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Shayne Heffernan ASEAN Daily Outlook

Aug. 29, 2012 4:33 PM ETTTF, THD, IDX, IDXJ, VNM, EPHE, EWM
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Economist Shayne Heffernan Tales a Look at ASEAN

Bernanke is due to address central bankers at an annual meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday, with investors hoping he will outline plans for further measures to boost the world's number one economy. Stocks edged higher on Wednesday, continuing a string of low-volume sessions.

Gross domestic product expanded at a 1.7 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday, as stronger export growth offset a pull-back in restocking by businesses wary of sluggish domestic demand.

While that was an improvement on the government's first estimate of 1.5 percent published last month and the composition of growth was fairly favorable, it was insufficient to cut into an unemployment rate that ticked up to 8.3 percent in July.

The lack of stronger job growth, along with the uncertainty stemming from Europe's debt crisis and fears of big U.S. government spending cuts and tax hikes in 2013, could compel the U.S. central bank to offer additional stimulus by year end.


Singapore's economy would expand by 2.9 percent this year before firming up to 3.4 percent in 2013, and Singapore has ample policy space to mitigate the effects of a steeper global growth slowdown or financial turmoil, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said.

"Singapore's growth performance over the past year has been driven by global and regional events," the IMF said Monday in a report.

A poor second half of 2011, reflecting deteriorating global activity as well as regional supply disruptions from natural disasters, was followed by a strong bounce-back in the first quarter of 2012, as the easing of supply disruptions boosted manufacturing exports, reported Xinhua citing the report.

Singapore's gross domestic product (GDP) growth was expected to weaken in 2012, even as inflation pressure remained high. The strong global growth impulse seen earlier this year has given way to tepid world demand, the global lender said in its annual economic and financial checkup of the Asian economy.

Global financial turbulence has over the past year continued to cause volatility in Singapore's equity and currency markets. Housing prices and transaction volumes have moderated, particularly in the private housing market, but local banks' exposure to the real estate sector was high, added the IMF.


KLCI index lost 1.53 points or 0.09% on Wednesday. The Finance Index fell 0.04% to 14772.52 points, the Properties Index dropped 0.27% to 1056.21 points and the Plantation Index down 0.35% to 8609.79 points. The market traded within a range of 4.94 points between an intra-day high of 1650.52 and a low of 1645.58 during the session.

Actively traded stocks include PASUKGB, UTOPIA, LUSTER, THHEAVY, INSBIO, UTOPIA-WA, TMS, INGENS-WA, THHEAVY-WA and PERMAJU. Trading volume increased to 1262.74 mil shares worth RM1295.65 mil as compared to Tuesday's 1210.79 mil shares worth RM1106.56 mil.

Leading Movers were DIGI (+4 sen to RM4.84), IHH (+6 sen to RM3.17), UMW (+12 sen to RM10.22), PETDAG (+22 sen to RM22.82) and TENAGA (+1 sen to RM6.83). Lagging Movers were GENTING (-12 sen to RM9.02), GENM (-6 sen to RM3.30), KLK (-32 sen to RM23.24), AIRASIA (-5 sen to RM3.50) and PETCHEM (-3 sen to RM6.50). Market breadth was negative with 352 gainers as compared to 363 losers.


-- Thailand's trade deficit widens in July as euro-zone crisis weighs on exports.

-- Commerce ministry will revise government's 2012 exports growth target after Sept. 3 meeting.

(Adds deputy minister's comments in third and sixth paragraphs, more trade data in fourth paragraph, production data in fifth paragraph, comments from finance minister in seventh paragraph, and comments from central-bank governor in final paragraph.)

BANGKOK--Thailand's trade deficit widened in July as the euro-zone crisis continued to weigh on exports and pressure local production, the Ministry of Commerce said Wednesday.

Based on raw customs data, exports fell 4.46% from a year earlier to $19.54 billion, while imports surged 13.73% to $21.29 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $1.75 billion for July compared with June's $550 million deficit, Deputy Commerce Minister Poom Sarapol said at a news conference.

The fall in exports was due to declines in both industrial and agricultural products, including electronics equipment, rice and rubber, he said.

Over the first seven months of the year, exports declined 0.4% to $131.81 billion, while imports rose 10.50% to $143.90 billion, resulting in a trade deficit of $12.09 billion.


The JCI closed at 4,093.17 - the lowest since August 8 - on Wednesday, bucking regional trends as benchmark indices in Japan, South Korea and Singapore rose. Markets in Malaysia and mainland China dropped.

