%. Exports expanded further by 31.0% in March versus 17.6% in February, driven primarily by robust manufactured exports.

Banks to continue providing assistance – affected borrowers should contact their lenders

According to the Association of Banks in Malaysia (ABM), member banks will continue to offer financial assistance to borrowers affected by the latest movement control order (MCO) amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Any individual customers who have lost employment are eligible for financial assistance under the Targeted Repayment Assistance (TRA) programme. Customers who have lost their employment are eligible for loan deferment (moratorium) for a period of three months or 50% reduction in the monthly instalment payment for a period of six months. Currently, member banks of ABM offer financial assistance under the TRA programme, which has been in place since Oct 1, 2020. Meanwhile, customers who have experienced a reduction in income including household income are also eligible for a commensurate reduction in monthly instalments. B40 borrowers who are registered under Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) or Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat (BPR) are eligible to opt for this specific repayment assistance. Micro-enterprises with loan facilities of not more than RM150,000 can also opt for this repayment assistance. Moreover, micro-enterprises can also request for assistance through Agensi Kaunseling dan Pengurusan Kredit’s (AKPK) dedicated micro business helpdesk at www.akpk.org.my/ microhelpdesk. The virtual helpdesk provides free financial advice and facilitates applications for repayment assistance. Moving forward, the TRA programme has been expanded to include all small and medium enterprise (SME) businesses that are not permitted to operate during the latest MCO. All affected borrowers including individuals, micro-enterprises and SMEs who wish to avail of this latest TRA only need to contact their respective banks to indicate which option they want to choose. The banks will automatically approve all selections by borrowers that fulfil the relevant criteria. Also member banks have made it convenient for borrowers to opt for financial assistance by simplifying the process for the TRA programme. In view of the movement restrictions, affected borrowers can also opt for the financial assistance package at bank branches, online or over the phone. Customers should check their respective banks’ websites for information on any changes in operating hours and over-thecounter services. Meanwhile, according to Bank Negara, borrowers’ central credit reference information system (CCRIS) records would not be affected by the TRA programme received this year. Hence, borrowers need not worry about the impact on their future credit profile. All affected borrowers, including SMEs, are urged to come forward and contact their banks via the banks’ official channels to discuss the best options available. As a reminder, borrowers are to be wary of scammers and apply for financial assistance through official bank channels. It also cautioned borrowers not to deal with any third parties claiming to be agents or representatives of banks with regards to repayment assistance. Member banks do not appoint or engage third parties or agents for purposes of the repayment assistance. Under the TRA programme, banks have received 1.6 million applications, of which 95% have been approved up till March 26, 2021.

Eye On The Markets This week

On Thursday (3Jun), the Ringgit was 4.1225 against the USD from 4.1290 on Monday (31May). Meanwhile, the Ringgit was 3.1127 to the Sing Dollar on Thursday (3Jun). On Monday (31May), the FBM KLCI opened at 1571.04. As at Friday (4Jun) 10:00am, the FBM KLCI is up 7.15 points for the week at 1578.19. Over in US, the overnight Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 23.34 points (-0.07%) to 34,577.04 whilst the NASDAQ shed 141.82 points (-1.03%) to 13,614.51.

Govt channelling RM5.08b to micro SMEs under GKP, payment of RM1.5b starts on June 10

Market Sentiments | INVE$T #61

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According to Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz, a total of RM5.08 billion has been allocated and will be channelled to nearly one million micro small and medium enterprises (micro SMEs) under the Geran Khas Prihatin (GKP) to tide over their difficulties since Covid-19 hit the country. The government hopes the direct assistance channelled to the micro SMEs will ease their burden, especially those affected by the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) 3.0. Under PEMERKASA, announced on March 17, 2021, the government decided to provide GKP 3.0 of RM1,000 to more than one million micro traders to ensure the continuity of their business, especially in managing their cash flow. The government gave a similar commitment under PEMERKASA Plus, which was unveiled on May 31, 2021, where an additional amount of RM500 would be disbursed, increasing the total payment to RM1,500 for each micro SME to help them navigate through MCO 3.0. This means the total payment of GKP 3.0 is RM1.5 billion. He was pleased to inform that nearly one million micro SMEs involving existing recipients of MCO 1.0 and MCO 2.0, as well as micro SMEs that have been approved under MCO 3.0, will receive a payment of RM1,000 from June 10 (Thursday) in stages involving financial implications of almost RM1.0 billion. The payment will be credited directly to the bank account registered in the GKP system and the approval status can be checked from June 8, 2021 at the following link https://gkp.hasil. gov.my. An additional payment of RM500, involving an allocation of almost RM500 million, will be paid in July 2021 bringing the total amount under GKP 3.0 to RM1.5 billion.

