Thursday, January 6, 2011

20110106 1005 Global Economics Related News.

Indonesia: Kept its benchmark interest rate at a record low even after consumer prices rose at the fastest pace in 20 months, betting measures such as higher bank reserve requirements will keep inflation in check. The central bank maintained its reference rate at 6.5% for a 17th meeting, it said in Jakarta. (Source: Bloomberg)

Philippines: Inflation held steady in December as the peso's gains helped counter the effect of rising crude oil prices. Consumer prices rose 3% YoY, the National Statistics Office said in Manila. Average inflation for the year was 3.8%, within the bank's 3.5% to 5.5% target. (Source: Bloomberg) 

Taiwan: Inflation unexpectedly slowed in December
Taiwan’s consumer price growth unexpectedly slowed in December for the first time in four months as the gain in food prices moderated. The consumer price index increased 1.25% from a year earlier, compared with a revised 1.52% climb in November, the statistics bureau said. The median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 12 economists was for a 1.75% gain. (Bloomberg)

EU: Industrial orders increase 1.4%, powered by Germany
European industrial orders increased in October as Germany helped offset declining demand in countries ranging from Italy to Ireland and Spain. Orders in the euro area rose 1.4% from September, when they dropped 4.2%, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said. Economists had forecast a gain of 1.5%, the median of 10 estimates showed. Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has powered the euro region’s expansion as governments were forced to step up austerity measures, undermining consumer spending and restraining hiring. German manufacturing growth accelerated in December and business confidence surged to a record. (Bloomberg)

EU: French consumer confidence unexpectedly declines
French household confidence unexpectedly fell for the first time in five months in December as consumers turned pessimistic about their personal finances. Sentiment declined to minus 36, its worst reading since August, from a revised minus 33 in November, national statistics office said. Economists expected a reading of minus 31, the median of five estimates in a Bloomberg News survey showed. The government has made reducing its deficit a priority for this year, potentially cutting into household-disposable income. (Bloomberg)

US: Firms added 297000 jobs in December
Companies in the United States boosted payrolls in December by the most since records began in 2001, showing a stronger labor market recovery at the end of last year, data from a private report showed. Employment increased by 297000 exceeding the highest projection in a Bloomberg News survey, after a revised 92000 rise in November, according to ADP Employer Services. The median estimate in the Bloomberg survey called for a 100000 gain last month. (StarBiz)

US:Fed may keep easing at ‘full throttle’ until jobless rate falls
Federal Reserve officials signaled they’ll probably push ahead with unprecedented stimulus until the recovery strengthens and many of the 15 million unemployed Americans find work. The jobless rate hasn’t fallen below 9.4% since May 2009 and will probably average that figure this year, according to a Bloomberg News survey of economists. Unemployment probably declined to 9.7% last month from 9.8% in November, according to the average estimate of a Bloomberg poll prior to a Labor Department employment report on 7 Jan. (Bloomberg)

U.S. factory orders rebound, brighten growth view
WASHINGTON, Jan 4 (Reuters) - New orders received by U.S. factories unexpectedly rose in November, and orders excluding transportation recorded their largest gain in eight months, providing more signs the economic recovery was on sustainable path.
The Commerce Department said on Tuesday orders for manufactured goods increased 0.7 percent after dropping a revised 0.7 percent in October.

China chief warns of inflation risk
BEIJING, Jan 5 (Reuters) - China's central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan warned that inflation was mounting and that more could be done to guide the growth of money, an indication that price pressures still top the list of official concerns.
In an interview with a magazine run by the People's Bank of China, Zhou spoke confidently of the country's economic growth prospects, but sounded a more cautious note on inflation, which is running at its fastest in over two years.

US auto sales jump, upswing seen for 2011
DETROIT, Jan 4 (Reuters) - U.S. auto sales rose to the highest rate in 16 months in December, and major automakers forecast the recovery would gather momentum in 2011 as the industry distances itself from one of its deepest slumps ever.
Auto sales are one of the first snapshots of U.S. consumer demand. The 11 percent rise in December auto sales stands as the latest in a string of indicators including unexpectedly strong factory orders for November pointing toward growing confidence in the recovery.  U.S. auto sales rose more than 11 percent in 2010 to almost 11.6 million vehicles, snapping a four-year slide that forced the Detroit automakers into a wrenching restructuring that included government-directed bankruptcies for GM and Chrysler.

