The week that was . . .


  • Business
  • Friday, 19 Jun 2020

Punters queued up early while observing social distancing rules on Wednesday, as betting shops opened their doors to take bets for the first time in three months.

April unemployment rate at 30-year high

Some 156,400 people, mostly workers in the manufacturing and services sectors, lost their jobs in April at the height of the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to the Statistics Department on Monday.

The huge number of layoffs pushed the country’s unemployment rate to 5%, or 778,800 adults without jobs.

The department said the stay-at-home order under the first phase of the movement control order (MCO) that started on March 18 and extended until June 9 had affected 4.87 million employed persons who were not working in April.

However, this group was not categorised as unemployed as they are expected to return to work.

The department expected that the labor market position to remain weak in May, but more people are expected to return to work in June.

With the economy cautiously adapting to the new normal, job worries remained high with more companies looking to cut cost amid a still tough operating environment.

Earlier this week, big companies such as Genting group and Grab were reported to be reducing their head counts.

All bets are now on

Punters queued up early while observing social distancing rules on Wednesday, as betting shops opened their doors to take bets for the first time in three months.

The resumption boosted the share prices of number forecast operators (NFOs) Magnum Bhd and Berjaya Sports Toto Bhd to their highest levels since February.

“We expect ticket sales to swiftly normalise when the draws recommence, given the inelastic consumer base. NFOs could also benefit from the ‘revenge spending’ phenomenon, ” UOB Kay Hian said in a report.

Meanwhile, shares of Genting Malaysia Bhd and Genting Bhd were also in the limelight after the group announced the reopening of its casino in Genting Highlands, with its gaming operations in the UK targeted to restart on July 4.

The Genting group is also preparing to reopen its business in the US, although no date have been set yet.

Foreign money managers net buyer of local bonds

The tide of foreign fund flow has turned with the return of money from overseas in May into the local bond market following a four-month exodus.

Net foreign inflows came in at RM1.5bil, compared with a net outflow of RM2bil in April. As a result, total foreign holdings rose to RM187.3bil, or 12.2% of the total outstanding bonds.

Malaysian Government Securities (MGS) saw the largest foreign inflows, largely concentrated in tenures at the front-end of the yield curve. As of end-May, foreign holdings of MGS stood at RM150.5bil, up 1.3% from April’s RM148.6bil. Malaysia Rating Corp Bhd said the inflow was largely driven by Bank Negara’s monetary easing and expectations of further interest rate cuts in the coming months.

Slipping bull

Stocks on Bursa Malaysia swung wildly this week as spiking Covid-19 cases in the US and a fresh outbreak in China frayed investor sentiment.

The benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KL Composite Index (KLCI) tumbled 47 points on Monday, but clawed back some of the losses on Tuesday with a 18.88 points gain. But the mood in the market turned cautious on Wednesday, with 700 points jump on Wall Street overnight overshadowed by news that China has re-imposed strict lockdown in its capital city Beijing while in the US the number of new cases continued to climb.

The local bellwether added 8.6 points on Wednesday, but gave up the gains on Thursday as the index headed lower towards the psychological important 1,500 support level.

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