Bursa Malaysia warns of investment scams impersonating legitimate institutions

According to Bursa Malaysia Bhd, investors are advised to be on high alert to protect themselves and others from becoming victims of investment fraud. It has recently observed an increase in the number of scams involving the misuse of the Bursa Malaysia name and corporate logo. In times of uncertainty, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, scammers try to lure victims into participating in dubious investment schemes and activities. They often use unlicensed or unregistered companies, websites and promotional material that mimic legitimate financial institutions to deceive the investing public. Investment scams typically carry the Bursa Malaysia name and logo on marketing-related materials and social media postings, offering high investment returns with a guarantee of little or no risk. Investors are directed to ‘spoof’ websites and phone numbers set up by scammers, these fake websites look nearly identical to the actual sites of legitimate financial institutions. Calls to the phone numbers provided reach the scammer who pretends to be an employee who will then direct investors to transfer funds to an account with a different name. Hence, it reminded the public to invest only with licensed parties. An updated investor alert list of unauthorised websites, investment products, companies and individuals, is available at Bursa Academy at https://www. bursaacademy.bursamarketplace.com/ en/sc- investor-alert. Additionally, investors should verify the information and not rely on unsolicited marketing materials. Investors should also compare and confirm websites or social media pages. Fake websites or social media pages will often have odd-looking (or low resolution) logos that do not match the legitimate company’s logo. Investors should also avoid unusual payment methods and seek independent, professional advice. Be suspicious of unsolicited investment offers made online, on social media or over the phone. Bursa Malaysia said it does not engage third-party agents to represent it. If you receive unsolicited and or suspicious communications relating to or claiming to be agents of Bursa Malaysia, we recommend contacting us directly at 03-2732 0067 or via e-mail at bursa2u@ bursamalaysia.com to authenticate the content of any such communication.

Eye On The Markets This week

On Thursday (10Jun), the Ringgit was 4.1185 against the USD from 4.1200 on Tuesday (8Jun). Meanwhile, the Ringgit was 3.1082 to the Sing Dollar on Thursday (10Jun). On Tuesday (8Jun), the FBM KLCI opened at 1581.44. As at Friday (11Jun) 10:00am, the FBM KLCI is down 4.43 points for the week at 1577.01. Over in US, the overnight Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 19.10 points (+0.06%) to 34,466.24 whilst the NASDAQ added 108.58 points (+0.78%) to 14,020.33.

Brand Finance reveals Top 100 Malaysian Brands 2020 Ranking

Joint session between ministries to be held in preparing Budget 2021

According to Samir Dixit, managing director of Brand Finance Asia Pacific, the Malaysia 100 Brands  2020 ranking remains very top heavy this year and hopes to see a more diverse mix at the top and more significant brand value increases at the bottom. To do so, brands must start to focus on building both brand value and strength, rather than being sales and offers driven. These tactics will help in the short term but might destroy the long-term value and strength of brands. It is the brand strength for most Malaysian brands that remains a concern – these have remained stagnant this year. Brand has to be a strategic agenda for senior management and boards and must be treated like any other business asset and not just a legal trademark. See the complete ranking from pages 13 to 19.

Joint session between ministries to be held in preparing Budget 2021

According to Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Aziz, a joint session will be held between ministries to discuss proposals as well as the operational and development needs in relation to Budget 2021. The Finance Ministry is in the process of drafting Budget 2021, which will be tabled on Nov 6. Economic continuity would be given priority to ensure the momentum of economic recovery was maintained. The government calls on the people to work together in combating the COVID-19 pandemic by always practicing the new norms and physical distancing, maintaining hygiene and health, as well as be disciplined in complying with the standard operating procedures issued by the government. The government was constantly monitoring developments on the COVID-19 situation and was always ready to increase allocations, as and when needed. The government has allocated RM1.7 billion to combat the spread of COVID-19, channelled via 14 ministries and state governments. The government, through the Health Ministry, has also channelled an additional allocation of RM44 million to strengthen Sabah’s healthcare front-liners. Apart from that, the government, through the National Security Council, recently approved an additional allocation of RM50 million to the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA). These additional provisions are in line with the commitment to ensure preparedness in the face of increasing COVID-19 infections nationwide. Meanwhile, 11.36 million people had successfully received RM50 in their eWallets, amounting to RM567.9 million, under the RM50 eWallet credit programme that ended on Sept 30. The eWallet providers such as Boost, GrabPay and TouchnGo eWallet had also contributed benefits in the form of credit matching and various other incentives, amounting to RM433.8 million, in an effort to boost the Malaysian economy.