20110106 1004 Malaysia Corporate Related News.

TM: UniFi service reaches more than 750,000 premises. The rollout of Telekom Malaysia Bhd's High Speed Broadband (HSBB) service or UniFi, continues to be on track with service availability now expanded to an additional 48 areas nationwide, bringing the total premises to over 750,000 at the end of 2010. TM recently passed the 30,000 service subscription mark, and now averages 2,500 new subscribers per week. (Source: Bernama)

F&N: In USD4m deal with US co. PML Dairies, a wholly owned subsidiary of F&N Holdings Bhd has signed a USD4m (RM12.3m) contract with Chicago-based JBT Corp's food technology division, JBT FoodTech. Under the agreement, JBT FoodTech will supply the filling, closing and sterilization technologies for PML's new milk processing plant at Pulau Indah. (Source: The Edge Financial Daily)

Hap Seng: Sets 50% dividend payout policy. Hap Seng Consolidated Bhd is set to distribute 50% of its group net profit in the form of dividends, after its board approved the dividend policy. (Source: The Edge Financial Daily)

YTL Comms: 4G network in all local universities by this year. YTL aims to make its Yes 4G network available to all public universities and selected private institutions of higher learning in Malaysia this year. The network has been successfully activated at University Sains Malaysia (USM), Penang, and covers virtually all parts of the 240 ha USM main campus. (Source: Bernama)

Cocoaland: Bags another F&N contract. Cocoaland Holdings Berhad's wholly owned subsidiary, Cocoaland Industry Sdn Bhd (CISB) was appointed by F&N Beverages Manufacturing Sdn Bhd (F&NBM) as its non-exclusive contract packer to prepare, package, pack and deliver F&NBM's products. Cocoaland will prepare, package and deliver the products of F&NBM for a period of one year with an option to extend for another one year. (Source: Bursa Malaysia)

Plantation: Firms rap medical insurance ruling. Oil palm and rubber plantation firms, which are already footing the medical bills of their foreign workers, will now have to fork out another RM50m to insurance companies. Effective January 1 this year, the Health Ministry requires all employers to pay for foreign workers' medical insurance. Meanwhile, under the Workers Minimum Housing Standard & Amenities Act 1990 (WMHSA), all estate owners are also required to provide healthcare facilities and services for their staff (including foreign workers). The number of plantation workers seeking treatment in government hospitals is in fact very small because only serious cases are referred to the healthcare centres outside the estate. (Source: Business Times)

Plantation: Indonesia forest moratorium postponed. Indonesia's forest moratorium was postponed as its government is still undecided on the details of a two-year moratorium on forest clearing under the USD1b (RM3.07b) climate deal with Norway, leading to continued uncertainty for plantation firms. The planned commencement date for the moratorium was initially Jan 1st. (Source: The Edge Financial Daily)  

UMW still keen to list oil and gas division
UMW Holdings, a vehicle assembler and industrial equipment maker, plans to revisit the listing proposal of its oil and gas unit once the division returns to the black this year. The unit, known as UMW Oil & Gas Bhd, which houses exploration operations, fabrication and pipe-manufacturing businesses, is expected to be profitable again by June this year in line with an industry wide turnaround, according to UMW president and group CEO Datuk Syed Hisham Syed Wazir. The move to spin off its oil and gas unit has been delayed several times after the plan was made public in 2008, with officials citing unfavourable market conditions and sentiment for the postponement. (Malaysian Reserve)

TM faces RM25m civil suit from AINB Tech
Telekom Malaysia Bhd was served with a RM25m judgement in default on Monday by a local technology company, which it intends to set aside. AINB Tech (M) SB had served the judgement dated 2 Dec 2010, which included claims for expenses incurred for the purpose of a project known as ‘supply, delivery, installation, testing, commissioning and support of One Number Service’ between the two parties, Telekom said in a Bursa Malaysia filing, yesterday. (Malaysian Reserve)

