Malaysia economic outlook looking better on firmer ties with China, says Manulife


KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 1): The economic outlook in Malaysia is looking to be better as the strengthening relationship with China is expected to pave way for rising investment flows from China to Malaysia, according to Manulife Asset Management Services Bhd.

In its mid-year market outlook report today, Manulife Asset Management Services head of total solutions and equities investments Tock Chin Hui said the revival of major infrastructure projects is expected to pump-prime the economy for the second half of the year.

“Malaysia corporates and consumers are expected to spend more due to the progressive disbursements of tax refunds and the resumption of infrastructure projects, which will eventually drive domestic consumption, and investor sentiment is expected to improve as the government continues to embark on structural changes to overhaul the economy and future-proof it.

“Looking ahead, Malaysian equities offer attractive dividend yield and significant defensiveness amid uncertainty caused by trade tension. The Malaysian market is expected to show resilience and could outperform regional peers given its defensive trait and year-to-date laggard performance,” said Tock.

Commenting on the region, Manulife said Asian assets could offer opportunities given their resilience to market volatility in the first half of 2019.

It said Asian equities have held up strongly despite the negative impact of escalating Sino-US trade tensions, and the US Federal Reserve’s increasingly dovish stance has allowed Asian bonds to remain in a good position.

Manulife Investment Management chief economist and head of macroeconomic strategy Frances Donald said central banks have entered a global easing cycle in response to the deteriorating global growth activity and heightened uncertainty surrounding international trade policy.

“This uncertainty has created a confidence shock that is slowing global hiring and business investment along with global trade.

“We expect the Federal Reserve will cut rates at least twice in 2019 as insurance against deteriorating growth in the face of heightened uncertainty but also to stoke inflationary pressures which have been absent.

“Should trade tensions re-escalate in the second half of the year, we would expect the Federal Reserve to respond with more than two rate cuts,” said Donald.

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Recession fears hit Asian region including Singapore


Malaysia may, to a certain extent, be less vulnerable with the revival of major construction projects which in view of the country’s strained finances, have been shrunk to cut costs. The Singapore economy may undergo a “shallow, technical recession” in the third quarter.

TALK of recession has hit the region, and near home, Maybank Kim Eng Research is flagging that possibility for Singapore in the next quarter.

Export-reliant economies are hard hit by slowing growth and supply chain disruptions caused by the prolonged US-China trade and tech war.

There may be a ceasefire now in the fight between the US and China following talks between President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 Summit in Osaka last Saturday.

Existing US tariffs on Chinese imports still remain; additional tariffs on the remaining US$300 bil worth of Chinese imports, as threatened, will not be imposed for now

However, the new timeline for truce remains elusive; the suspicion is that of a “creeping” imposition of tariffs, as “each truce is followed by new tariffs and then, another truce.”

In December last year, Trump and Xi had struck a truce following which talks broke down in May this year, and tariffs on US$200bil of Chinese imports leaped from 10% to 25%.

Will there be light out of this tunnel, with harder issues involving tech and supremacy not tackled? Smaller economies with the fiscal and monetary space may be able to cushion their economies somewhat from the downdraft on growth.

Malaysia may, to a certain extent, be less vulnerable with the revival of major construction projects which in view of the country’s strained finances, have been shrunk to cut costs.

The Bandar Malaysia and East Coast Rail Link projects to be revived, are now downsized to RM144bil and RM44bil respectively.

Works for the Light Rail Transit (LRT) 3, from Bandar Utama in Petaling Jaya to Johan Setia in Klang, will resume in the second half of the year, at a reduced cost of RM16.63bil.

Talks are said to be ongoing to revive the Mass Rapid Transit Line (MRT) 3, or MRT Circle Line round the city centre, at possibly RM22.5bil which is half the original cost.

“The timing (of the revival of these projects) has been very good for Malaysia,’’ said Pong Teng Siew, the head of research at Inter-Pacific Securities. “These projects will go on for several years and positively impact the economy over that period.’’

Domestic spending and activities will provide ‘some comfort’ to the local economy but we should ensure that any further monetary easing actually goes into the real economy to support these activities, according to Anthony Dass, head of AmBank Research.

Malaysia’s private consumption was at a record 59.5% of its nominal (calculated at current market prices) Gross Domestic Product, which hit US$88.5 bil in March, 2019, according to CEIC Data.

