Asia - Economic Data & News

Asia - Economic Data & News

Postby iam802 » Tue Jun 03, 2008 10:21 am

Asian Market Update by Aberdeen Asset Mgnt. (via DollarDex)

http://www.dollardex.com/sg/index.cfm?c ... owFooter=0
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Asian markets fell last week on the back of rising food and oil prices. Thailand and Taiwan led the declines.

With fiscal balances under strain, Taiwan will hike fuel prices, while Indonesia has cut subsidies and, as a net oil importer, will pull out of OPEC. In contrast, Thailand lowered fuel prices. In Thailand, cabinet minister Jakrapob Penkair quit after he was accused of insulting the king, amid growing anti-government street protests in Bangkok. First-quarter GDP rose year-on-year in India, buoyed by construction activity; in Malaysia and Thailand, boosted by a rebound in consumer spending; and in Taiwan, which was aided by strong exports.

Japan's economy appears to be slowing; unemployment hit a seven-month high in April, while industrial production and household spending fell.

Australia: In full-year earnings, Programmed Maintenance's net profits rose on strong performance in the property maintenance division, and Tower Australia Group's interim results benefited from faster sales growth. Meanwhile, Air New Zealand downgraded its earnings expectations for 2008, due to the rising prices of crude oil.

China/Hong Kong: Sun Hung Kai Properties' chairman Walter Kwok will be replaced by his mother, Kwong Siu-hing, to end the internal family feud. Shares of Wing Lung Bank and China Merchants Bank were suspended, as it appeared that the latter was close to acquiring the Wu family's 53% stake in the mid-sized Hong Kong bank.

India: HDFC Bank renewed its agreement with NCR Corporation and ordered 300 new ATMs; Infosys will provide IT solutions for BBVA Banco; and Tata Consultancy Services won a US$100m deal to support NXP Semiconductors' operations. Elsewhere, Taro Pharma terminated its merger agreement with Sun Pharmaceuticals. Meanwhile, ICICI Bank will start a private banking practice, while Bank of Baroda plans to open 10 new overseas branches this year.

Indonesia: First-quarter results were mixed: Ace Hardware's net sales grew sharply, after it opened six more stores during the period. Conversely, Indosat and Telkom's results were disappointing, as they suffered from increased competition and tariff cuts.

Japan: Toyota Motor will significantly expand production for hybrid batteries, in order to meet rising demand for its environmentally-friendly cars. In a surprise move, Rohm will acquire Oki Electric's semiconductor division for ¥90bn.

Malaysia: In corporate earnings news, Oriental Holdings, Aeon Co, Panasonic Manufacturing, Star Publications, Pos Malaysia and Alliance Financial Group all reported satisfactory results in line with expectations.

Philippines: Cebu Holdings will build a third residential condominium in the Cebu Business Park.

Singapore: OCBC Bank plans to raise up to S$1bn through a preference share issue. Bukit Sembawang posted lower fourth-quarter results on lower sales.

Sri Lanka: National Development Bank's first-quarter profits rose an annualised 16%.

Taiwan: Fubon Financial's application to purchase a 20% stake in China's Xiamen City Commercial Bank was approved.

Thailand: Earnings for the three months ended March were mixed: PTT Exploration and Production, Phatra Insurance and Phatra Securities performed well; but results were weak for Ratchaburi Thailand: Siam Makro will divest its Makro Office outlets to concentrate on its core cash-and-carry business.

We hold all the above companies highlighted.

Asian Fixed Income
Regional bond markets were weaker, as investors were gripped by inflation fears. Even though oil prices came off their record highs, governments were forced to raise prices of petrol to control their budgets. Asian currencies continued to weaken against the dollar. The Philippine peso was the worst-performing, while the South Korean won managed to pare some of its losses. Asian dollar credits were largely range-bound. High-yield sovereigns were weighed down by inflation concerns, thus impeding additional bond issuance. Investment-grade credit spreads generally held up well but total returns were affected by the sell-off in US Treasuries.

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Re: Asian Economic Data

Postby winston » Tue Jun 03, 2008 4:10 pm

Malaysia, Thailand Cut to `Underweight' at Goldman (Update2)
By Kyung Bok Cho and Ian C. Sayson


June 3 (Bloomberg) -- Malaysia's political volatility made its stocks least favored in Southeast Asia, Goldman, Sachs & Co. said, recommending that investors also pare holdings in Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines as growth and earnings slow.