Priceworth set to seal foreign deal
Priceworth Wood Products is in the final leg of negotiations to manage two timber concessions overseas that have a combined land size in excess of 100,000 hectares, says its executive director Michael Chok Syn Vun. "The concessions are in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Solomon Islands," Chok told Business Times in an interview at his office in Sandakan, Sabah, yesterday. He said Priceworth would have to spend as much as RM2m in the first phase to help move machinery and other related assets to these places if the deal goes through. Chok did not want to provide a timeline on when a decision will be known. However, it is reliably understood that Priceworth could make an announcement on the matter before the month is over. On the financing, Chok said the company has several options. These include tapping its own cash holdings, which stood at RM12m as at end of its 2010 financial year, or proceeds of its planned warrant exercise. Priceworth is proposing one warrant for every two mother shares at a conversion price of 50 sen a share. (BT)

Opposition to MTD’s JV toll hike
MTD Capital Bhd’s joint venture company in the Philippines continues to receive opposition to its toll hike at South Luzon Expressway (SLEX). The highway owner and operator told Bursa Malaysia yesterday that its subsidiary, MTD Manila Expressways Inc, had received a copy of a second supplemental petition for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) and/or status quo ante order to restrain the implementation of the 290% rise in toll fees at the SLEX. It said the petition was filed in the Supreme Court Philippines by Ernesto B. Francisco, Jr, who had filed the original petition in 2005 and the supplemental petition in August last year. Francisco’s previous petitions were dismissed by the Supreme Court in October last year, which also lifted the previous TRO. MTD said its legal counsels had not received from the Supreme Court any order or notice of the action of the Supreme Court on the second supplemental petition. The new toll prices for Phase 1, Alabang, Muntinlupa City to Sto. Tomas, Batangas, of the SLEX have taken effect from 1 Jan.” (Starbiz)

Etika completes Susu Lembu Asli buy
ETIKA International Holdings Ltd, a regional food and beverage group, has completed its acquisition of Susu Lembu Asli (Johore) Sdn Bhd and Susu Lembu Asli Marketing Sdn Bhd for RM89.5m cash. Etika is one of the world's largest manufacturers and distributors of sweetened condensed milk. In a statement, Etika group chief executive officer Datuk Kamal Tan said the acquisition would generate a new revenue stream for it and contribute positively to earnings with immediate effect. "The companies provide a strategic platform for Etika to gain a foothold in the larger dairy market through Susu Lembu Asli's established and well known brand 'Goodday' and their range of healthier product offerings," he said. (BT)

20110106 1000 Renewables Energy Related News.

MADRID, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Spain has more water stored than a week ago to generate hydropower and irrigate crops and thus ease its heavy dependence on gas and grain imports, the latest official data showed on Tuesday.
Rainfall in 2010 was heavier than usual and total water reserves in Spain are at 74.5 percent of capacity , or comfortably above a 10-year average of 55.1 percent, the Ministry for the Environment and Rural Affairs said in a bulletin.

BRUSSELS, Jan 4 (Reuters) - The European Union will exceed its target of meeting 20 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, a report by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) said on Tuesday.
Of the bloc's 27 member states, 25 expect to meet or exceed their national targets, EWEA said, based on its analysis of national action plans submitted by EU governments to the European Commission.

SHANGHAI, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Sinovel, China's top wind  turbine producer, plans to raise up to $1.4 billion in one of  the most expensive main board IPOs in Shanghai, hoping to ride  high on the back of strong demand for Chinese renewable energy  stocks.       Sinovel Wind Group Co, which unveiled the  indicative price range for its IPO on Tuesday, looks poised to  become China's first major IPO of the year and follows a  bumper 2010 for IPOs in Asia.
Still, the Sinovel listing may well be a test for China's  IPO market, which had a mixed performance late last year with  some firms such as China's No. 3 wind company Huaneng  Renewables Corp scrapping plans to list in Hong Kong due to  market volatility.

