Friday, February 25, 2011

20110225 0954 Global Economic Related News.

India: Mukherjee cutting debt sales drives flatter curve
For the first time in seven years India’s government may be preparing to reduce debt sales, spurring a rally in longer-dated bonds. Yields on 10-year bonds fell to within 27 basis points of two-year debt on 23 Feb, the least since December 2008, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Eight of 12 economists in a Bloomberg News survey predict policy makers will cut borrowings in the year starting April. (Bloomberg)

EU: Europe economic confidence rises more than economists forecast
European confidence in the economic outlook improved more than economists forecast to the highest in 3 1/2 years in February, led by surging optimism in Germany. An index of executive and consumer sentiment in the euro region advanced to 107.8 from 106.8 in January 2011, the European Commission said. That’s the highest since August 2007. Economists had forecast a February reading of 106.8, the median of 28 estimates in a Bloomberg survey showed. (Bloomberg)

US: Consumer comfort rises to highest level since ‘08
Consumer confidence climbed to the highest level since April 2008 as Americans grew less pessimistic about their finances. The Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, formerly the ABC News US Weekly Consumer Comfort Index, was minus 39.2 in the period to 20 Feb, compared with minus 43.4 the prior week, a report showed. (Bloomberg)

US: Jobless claims fall
Fewer Americans than forecast filed first-time claims to collect jobless benefits last week, indicating companies are reducing the pace of firings as they grow more confident in the economic outlook. Applications for unemployment insurance decreased 22,000 to 391,000 in the week ended 19 Feb, the Labor Department said. Claims have fallen in three of the past four weeks, pushing down the monthly average to the lowest level since July 2008. (Bloomberg)

US: Sales of new US homes fell more than forecast in January
Purchases of new houses in the US fell more than forecast in January, reflecting declines in the West and South that indicate a California tax credit and bad weather may have played a role. Sales declined 13% to a 284,000 annual pace, figures from the Commerce Department showed. The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News projected a decrease to a 305,000 rate. Demand dropped 37% in the West and 13% in the South. (Bloomberg)

U.S: Orders for durable goods increase in January on surge in aircraft. Bookings for goods meant to last at least three years rose 2.7% MoM after a 0.4% MoM drop in December. Orders excluding transportation equipment unexpectedly dropped, reflecting a recurring pattern of declines in capital goods in the first month of a quarter. (Source: Bloomberg)

U.K: Retail-sales gauge in February declines to eight-month low and stores expect no growth next month as Britons curtail spending, the Confederation of British Industry said. Retailers saying sales volumes increased from a year ago outnumbered those reporting declines by 6 percentage points, compared with 37 percentage points in January. An expectations gauge for March was at zero. A separate quarterly index showed selling prices are rising at the fastest pace in almost two decades. (Source: Bloomberg)

Indonesia: Investment grade rating looms as Fitch raises outlook. Indonesia moved closer to attaining an investment grade rating, its first since the Asian financial crisis more than a decade ago, after Fitch Ratings raised its outlook on the sovereign to positive from stable. The company affirmed its BB+ grade on Indonesia's local and foreign-currency debt, one step below investment grade, it said in a statement. An upgrade will put Indonesia on par with India and Brazil. (Source: Bloomberg)

Vietnam: Will restrain lending growth and narrow the budget deficit as Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung seeks to curb inflation and revive investor confidence in an economy that has devalued its currency four times in 15 months. Dung cut the credit-growth target to below 20% from 23% for 2011, according to a resolution approved by the prime minister, which was presented by Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung to government and central bank officials at a meeting in Hanoi. He told ministries to narrow the budget deficit to less than 5% of GDP this year and ordered a "cautious and tight" monetary policy. (Source: Bloomberg)

Australia: 4Q10 business investment climbed to a record as a mining investment boom driven by Chinese and Indian demand for natural resources capped a year of unprecedented job growth. Capital spending advanced 1.3% QoQ to AUD29.7b (USD29.8b), the highest on record. Investment in new plant and equipment, a contributor to GDP, gained 6.1% QoQ last quarter, the biggest advance in a year. (Source: Bloomberg)

N. Zealand: May cut rate as quake damage estimate up to NZD 12 b. Investors bet there is an 88% chance RBNZ Governor Alan Bollard will reduce the official cash rate by 25 basis points at the March 10 policy meeting. A central bank spokesman declined to comment on speculation the RBNZ may hold an unscheduled meeting to consider a policy change. (Source: Bloomberg)

20110225 0953 Malaysia Corporate Related News.