China remains Malaysia’s largest foreign investor in manufacturing sector

According to Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Lim Ban Hong, China remains Malaysia’s largest foreign investor in the manufacturing sector for four consecutive years since 2016, with 32 foreign direct investments (FDIs) amounting US$452.43million approved in the first six months of 2020. Malaysia approved 79 FDIs worth US$3.74 billion from China in 2019. In terms of total trade, the bilateral trade between Malaysia and China stood at US$80.06 billion from January to August 2020, while in 2019, the two-way trade hit US$123.96 billion. Despite the current Covid-19 pandemic, Malaysia and China continued to show sincere friendship to support each other and overcome difficulties together in these trying times. It is hoped that the corporate elites from both countries would continue to collaborate in sectors such as digital economy big data, innovative economy, as well as industrial innovation and modern agriculture.

DOSM expects Malaysian economic recovery to continue

According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin, the country’s economy is expected to continue its recovery trend based on the smoothed growth rate of leading index (LI), a predictive tool to anticipate upturns and downturns in the economy. The LI registered 108.5 points in August 2020 from 100.8 points in August 2019, maintaining an annual growth of 7.6 per cent. However the LI slipped to negative 0.5 per cent, dragged by the number of new companies registered (negative 0.6 per cent), real imports of semi- conductors (negative 0.4 per cent), and the number of housing units approved (negative 0.1 per cent). Despite the softening LI for the reference month, the growth rate of smoothed LI is consistently above trend and moving upwards. This implied that the Malaysian economy is expected to continue its recovery trend in the months ahead. Nevertheless the downside risk to growth remained amid the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. Meanwhile Coincident Index (CI), which measures the current economic performance, anticipated a better year-on-year growth to register negative 2.3 per cent in August 2020 from negative 2.4 per cent in July 2020. On a monthly basis, the CI rose to 0.5 per cent supported by the increase in volume index of retail trade (0.5 per cent) and real salaries and wages in manufacturing sector (0.1 per cent). The current situation was supported by the performance of volume index of wholesale and retail trade which depicted a sign of recovery to register 130 points with a growth of negative 2.4 per cent year-on-year. This was the smallest negative growth since March 2020. Besides that, in terms of labour force statistics, the number of employed persons improved 0.5 per cent to 15.2 million persons, contributed mainly in the services sectors.

On The Markets

This week, on Thursday (22Oct), the Ringgit eased to 4.1495 against the USD from 4.1470 on Monday (19Oct). Meanwhile, the Ringgit was 3.0593 to the Sing Dollar on Thursday (22Oct). On Monday (19Oct), the FBM KLCI was up 14.27 points (0.95%) to 1518.11 from previous Friday’s close of 1503.84. As at Friday (23Oct) 10:00am, the FBM KLCI continued sideways over the past month at 1500.06. US stocks were higher after the close on Thursday, even as lawmakers worked to strike a stimulus deal but buoyed by a surprise upside on the economic data front, reduced jobless claims and higher home sales. The DJIA rose 0.54% to 28,363.66 while the NASDAQ added 0.19% to 11,506.01.

FBM KLCI 3 Years Chart

Top 100 Malaysian Brands 2020 Ranking exclusively in Inve$t next week Oct 23 issue

Bursa first virtual listing – Samaiden Group

In an exclusive deal with Brand Finance, Inve$t will be featuring the Top 100 Malaysian Brands 2020 Ranking. Look out for it in our October 23 issue. For a better insight into the power of brands, join the IAA/Brand Finance free webinar. Refer to their advertisement on Page 5 and use the interactive links to register.   

Bursa’s first virtual listing – Samaiden Group

According chief executive officer Datuk Muhamad Umar Swift, Bursa Malaysia welcomed Samaiden Group Berhad as its newest “member” on the ACE Market via a virtual listing ceremony. This first virtual listing is a new offering by the exchange arising from the reinstatement of the conditional movement control order (CMCO) in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya. In line with the CMCO requirements, the exchange introduced this virtual listing service, enabling flexibility for new issuers during CMCO. Samaiden Group is one of Malaysia’s leading consultants of renewable energy and environmental service provider. Historically, listing ceremonies on the local bourse marked a significant milestone in a company’s life cycle. The event would usually attract many invited guests of the company who come together to celebrate the event with the company’s owners and promoters. Notwithstanding the CMCO, the exchange is happy to maintain this long standing tradition. It will continue to leverage on technology to adapt traditions to the continuously changing environment while always prioritising the health and safety of our stakeholders.