The nations' equities were cut to ``underweight'' from ``market weight,'' Singapore-based analysts including Rick Loo wrote in a report dated yesterday. The region's shares are unlikely to rise as economic concerns escalate, they said.

In Malaysia, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is seeking to oust the ruling party, while Thailand's benchmark SET Index yesterday plunged the most since January on speculation anti- government protests and rising consumer prices will dent growth. Inflation will hurt the Philippines most and Indonesia faces a ``tighter fiscal and monetary backdrop,'' Goldman said.

``This is a defensive approach to these markets,'' said Jonathan Ravelas, strategist at Manila-based Banco de Oro Unibank Inc. ``The threat of rising inflation and its impact on consumer spending is a common cause of fear among investors in these markets.''

The countries are at risk of ``contagion'' from Vietnam's economic upheaval that slashed its benchmark index 56 percent this year, according to Goldman's report. Vietnam's stocks are the world's worst performers this year, tumbling on concern surging inflation and a widening trade deficit will lead to further monetary tightening.

Malaysia's Kuala Lumpur Composite Index, which fell 0.3 percent last month, is trading at 13 times historic earnings. It's stocks are the third-most expensive among nations that belong to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, after Indonesia and Thailand.

Stability `in Question'

The nation is ``in unchartered territory,'' Goldman said in the report. ``The premium market valuation that Malaysia enjoyed relative to most of its Asean peers had political stability as one of its pillars -- this is now in question.''

Some strategists, including Sophie Biro at Credit Suisse Group, don't agree with the Goldman view. Malaysia and Indonesia, along with China are the three most attractive markets this month in Asia, Hong Kong-based Biro said in a report today. The three least attractive on her list are Taiwan, Australia and Singapore.

Indonesia ``is not cheap but remains oversold,'' Biro said. Malaysia has ``attractive valuations.''
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Re: Asian Economic Data & Market News

Postby winston » Wed Jun 04, 2008 5:42 pm

Asian Economic Miracle Is at Risk All Over Again: William Pesek

June 4 (Bloomberg) -- Depending on whom you ask, China is either on the verge of a big slowdown or an inflation surge. Some worry Asia's second-biggest economy faces both risks.

China's situation suggests Asia is on the cusp of its worst couple of years since 1997. From Seoul to Jakarta and from Beijing to New Delhi, officials are grappling with a rapidly worsening inflation picture.

It would be nice if there was less concern about the phenomenon and more action to address it. Asia may be nearing the point of no return -- one where the region's so-called economic miracle goes off the rails anew.

Asia isn't about to revisit the darkest days of 1997 and 1998. It was then that speculators tested central banks' resolve to defend currencies. Thailand's devaluation in July 1997 set in motion a crisis that suspended the Asian miracle. It prompted investors to leave Asia and sent contagion around the globe.

A decade later, Asia faces the flipside of that experience. The turmoil of the 1990s was about deflation and recession; the situation today involves overheating. Central banks may already be remiss in a different way than they were during the last crisis: They are falling behind the inflation curve.

``Inflation really has become THE issue,'' says Richard Grainger, a director at Barclays Capital in Hong Kong.

Surging inflation is adding pressure on officials to raise interest rates as record oil and food prices undermine growth. That has created what central-bank heads such as Amando Tetangco of the Philippines call a ``monetary-policy dilemma.''

Touchy Time

This is, admittedly, a touchy time for central banks. They are being asked to tame forces they can't fully control as ``bond vigilantes'' take matters into their own hands and boost bond yields. Central banks also feel they must tread carefully to protect hard-won gains in independence. Politicians are already warning officials not to go overboard raising interest rates.

Yet negative real rates are more the norm than the exception in Asia. Annual inflation rates are above benchmark borrowing costs in China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Bottom line: Interest rates need to go higher in many economies. With household expenses rising, Asia may very well overheat unless central bankers do their jobs. The longer they delay, the bigger the costs to long-term prosperity and the bigger the risks of disappointing investors.

Inflation Scare

Asia has thus far withstood the U.S. credit-market debacle remarkably well. If that was the only threat in the global financial system, 2008 might have been a much better year for the region. Oil at more than $135 a barrel and record food prices have conspired to restrain growth and worsen inflation.

