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By On May 27, 2018

Scares ahead in global trade and markets, but little danger of zombie apocalypse

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Home > Stocks WALL STREET INSIGHT Scares ahead in global trade and markets, but little danger of zombie apocalypseMon, May 28, 2018 - 5:50 AM Rob Curranbtworld@sph.com.sg@BusinessTimes BT_20180528_RCCOL283GKM_3451694.jpg Markets were rocked after Mr Trump cancelled his summit with North Korea's Mr Kim. Now Mr Trump shows signs of relenting on that decision after Mr Kim's administration struck a conciliatory tone. PHOTO: AFP

STOCKS fell slightly last week a s the battle royale between the bulls and the bears continued.

This week, a rebound seems likely as the on-again, off-again deals between the US, North Korea and China head back in on-again territory.

Breakthroughs on these negotiations would strengthen the hand of bulls who argue that wobbles in global stocks, bonds and currency values are merely nerves and that stocks will rise for another year, at least.

It sometimes feels that US President Donald Trump has the markets on a leash. Recently, he has jerked the leash in all directions - often at the same time. Last week, he trashed his own diplomats' trade talks with China, yanking the stock market downward. Now, with a dispute over telecom concern ZTE close to resolution, a trade deal seems closer.

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Mr Trump rocked markets when he cancelled his summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un. Now Mr Trump shows signs of relenting on that decision after Mr Kim's administration struck a conciliatory tone.

SEE ALSO: US: S&P, Dow fall as oil drop hurts energy; chipmakers boost Nasdaq

Then came Mr Trump's warning to the European nations that he may impose tariffs on imported cars. That would deal a damaging blow to Germany, which exports tens of billions of dollars worth of Mercedes, BMWs, Audis and Volkswagens to the US every year.

While most economists agree that Mr Trump has a point when he criticises Chinese trade policy as unfair, the decision to open a second front in the trade war against Europe is more of what Trump watchers call "a headscratcher".

Tim Shirata, executive vice-president of money manager Guild Investments, however, believes a major trade war is about as likely as a "zombie apocalypse." The money manager said investors who fret about the diplomatic clashes with Germany and China should reread The Art of the Deal.

"The core of that style is to open negotiations with extravagant demands, and even with bluster and intimidation, and then moderate those demands as negotiations proceed," said Mr Shirata in a note to clients. "The hoped-for result is to reach a more advantageous settlement than would have been reached with a more modest opening gambit. "

Mr Trump's approach leads to market volatility, but it's also "one that sometimes produces good results, and sometimes backfires, and we have seen examples of both since January 2017," said Mr Shirata.

Mr Trump is not the only world leader who seems to enjoy keeping markets on their toes. Saudi Arabian and Russian energy officials have indicated they will coordinate an increase in oil production, removing the "caps" that caused oil prices to more than double over the last 18 months.

Oil futures saw one of their biggest plunges since the commodities bust in 2014. As on that occasion, a rout for oil prices could ripple through other commodities markets. Indeed, the Baltic Dry Index, which tracks the price of shipping grains and metals fell sharply last week.

In the meantime, other crises are rumbling on the horizon like distant thunder. Italy looked set to appoint a prime minster who has pledged to either quit the euro zone or extract a hefty discount on its debts from the European Central Bank. Either one could sow chaos in Europe and global financial markets.

Those who are sceptical about the outlook for the bull market, including Lorenzo Di Mattia, manager of hedge fund Sibilla Global Fund, point to brutal selloffs in emerging-markets currencies. Nations like Turkey, Argentina, South Africa and others often have to repay debt in US dollars. When the dollar appreciates rapidly, as it has done in the last six months, investors become skittish about these nations being able to meet their debt payments.

The Turkis h lira has fallen to its lowest level against the dollar, stoking inflation fears even as the central bank there imposed an emergency rate hike to shore up the currency.

Volatility in the technology sector also threatens to persist. On Friday, the new GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation came into force, empowering European regulators to levy fines on tech companies and other Web site operators that break certain rules on protection of customers' private information.

Facebook and Alphabet's Google are vulnerable to fallout from the new European regulation, or potential copycat laws in the US or elsewhere.

Economic data is also somewhat uneven. Orders for goods designed to last three years or more declined in April, according to the Commerce Department, although an underlying measure of business investment advanced.