BNM sees spike in property market risks as MCO takes toll

According to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the risks in the real estate sector have risen due to both prevailing oversupply and a re-evaluation of business property needs due to the various movement control orders. In its Financial Stability Review for 1H 2020 Report that was prepared prior to the latest CMCO that has been imposed on the entire Klang Valley, the most apparent loser of the movement curbs was the retail space sector with consumers either shying away due to restrictions or perceived risks amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Overall, property transactions fell by over 25 per cent by volume in the first half and by nearly 27 per cent in terms of value. Amid pre-existing oversupply conditions and changes to consumption behaviour since the pandemic, rental rates in the retail commercial property market are likely to remain depressed in the period ahead. The estimated timeline for a recovery could be as long as 12 months, according to industry experts cited in the report. Another loser was the office space sector citing the shift towards telecommuting and home-working arrangements that were forced by the initial MCO and which were kept up by some firms even after restrictions were relaxed. The report suggested that some firms may make such arrangements permanent or at least incorporate more of these into their operations in the immediate term. Such a trend would further depress both office occupancy and rental rates. Both the retail and office space sectors already had significant overhang prior to the MCO first imposed in March. More worryingly from the report was the conclusion that the property market risk could also extend to the residential market. The pandemic may increase risks of a broader decline in house prices due to a deterioration in income and weaker demand conditions. This in turn would increase risks to financial stability given that loans for the purchase of residential properties account for the bulk of banks’ total property-related exposures. For the residential sector, however, it cited previous findings that four in five mortgages were for owner-occupied homes, which reduced the risk of default. It also said mortgages were also typically held by “higher-income” borrowers with monthly incomes of above RM5,000 who were financially more resilient. Repeated cuts to the overnight policy rate should also support demand for residential property.

Total value of loan repayments reached 70% of pre-moratorium levels

According to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) deputy governor Jessica Chew, data showed that the total value of loan repayments had reached 70% of what it was prior to the blanket loan moratorium period. Many borrowers are starting to repay their loans. The data revealed that two million borrowers had been engaged by banks by the end of September, out of which 514,000 were R&R (rescheduling and restructuring) applications received with a 98% approval rate. For businesses, banks approved 6.3 times applications compared to total outstanding R&R loans at the end of 2019. Just this month, Malaysia transitioned into a targeted moratorium after the blanket automatic loan moratorium period ended on Sept 30, 2020. According to BNM’s latest Financial Stability Review Report for 1H 2020, at the start of the blanket moratorium period, more than 95% of individuals and small and medium enterprise (SME) borrowers took up automatic repayment deferment. Up to Sept 25, 2020, a total of 840,000 individuals and SME borrowers had opted out or already started to resume repayments in line with improved economic conditions. This number is expected to increase further following the end of automatic repayment deferment. With the automatic moratorium in place, aggregate impairment and delinquency ratios remained low at 1% and 0.9% of total outstanding household debt respectively (2019: 1.2% and 1.1%). Household asset quality is expected to see some deterioration in 2H2020 and throughout 2021 with the automatic moratorium ended, but banks are well positioned to absorb higher credit losses. At its peak, close to 90% of household borrowers with about 87% of outstanding household loans in the banking system were under the moratorium as most borrowers elected to defer their loan repayments to secure greater flexibility in managing their cash flows during a highly uncertain period. Many of these borrowers would have been able to continue servicing their debt if chosen to. Based on the enhanced financial margin framework, it estimated that household borrowers who may experience difficulties (such as those with negative financial margins) in servicing their debt as a result of income and unemployment shocks are unlikely to account for more than 15% of total borrowers. Among these borrowers, about 1% of total borrowers with 3% of outstanding household debt are expected to default after accounting for financial buffers held and targeted repayment assistance extended to borrowers in need. It also noted that about 40% of potential defaults arise from housing debt with an average loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 70%, thus limiting financial exposure of affected borrowers and losses for the banking system. It noted that household loan impairments are projected to double — albeit from historically low levels. Higher household impairments are expected to emerge in 2H21 given the extended repayment assistance programmes that will remain in place through the first quarter of 2021 (1Q21) for individuals who have experienced a loss in income.