Benefits from trade diversion from China, the current US tariff hotspot, are offset by downward pressure on global trade where volume was flat in the first quarter, the weakest since the financial crisis.

Global semiconductor sales also declined in February and March, the first back-to-back double digit contraction since the financial crisis.

In view of this decline, the volatile global trade environment and rising geopolitical tensions, open economies “should be prepared for the unexpected,’’ said Nor Zahidi Alias, the associate director of economic research of Malaysian Rating Corp.

The Singapore economy may undergo a “shallow, technical recession” in the third quarter, said Maybank Kim Eng, pointing to possible intensification of supply chain disruptions and US export controls on more Chinese tech firms.

Following the Trump-Xi talks, the US has reversed its equipment sales ban on Huawei but will that ease fears of other similar bans down the road? Defined as two consecutive quarters of negative quarter-on-quarter growth, a recession will prompt further easing of monetary policy in Singapore.

Manufacturing in Singapore, which accounts for a fifth of the economy, fell 2.4%, with electronics dropping 10.8% in May from a year ago; output is expected to decline again in June.

Hong Kong has also been issued warnings of recession, as its economy experienced the largest contraction since 2011, declining by 0.4% in the first quarter against the previous quarter.

Thailand’s economy grew at its slowest pace in four years, in the first quarter, hitting 2.8% from 3.6% in the same period last year; exports remain weak.

Taiwan’s economy avoided contraction in the first quarter but private consumption and gross capital formation slowed significantly while government consumption declined.

In the US, a mis-calibration in interest rate policy by the Federal Reserve can cause a sharper slowdown than expected or bring on a recession.“Monetary policy affects the economy with unpredictable lags, it could be hard for the Fed to time its policy (rate cut) that can prevent a downturn this and next year,’’ said Lee Heng Guie, the executive director of Socio Economic Research Center.

Columnist Yap Leng Kuen notes the reminder to ‘expect the unexpected.’

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US anti-China hawks may yet scupper trade deal

Even though there are signs of China-US trade frictions turning around, as the US political system will not fundamentally change in the short term, China must remain vigilant and prepare for a long-term trade war, in case the hawks gain the upper hand.

 

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Five challenges young Malaysians face with home ownership


For many young Malaysians, the road to owning a home is riddled with speed bumps. — Pexels

 

PETALING JAYA, Feb 26 — Most would agree that you truly reach adulthood the moment you own your own property.

Just like any other major milestone in life, getting there comes with its own set of challenges that many young Malaysians have to overcome before they can successfully purchase a home.

Here are five hurdles Malaysian millennials might encounter on the path towards home ownership:

1. Worrying about making the wrong choice, when is the ‘right’ time to buy?

 Purchasing a home can be a major decision that many Malaysian youths feel overwhelmed by. — Pexels pic

Purchasing a home can be a major decision that many Malaysian youths feel overwhelmed by. — Pexels pic

Making the decision to buy a piece of property is a huge step that young locals aren’t quite brave enough to take yet.

Social news website SAYS’ 2019 Malaysian Home Survey among 8,568 Malaysians reports that one in five respondents had “(worries) about making the wrong decision”, especially since home ownership requires a hefty financial investment.

2. Unsure about loan application and loan rejections.

Do you have enough saved up for a home in the future? — Pexels pic

Do you have enough saved up for a home in the future? — Pexels pic

A difficult loan approval process is a huge factor that dampens many Malaysians’ prospects of owning a home.

PropertyGuru’s Consumer Sentiment Survey in 2017 states that 33 per cent of Malaysians reported a tough approval process for bank loan applications which presents a major roadblock on the path to home ownership.

3. Starter salaries, not enough money saved for a downpayment.

The average Malaysian needs to plan carefully if they want to own a house with their current salary. — Reuters pic

The average Malaysian needs to plan carefully if they want to own a house with their current salary. — Reuters pic

The thought of dealing with a mortgage on the salary of a fresh graduate is making many millenials think twice about owning a house.

The Employee’s Provident Fund statement in 2016 had said that 89 per cent of the working population in Malaysia earn less than RM5,000 monthly, making home ownership especially challenging.

Most millenials wouldn’t believe that they could own a house with that salary.