That balancing act is clear to anyone walking the streets of Indonesia these days. Prices are hurting families already close to the edge. Indonesia is but one government in Asia -- where about 600 million people exist on less than $1 a day -- that is divided between reining in prices and supporting growth. What good is growth when inflation eats up the gains?

``While there are many investment opportunities, this won't be an easy year for Asian governments,'' says Dessi Natalegawa, a managing director at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in Jakarta.

Headlines across the region explain why. There are food- related protests in the Philippines; top-level power struggles in Malaysia; the fastest inflation in Singapore since 1982; public battles between politicians and the Bank of Korea; a whiff of financial disaster in Vietnam; and talk of a coup in Thailand.

Avoiding Bust

Asia has come a long way since its last crisis. Government debt is down, living standards are up, corporate governance has improved, currency reserves have been amassed and central banks are more autonomous. Policy makers still must keep Asia's boom from becoming a bust.

For central banks, that means openly and clearly declaring the intention to attack inflation. Big, destabilizing rate increases might do more harm than good. A gradual, yet steady campaign to tap on the brakes could both soothe investors and avoid restraining consumption.

One reason central bankers need to act carefully is the risk of another flare-up in U.S. markets. Standard & Poor's reminded investors of that on June 2 when it lowered credit ratings for Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch & Co. and Lehman Brothers, saying they may have to book more writedowns on devalued assets.

It's impossible to generalize Asia's experience. China's post-earthquake rebuilding efforts, for example, may boost growth and inflation. Wealthy Japan isn't as vulnerable to surging food costs as, say, Indonesia or the Philippines, where many families live on poverty's edge.

The key commonality is a sense of caution. With credit markets still in disarray, aggressive moves are a non-starter. Yet acting now means central banks can make headway on an inflation problem that isn't about to go away.

Hanging in the balance is nothing less than the economic miracle that investors are betting on in Asia.
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Re: Asian Economic Data & Market News

Postby winston » Mon Jun 09, 2008 11:13 am

Institutional investors, who have relatively long time frames and large portfolios, are losing patience with Asia, where underlying inflation is at its highest since 1991, according to a report from State Street Global Markets.

Equity capital flows into Asia outside of Japan last month were a fifth of what they have been over the last 10 years, while flows into the euro zone are running at close to a record pace, said State Street, which tracks 15 percent of the world's tradeable assets.

"Institutional investors are favouring markets where there are central banks that demonstrate a willingness to tackle inflation. The road less travelled by is the one where inflationary risks are most apparent," analysts at State Street said.
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Re: Asian Economic Data & Market News

Postby kennynah » Thu Jun 12, 2008 12:33 pm

Free perk trip....eat kimchi, bulgolgi, stay in 6 star hotel, shake some hands, take some pictures, drink shoju.... go back country, collect monthly salary

*************************

12 Jun 2008 03:56 GMT
Finance Chiefs From Asia, Europe To Debate Global Turbulence


SEOUL (AFP)--Senior European and Asian financial officials will gather in South Korea this weekend to debate ways to tackle the global financial turmoil sparked by the US subprime mortgage crisis.

Europe's huge and growing trade shortfall with China is also expected to be among key topics at the two-day Asia-Europe meeting (ASEM) starting Sunday, analysts say.

The talks on the southern resort island of Jeju will draw about 400 delegates, including 45 finance ministers or vice ministers from 43 Asian and European countries, organizers said.

The forum has been the main channel for economic and financial cooperation between the two continents since its inception in 1997.

"This meeting will become a forum for free debate on global financial turmoil caused by the US subprime loan crisis, its effects and how to cope with it," Song In-Chang, director of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance's international financial policy division, told AFP.

((truncated...didnt think it was necessary to post their entertainment itinerary))
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Re: Asian Economic Data & Market News

Postby kennynah » Sun Jun 15, 2008 5:11 pm

15 Jun 2008 09:01 GMT
Inflation in Asia to rise, may endanger growth - ADB


KUALA LUMPUR (Thomson Financial) - Inflation in Asia will hit 5.1 percent in 2008 due to surging food and fuel prices and could threaten economic growth in the region, the Asian Development Bank warned Sunday.