This week, on Thursday (15Oct), the Ringgit eased to 4.1480 against the USD from 4.1385 on Monday (12Oct). Meanwhile, the Ringgit was 3.0553to the Sing Dollar on Thursday (15Oct). On Monday (12Oct), the FBM KLCI was down 11.92 points (0.78%) to 1518.43 from previous Friday’s close of 1530.35. As at Friday (16Oct) 10:00am, the FBM KLCI was sideways for the week at 1518.33. US stocks were lower after the close on Thursday as fears of a resurgence in Covid-19 cases and a lack of additional fiscal stimulus led investors to safer havens like the USD. At the close in NYSE, the Dow shed 19.80 points (-0.07%) to 28,494.20 while the NASDAQ declined 54.86 points(- 0.47%) to 11,713.87.

FBM KLCI 3 Years Chart

Bursa aims to educate investors on fraud & scams

2020 GDP projection kept at -5.5% to -3.5% despite Covid-19 resurgence

According to Bursa Malaysia Bhd’s chief executive officer Datuk Muhamad Umar Swift, its education programmes are aimed to increase investor awareness of financial frauds and scams, which are on the rise, as financial products become more complex. An educated investor is less likely to fall prey to financial frauds. He sounded the exchange’s ceremonial gong in front of the session’s virtual audience to mark the ‘Ring the Bell for Financial Literacy’ ceremony held on Wednesday in conjunction with World Investor Week 2020. It is a global initiative by the World Federation of Exchanges to promote financial literacy and boost financial inclusion. This year, nearly 40 exchanges have come together in support of this cause. He added that Bursa Malaysia has a strong commitment towards advocating financial literacy in its marketplace and the wider community. It is an important agenda, not just for encouraging retail participation but also to enhance investor protection through education. Bursa Malaysia, over the last 12 months, had accelerated the use of digital technology to effectively reach large segments of the population and promote financial inclusion. In June, the exchange had launched Bursa Academy, a comprehensive one-stop e-learning platform targeted at retail investors across the securities, derivatives and Islamic capital markets. Since its launch, Bursa Academy has continued to grow in traction, registering close to 93,000 users with more than 217,000 pageviews as at end-September 2020. Through its digital learning webinars conducted at the onset of the pandemic, the exchange has reached out to 51,943 investors.

2020 GDP projection kept at -5.5% to -3.5% despite Covid-19 resurgence

According to Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, there is no further deceleration of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) projection despite the sudden rise in Covid-19 infections and the 2020 growth projection remains between -5.5% and -3.5%. The second wave is very much concentrated and more than 60% is confined. We did not implement a movement control order (MCO) so all business activities are allowed to go on. However for this year, Malaysia, along with 150 other countries, is undergoing a recession. But come 2021 the economy would pick up and Malaysia’s GDP growth is expected to be around 5.5% to 8%, a projection that is in line with the stronger GDP forecast by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). The government had announced various stimulus packages which would end this year but will continue to look at various avenues to save the people’s livelihood and focus on the recovery momentum in the upcoming Budget 2021.

More small- and mid-cap companies aim to have 30% of board comprising women directors

According to the Securities Commission of Malaysia (SC), gender diversity on boards of listed companies showed slight improvement at 24.82% of the top 100 listed companies as at Aug 31, 2020, up from 23.68% in 2018. Across all listed companies, the ratio stood at 16.96% as at Aug 31 compared with 15.69% in 2018. There are five companies with all-male boards on the top 100 listed companies, namely Comfort Glove Bhd, Focus Dynamics Group Bhd, Frontken Corp Bhd, Guan Chong Bhd and Pentamaster Corp Bhd. Overall, the number of companies with all-male boards stood at 248. The data shows that there’s progress in relation to gender diversity on the boards. However, it appears unlikely to achieve the 30% target [for the top 100 PLCs] by Dec 31, 2020. While the SC, together with other relevant stakeholders will continue to drive greater gender diversity on boards, other measures and interventions are also being considered to accelerate progress. It is worth noting that the number of large companies that had adopted the target of having 30% or more women directors in 2019 remained at 42, the same as in 2018. Among mid-cap companies, however, the number of adopters increased to 28 in 2019 (25 in 2018) and among small-cap companies, the number of adopters rose to 342 in 2019 (302 in 2018) according to data in the CG Monitor 2020. Overall, a total of 412 companies adopted the target in 2019, up from 369 in 2018. There are 682 public-listed companies with at least one woman director on the board, up from 634 in 2018. A total of 165 listed companies here have complied with the target of having 30% women directors, up from 145 in 2018. In 2019, women accounted for 21% of new board appointments. The trend of appointing younger women directors continued, with 41% of women directors below 50 years old and 11% below 40 years old. More listed companies adopted best practices as outlined in the Malaysian Code on Corporate Governance (MCCG) in 2019, compared to the year before. Areas which show an increase in adoption include the two-tier voting process and board practices to determine the remuneration of directors and senior management. The CG Monitor 2020, which is available on the SC’s website, also presents observations on three thematic reviews on the adoption of two-tier resolutions, board remuneration of listed companies on the FTSE Bursa Malaysia Top 100 Index and the conduct of fully virtual general meetings by listed companies since the Movement Control Order.