Both new and used home sales reports revealed a slowdown in housing-market activity, likely related to the increase in mortga ge rates.

There was some reprieve on that front last week. The Federal Reserve's minutes indicated officials were likely comfortable with inflation overshooting their targets. That was a surprise twist on assumptions that the Fed was in inflation-fighting mode and pushed the yield on the 10-year Treasury note back below 3 per cent.

Friday's May jobs data could change the outlook for interest rates again. That's why investors will focus on the wage-growth element of the report, which is what the Fed would react to.

"There's this anticipation that, at some point, we are going to see wages moving higher," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.

Wage inflation could force the Fed to become more aggressive. That would play into the bear case on everything from emerging markets to US economic growth.

"In our view, the weaker wave is confirming a soft patch rather than signaling a global rece ssion," said economists at brokerage Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Research, in a note to clients.

"The markets have also been jittery: we will be watching confidence indicators for signs of pass through to the real economy. We continue to expect stronger growth in the second quarter, particularly in the US as fiscal stimulus kicks in."

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By On May 27, 2018

1MDB 'bailout' is largest by KL govt

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Login"; document.querySelector('body').innerHTML += noteHTML; document.querySelector('.timeoutmsg-area .close-button').addEventListener('click', function() { document.querySelector('.timeoutmsg-area').classList.add('hidden'); }); } } function timeoutNote() { var oneMin = 60000; var timeDur = 120; var timeoutDuration = timeDur * oneMin; setTimeout(timeoutEvt ,timeoutDuration); } 1MDB 'bailout' is largest by KL govt
The 1MDB scandal is being investigated in at least six countries, with the United States Department of Justice alleging that some US$4.5 billion (S$6 billion) had been misappropriated.
Published2 hours ago

Finance minister cites $2.4b paid to service state fund's debt as ex-PM denies bailout

The Malaysian government has dismissed claims by former premier Najib Razak that the debt-riddled 1MDB was not bailed out with a sum of RM7 billion (S$2.4 billion), with Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng saying yesterday that a further RM5 billion of public funds had in fact been allocated to cover the state fund's liabilities.

Mr Lim was responding to Datuk Seri Najib's comments in a Facebook post last Friday that there was no bailout of 1MDB or 1Malaysia Development Bhd by his government.

The new finance minister described the RM7 billion paid by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) to service 1MDB debt in the past year "as the single largest bailout in hist ory carried out by the government of Malaysia".

He said in a statement that Mr Najib "could not be more wrong" in construing the payments as "compensation" for the transfer of assets to MOF.

The public comments by Mr Lim and Mr Najib are being closely watched by Malaysians, as under the previous government, discussions on 1MDB were not allowed and top officials were sacked or transferred out for looking too deeply into its financials.

The 1MDB state fund was started soon after Mr Najib took office in 2009. As prime minister, he led the state fund's board of advisers until 2016.

The 1MDB scandal is being investigated in at least six countries, with the United States Department of Justice alleging that some US$4.5 billion (S$6 billion) had been misappropriated.

Under Mr Najib, Malaysia sold some of the 1MDB assets and was paying off its debtors, with the disposal of two prime land banks being the final plank of a rati onalisation plan .

The former prime minister had said 1MDB had governance issues but "you cannot just accuse somebody of being a thief or anything unless there is evidence. It's been cleared, there's been no wrongdoing - I stand by it".

But Mr Lim, now Finance Minister after the Pakatan Harapan coalition won the May 9 general election, is looking at 1MDB with a more critical eye as billions of dollars of public funds are involved.

Mr Lim, in rebutting Mr Najib yesterday, noted that two land parcels were taken back from 1MDB with RM3.2 billion of debt attached.

"Why should the MOF compensate 1MDB to the tune of tens of billions of ringgit as asserted by Datuk Seri Najib Razak, when 1MDB has hardly carried out any development on the land?" he said.

The landbanks in question are the 28ha Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) financial centre in Kuala Lumpur, and a 197ha Bandar Malaysia township just south of the capital, set to be the terminus for the high-speed railway to Singapore.

"The former finance and prime minister must not forget that these parcels of land were originally sold by the government to 1MDB at bargain basement prices between 2010 and 2012," he added in the statement, referring to prices of RM72 to 74 per sq ft or a total of RM1.8 billion.