SEOUL, Jan 3 (Reuters) - South Korea, heavily dependent on energy imports, will strengthen its new and renewable energy sectors, President Lee Myung-bak said on Monday.
Asia's fourth-largest economy expects its new and renewable energy sectors to achieve exports of $40 billion in 2015, compared with $4.6 billion in 2009, with the government to set up four or five test beds for solar and wind power generation in 2011 with an investment of 20 billion won ($17.7 million).

COPENHAGEN, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas  won orders from Poland and Germany for turbines with total capacity of 240 megawatts, the company said on Thursday.
An order for 70 units of Vestas' V90-2.0 MW turbines for a wind power project in Poland was placed by Germany's Prokon Energiesysteme GmbH, Vestas Wind Systems A/S said in a statement.

JERUSALEM, Dec 29 (Reuters) - A subsidiary of holding company Israel Corp  said it had inaugurated a 2 megwatt solar energy project, the country's largest private solar field, to supply power to residents of southern Israel.
The Infrastructure Ministry also announced on Wednesday it would issue five new tenders next month to build solar fields in Israel's Negev desert to produce a total of nearly 50 MW.

COPENHAGEN, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Danish wind turbine maker Vestas  said its orders from China this year reached a record high as the country invests more heavily in clean energy, including wind power.
China became the world's biggest wind turbine market in 2009 when energy infrastructure markets in the West were depressed, and Chinese manufacturers have in the past few years climbed into the ranks of the top turbine suppliers, rivalling Vestas, GE  and other established players.

SEOUL, Dec 29 (Reuters) - South Korea, the world's No.5 oil importer, set its required bio-diesel mix rate system at 2 percent from 2012, the government said on Wednesday.
Asia's fourth-largest economy also unveiled details of a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), for which a government bill was approved in March, requiring 14 state-run and private power utilities to boost supplies of renewable energy from 2012.

NEW YORK, Dec 28 (Reuters) - Siemens  will supply 258 wind turbines to Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy Co as part of a massive Iowa wind farm expansion.
Germany-based Siemens said on Tuesday the order is its largest to date for an onshore wind project.

SEOUL, Dec 28 (Reuters) - South Korea plans to invest 49  trillion won ($42.6 billion) on power generation, including 14  nuclear power plants, by 2024 in a bid to meet growing power  demand, the government said on Tuesday
Total power consumption is forecast to grow 1.9 percent  each year on average until 2024, the Ministry of Knowledge  Economy said in a statement.

20110106 0859 Biofuels Related News.

BRUSSELS, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Royal Dutch Shell Plc  and Brazil's Cosan , the world's No. 1 sugar and ethanol company, won European Union approval on Tuesday for an ethanol and sugar joint venture.
The European Commission, the EU's competition authority, said it did not believe the deal would significantly impede competition in the European Union.

BERLIN, Dec 30 (Reuters) -German bioethanol sales are likely to rise strongly in 2011 largely because increased volumes can be blended in gasoline in the new year, the chief executive of German biofuels industry association VDB said on Thursday.
German imports and exports of green fuels could also be disrupted in early 2011 because other European Union countries failed to implement EU rules that biofuels must be produced from crops certified as coming from sustainable farming, said Elmar Baumann.

HAMBURG, Dec 28 (Reuters) - An increase to the amount of biofuel blended into German gasoline will be delayed as more time is needed for technical changes for the new fuel mix, German oil industry association MWV said on Tuesday.
The German government in October approved a rise in the maximum level of bioethanol allowed in blended gasoline to 10 percent from 5 percent previously from Jan. 1, 2011.

20110106 0958 Global Market Related News.

OIL: Crude extends gain towards $91 on U.S. jobs
SINGAPORE, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Oil extended gains on  Thursday as upbeat private payroll data helped markets recover  from a mid-week slump on expectations that a sustained  economic recovery at the world's top consuming nation will  boost growth in energy demand.
Earlier on Wednesday, oil fell after suffering the biggest single-day drop since mid-November on Tuesday. Crude was initially led lower by a stronger dollar, which typically weighs on commodities as they become more expensive for buyers using other currencies.

