The Week Ahead: 3Q GDP and Asean Summit in focus

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on November 12, 2018 - November 18, 2018.

Pence will attend the 33rd Asean Summit on behalf of Trump. Photo by AFP

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This week, the main data in focus will be the country’s third-quarter economic growth, which Bank Negara Malaysia will announce on Friday.

A Bloomberg consensus sees the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growing at a faster pace of 4.7% year on year, after 4.5% growth in the second quarter. In 2Q2018, economic growth slowed for the third consecutive quarter.

The government has forecast that the economy will grow at a modest 4.8% this year — well below the 5.9% recorded last year — taking into account the moderating global outlook and US-China trade tensions. Its forecast is also below Bank Negara’s revised growth projection of 5%, made in August, from an earlier expectation of 5.5% to 6%.

The central bank will be watched for whether it makes any further revision to the full-year forecast. Last Thursday, at its last monetary policy meeting for the year, it kept the benchmark overnight policy rate unchanged at 3.25%.

Meanwhile, all eyes will be on the 33rd Asean Summit, which will be held in Singapore from Nov 11 to 15. Side events there include the 13th East Asia Summit (Nov 14 and 15) and Asean bilateral summits with China, Japan, South Korea, Russia and the US.

Apart from the respective leaders of the 10-nation grouping, the key people who will attend the summit are US vice-president Mike Pence — there on behalf of President Donald Trump — and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is expected to discuss Malaysia’s water agreement with Singapore, among other thorny issues, while there.

Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya told the Dewan Rakyat last month that the government will not budge in its demand for a review of the price of raw water sold to the republic. He said the current rate of three sen per 1,000 gallons of water it charges Singapore is too low and does not benefit Malaysia. Marzuki said Mahathir will raise the issue during his upcoming visit there.

After the summit, Singapore will hand over the rotating Asean chairmanship to Thailand.

Later this week, there is also the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Papua New Guinea (Nov 17 and 18). Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to attend. Pence will also be there on behalf of Trump.

Over in China, there will be October data on monetary aggregates and loans (Nov 10 to 15), retail sales, industrial production, fixed asset investment, surveyed jobless rate (all on Nov 14) and new home prices (Nov 15).

In the US, the highlights are the October budget statement and Consumer Price Index, both of which will be released on Nov 14. A Bloomberg consensus sees the CPI growing at a slightly faster rate of 2.4% y-o-y compared with 2.3% in September. Apart from that, there is also the October advance retail sales (Nov 15) and industrial production (Nov 16) data.

The Asian central banks scheduled to make monetary policy decisions this week are Thailand (Nov 14), the Philippines (Nov 15) and Indonesia (Nov 15).

“We think there is a chance that all three will hike their respective policy rates by 25 basis points in either November or December (from their current rate of 1.5%, 4.5% and 5.75% respectively),” UOB Global Economics & Markets Research says in its weekly outlook report last Friday.

Japan will release preliminary third-quarter GDP numbers on Nov 14. In the second quarter, its economy grew at a strong 0.7% quarter on quarter, or 3% on an annualised basis.

In Europe, the UK’s September unemployment rate (Nov 13) and October CPI (Nov 14) will be in focus.

At home, companies with annual general meetings this week include Padini Holdings Bhd (Tuesday), Dialog Group Bhd, Tatt Giap Group Bhd (Wednesday), Sime Darby Bhd, M-Mode Bhd, Scope Industries Bhd (Thursday) and Cheetah Holdings Bhd (Friday).

Shareholders may have questions for Tatt Giap relating to the sharp rise in its price and volume in the stock market recently, which prompted a query from Bursa Malaysia last Friday. The importer and stockist of stainless steel materials responded that the rise could be due to the emergence of new substantial shareholders in the company, namely Dynaciate Engineering Sdn Bhd, Khoo Song Heng and Woon Kok Kee.

It said subsisting interest in the group’s four letters of award worth RM67 million, issued to its unit Superinox Pipe Industry Sdn Bhd a week earlier, could have also prompted the interest in its shares.

On Oct 31, the group was awarded the four contracts from Dynaciate Engineering to undertake various subcontracting works.

Tatt Giap closed unchanged last Friday at 21 sen, with 29.88 million shares done.

Meanwhile, companies with extraordinary general meetings include Naim Holdings Bhd (Tuesday) and Bertam Alliance Bhd (Friday).

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