OPEC, in major shift, says oil demand to plateau in late 2030s

According to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the world oil demand will plateau in the late 2030s and could by then have begun to decline in a major shift for the producer group that reflects the lasting impact of the coronavirus crisis on the economy and consumer habits. The prediction, made in its 2020 World Oil Outlook, comes amid a growing number of other forecasts that the pandemic may prove the tipping point for peak oil demand. Oil use will rise to 107.2 million barrels per day (bpd) in 2030 from 90.7 million bpd in 2020, a 1.1 million bpd below its 2030 forecast last year and over 10 million bpd below its 2007 prediction of 2030 demand. Global oil demand will grow at relatively healthy rates during the first part of the forecast period before demand plateaus during the second half. Future demand will likely remain persistently below past projections due to the lingering effects of the COVID-19-related shutdowns and their impact on the global economy and consumer behaviour. While oil use to fuel cars, trucks and industry will rebound as economies recover, it voiced concern that future growth may be partly offset by factors like a post-pandemic shift to homeworking and teleconferencing over commuting, as well as efficiency improvements and a shift to electric cars. Even before the pandemic, rising climate activism in the West and widening use of alternative fuels were putting the strength of long-term oil demand under more scrutiny. This year will also see potential for demand to begin to decline after 2030 given developments like faster adoption of electric cars, more fuel efficiency and a larger reduction in business and leisure travel after the pandemic. This year OPEC, with Russia and other allies, a grouping known as OPEC+, agreed record output cuts of 9.7 million bpd, the equivalent of 10% of global supply.

This week, on Thursday (08Oct), the Ringgit gained to 4.1555 against the USD from 4.1595 on Monday (05Oct). Meanwhile, the Ringgit was 3.0573 to the Sing Dollar on Thursday (08Oct). On Monday (05Oct), the FBM KLCI was up 12.13 points (0.81%) to 1512.43 from previous Friday’s close of 1500.30. As at Friday (09Oct) 10:00am, the FBM KLCI continued marginally upwards for the week gaining only 4.2 points to 1516.63 dragged by a surge in Covid-19 infections, continued political uncertainty and lacklustre regional markets. Meanwhile US stocks were higher after the close on Thursday despite uncertainty over proposed stimulus aid as investors’ focus on value stocks saw gains in the Financial Services, Industrials and Energy sectors. At the close, the Dow added 122.05 points (+0.43%) to 28,425.51 and the NASDAQ climbed 56.38 points (+0.50%) to 11,420.98.

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PM announces RM35 billion Penjana to generate short-term recovery

Sub-Title: 
“Malaysia’s economy is expected to recover with a return of growth in 2021…The World Bank” 

By Stella Goh – As published in Inve$t Malaysia 12 June 2020 issue

Last Friday (5Jun), Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin unveiled a RM35 billion stimulus package which will cover 40 initiatives to help stimulate the economy recovery from the impact of Covid-19. The short-term Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) package called “Pelan Jana Semula Ekonomi Negara” or “Penjana” was launched with three major goals to empower the people, propel businesses and to stimulate the economy. 

The automotive, plantation and property sectors are some of the beneficiaries from the Economy Recovery Plans (Penjana). The PM announced that for the automobile sector there is a 100% sales tax exemption on locally assembled Completely Knocked Down (CKD) models while a 50% exemption on fully imported Completely Built-Up (CBU) models starting from June15 until Dec31. This move is expected to help overcome the lost sales and production during MCO.

In order to tackle the problem of unemployment, Prime Minister stated that the government will allocate RM9 billion to ensure job sustainability during the national recovery period post Covid-19. The allocation will be channelled through various initiatives which will benefit three million workers in the country. The initiatives will be set at RM600 per worker for up to 200 workers per company.

In addition the government will allocate RM50 million in matching grants for companies in the gig economy to make SOSCO and EPF contributions for their workers. There will be a special committee chaired by the ministers of Finance and Human Resources with members comprising leaders from the public as well as private sector to monitor initiatives related to the workers. In line with the government’s call to encourage SMEs to implement work-form-home practices, insurance coverage and tax incentives will be provided.