COMMODITIES: Rebound from rout after US jobs data, end up
NEW YORK, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Strong U.S. jobs data ignited a broad commodities rebound on Wednesday, a day after prices fell their most in seven weeks.
"What's happening now is the global economic recovery story has become just as important as the dollar story, if not more," said Adam Sarhan at Sarhan Capital in New York. "That's the shift we're starting to see."

GLOBAL MARETS: Dollar jumps, oil rebounds on big U.S. jobs gain
NEW YORK, Jan 5 (Reuters) - The U.S. dollar jumped and crude oil prices rebounded on Wednesday after surprisingly strong data on private-sector jobs added to growing evidence the U.S. economy is on the path to recovery.
"Today's all about data reaction; you had a blowout ADP report," said Michael Cloherty, head of rates strategy at RBC Capital Markets in New York.

Record High Prices Could Spark Food Riots-UN FAO Economist (Source: CME)
Global food prices hit a record high in December and are likely to continue rising this year due to inclement weather, raising the possibility of a return of the food riots that broke out when prices last surged in 2008. "The longer [food prices] remain high, the longer there is a possibility of a repeat of 2007 and 2008" food riots, said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist at the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization. Global food prices rose to a record high in December, according to the FAO's monthly Food Price Index published Wednesday. The FAO's food price index, which monitors the monthly change in a basket of commodities including meat, dairy, cereals, oils and sugar, rose for the sixth month in a row to 214.7, a record high in nominal terms, according to data going as far back as 1990, and up 4.3% compared with November. The surge was largely driven by significant monthly price increases in oilseeds, cereals and sugar; white sugar prices alone recently hit 30-year highs.
The indexes for each of those food groups rose 8.1%, 6.4%, and 6.7%, respectively, in December from November. Food prices have jumped because poor weather conditions across the globe have significantly curtailed crop harvests. Russia, for instance, banned grain exports over the summer due to one of its worst droughts on record while severe flooding in Australia has crimped its raw sugar output by 20%. The FAO's food price index previously surged to a record high of 213.5 in June 2008 when poor harvests around the world and rising commodity prices, particularly oil, made food more expensive. Riots broke out in developing countries, which struggled to pay higher prices to import food. Inflation also rose due to higher food prices and could rise again. Euro-zone inflation jumped past the bloc's target rate for the first time in more than two years, data released this week showed. Economists said the rise was likely due to higher food and energy prices.
Abbassian said food riots are unlikely for the moment, partly because poorer countries have had on average better crops this year than in 2007-08. The economist also said that prices for important staple foods such as cereals and rice are still below their record highs. Rice is priced at half its high two years ago while cereal is trading 13% below its high, he added. Nevertheless, he said poorer countries will at some point have to tap the international markets for foodstuffs. "That is the worrisome development...We consider the [current] prices quite punitive for the poorer countries," he said. Abbassian said prices will more likely rise this year than fall due to poor weather. Any potential price correction, therefore, isn't likely to happen before the middle of the summer when the next harvests are due to begin.

FACTBOX-Commodity index rebalancing in 2011
Jan 4 (Reuters) - Index funds invested in commodities will kick off their annual rebalancing exercise this week, adding risk to under-exposed markets like natural gas and paring back from the overly-weighted agriculture sector, data from investment banks showed.
The Dow Jones-UBS and the SPGSCI indexes, which command anestimated $200 billion of passive investment in commodities, typically adjust their weightings in the first two weeks of January, based on their formula for dividing allocations between futures markets.

Aussie floods hit freight market, ship rates slide
LONDON, Jan 4 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, which tracks rates to ship dry commodities, slid to its lowest in over 20 months on Tuesday as floods in Australia hit coal shipments.
The biggest floods in decades have wreaked havoc in Australia's Queensland state, the country's largest exporter of coal, shutting down coal mines and paralysing the transport of goods.

PRECIOUS-Gold stable after deepest fall since mid-Nov
LONDON, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Gold steadied on Wednesday, a day after its largest sell-off in nearly two months, buoyed by consumer demand, which helped offset the potentially negative impact of the dollar extending gains after upbeat U.S. data.
The rise in the dollar against a basket of currencies acted as a headwind to gold, which usually profits from weakness in the greenback, yet the drop in price has encouraged some opportunistic buying from jewellers and other consumers of physical metal.