MAHB: Moody's Investors Service has assigned an A3 with a stable outlook. "MAHB's fundamental credit strengths are mainly underpinned by its position as a close-to-monopoly airport operator in Malaysia, where there is a track record of strong passenger traffic growth," says Elizabeth Allen, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Credit Officer. "The cumulative average passenger growth rate of the last 10 years was 5.8% and in 2010 it was 12.7%. This is driven by a strong domestic economy, an attractive tourism sector and the expansion of the low-cost carriers (LCCs), whose presence in Kuala Lumpur in particular has stimulated demand," says Allen. (Source: The EdgeDaily)

Plantations: Palm oil exports to be better this year. Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said palm oil exports rose 23.9% to RM62.8b last year compared to RM50.73b in 2009. I think this is an increasing trend. This year will be better because the high prices of palm oil will come towards the end of the year. (Source: Malaysia Reserve)

Rubber: RM500m sought to plant more rubber trees. Malaysia's rubber sector is seeing renewed interest from investors as the current run-up in SMR20 rubber prices to an all time high of RM16.58 is fuelled by raging demand from manufacturers of tyres and healthcare products."We need to replant 40,000ha of rubber trees and carry out new plantings of 13,000ha a year to meet the global shortage for rubber, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said adding he was seeking RM500 from the government to plant more rubber trees. (Source: Business Times)

Petrol: Government to maintain RON95 and diesel prices. Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government will maintain the price for RON95 at RM1.90 and diesel at RM1.80 despite the escalating global oil price. (Source: Malaysia Reserve)         

Lor resigns as group CEO of EON Bank
EON Capital Bhd (EON Cap) yesterday announced that group CEO Datuk Michael Lor of wholly owned EON Bank has resigned with immediate effect, and the resignation has been accepted by the bank. This resignation comes in the midst of EON Cap still caught in the middle of a court case involving the takeover of the bank by Hong Leong Bank Bhd (HLB). HLB has proposed to acquire the assets and liabilities of EON Cap at RM5.06bn or RM7.30 per share.(StarBiz)

Motor insurance to cost more?
Vehicle owners may have to pay more for their motor insurance premiums from next year as the Government plans to remove motor insurance tariffs in 2016. Bank Negara Malaysia, tasked to prepare the new motor insurance framework, informed this at a recent meeting with various stakeholders involved in the new scheme recently. A source who attended the meeting said that “Under the new motor insurance framework, the Government plans to gradually increase insurance premiums from 2012 onwards”.(BT)

Tanjung Offshore wins job extension
Tanjung Offshore has won a RM33.5m contract extension to provide three off-shore support vessels to Petronas Carigali. The extension is for one year, starting from March and July this year, it said in a statement to Bursa. The contract may be renewed further, depending on Petronas’ needs.(BT)

Proton, Perodua roadmaps sought
National car companies Proton and Perodua have been asked to prepare their roadmaps on how they plan to be competitive once the auto industry undergoes wide-ranging liberalization from 2015. Those plans are essential as import duties and approved permits are to be cut and removed from 2015 until the industry is fully liberalized in 2020. “At the end of the day, we want our automotive industry to remain and be competitive,” said Malaysia Automotive Institute chairman Datuk Kamaruddin Ismail.(StarBiz)

Second coal-fired power plant award out in June
The Government is likely to decide on the concessionaire for the second 1,000 megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in June, said Energy commission chairman Tan Sri Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Ali. He said the commission has issued the request for proposals on the plant from MMC Corp’s unit, Malakoff Corp and Jimah Energy Ventures SB. The plant would be sited either at Tanjung Bin in Johor, owned by MMC or Jimah in Negeri Sembilan, owned by Jimah Energy. (Financial Daily)

20110225 0949 Global Market Related News.