"Our projection for inflation for Asia for 2008 is 5.1 percent which is already a 10-year high," Rajat Nag, managing director general of ADB told reporters at a two-day World Economic Forum on East Asia here.

"This was a projection we did in April. We are revising our projections. My feeling is the projections will go even higher," he added.

Rajat said Asian monetary and fiscal authorities should "recognise inflation as a very major concern" and hinted that they should raise interest rates.

Inflation "can endanger growth in Asia," he said, adding that "central banks should take all steps, including looking at rates as what India has done quite appropriately."

India's central bank on Wednesday raised a key short-term borrowing rate by a quarter percentage point to 8.0 percent to battle inflation that analysts say may be headed to double-digit levels.

Rajat said if Asian economies "do not temper the inflationary rate which is quite high, you actually will compromise growth. So it is precisely to sustain the prosperity of Asia that we need to focus on inflation," he said.

"Asia has had a very good growth story. We need to focus on inflationary pressure, otherwise the growth story will be endangered," he warned.

Rajat also said that if inflation was not tamed, it would hurt Asia's poor.

"Inflation is the worst form of taxation on the poor. Inflation hurts the poor much more than it hurts the rich," he said.

He added that to reduce the impact of the rise in food and fuel prices on the poor, Asian economies should launch cash income support programmes for the poor, but not a general subsidy.

"A general subsidy is not fiscally sustainable and it does not help the very people that need help," he said.

Rajat urged Asian governments to re-launch the "green revolution" programmes that existed back in the 1960s to increase food output since prices would climb further.

"We need to recognise that there has been some structural changes in food and fuel. The era of cheap food is over, so we need to adjust to higher price regime. There has to be a lot of effort to increase food productivity," he said.
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Re: Asian Economic Data & Market News

Postby kennynah » Mon Jun 16, 2008 11:41 am

more shoju and kimchi
***************

16 Jun 2008 03:26 GMT
BULLET: ASIA PRESS: The 8th ASEM Finance Ministers' Meeting..


ASIA PRESS: The 8th ASEM Finance Ministers' Meeting are being held in South Korea from 15 to 17 June, during which the ministers are expected to discuss the global and regional economic and financial situations, and what can be done to address the situations, Channel NewsAsia reports.

The finance chiefs will also talk about economic and financial integration in Europe, and how the experience may be applied to Asia.
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HK & China - General News

Postby winston » Mon Jun 30, 2008 8:32 am

Fund ouflows hit region
Lisa Yu
Monday, June 30, 2008

The Greater China region experienced a severe net outflow of equity funds in the first half, according to EPFR Global, a company tracking worldwide funds.

The situation is not expected to improve much for the rest of the year, said KGI Asia chief operating officer Ben Kwong Man-bun.

"Mounting pressure from inflation and higher interest rates will result in increasing costs and a worsening of the credit crunch. There will be limited money flowing into Hong Kong and other emerging markets," Kwong said.

EPFR data showed the Greater China region, which includes Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, had a net outflow of US$3.09 billion (HK$24.1 billion), an increase of nearly 200 percent from US$1.06 billion in the first half of last year.

"An outflow of funds from Hong. Kong is not surprising as global equity markets are bearish. It is a global phenomenon," Kwong said.

By itself, however, the mainland saw net outflows plunge to US$77 million from US$3.89 billion in the first half of last year.

Kwong said it is hard to tell whether the hot money that flowed into the mainland was due to its robust economy or speculators betting on its currency.

"Yuan appreciation certainly attracts investors," he said. "It also depends on the central government's macroeconomic regulation and control."

Net equity outflow from global emerging markets was US$6.39 billion, almost 10 times higher than the US$696 million seen last year.

"Low interest rates in the emerging markets had attracted [flows of] money. But now the global markets are experiencing inflation and fund contractions. The emerging markets are undergoing adjustment, and we will see further selling of stocks in the second half," Kwong said.

The Hang Seng Index dropped 413 points last Friday.
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HK & China

Postby millionairemind » Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:29 am

Asian states may buy shares to aid markets
By Andrew Wood in Hong Kong, Kathrin Hille in Taipei and Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad
Published: June 29 2008 19:42 | Last updated: June 29 2008 19:42

Several Asian countries are looking at spending billions of dollars on shares to support plunging stock markets in a move likely to be welcomed by global investors who fear emerging markets may be about to suffer further dramatic falls.