As businesses had been struggling with cashflow issues and reduced demand, the government assured that there would be help for all businesses regardless of size through various initiatives such as Shop Malaysia Online to encourage online shopping through the provision of promotion codes among others. There will be a RM700 million allocation to help SMEs digitalise their operations. Tax incentives would be extended for companies purchasing equipment such as Property, Plant and Equipment as well as thermal scanners. The government also will provide income tax rebates of up to RM20,000 for three years of assessment for SMEs set up between July1 and Dec31 in this year.

Furthermore, there will be a reintroduction of the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) which will see various incentives such as stamp duty exemptions for the purchase of homes costing between RM300,000 and RM2.5 million from June1, 2020 to May31, 2021 subject to a developer’s discount of at least 10%. The ERP will also encourage foreign direct investments (FDI) where companies both foreign and local, which make capital investment of between RM300 million and RM500 million will be able to enjoy zero investment tax for 10 years. While for capital investment above RM500 million, companies will be given 15 years of tax holidays. For Malaysian companies which relocate their overseas facilities back to home, will be entitled to a 100% Investment tax allowance for five years, which the tax holidays are subject to location transfer.

On 7 June, PM also has announced that the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) will be replaced by the Recovery MCO (RMCO) with more relaxed conditions from June10 to Aug31 which will allow interstate travel, meetings and workshops and this augurs well for the tourism industry and marks the beginning of the recovery of domestic tourism. 

According to The World Bank’s representative Firas Raad, Malaysia’s economy is expected to recover from the end of this year with a return to growth in 2021. With the pro-growth policies coupled with incentives, it would help to push the private sector which is the engine for growth from the current economic downturn. Firas Raad also added that Malaysia should continue its efforts on the reform agenda such as governance, regulatory environment and competition in economic sectors as well as education reformation in its bid to achieve a high-income nation status. The World Bank is also in the midst of reviewing the economic impact of Covid-19 before deciding whether to revise the country’s 2020 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth target this month. Business activities in Malaysia are resuming as the country gradually eases itself from the Covid-19 MCO measures.  

This week, on Thursday (11Jun), the Ringgit was 4.2495 against USD from 4.2753 on Tuesday (9Jun). Meanwhile, the Ringgit was 3.0493 to the Sing Dollar on Thursday (11Jun).  

On Monday (8Jun), the FBM KLCI gained 18.83 points or 1.21% to 1575.16 from previous Friday’s close of 1556.33. But as at Friday (12Jun) 10:00am, the FBM KLCI was at 1529.79 seeming to have followed the global markets which have all taken a breather from the bullish ride over the past 2 months.

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PM to announce short-term Economy Recovery Plan today at 3pm

Sub-Title:
Bursa Malaysia sees continued surge in Trading Volume and Value

By Stella Goh – As published in Inve$t Malaysia 5 June 2020 issue

According to Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz, in line with the reopening of the economy which saw nearly 70% of the workforce returning to work in various sectors, Malaysia has the capacity that is set to spur an economy recovery in 2021. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had forecast a 3% contraction in the global economy for this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva also stated that the global contraction might be even worse than the 3% forecast it made last month. 

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is set to announce later today a slew of initiatives to kick start the economy. The short-term Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) will be focusing on three main goals ie (i) empowering the people (ii) propelling businesses and (iii) stimulating the economy.  

Last Friday (29May), the local stock exchange’s daily traded value hit a record high of RM9.03 billion which surpassed its previous highest of RM9 billion in May 2018 with a turnover of 9.308 billion of shares. On Monday (1Jun), the FBM KLCI has gapped up 16.89 points or 1.15% to 1490.14 from previous Friday’s close of 1473.25, while the trading volume across Bursa Malaysia topped 10 billion securities for the second time in less than a month driven mainly by the rubber glove manufacturers. 

On Tuesday (2June), both Maybank Investment Bank and RHB Bank Investment Bank Berhad tightened their share margin valuation on glove related counters following the recent rush for glove makers’ stocks which sent the stock prices to new heights. The margin financing caps will be imposed on the shares of Hartalega Holdings Berhad, Top Glove Corporation Berhad, Kossan Rubber Industries Berhad, Supermax Corporation Berhad, Rubberex Corporation Berhad and Comfort Gloves Berhad at a lower valuation compared to their current share prices. Share prices of those stocks took a temporary breather upon the announcement but appear to have recovered since. 

On Wednesday (3June), the oil and gas (O&G) stocks dominated the list of most active stocks on Bursa Malaysia after oil prices reached a three-month high. It is expected that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia may extend the production cuts of 9.7 million barrels per day (bpd), equivalent to 10% of global output in July or August. The cuts are currently due to run through May and June, scaling back to a reduction of 7.7 million bpd from July to December but Saudi Arabia has been pushing to keep the deeper cuts in place for longer.  

