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||Asean Affairs 1 May 2012
ASEAN MArket Outlook
By Shayne Heffernan Ph.D.
ASEAN Markets will come off their highs tomorrow after Wall St traded lower. Economic data from the USA and continuing EuroCrisis issues held the market back from making gains.
The S&P 500 lost 0.4 percent to 1,397.91 at 4 p.m. New York time, extending its April decline to 0.7 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 14.68 points, or 0.1 percent, to 13,213.63 today. The gauge rose less than 0.1 percent in April, gaining for a seventh month in the longest winning streak since 2007. About 6.1 billion shares changed hands on U.S. exchanges today, or 8.9 percent below the three-month average.
Singapore’s GDP would probably increase by between 1 percent and 3 percent this year, the central bank said in a macroeconomic review yesterday, reiterating earlier forecasts. Employment might grow at a slower pace this year, even as local wages potentially climb at a “healthy” rate, it said.
M&L Hospitality Trusts, which owns hotels in Singapore, Australia and Japan, has put its planned initial public offering to raise up to S$509 million ($410 million) on hold due to subdued demand.
Inflation in Indonesia likely accelerated to its fastest pace so far this year in April, economists say, with food and service prices creeping up amid uncertainty about the government’s plan to raise the subsidized fuel price.
The Consumer Price Index, which examines the weighted average of prices of a basket of consumer goods and services, likely rose by 4.4 percent to 4.53 percent in April from a year earlier, according to estimates by four economists surveyed by the Jakarta Globe on Monday.
That would mark the second month of acceleration after inflation rose by 3.97 percent in March, the fastest pace since December last year.
The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) will announce April inflation data on May 8.
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said on Sunday that her government had planned to establish a new committee to solve the problem in line with the government strategy as well as set up more police checkpoints besides injecting more budgets into the region.
Realising the lack in solidarity in taming violence in the strife-torn southern region, Yingluck said Deputy Prime Minister General Yuthasak Sasiprapha would be responsible for the setting up of the committee, according to Thai News Agency.
Speaking to reporters at the Sirinthon Camp in Yarang district of Pattani province, Yingluck said currently, there are 66 agencies under 17 ministries taking care of the southern unrest.
Yingluck added that both the Southern Border Provinces Administration Centre and the Internal Security Operations Command (ISOC) in suppressing insurgents in the troubled region would implement innovative technology.
Asked whether an emergency decree imposed in the four provinces of Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla would be revoked soon; she said it had to be discussed first by concerned officials.
On a government plan to boost the economy in the deep South, she said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Kittirat Na-Ranong would meet the private sector and find ways to boost the deep southern economy, so that people could earn more, while youths have better education.
When Ramon Ang set San Miguel Corp. on its current path of aggressive diversification, he told an incredulous public that he would double the revenue of what was then Southeast Asia’s largest food and beverage company by 2015.
That ambitious target translates to around $20 billion in gross sales for all the units of the group.
Today, total revenues of the companies SMC is invested in already stands at $17.5 billion, with still three years to go before the self-imposed deadline.
By all indications, SMC will hit that target by the end of this year as the conglomerate is set to continue with its acquisition binge, just weeks after sealing a partnership that gave it control of Philippine Airlines.
“PAL’s annual revenues are at around $2.5 billion a year, so with that alone we have already hit our target ahead of schedule,” said Ang, who is also president and chief operating officer of SMC.
Despite this, the group is now in the process of negotiating or sealing eight other acquisition deals in various industries, chief of which is the power sector.
Prime Minister Najib Razak announced the first minimum wage for private-sector employees in Malaysia on Monday, saying it would benefit more than 3 million low-income workers.
Some small and medium-size businesses worried it would hurt their competitiveness.
Najib said the minimum monthly pay would be 900 ringgit ($297) for private-sector workers in peninsula Malaysia and 800 ringgit ($264) in the poorer eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak.
It will not include domestic workers such as maids and gardeners, he said.
Najib said a government survey in 2009 found that about 34 percent of the country's workers earn less than 700 ringgit ($231) a month, below the national poverty line of 800 ringgit.
"This is a special present from the federal government to all employees in our beloved country," Najib said in a televised speech on the evening before May Day, international workers' day.
"The introduction of the minimum wage is a historic moment for Malaysia. The lowest-paid will now be guaranteed an income that lifts them out of poverty and helps ensure that they can meet the rising cost of living," he said.
The European Union is committed to supporting Myanmar through long-term development programs, the EU foreign policy chief said from Yangon.
Catherine Ashton, high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, said from Myanmar that the EU had committed $198 million in developmental aid for the fiscal year.
"We offer support for the long term and it's something I believe in strongly," she said in a statement. "Short-term initiatives are very significant but it's the long-term development programs that really make the difference."
The Council of the European Union announced last week it would suspend restrictive measures placed on the government in Myanmar, known also as Burma. The suspension doesn't include matters related to an arms embargo.
In Asia Yesterday
Sydney gained 0.79 percent, or 34.5 points, to 4,396.6 and Seoul put on 0.34 percent, or 6.64 points, to 1,981.99 while Hong Kong climbed 1.70 percent, or 352.76 points, to 21,094.21.
Tokyo and Shanghai were closed for public holidays.
In other markets:
– Singapore closed down 0.10 percent, or 3.01 points, at 2,978.57.
Vehicle distributor Jardine Cycle and Carriage was down 0.90 percent at Sg$47.17 while shipping line Neptune Orient Lines gained 2.49 percent to Sg$1.24.
– Taipei rose 0.28 percent, or 21.22 points, to 7,501.72.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was up 0.93 percent at Tw$86.8 while Hon Hai Precision closed down by its 7.0 percent daily limit at Tw$92.4.
– Manila closed 0.65 percent, or 33.65 points, higher at 5,202.70.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone rose 0.15 percent to 2,588 pesos and Ayala Corp. added 0.46 percent to close at 430 pesos.
– Wellington added 0.69 percent, or 24.22 points, to 3,555.87.
Telecom climbed 0.6 percent to NZ$2.63 and Fletcher Building rallied 1.0 percent to NZ$6.26, while NZ Refining advanced 0.7 percent to NZ$2.87.
– Jakarta closed 0.40 percent, or 16.75 points, higher at 4,180.73.
Car maker Astra International gained 0.4 percent to 71,000 rupiah, Hero Supermarket jumped 14.8 percent to 4,450 rupiah, and retailer Mitra Adiperkasa rose 1.5 percent to 6,950 rupiah.
– Kuala Lumpur gained 0.18 percent, or 2.81 points, to 1,570.61.
Bumi Armada fell 1.7 percent to 3.99 ringgit, AirAsia eased 1.2 percent to 3.33 ringgit and RHB Capital gained 1.7 percent to 7.37 ringgit.
– Bangkok added 1.38 percent, or 16.71 points, to 1,228.49.
Banpu closed unchanged at 556 baht, while PTT Plc rose 2.03 percent to 351 baht.
– Mumbai rose 0.76 percent, or 131.47 points, to 17,318.81.
India’s biggest software exporter TCS rose 3.49 percent to 1,244.9 rupees while rival Infosys rose 2.75 percent to 502.7, as valuations in the sector appeared more attractive after recent falls.
Shayne Heffernan Ph.D.
Linda Johnson, Business Development Director - Private Client Group, Heffernan Capital Management
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