4. Renting or owning?

It’s not easy maintaining a modern lifestyle when you’ve got a mortgage weighing on your shoulders. — Unsplash pic

It’s not easy maintaining a modern lifestyle when you’ve got a mortgage weighing on your shoulders. — Unsplash pic

The hefty financial commitment to owning a home means young Malaysians will have to make some lifestyle changes if they want to stay afloat while having a house to their name.

This might mean foregoing luxuries such as weekend brunches and holidays overseas which have become staples for the modern generation.

Hence, a monthly instalment replacing these pleasures is the reason 33% of Malaysians in SAYS’ survey are saying ‘no’ to home ownership.

 

5. Lack of awareness on housing deals and promotions.

Housing deals and offers don’t seem to be showing up on the radars of young Malaysians. — Unsplash pic


Housing deals and offers don’t seem to be showing up on the radars of young Malaysians. — Unsplash pic

While initiatives are in place to help young potential homeowners, many do not even know about the resources available to them that can ease the burden of property ownership.

A shocking 65 per cent of Malaysians in SAYS’ survey said that they had no clue about current housing offers and promotions.

This means that many young adults are currently unequipped with knowledge about navigating the property market.

In light of this, property developers EcoWorld have launched HOPE (Home Ownership Programme with EcoWorld), a comprehensive solution that promises to aid young Malaysians in their journey towards owning their dream home.

HOPE aims to make the dream of home ownership a full-fledged reality for millennials with the STAY2OWN (S2O) and HELP2OWN (H2O) programmes.

S2O will allow those wanting to stay in an EcoWorld project to rent their ideal home first with the confidence that they can become homeowners in the future.

A low monthly payment similar to the market rental rate also makes it particularly attractive for first-time homebuyers.

The option to rent first before buying also gives customers ample time to get their finances in order before committing to a new mortgage.

To top it all off, the rental savings will be used to offset part of the purchase price of the home, making it even more affordable for young Malaysians.

The H2O had successfully helped approximately 1,800 young homeowners and upgraders own their choice EcoWorld home last year and you can be one of them too! For more information on owning your dream home, visit EcoWorld’s website  https://ecoworld.my/hope/) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/EcoWorldGroup/).

By Tan Mei Zi The MalayMail

* This article is brought to you by EcoWorld. https://ecoworld.my/hope/

A NEW HOPE FOR YOUR DREAM HOME


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The single worst financial decision


Buying a new car is regarded as a waste of money

WHEN I discussed whether to buy a car or a house first in my last article, I received a lot of feedback from friends and readers. Someone even sent me an interesting article entitled “Buying a New Car Is the Single Worst Financial Decision”.

The remark was made by Davis Bach, a self-made millionaire who is also one of the American best-selling financial authors, a motivational speaker and an entrepreneur.

That was a bold statement but not without basis. In the article published by CNBC Make It, David Bach said, “Nothing you will do in your lifetime, realistically, will waste more money than buying a new car.”

He pointed out that a car’s value drops 20% to 30% by the end of the first year. In five years, it can lose 60% or more of its initial value. And, most people actually borrow money to buy a car.

“Why would you borrow money to buy an asset that immediately goes down in value by 30%?” says Bach.

His views concurred with the idea I have been sharing in this column over the years.

In my last article, I mentioned the value of my friend’s car dropped 70% from RM140,000 to RM40,000 over eight years. On the other hand, another friend who bought an affordable apartment during the same time, enjoyed a huge capital appreciation as the apartment increased from RM100,000 to more than RM200,000 during the same period.

Both borrowed money to buy their house and car respectively. However, there is a clear contrast between the two items by looking at their long-term values. A house is an appreciating asset, and a loan on such an asset I like to call a “Good Debt”; while a car losses money, and is therefore deemed as “Bad Debt”.

Not only does a car depreciate in value, but owning a car also comes with expenses such as petrol, maintenance, licence, toll, insurance and parking costs. A person who owns a normal sedan car and travels about 1,000 km per month, can easily spend about RM1,500 per month for car loan repayment and other relevant expenses.

With ride-sharing services (such as GrabCar in Malaysia, and Uber & Lyft in other countries) becoming so convenient, and with the LRT and MRT networks being more developed, we can now choose to be car-loan free. Imagine having your own “driver” and able to use your time productively to read a book or relax when being caught in traffic jam. We are now able to enjoy this with ride-sharing services on call.

