The Week Ahead: Inflation data, decision on Ku Nan trial in focus

TheEdge Mon, Dec 21, 2020 05:29pm - 9 months ago View Original

It will be a relatively quiet week ahead, with more people taking time off for their year-end break and parliament adjourned until next year. Nevertheless, there will be some economic releases as well as court cases that have attracted public interest to look out for during the week.

Markets will be closed on Friday, Christmas day.

On Tuesday, Bank Negara Malaysia will release its international reserves data as at Dec 15. The central bank’s international reserves amounted to US$105.3 billion as at Nov 30, which is sufficient to finance 8.6 months of retained imports and is 1.2 times total short-term external debt.

On Wednesday, the Department of Statistics Malaysia will release the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for November. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg are expecting the percentage change in CPI, which is a measure of the inflation rate, to decline 1.5% year on year in November, similar to October, as fuel prices continue to stay low.

Over at the Malaysian courts, the fate of former Federal Territories minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor (popularly known as Ku Nan), who is facing a RM2 million corruption charge, will be known on Monday (Dec 21), a day after his 70th birthday. The decision will be delivered by High Court judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan.

According to a Bernama report, Tengku Adnan is being charged, in his capacity as a civil servant, with having received RM2 million from businessman Tan Sri Chai Kin Kong, a director at Aset Kayamas Sdn Bhd, via a Hong Leong Islamic Bank cheque belonging to Aset Kayamas. The cheque was deposited into a CIMB account owned by Tadmansori Holdings Sdn Bhd, which the accused has an interest in and is known to Aset Kayamas as being related to Tengku Adnan’s official duties.

The Putrajaya MP is being charged under Section 165 of the Penal Code, which provides for a jail term of up two years or a fine or both upon conviction.

On the same day, there will be a mention of former finance minister and Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng’s graft case in relation to the Penang undersea tunnel project at the Sessions Court. The 60-year-old is being charged with allegedly abusing his position as a public officer — he was the chief minister of Penang at that time — to assist Datuk Zarul Ahmad Mohd Zulkifli’s company in being appointed for the construction of main roads and the Penang undersea tunnel — said to be worth RM6.341 billion — in exchange for RM3.3 million.

On Thursday, former Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad’s defence team — for his graft case in relation to a hotel purchase in Sarawak — will make its final submissions.

On June 16, Isa was ordered by judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali to enter his defence against nine counts of graft charges in relation to a total of RM3.09 million received from Ikhwan Zaidel, a director of Syarikat Gegasan Abadi Properties Sdn Bhd.

Syarikat Gegasan sold the Merdeka Palace Hotel and Suites in Kuching to Felda Investment Corp Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of FELDA, for RM160 million, an amount the prosecution contended was overinflated.

Across the Causeway, Singapore will be releasing its November CPI data on Wednesday, which is expected to register a decline of 0.2%. Singapore will also release its November industrial production data on Thursday.

The only monetary policy decision from Asia this week comes from the Bank of Thailand on Wednesday. UOB Markets Research expects the Thai central bank to leave its benchmark rate unchanged at 0.5%, as the low rate is still needed to support economic recovery.

Over in the UK, Brexit negotiators will be racing against time to submit a finalised deal to members of the European parliament by Sunday (Dec 20). The European parliament had earlier issued an ultimatum to European Union and UK negotiators that it will not ratify a deal by the end of the year if it is reached any later than this Sunday. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson last Friday (Dec 18) repeated his suggestion that it was “very likely” that an agreement would not be reached, with fisheries the standout issue.

Meanwhile, Bursa Malaysia-listed companies that will be holding their annual general meeting this week include Scomi Energy Services Bhd, Insas Bhd, Kim Teck Cheong Consolidated Bhd,  Saudee Group Bhd, Seal Inc Bhd, Teo Guan Lee Corp Bhd, MCE  Holdings Bhd, Jadi Imaging Holdings Bhd, Only World Group Holdings Bhd, Barakah Offshore Petroleum Bhd, Impiana Hotels Bhd, Subur Tiasa Holdings Bhd, Edaran Bhd and Nexgram Holdings Bhd. Those scheduled to host an extraordinary general meeting include Mah Sing Group Bhd, Pelangi Publishing Group Bhd, Karex Bhd and Pansar Bhd.

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