Mr Najib, who is being investigated in relation to missing funds from 1MDB, had said on Friday that "the arrangement, as I can confirm, is for MOF to service 1MDB debts in return for taking over the assets".

"Put another way, had those assets remained in 1MDB, it could have developed and sold the assets on its own, and used the proceeds to pay its debt," he added.

Under Mr Najib's watch, 1MDB sold back plots in TRX to state-controlled entities for huge profits - including a plot to pilgrimage fund Tabung Haji for RM188.5 million and another plot to Affin Bank, controlled by the Malaysian armed fo rces fund, for RM255 million.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 2018, with the headline '1MDB 'bailout' is largest by KL govt'. Print Edition | Subscribe Topics:
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  • NAJIB RAZAK

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By On May 27, 2018

'Unconventional' bus stop beats land constraints in innovative way: Ministry

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Login"; document.querySelector('body').innerHTML += noteHTML; document.querySelector('.timeoutmsg-area .close-button').addEventListener('click', function() { document.querySelector('.timeoutmsg-area').classList.add('hidden'); }); } } function timeoutNote() { var oneMin = 60000; var timeDur = 120; var timeoutDuration = timeDur * oneMin; setTimeout(timeoutEvt ,timeoutDuration); } 'Unconventional' bus stop beats land constraints in innovative way: Ministry
The design of this "unconventional" bus stop along Bukit Timah Road was the subject of recent online criticism. It was thrown into the spotlight after a photo by Facebook user Mei Shan went viral.
Published55 min ago

The "unconventional" bus stop in Bukit Timah Road was designed to overcome land constraints in an innovative way, said the Ministry of Transport on Saturday.

The ministry was responding to recent online criticism over the design of the bus stop, which was thrown into the spotlight after a photo by Facebook user Mei Shan went viral.

In a Facebook post last Wednesday, she said she was confused by how the bus stop was built, as there were railings situated in front of it.

The post, which has been shared more than 3,000 times, led some netizens to point out that commuters would have to walk several metres from the shelter to the bus bay to board their bus.

On Saturday, the ministry said in a post on its Facebook page that the bus stop was built this way to overcome land constraints along the busy Bukit Timah Road, while minimising the impact to vehicular and human traffic.

"Wonder what happens when there's insufficient space for a typical bus stop?" the post said. "The answer? We innovate!"

The ministry said the safety of passengers and road users is a priority, alongside keeping the traffic flow smooth on the roads.

Hence, engineers came up with this "unconventional" idea of placing the bus stop at the site, while providing a shelter for commuters to stay protected from the rain and sun.

This was not the first time this particular bus stop has caught the public's attention.

In March 2012, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) addressed a similar concern in reply to a forum letter in the Today newspaper.

In its reply, the LTA said that unlike what is typically seen, there had been insufficient space to have the bus stop parallel to the bus bay along that stretch of Bukit Timah Road.

However, building a bus bay was still necessary to prevent buses from obstructing traffic flow on the road as they stop to pick up and drop off commuters.

This was especially so as traffic flow in Bukit Timah Road was often heavy during the peak hours.

Railings were also installed to guide commuters to board the bus at the designated bus bay and to keep them safely away from the carriageway, the LTA said.

"The railings also deter bus drivers from stopping at the tapered end of the bus bay and hamper traffic as passengers alight," it added.

The LTA also said a bus shelter was built to allow the public to wait comfortably for their buses, as this particular bus stop serves a large number of commuters.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 28, 201 8, with the headline ''Unconventional' bus stop beats land constraints in innovative way: Ministry'. Print Edition | Subscribe Topics:
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  • MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT

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By On May 27, 2018

1MDB's S$2.4 billion 'bailout' largest one in Malaysia: Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng

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Malaysian Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the RM7 billion paid by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) to service 1MDB debt in the past year was the "single largest bailout" by Malaysia's government.
PublishedMay 27, 2018, 5:48 pm SGT

KUALA LUMPUR - The Malaysian government has dismissed claims by former premier Najib Razak that the debt-riddled 1MDB was not bailed out with a sum of RM7 billion (S$2.4 billion), with Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng saying on Sunday (May 27) that a further RM5 billion of public funds was in fact allocated to cover the state fund's liabilities.