For a more economical approach, you can even opt for a “hybrid” transportation mode by combining ride-sharing and public transport services.

Chua, a reader from Muar wrote me an email last month. He shared his experience of not having purchased a property when he was young and only bought one when he was in his mid-30s due to some misperceptions.

“Looking back, how wrong I was! But today, there are just as many graduates who think just like myself when I was in my 20s and 30s. Therefore, your constant reminder to Malaysians is valid and practical. Instead of a new car, get a used car. Buy a medical insurance policy, pay EPF and try to buy a small property. These should be the priority of any young Malaysian,” Chua wrote in his email.

Bach, the self-made millionaire said, “If you’re spending US$500 (RM2,000) a month for that car, well, that’s US$6,000 (RM24,000) a year, not including the car insurance or the gas (petrol). That could be two months or three months of your income. Run the numbers and then ask yourself: Do you really need a car that’s nice or could you buy a car that’s less expensive – maybe a little older – but still looks good and runs?”

That’s the sentiment that I had when I wrote about buying a house first before a car.

Buying a car may not be the single worst financial decision for everyone. There are different financial priorities at different stages of life. However, it may be the case if you buy a brand new expensive nice car prior to owning any long-run appreciating asset or investment, like a house!

Food for thought by Alan Tong

Datuk Alan Tong has over 50 years of experience in property development. He was the World president of FIABCI International for 2005/2006 and awarded the Property Man of the Year 2010 at FIABCI Malaysia Property Award. He is also the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. For feedback, please email bkp@bukitkiara.com

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Members of Economic Action Council (EAC)


The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) announced the establishing of the Economic Action Council (EAC), which will respond to and take action to address economic issues faced by the public, based on their feedback.

“The main objectives of the council are to stimulate economic growth, ensure fair distribution of wealth and improve the well-being of the people. The council will also focus on issues related to costs of living, labour, poverty and home ownership,” it said in a statement today.

Members of the council include Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as chairman, along with Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Ignatius Darell Leiking and the Prime Minister’s economic adviser Dr Muhammed Abdul Khalid.

Other members of the council include former International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, Permodalan Nasional Bhd chairman Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz and Council of Eminent Persons member Prof Dr Jomo Kwame Sundaram.

A list of corporate leaders are also members of the EAC, such as Public Bank Bhd managing director Tan Sri Tay Ah Lek, Majlis Amanah Rakyat chairman Dr Hasnita Hashim and Bursa Malaysia chairman Datuk Shireen Ann Zaharah Muhiudeen.

Asean Business Advisory council chairman Tan Sri Dr Mohd Munir Abdul Majid, Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (FOMCA) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Paul Selvaraj, lawyer Bah Tony @ Amani William Hunt Abdullah and MASA institute board of trustees member Nizam Mahshar are also in the EAC.  – The Edge

Council to drive economy forward

It will also look into issues related to cost of living, employment and home ownership

The Prime Minister and his key economic and finance ministers feature in a 16-strong committee that will form the Economic Action Council.

It will examine and decide on the economic and financial affairs and welfare of the people.

“The council was formed to respond and act on the feedback of the masses on the problems they face, particularly in the field of economy.

“The main aim of the council is to encourage and stimulate sustainable economic growth, equitable distribution of wealth and further enhance the well-being of the people.

“The council will also look into issues related to the cost of living, employment, poverty and home ownership,” said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday. (See graphic for list of members)

The move is timely and a positive step in the right direction, said Socio-Economic Research Centre executive director Lee Heng Guie.

He said the council was expected to draw up immediate and medium-term priorities to sustain the country’s economic growth and development.

“Among these include the measures to address cost of living as well as to ease the cost of doing business and compliance costs.

“Structural policies and reforms have to be stepped up, in particular in skilled manpower, public sector delivery and efficiency, exports capacity, develop innovative and creative industries and the digital economy,” Lee told The Star.

Echoing a similar stance, AmBank Group chief economist Anthony Dass said the council was similar to the one formed in 1998 during the Asian Financial Crisis.

“However, this time around, the council will focus on ways to address economic headwinds and how to drive the domestic economy amid the challenges,” he said.

The old NEAC (National Economic Action Council) was formed to navigate Malaysia out from the worst recession in a generation.