OIL: Oil falls from near $120 on Saudi, Gaddafi rumor
NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Oil sank from 2-1/2-year highs near $120 a barrel on Thursday in strong, late-day profit-taking following an unsubstantiated rumor Muammar Gaddafi had been shot and Saudi Arabia's assurances it can counter Libyan supply disruptions.
"After three days of moving to the upside, the market was prone to profit-taking and then we heard the rumor that Gaddafi was dead," said Peter Beutel, president of Cameron Hanover in New Canaan, Connecticut.

COMMODITIES: Oil gains unravel, roiling other markets
LONDON/NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Oil prices surged more than $8 on Thursday, then collapsed, roiling other commodities, as Saudi Arabia prepared to boost crude exports and oil traders spread a rumor that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had been shot.
"The market cannot accommodate another disruption, in our view, with the problems in Libya potentially absorbing half of OPEC's spare capacity," Goldman analyst Jeffrey Currie said in a research note.

GLOBAL MARKETS: Oil steadies after volatile trade, stocks edgy
HONG KONG, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Oil stabilised on Friday after a sharp reversal from a 2-1/2 year peak overnight, calming concerns that a surge in prices would hurt economic recovery.
"But with many economic indicators out next week from the U.S. and ahead of the weekend, which will probably bring more clues about the Libyan situation, investors won't take too many risks," Takahashi said.

USDA to update projection of large US plantings
WASHINGTON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Sky-high grain prices will bring the biggest surge in U.S. plantings in 14 years, the Agriculture Department says in projections that it will update at its annual Outlook Forum opening on Thursday.
Traders generally agree with USDA's projections of larger corn and soybean plantings this spring. But they expect a record 5 billion bushels of corn will be used to make fuel ethanol in the new marketing year -- 165 million bushels, or 3 percent more than USDA foresees.

US Food-Price Inflation Expected At 3% To 4% This Year (Source: CME)
U.S. consumers are about to be whipsawed by retail food prices. Food prices, which rose in 2010 by the mildest rate since 1962, will jump between 3% and 4% this year, according to a forecast released Thursday by the U.S. Agriculture Department at its annual outlook conference in Washington D.C. Rising grain, livestock and energy costs are putting intense pressure on food manufacturers, restaurants and supermarkets to pass along their higher costs even though post-recession consumers are still leery about paying more for anything, even food. The USDA raised its 2011 food-inflation forecast Thursday from its previous 2011 forecast for a 2% to 3% rise in the government's Consumer Price Index for all food. The all-food CPI rose just 0.8% in 2010. (This story and related background material will be available on The Wall Street Journal website,
A combination of strong foreign demand for U.S. commodities, plus tight U.S. supplies, have pushed prices of many food categories sharply higher in recent months. The USDA said retail prices of ground beef and steak in January were higher by 9.9% and 9.8%, respectively, than a year earlier. Retail pork prices, meanwhile, were 9.9% higher in January from a year earlier. The USDA said it expects to see retail prices of cereal and bakery products to climb between 3.5% and 4.5% in 2011 compared to 2010.

Europe mulls higher higher rates; Fed seen on hold
LONDON/WASHINGTON, Feb 23 (Reuters) - European central banks appear to be edging closer to interest rate increases as inflation runs above targets, although fears of stifling fledgling recoveries may yet give policy makers pause.
Two hawkish Federal Reserve officials on Wednesday expressed some sympathy for concerns about higher prices, though the consensus at the U.S. central bank still appears to favor a continuation of its highly stimulative monetary policy.