The development follows a 13 per cent fall this year in the MSCI Asia Pacific index, which looks as though it will end the month on Monday with its worst first-half performance since 1992, when it sank by 23 per cent as the Japanese economic bubble deflated.

Government officials in Taipei, where the local market dropped to a five-month low on Friday, said the cabinet had called on government pension and insurance funds to buy more domestic shares and to hold their investments for a longer period.

Economic and financial ministers and central bank officials met over the weekend to discuss how to boost investor confidence.

They stopped short, for now, of ordering the use of a T$500bn ($16.4bn) National Stabilisation Fund designed to support markets in times of volatility caused by non-economic events. However, the board of the fund, which was last used during political turmoil after the 2004 presidential election, will meet again on Friday.

In Vietnam, state media reported that the stock exchange and securities regulator was setting up a stabilisation fund to support a market that has lost nearly two-thirds of its value this year as inflation surged.

And in Pakistan, the Karachi Stock Exchange is coming under increasing pressure to use a Rp30bn ($442m) stabilisation fund set up last week for use in “volatile circumstances”.

Karachi had one of the hottest stock markets in the world in 2007, but its loss of nearly one-third in value since April has created “systemic risk”, the KSE said.

Official intervention to support share prices has a long history in Asia. One of the most successful examples was in 1998, when the Hong Kong government bought shares in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis to support the value of the assets backing the territory’s currency, which is pegged to the dollar.

Japan started to intervene in the stock market in 1991 after prices halved after the “bubble economy” burst. Interventions continued for several years, but more than a decade later the Nikkei average is only worth a third of its value in 1989.

“The success [of official support] depends on one thing only: how cheap the market is,” said Khiem Do, head of multi-asset at Baring Asset Management in Hong Kong. “The price-earnings ratio has ideally to be below 10 times, or no higher than the mid-teens, and then you have some chance of it working.”

Taiwan is currently trading at about 11 times forecast profits, Pakistan at 14 and Vietnam at about 10, he said.
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Re: Asian Economic Data

Postby winston » Sun Jul 27, 2008 11:23 pm

Macquarie, Westpac Among Asia Stocks Set to Gain, Merrill Says By Chen Shiyin

July 23 (Bloomberg) -- Macquarie Group Ltd., Westpac Banking Corp. and Bendigo & Adelaide Bank Ltd. are among stocks most likely to benefit from a recovery in Asian markets, Merrill Lynch & Co. said.

The companies are among nine Australian equities on the list of 17 recommended in Asia, Merrill's Hong Kong-based strategists Mark Matthews and Daniel Casali said in a report today. The shares were picked partly because they are valued at discounts to their five-year averages.

``If one did expect markets to rebound over the course of the next few weeks, one might want to own a basket of stocks that are very oversold,''
the strategists said in the report. ``Australia could benefit more than other markets in a mean- reversion environment.''

The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index has dropped 15 percent this year as oil prices rose to records and the world's largest banks and securities firms reported writedowns and credit losses of more than $467 billion. The measure rose for a third day, by 1.4 percent, after plunging to the lowest since October 2006.

Outflows of as much as $13 billion from Asian emerging- market funds, volatility near a 10-year high, cheaper valuations, and the outlook for oil prices and the dollar are among signs suggesting that markets are due to rebound, the strategists said.

Macquarie Jumps

Macquarie Group, the nation's largest securities firm, rallied 11 percent today after saying it had a ``solid'' first quarter and has avoided the troubled assets that have caused losses among global banks. The shares remain 32 percent lower this year.

Westpac, Australia's fourth-biggest bank, jumped 6.3 percent, while Bendigo & Adelaide rose 2.7 percent. Merrill also recommended Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd., Fairfax Media Ltd., Goodman Group, CSL Ltd., National Australia Bank Ltd. and Macquarie Infrastructure Group in Australia.

The brokerage still has an ``underweight'' recommendation for Australia, Matthews and Casali wrote in the report.

In Hong Kong, investors should buy shares of Esprit Holdings Ltd., Guangzhou R&F Properties Co. and Dongfeng Motor Group Co., the Merrill strategists said. The other picks are Venture Corp. and City Developments Ltd. in Singapore, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. and Wipro Ltd. in India, and Taiwan's Asustek Computer Inc.
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