According to MIDF Research, Malaysia saw the third least foreign selling of RM13.3 billion for year to date (YTD) among seven Asian countries as foreign selling of Malaysian equities narrowed to RM663.8 million last week from RM714.7 million sold in the week before.  

According to the Statistics Department, Malaysia’s exports declined faster than imports to RM64.9 billion, lower by 23.8% resulting in a trade deficit of RM3.5 billion.  

This week, on Thursday (4Jun), the Ringgit strengthened to 4.2738 against USD from 4.3145 on Monday (1Jun). Meanwhile, the Ringgit was 3.0570 to the Sing Dollar on Thursday (4Jun). As at Friday (5Jun) 10:00am, the FBM KLCI was at 1550.65 

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More businesses to reopen next week towards full productivity in coming weeks …Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed

Sub-Title:
“Foreign selling of Malaysian equities slowed down to RM714.7 million last week … MIDF Research”

By Stella Goh – As published in Inve$t Malaysia 29 May 2020 issue

Last Friday (22May), the FBM KLCI shed 15.35 points or 1.06% at 1436.76 as news of China’s plan to impose a new national security law on Hong Kong to tighten its grip on the riots & demonstrations ravaged island state. The news battered global equity markets and crude oil markets. The FBM KLCI resumed trade on Wednesday (27May) after the two days Hari Raya holiday on a strong note to gain 14.97 points or 1.04% to 1451.73 from the previous Friday’s close of 1436.76 led by a rally of index-linked glove manufacturers.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed says the government is anticipating more businesses to reopen next week after the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations and resume their full productivity level in coming weeks which is to ensure that jobs are kept intact and businesses can run as usual to stabilise the economy. The government is dealing with the challenges and is focusing on problem solving through their regular interaction with various stakeholders, while ensuring that the foreign direct investment (FDI) and domestic investments continue to grow, as well as to boost consumer’s confidence. The long-term plan for the country will be expected to be announced in the next three to four months as government agencies are currently working on implementing measures to address challenges faced by various economic sectors. 

According to MIDF Research’s Adam M Rahim, the foreign selling of Malaysian equities on Bursa Malaysia slowed down to RM714.7 million last week, from RM843.2 million in the preceding week. In comparison to its other six Asian peers, Malaysia remains as the nation with the third smallest foreign net outflow on a year-to-date basis after Indonesia and Philippines. The foreign investors have so far taken out RM12.6 billion net of local equities from Malaysia. The foreign net selling surged to RM320.2 million, the highest during the week as investors anticipated an escalation of US-China tension after Beijing effectively proposed that China security laws be applied inside Hong Kong. MIDF also stated that the risk-off sentiment has prevailed as the US Senate passed a bill that could bar Chinese companies from listing on American exchanges.

According to Fitch Ratings, Malaysian Islamic fund’s asset under management (AUM) has decreased by around 15% due to the Covid-19 pandemic but it is expected to experience incremental growth in the longer term boosted by tax and policy initiatives. The rating agency also stated that Malaysia’s Islamic fund mix is more balanced and therefore aggregate fund AUM are less sensitive to future declines in the Islamic Fund AUM and in the event of a sustained market recovery leading to outflows from the money market funds (MMFs).

On Thursday (28May), the oil prices fell in early trade after the U.S. crude, gasoline and heating oil inventories all rose more than expected, dousing hopes of a smooth recovery in demand from the coronavirus lockdowns. The decline extended loses from Wednesday (27May) on uncertainty about Russia’s commitment to deeper oil production cuts in the lead-up to a June 9 meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies. According to Bursa Derivatives Berhad (BMD), the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Futures (FKLI) contract registered an all-time high on May 27 in a daily trading volume of 65,000 contracts. Chairman Datuk Muhamad Umar Swift said the new FKLI contract   all-time high recorded surpassed the previous record of 61,429 contracts registered on Oct 29, 2019. He added “As we continue to build upon the strong momentum achieved last quarter, I am encouraged to see growing interest of foreign institutions which accounted for 80% of total trading volume. This is an indication of consistent growth in confidence in BMD’s products by local and international market participants to manage their price risk exposure amid the global uncertainties”.

This week, on Thursday (28May) the Ringgit was 4.3516 against USD from 4.3542 on Wednesday (27May). Meanwhile, the Ringgit was 3.0693 to the Sing Dollar on Thursday (28May). As at Friday (29May) 10:00am, the FBM KLCI was up at 1454.21

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