The Week Ahead: Budget 2021 debate and Trump’s reaction to Biden’s win

TheEdge Mon, Nov 16, 2020 02:00pm - 5 months ago

The Budget 2021 debate in parliament is expected to continue to make headlines in Malaysia this week, even as the world watches US President Donald Trump’s behaviour post-election. At the time of writing, he had yet to concede victory to president-elect Joe Biden.

Details on the mechanics of the proposed Employees Provident Fund Account 1 withdrawals — one of the most debated items — may well be expected as early as this week, with Budget 2021 coming up for vote on Nov 25 at the lower house.

On the corporate front, the third-quarter earnings reporting season will be picking up this week, with only a fortnight to go before the reporting deadline for the fiscal quarter ended Sept 30.

Malaysian planters IOI Corp Bhd and Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd are slated to release their respective first and fourth quarter results this week. It remains to be seen whether their earnings will see a boost from crude palm oil (CPO) prices rising 19% from RM2,392 a tonne on June 30 to RM2,857 a tonne on Sept 30.

Also expected to report quarterly earnings this week are Dialog Group Bhd, MISC Bhd, Petronas Dagangan Bhd, Petronas Chemicals Bhd, Bumi Armada Bhd and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd.

The diary for local economic data releases is thin this week, with Bank Negara Malaysia slated to release its biweekly foreign reserves update this Friday. As at Oct 30, 2020, the central bank’s international reserves stood at US$104.6 billion (RM432.2 billion), just 0.4% below US$105 billion as at end-September.

The docket is slightly busier at neighbouring Southeast Asian (Asean) countries. On Monday, Thailand will release its 3Q2020 GDP data. Thailand’s real GDP shrank 12.2% y-o-y in 2Q2020, marking its biggest contraction since the 1998 Asian financial crisis, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Wednesday, the Bank of Thailand will release its interest rate decision, and all eyes will be on whether the rate would be lowered a further 25 basis points from its current record low of 0.5%. Apart from dealing with the pandemic, which has been a blow to local tourism, Thailand has also been affected by street protests calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and for reforms to the Thai monarchy. Thailand will also release its exports and imports figures for October on Friday.

Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, is set to release its trade data for October on Monday; and Bank Indonesia will release its monetary policy decision on Thursday. At its last monetary policy meeting, the Indonesian central bank left the key rate unchanged at a multi-year low of 4%.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, the central bank of the Philippines, will also announce its monetary policy decision on Thursday. The central bank has cut its benchmark interest rate by 175bps this year to 2.25%.

Bangko Sentral governor Benjamin Diokno told Reuters that the economy, which fell into recession for the first time in 29 years in the second quarter, will “bounce back” next year, with “real growth” to start in 2022. The governor added that he saw no immediate need to ease monetary policy further, given the slew of indicators that point towards economic recovery from the contraction caused by the pandemic.

As for Malaysia’s major trading partners, China will release its industrial production data for October on Monday, as well as its retail sales numbers and unemployment rate for October.

Over in the US, the world’s largest economy will release its retail sales numbers for October on Tuesday, as well as its initial jobless claims figures, which are seen falling to 735,000 for the week ended Nov 6, from 751,000 in the previous week, marking the fourth consecutive week that claims remained below 800,000.

Back home, in Malaysian courts, there will be a mention on Thursday of the Dhaya Maju LTAT Sdn Bhd case against Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong and the government, whereby Dhaya Maju is seeking a summary judgment for breach of contract over the termination of the company in the Klang Valley Double Tracking Phase 2 (KVDT2) project. In September, the High Court (construction division) dismissed an application by Dhaya Maju for an injunction against the government and Wee to bar them from terminating a contract with the company for the construction of the KVDT2.

Meanwhile, companies scheduled to have their annual general meetings next week include Nova Wellness Group Bhd on Monday; Key Asic Bhd and UCrest Bhd on Tuesday; Ageson Bhd, Dialog Group Bhd, Foundpac Group Bhd and Imaspro Corp Bhd on Wednesday; Ahmad Zaki Resources Bhd and RGT Bhd on Thursday; and Kotra Industries Bhd on Friday.

Those holding extraordinary general meetings include GPA Holdings Bhd on Monday; T7 Global Bhd and Sarawak Consolidated Industries Bhd on Tuesday; Ni Hsin Resources Bhd on Wednesday; and Sunzen Biotech Bhd on Thursday.

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