Dass added that the formation of the Economic Action Council was timely, considering the current challenges that had affected the macroeconomic conditions and the rakyat.

“The council’s composition is broad and well-mixed, a variety of experience and expertise and the council will have to find measures to stimulate the economy, continue economic expansion and ensure that the machineries of the government can work with the private sector to drive the economy,” he said.

The council, he added, must identify areas that could be areas of growth and also add to public revenue.

“It must also focus on the new key areas such as the digital economy and how can the government encourage the adoption of digitalisation across industries, particularly among SMEs.

“The working group under the council is also important, to ensure the success of the execution,” he said.

The main brickbat the composition of the council has drawn is the absence of younger faces.

“It is the same ministers and academics and where are the business people and entrepreneurs?” asked a political analyst.

Another source who declined to be named said younger people would have brought different perspectives to the council and offered an independent voice in the formation of ideas and policies.

He said such voices would probably be sourced from the working groups the Economic Action Council would have featured at the high-level main committee. – by jagdev singh sidhuganeshwaran kana

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Integrity should be no compromise! Malu apa, bro! Queries over credentials, Wee presses on quizzing Lim


 

Weighing in: (Clockwise from top left) Ramon, Marina, Hassan, Anas and Marimuthu

Malaysia Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s credentials as an accountant questioned


n Malaysia Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s website, it is stated in his biodata that he graduated from Monash University, Australia, with a Bachelor of Economics degree and was a qualified professional accountant by 1983.PHOTO: ST FILE
PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – Malaysian Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s qualification in accounting is the latest to come under scrutiny following a series of alleged false education credentials involving Pakatan Harapan leaders.

Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) president Wee Ka Siong, in questioning Mr Lim’s credentials as an accountant, said according to Monash University’s website, Mr Lim obtained his Bachelor of Economics in 1984.

(MCA) president Wee Ka Siong

“I have no doubt over his degree qualification. However, I wonder how he became a qualified professional accountant in 1983 before he even graduated (in economics)?” he asked in a Facebook posting on Sunday (Feb 10).

On Mr Lim’s website: https://limguaneng.com/ , https://limguaneng.com/index.php/biodata/ , it is stated in his biodata that he graduated from Monash University, Australia, with a Bachelor of Economics degree and was a qualified professional accountant by 1983.

Datuk Seri Wee, who is the Ayer Hitam MP, also wanted to know how Mr Lim’s qualification as a “qualified professional accountant” was accredited.

“Was it by a local or foreign institution? Which country accepts an economics graduate to pass as a ‘qualified professional accountant’?

For a minister who always stresses on the concept of Competency, Accountability and Transparency, please explain and don’t keep quiet,” he added.

Dr Wee also described as “suspicious” Johor Mentri Besar Osman Sapian avoiding questions from the media on his supposed UPM Bachelor in Accounting obtained in 1985.

“UPM’s official website stated that the course was introduced in 1985. How is it possible that there could be such a super-fast graduate produced in the same year!

“If Osman fails to prove the genuineness of his academic credentials, will he still have the dignity to lead the state? This is a question of integrity among leaders,” he said.

Citing examples of several world leaders who resigned or were sacked for having fake academic credentials, Dr Wee questioned if the Pakatan Harapan leadership would remain quiet and behave as if nothing happened.

“Or will they respond with the standard Pakatan answer, that a person’s academic qualifications have nothing to do with political position,” he added.

In Teluk Intan, Bernama reports Perak DAP chairman Nga Kor Ming as backing Tronoh assemblyman Paul Yong Choo Kiong who comes under public scrutiny for his dubious Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Akamai University, United States, claiming that he had obtained it “legitimately”.

This is despite the fact that DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang had labelled the university as a degree mill in 2005.

Mr Yong, 48, was also questioned by Dr Wee as to how he could do his MBA without having a first degree.

The Perak executive councillor has in his biodata listed his primary and secondary school education followed by his MBA.

Responding to the controversy, Mr Yong claimed that his way to enhance his self worth has been blown out of proportion.

He, however, did not reveal how he obtained his MBA.

“What is the relationship between this and politics?” asked Mr Yong.

Sources: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysia-finance-minister-lim-guan-engs-credentials-as-an-accountant-questioned and

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/02/11/lims-credentials-as-an-accountant-questioned/


 

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