Mr Lim was responding to Datuk Seri Najib's comments in a Facebook post on Friday that there was no 1MDB bailout by the previous government.

The week-old finance minister called the RM7 billion paid by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) to service 1MDB debt in the pa st year "as the single largest bailout in history carried out by the government of Malaysia".

He said in a statement that Mr Najib "could not be more wrong" in construing the payments as "compensation" for the transfer of assets to MOF.

The public comments and responses by Mr Lim and Mr Najib are being closely watched by Malaysians, as under the previous government, discussions were not allowed and top officials were sacked or transferred out for looking too deeply into its financials.

The 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) state fund was started soon after Mr Najib became prime minister in 2009. As Prime Minister, Mr Najib led the state fund's board of advisers until 2016.

The 1MDB scandal is being investigated in at least six countries, with the US Department of Justice alleging that some US$4.5 billion (S$6 billion) were misappropriated.

Under Mr Najib, Malaysia sold some of the 1MDB assets and was paying off its debtors, with the disposal of two prime land banks being the final plank of a rationalisation plan .

Mr Najib had said 1MDB had governance issues but "you cannot just accuse somebody of being a thief or anything unless there is evidence. It's been cleared, there's been no wrongdoing - I stand by it''.

But Mr Lim, who has taken over the job as Finance Minister after the Pakatan Harapan coalition won in the May 9 general election, is looking at 1MDB with a more critical eye as billions of dollars of public funds are involved.

Mr Lim on Sunday, in rebutting Mr Najib, noted that two land parcels were taken back from 1MDB with RM3.2 billion of debt attached.

"Why should the MOF compensate 1MDB to the tune of tens of billions of ringgit as asserted by Datuk Seri Najib Razak, when 1MDB has hardly carried out any development on the land?" he said.

The landbanks in question are the 28ha Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) financial centre in Kuala Lumpur, and a 197ha Bandar Malaysia township just south of the capital, earmarked to host the terminus for the High-Speed Rail to Singapore.

"The former Finance and Prime Minister must not forget that these parcels of land were originally sold by the Government to 1MDB at bargain basement prices between 2010 and 2012," he added in a statement, referring to prices of RM72 to 74 per square foot (psf) or a total of RM1.8 billion.

Mr Najib, who is being investigated in relation to missing funds from 1MDB, had said on Friday that "the arrangement, as I can confirm, is for MOF to service 1MDB debts, but in return for taking over the assets".

"Put another way, had those assets remained in 1MDB, it could have developed and sold the assets on its own, and used the proceeds to pay its debt," he added.

Under Mr Najib's watch, 1MDB sold back plots in TRX to state-contr olled entities for huge profits, including a plot to pilgrimage fund Tabung Haji for RM188.5 million and another plot to Affin Bank, controlled by the Malaysian armed forces fund, for RM255 million.

Mr Lim also revealed that the Treasury refunded a RM741 million deposit on behalf of 1MDB after it broke an agreement with a consortium to jointly developed Bandar Malaysia "because 1MDB had used up the deposit for other purposes and did not have the money to refund the deposit".

He added: "Most importantly, the RM6.98 billion paid by MOF on behalf of 1MDB were in relation to borrowings completely unrelated to the above real estate projects", listing out debt related to energy sector investments, an advance from Abu Dhabi's wealth fund International Petroleum Investment Corporation, and a US$3 billion bond to develop TRX which Malaysia's Auditor General said was never used for this purpose.

Mr Lim challenged his predecessor to account fo r these borrowings, which total RM33 billion.

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  • DEBT RESTRUCTURING/INSOLVENCY

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By On May 27, 2018

ElderShield to make way for compulsory CareShield Life

  1. ElderShield to make way for compulsory CareShield Life The Straits Times
  2. Higher lifetime CareShield Life payouts a big improvement but not a complete solution: Experts TODAYonline
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By On May 27, 2018

A feast for the senses: Five reasons to visit the Tiger Street Food Festival

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A feast for the senses: Five reasons to visit the Tiger Street Food Fe stival
A preview of the Tiger Street Food Festival at The Deck.
Tiger Street Food Support Fund recipient Tan Wee Yang from Ah Tan Wings. The bold and strong Tiger Black goes with the crispy and aromatic prawn paste chicken wings from Ah Tan Wings.
Tiger Street Food Support Fund recipient Anson Loo from Prawn Village. Tiger White, a smooth and refreshing wheat beer, complements Prawn Village’s heady seafood broth perfectly.
Published1 hour ago

The upcoming Tiger Street Food Festival will get your stomach growling in hunger

The best way to #UncageStreetFood is with frosty beers, top-notch nosh, live tunes and lots of happy faces.