Bumi Resources fell even further on Wednesday, dropping 13.16 percent and closing at Rp 660. The coal giant posted a $334.1 million loss in the first half of this year as it struggled to pay the interest on its large debt.

The nation's second-largest coal producer, Adaro Energy, slid 2.86 percent, while Borneo Lumbung Energi & Metal fell 3.7 percent to close at Rp 520 as demand shifts amid weakening global demand.

Shares in Indonesia's largest automaker, Astra International dropped 2.10 percent to Rp 7,000. State-owned enterprises continued to slide, with Bank Mandiri, Indonesia's largest bank by assets, falling 4.29 percent to close at Rp 7,800. Cement producer Semen Gresik dropped 3.88 percent to Rp 12,400 a share.

Shares in the nation's largest telecommunications firm, Telekomunikasi Indonesia, remained flat on Wednesday.

Investor activity will likely remain light ahead of US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's speech before central bankers on Friday in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Bernake's comments are expected to shed some light on the state of the US recovery.


The Asian Development Bank believes that the Philippines will attract more foreign private equity funds (PEFs) once the country activates its own $625-million infrastructure fund.Under the Philippine Investment Alliance for Infrastructure (Pinai), a pool of resources will be drawn from the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), a unit of the Macquarie Group, APG Asset Management, and the ADB itself.

GSIS will contribute the most with $400 million, while ADB will provide $25 million. The two foreign firms will account for the rest.Once it becomes operational, the government may tap the Pinai fund to finance some of its priority infrastructure projects.

"[Pinai fund] is anticipated to generate a development impact well beyond the initial investment by leading to the launch of additional PEFs in the country, attracting additional foreign capital, and further developing domestic capital markets," ADB said in a paper on the Pinai fund. ADB said that with the Pinai fund, foreign PEFs would gain more confidence to do business in the Philippines.

The development bank said that private sector investments in public infrastructure could reach 4 percent of the country's gross domestic product with the disbursement of the Pinai fund. "Equity direct investments create a significantly higher multiplier effect as new capital attracts additional investment and financing in underlying investments," ADB said.

Spending for public infrastructure in the country is below 3 percent of GDP, below the 5-percent average for Southeast Asia. Insufficient infrastructure is often cited as one of the key reasons why the Philippines lags behind its neighbors in the area of attracting foreign direct investments.

Yesterday in Asia

Tokyo gained 0.40 percent, or 36.52 points, to end at 9,069.81 and Seoul added 0.64 percent, or 12.21 points, to 1,928.54. Sydney closed flat, edging down 0.07 percent, or 2.98 points, to 4,356.4 points.

Hong Kong fell 0.12 percent, or 23.29 points, to 19,788.51 and Shanghai eased 0.96 percent, or 19.91 points, to 2,053.24, its lowest since February 2009.

- Taipei rose 0.40 percent, or 29.21 points, to 7,391.15.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was 0.36 percent higher at Tw$82.7 while leading smartphone maker HTC gained 2.01 percent at Tw$253.5.

- Manila closed 0.39 percent higher, adding 20.10 points to 5,195.72.

Metropolitan Bank and Trust rose 1.39 percent to 94.85 pesos and SM Prime Holdings added 0.29 percent to 13.80 pesos.

- Wellington closed flat, edging down 0.66 points to 3,628.39.

Telecom was down 0.2 percent at NZ$2.43 and Air New Zealand was flat at NZ$0.90.

- Bangkok fell 1.05 percent, or 13.00 points, to 1,220.16.

Energy firm Banpu gained 0.45 percent to 446 baht, while energy giant PTT lost 0.30 percent to 333 baht.

- Kuala Lumpur stocks were flat, losing 0.09 percent, or 1.53 points, to close at 1,645.58.

Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd fell 1.4 percent to 23.24 ringgit while PPB Group Bhd was down 0.7 percent to 13.98 ringgit.

- Singapore was flat, closing up 0.05 percent, or 1.50 points, at 3,041.57.

Olam International fell 2.01 percent to Sg$1.95 while DBS Group added 0.83 percent to Sg$14.62.

- Jakarta closed 1.20 percent, or 49.68 points, lower at 4,093.17.

Mining company Aneka Tambang fell 1.57 percent to 1,250 rupiah, Astra International fell 2.10 percent to 7,000 rupiah, while Indocement slid 3.12 percent to 20,200 rupiah.

- Mumbai fell 0.80 percent, or 140.90 points, to 17,490.81.

Sterlite Industries, the local arm of global resources group Vedanta, fell 4.69 percent to 99.6 rupees while leading motorcycle maker Bajaj Auto slid 3.96 percent to 1,627.25 rupees.

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