PRECIOUS-Gold steadies, inflation fears offer support
LONDON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Gold steadied near seven-week highs on Thursday, as investor fears over inflation stemming from the spike in crude oil were partially offset by pockets of profit-taking after the market's 6 percent rise this month.
As many as 1,000 people may have been killed in the unrest in Libya, where on Wednesday, thousands celebrated as the east broke free of the control of Mummar Gaddafi, who has vowed to crush the revolt.

FOREX-Swiss franc hits record high, dollar falls broadly
LONDON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - The Swiss franc hit a record high against the dollar on Thursday, boosted by safe-haven demand due to ongoing political turmoil in Libya, while the resulting surge in oil prices stung the U.S. currency across the board.
Brent crude oil  leapt to its highest since August 2008 on concern that unrest that has cut more than a quarter of OPEC-member Libya's output could spread to other producers including top exporter Saudi Arabia.

U.S. wheat rises for 2nd day, strong demand supports
SINGAPORE, Feb 24 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat gained around half a percent in its second successive daily rise, driven by strong demand and tenders issued by importers in Africa and the Middle East.
"I think buyers who had been waiting for a correction certainly seem to be jumping on this opportunity which is providing support to the market," said Adam Davis, a senior grains trader at Melbourne-based Merricks Capital.

India eyes grain, sugar exports as global prices gain
NEW DELHI, Feb 23 (Reuters) - India's farm minister called on Wednesday for limited exports of wheat, rice and sugar to resume, in an effort to benefit from high global prices of the commodities.
Sharad Pawar's call for exports came as at least 100,000 trade unionists marched through the Indian capital on Wednesday in a protest against high food prices and unemployment.
India, the world's second-largest producer of wheat and rice, has kept a tight control over grain exports since 2007, allowing only limited sales in diplomatic deals, while the nation's stocks swelled after three straight years of bumper harvests.

Brent oil near $120 on Libya; stocks, copper fall
LONDON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Oil prices hit 29-month highs to near $120 a barrel on growing fears that the unrest in Libya could spread to other oil producing countries including top exporter Saudi Arabia, threatening to derail global growth.
"The market cannot accommodate another disruption, in our view, with the problems in Libya potentially absorbing half of OPEC's spare capacity," Goldman Sachs' Jeffrey Currie said in a research note.

20110225 0948 Soy Oil & Palm Oil Related News.

ITS CPO export down 8.2% to 973,441 tonnes for the period of 1~25 Feb 2011.
SGS CPO export down 6% to 957,224 tonnes for the period of 1~25 Feb 2011.

Soy-product futures ended lower, backpedaling in unison with soybean futures. The markets were pressured by investors reducing risk exposure, but futures did stabilize from prior declines as tight projected soy stocks and solid demand continue to underpin prices, analysts said. CBOT May soyoil ended 0.8% lower at 55.28c/pound and May soymeal fell $1.20 to $354.90/short ton. (Source: CME)

Palm off 3-mth low; other markets limit loss on $100 crude oil
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Palm oil ended off three-month lows with other vegetable oil markets limiting losses on surging crude oil although concerns lingered over Libyan unrest spreading and slowing economic growth.
"Palm oil trading is too volatile for these two days, it's difficult to predict its direction," said a trader in Kuala Lumpur, adding that palm oil exports data due on Friday could set market direction.

China March soy imports seen low at 3.16 mln T -Mofcom
BEIJING, Feb 24 (Reuters) - China's commerce ministry said it expected soy imports in March to remain low at 3.16 million tonnes, the lowest level in a year.
The March import forecast is about the same as the projection for February, which the ministry revised up slightly on Thursday to 3.17 million tonnes, the lowest since March 2010, due to poor crushing margins late 2010 and seasonal low demand for soymeal.

Brazil soy harvest gets break from rains--Somar
SAO PAULO, Feb 23 (Reuters) - The rain has let up over Brazil's top soybean producing states of Mato Grosso, Parana and Goias where the harvest is picking up the pace.
But heavy rains have drenched No. 3 soy state Rio Grande do Sul, making it still weeks away from reaping, local forecaster Somar said Wednesday.