This was exactly what happened at the recent Tiger Street Food Pop-up.

The Deck on Prinsep Street was packed to the gills and spirits were high. The six hawker stalls were doing brisk business while live tunes from local crooner Gail Belmonte â€" a finalist on the China Super Vocal 2016 â€" filled the air.

An impressive $11,238 was raised for the Tiger Street Food Support Fund, where all proceeds go towards supporting Singapore’s budding hawkers.

If it was an appetiser, the main event â€" the Tiger Street Food Festival â€" will certainly be a full-blown feast!

Local crooner Gail Belmonte at the Tiger Street Food Pop-up
Local crooner Gail Belmonte at the Tiger Street Food Pop-up. PHOTO: TIGER BEER

Here are five reasons to visit the main event:

1. Pocket-friendly prices

Each $10 booklet of food and drinks vouchers will snag you an ample array of dishes and beers priced at $2 and $3 t o $6 respectively.

2. Spoilt for choice

Relish a fusion platter of salted egg yolk pasta packed with creamy umami goodness from Snuggrubs. Or slurp up authentic Penang-style prawn noodles at Prawn Village.

Other stalls include Forum Hainanese Congee, Fishboss (nostalgic Yong Peng fishball noodles), Ah Tan Wings, Thong Sum Hot & Cold Desserts and more.

The full range of Tiger's beverages is available for a more shiok experience.
The full range of Tiger's beverages is available for a more shiok experience. PHOTO: TIGER BEER

3. Pair 'em up

The suggested drinks pairings at each stall will make your experience more shiok.

Tiger White, a smooth and refreshing wheat beer, complements Prawn Village’s heady seafood broth perfectly. Or have a bold and strong Tiger Black to go with the crispy and aromatic prawn paste chicken wings from Ah Tan Wings!

Other drinks from the full range of Tiger’s beverages include the lower-calorie Silver, the latest Radler Grapefruit and even a fun Radler Slushie!

4. Hot act

What’s a festival without music? The Hashtags will be bringing their brand of smooth R&B melodies with blues licks and neo-ethnic grooves.

Tiger Street Food Support Fund
Proceeds go towards supporting Singapore’s budding hawkers. PHOTO: TIGER BEER

5. Fund with selfies

Go crazy at the Instagram-worthy neon photo wall, shoot “flatlays” of your favourite dishes and beers, and capture those Boomerang moments.

The more the merrier, because Tiger will donate $1 to the Tiger Street Food Support Fund for every festival photo posted on social me dia with the hashtag #UncageStreetFood.

Three new stars

Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap
Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap. PHOTO: TIGER BEER

Head to Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap, now helmed by second-generation hawker Melvin Chew, which prides itself on its unique menu of yam rice balls with braised duck.

Ah Lock Tofu.
Ah Lock Tofu. PHOTO: TIGER BEER

Stop by Ah Lock Tofu for engineering undergrad Lee Lock Teng’s clever twist on Hakka Yong Tau Foo (gleaned from his grandmother’s decades-old recipe) with touches of Hakka Lei Cha (thunder tea rice).

Tang Kay Kee hor fun
Tang Kay Kee. PHOTO: TIGER BEER

And don’t miss Tang Kay Kee’s signature hor fun topped with a wobbly sous-vide egg and crisp enoki mushrooms. This is Ms Debbie Yam’s take on her grandfather’s signature dish, served from his zi char pushcart in the 1940s.

Bring an appetite

Tiger Street Food Festival
Where: Open field at Tan Quee Lan Street
When: June 8, 5pm to 10.30pm
Number of stalls: 15
URL: https://tigerbeer.com.sg/streetfood

Images used are for illustration only. Dishes served on the actual day may vary.

Enjoy Tiger Responsibly.

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Topics:
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  • FOOD FESTIVALS
  • STREET FOOD
  • HAWKER FOOD

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