FOREX-Dollar boosted on data, sovereigns support euro
LONDON, Jan 5 (Reuters) - The dollar held firm on Wednesday, bolstered by further evidence that the U.S. economic recovery is becoming self-sustaining, though its gains against the euro were slowed by central bank demand for the single currency.
A recent series of economic data has raised hopes for a sustainable U.S. recovery and lent support to the dollar. The latest such numbers on Tuesday showed new orders received by U.S. factories rose unexpectedly in November.

US analyst cuts Argentine corn, soy crop estimates
CHICAGO, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Closely-watched private U.S. crop analyst Michael Cordonnier said on Tuesday he had lowered his forecast of Argentine 2010/11 soybean production for a third straight week due to hot and dry weather in the world's third largest soybean exporter.
He reduced his estimate to 45 million tonnes from 48 million tonnes. Cordonnier also cut his estimate of Argentine corn production to 19.5 million tonnes from 21.5 million.

Commodities falls weaken world equities
LONDON, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Commodity prices fell for a second day in a row hurt by profit-taking and a stronger dollar and putting pressure on world equity markets.
"There is some optimism with regards to the U.S. economy, but that is mixed with concerns over where Europe is going in the short- to medium-term. We are likely to remain very data sensitive," said Keith Bowman, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Corn, soy to revisit 2008 peaks this year-top analyst
CHICAGO, Jan 4 (Reuters) - U.S. corn and soybean prices will extend their current rally to threaten their all-time highs from 2008 within the next three months, according to the analyst who topped the Reuters poll for a second year running.
Prices for both commodities will rise a further 18 percent or more due to the threat of dry La Nina weather in South America and as traders get a sense of this year's demand from China, which shocked markets last year by making its biggest U.S. corn purchases since at least 1999, said Charlie Sernatinger, veteran grain analyst with ABN Amro in Chicago.

20110106 0956 Soy Oil & Palm Oil Related News.

U.S. soy product futures posted a strong rebound after a two-day slump. Markets climbed with soybeans in recovery from recent setback, analysts say. Concerns about dryness and heat hurting Argentina's soy crop added support, as Argentina is the world's top exporter of soy products. "Argentina's current low soil moisture has stalled their plantings," according to North America Risk Management Services, a Chicago-based brokerage firm. The crop will be harvested in the spring. CBOT March soymeal ends up $5.20 at $373 per short ton. CBOT March soyoil jumps 0.91 cent to 57.76 cents per pound. (Source: CME)

Palm oil falls on stronger dollar; weather eyed
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Malaysian crude palm oil  futures fell more than 2 percent after a strong  New Year rally driven partly by weather concerns lost some  steam because of a stronger dollar.
"But for palm oil, profit-taking may only be a one-day  affair. Investors cannot afford to ignore the weather-market  play going on," said a trader with a foreign commodities  brokerage.

China may sell state soyoil reserves to some refineries-sources
BEIJING, Jan 5 (Reuters) - China may release at least 300,000 tonnes of state crude soyoil reserves to some designated companies to be refined and sold to the retail market, industry sources said on Wednesday.
The sale is similar to the weekly state sales of rapeseed oil reserves and soybeans that are part of efforts by Beijing to cool food prices, which helped drive inflation to a 28-month high in November.

Indonesia trade min sees palm oil exports growing 16 pct in 2011
JAKARTA, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Indonesia expects palm oil  exports to grow by 16 percent by value in 2011 as new  investment in the sector is expected to boost output, Trade  Minister Mari Pangestu said on Wednesday.
Strong demand from the Middle East will also help boost  exports from the world's top palm oil producer, Pangestu said.

Malaysian palm oil sector to spend $1.4 bln on replanting-media
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Malaysia's palm oil  industry will spend 4.4 billion ringgit ($1.4 billion) during  the next three years to replant 365,000 hectares of ageing oil  palms, the New Straits Times (NST) reported on Wednesday.
The government will pay out 1 billion ringgit to support  smallholders, and listed plantation firms will fork out 3.4  billion for their own replanting schemes, the NST quoted an  official with Pemandu, a government think tank, as saying.