Top foreign and local stories at 4pm


Brent crude was 0.66% higher to US$53.28 per barrel at 3.40pm.


Ringgit up 0.03% to 4.3993 versus the US dollar at 3.44pm.

Top foreign stories

Stung by debt, China’s economic growth to slow to 6.5% in 2017: China’s economic growth is seen slowing to 6.5% in 2017 despite a strong start to the first quarter, as the government seeks to cool the property sector and temper credit growth to contain risks from a dangerous build-up of debt, a Reuters poll showed. Growth is expected to weaken further to 6.2% in 2018, extending a slowing trajectory for the world’s second-biggest economy which grew 6.7% in 2016 for its worst performance in 26 years. — Reuters

China capital outflows stabilised in Q1 as capital controls bite: Capital outflows from China eased sharply in the first quarter and cross border flows were more balanced, the foreign exchange regulator said on Thursday, in the latest official comments indicating policymakers are growing less worried about the yuan currency. — Reuters

Opec faces surprise outcome after oil cuts: higher stockpiles: When Opec and Russia meet next month to assess the impact of their oil cuts they face a surprising outcome: stockpiles are even higher than when they started. Inventories have started to decline, but by the time ministers gather in Vienna on May 25, developed nations still won’t have burned through the big stockpile increase caused by a surge in Opec output just before the cuts came into force, data from the International Energy Agency indicate. — Bloomberg

Australia, NZ reach agreement on Pacific trade pact: Australia and New Zealand reached agreement on a landmark Pacific trade pact on Thursday to cut down trade barriers, boost tourism and raise living standards in the region, the two governments said. The deal, reached in Brisbane, includes 12 Pacific Island nations and was eight years in the making. — Reuters

Hong Kong to tighten cyber security rules after broker hacks: Hong Kong plans to toughen information security rules after a series of embarrassing hacks at the city’s brokers, the securities regulator said on Thursday. The draft rules would likely include requirements for two-step authentication for account log-in and for brokers to notify clients when a transaction had been made, a Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission spokesman said. — Reuters

Worries over Trump policies cloud start of IMF, World Bank meetings: World finance leaders are gathering on US President Donald Trump’s home turf on Thursday to try to nudge his still-evolving policies away from protectionism and show broad support for open trade and global integration. — Reuters

Unilever first-quarter sales top expectations: Consumer goods maker Unilever reported a surprise acceleration in quarterly sales on Thursday, helped by price increases. Unilever said underlying sales rose 2.9% in its financial first quarter. That compares to analysts’ estimates of 2%, according to a consensus compiled by the company, and growth of 2.2% in the fourth quarter and 3.2% in the third quarter of the last financial year. — Reuters

Top local stories

Public Bank first-quarter earnings at RM1.25b: Public Bank Bhd reported slightly higher earnings for the first quarter, while total gross loans increased at an anualised rate of 3.6%, placing itself for a positive start for the year. It reported on Thursday earnings grew by 1.5% to RM1.25bil from RM1.23bil a year ago while pre-tax profit was RM1.63bil. Its revenue was RM5.03bil, up 0.4% from RM5bil. — StarBiz

Iskandar Waterfront City seeks US$1.1b to develop land: Iskandar Waterfront City Bhd, the world’s best performing small-cap stock this year, plans to raise as much as RM5bil (US$1.1bil) via convertible bonds mainly to develop the real estate that it’s acquiring, executive vice-chairman Tan Sri Lim Kang Hoo says. Shares in Iskandar Waterfront have jumped more than 270% this year on a plan to create an entity with land assets worth RM47bil, making it the top performer on the S&P Global Small Cap Index of more than 8,500 companies globally this year. — Bloomberg

CIMB Thai posts lower Q1 net profit: CIMB Thai Bank Pcl saw its consolidated operating income decrease by 5.6% year-on-year, or 184.7 million baht, to 3.129 billion baht (about RM400.6mil). CIMB Thai, a 93.71% indirect subsidiary of the CIMB Group Holdings Bhd, saw its net profit lower by 206.1 million baht or 63% y-o-y to 121.2 million baht, mainly from a 7% increase in provisions, due to higher NPLs during the period. — StarBiz

MISC aims to sustain financial performance: MISC Bhd said it will be working hard this year to sustain its 2016 performance. President/group chief executive officer Yee Yang Chien said the company’s four core business segments will continue to generate pretty stable income, despite the challenging market conditions. — StarBiz

Sweden’s SKF investing RM22mil to expand factory: Swedish firm SKF is investing RM22 million to expand the capacity of its factory in Nilai. It is also launching a new product, the tailored range of spherical roller bearings and spherical roller thrust bearings that is designed to meet the needs of the palm oil processing industry in Malaysia and South-East Asia. — Bernama

LPPSA issues second series of RM3.25b sukuk: Lembaga Pembiayaan Perumahan Sektor Awam (LPPSA) on Thursday issued a second series of sukuk of up to RM3.25 billion, which is to finance housing loans to the public sector. LPPSA said the RM3.25 billion Islamic medium-term notes were part of its RM25 billion Islamic commercial papers/Islamic medium-term notes programme and was guaranteed by the Government. — Bernama

Serba Dinamik, UK firm plan JV for oil sector services: Serba Dinamik Holdings Bhd and Britain’s Nicol & Andrew Group Plc are planning an exclusive partnership to provide services to the Malaysian oil and gas sector and other industries. The agreement will be for five years from April 19, 2017, and may be extended for three more years. — StarBiz

Good time to invest in small caps stocks: Now is a good time for investors to take a look at the small caps in the market as smaller cap companies continue to provide superior returns, said RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd Malaysia research director Alexander Chia. It is based on FBM Small Cap Index and FBM Fledgling Index, which have generated returns of 11.1% and 19.8% respectively, compared to the 1.1% for the FBM KLCI between April 2016 to April 2017. — StarBiz
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