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The Star Online: Business

TNB Energy to approach govt departments to deploy energy efficient solutions

Posted: 31 Jan 2014 04:12 PM PST

KUALA LUMPUR: Coinciding with the government's mission to reduce its electricity bill by five per cent, TNB Energy Services Sdn Bhd aims to approach all government departments to deploy its energy-efficient solutions in their premises.

Speaking to Bernama, its Managing Director Mohd Azhar Abdul Rahman said the solutions required less energy usage but provided the same service, thus it could reduce government spending.

In December last year, the government announced that it would enforce 11 cost-cutting measures for the public sector this year in the wake of rising concerns over a spate of price increases, including the hike in electricity tariff.

Effective Jan 1, 2014, electricity tariff rate had increased by an average of about 14.89 per cent (4.99 sen per kilowatt) for Peninsular Malaysia, and by about 17 per cent (5.0 sen per kilowatt) for Sabah and Labuan.

Mohd Azhar said the company would not only help the government achieve its objectives, but the national utility corporation's unit would also tackle commercial and industrial buildings.

According to him, TNB Energy Services had started offering its services to public hospitals and it was expected to get the nod from the Education Ministry and the Melaka state government.

The company also wants Putrajaya and Iskandar Malaysia to use electricity efficient products in order to cut their electricity cost. "We are ready to help the government save on electricity cost, and we want to educate the public sector and all Malaysians to consume energy efficiently," he said.

With the savings on electricity cost using the energy-efficient solutions, he said both government and non-government buildings could use the money for other components such as raw materials and equipment.

One of the energy-efficient solutions is by replacing incandescent lamps with light-emitting diode (LED) lamps, which have longer lifespan and are several times better.

In educating Malaysians to have the right mindset on energy efficiency, TNB Energy Services had organised several awareness campaigns nationwide, which received positive response from the public.

Meanwhile, TNB Energy Services' Head of Engineering and Consultancy Services, Hamdan Ali, said currently an industrial building or factory can save up to 35 per cent in energy for pumps, 25 per cent for chillers, 20 per cent for cooling towers and 60 per cent for lighting system.

"All these can potentially help the company save up to RM10,000 or more in monthly electricity bills, depending on the size of the building," he said.

Hamdan added that although equipping a building with energy-efficient solutions might cost a considerable sum but it will make the world a better place to live in for the longer term. 

TNB Energy Services will not only be busy in the country as it also planned to expand its business abroad, specifically to the Middle East.

In this regard, it is looking into ways to work with government-linked companies that have been successful in their ventures in the Middle East.

There is also a possibility that it might form a special purpose vehicle to undertake the foreign jobs.

Volatility hits commodities as Fed cuts stimulus again

Posted: 31 Jan 2014 08:14 PM PST

LONDON: Commodity prices faced a choppy week as further stimulus tapering from the Federal Reserve and turmoil across emerging markets overshadowed solid fourth-quarter economic growth in the United States.

The Fed said Wednesday that it will reduce its bond-buying or quantitative easing (QE) programme by $10 billion to $65 billion a month, citing a pick-up in the economy.

The news sent emerging market currencies plunging in India, South Africa and Turkey, despite a raft of interest rate hikes.

Sentiment won a boost Thursday as official data showed the US economy - a key consumer of raw materials - grew 3.2 percent in October-December, beating predictions of 3.0 percent. 

OIL: New York prices rallied to the highest level so far this year on forecast-beating fourth-quarter economic growth in the United States, which is the world's biggest crude consuming nation.

"US GDP figures boosted demand expectations of the world's biggest oil consumer," said Michael Hewson, analyst at traders CMC Markets UK.

Crude futures also soared on higher demand for heating fuel thanks to recent cold weather in the United States.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate surged on Thursday to $98.59 per barrel, the highest point since January 2.

Prices tailed off Friday on weak Chinese data in subdued deals, with most Asian markets shut for the Lunar New Year holiday.

"With Chinese markets closed for the majority of the coming week and fears of emerging market contagion spreading from Turkey, Argentina and India as they struggle to control inflation, investors may opt to remain on the sidelines," added Sucden analyst Kash Kamal.

By Friday on London's Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in March stood at $107.18 a barrel from $107.24 a week earlier.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate or light sweet crude for March rallied to $97.84 a barrel compared with $96.64 a week earlier. 

Metals hit by firm dollar, stimulus reduction

PRECIOUS METALS: Prices fell as the dollar rose following news of US stimulus reduction and upbeat growth.

The news also weighed on gold because many investors argue that QE fuels higher inflation. The glamorous metal is widely regarded as a hedge against inflation.

Platinum and palladium meanwhile hit one-month lows at $1,366.75 and $704.50 respectively, despite ongoing strikes in major producer South Africa.

"Precious metals are once again finding themselves in the red as the week draws to a close," said analyst Fawad Razaqzada at online trading firm

"The main reason for their sluggish performance is to do with the firmer US dollar which has gained ground on the back of the upbeat GDP print and after the Fed tapered QE by an additional $10 billion."

The stronger greenback makes dollar-priced goods more expensive and tends to sap demand.

By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, the price of gold fell to $1,251 an ounce from $1,267 a week earlier.

Silver dipped to $19.31 an ounce from $20.19.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum slid to $1,382 an ounce from $1,443.
Palladium slipped to $707 an ounce from $745. 

BASE METALS: Base or industrial metals prices sank as traders also fretted over turmoil in emerging markets and the outlook for Chinese demand.

"Copper prices look set to close lower for the fifth week in succession as fears about another Chinese slowdown, combined with reduced demand from emerging markets, as the current turmoil starts to create a drag on growth prospects in the region," added analyst Hewson.

Chinese manufacturing contracted for the first time in six months in January, HSBC confirmed Thursday, raising questions over growth prospects for the world's second-largest economy this year.

The banking giant's final reading of China's purchasing managers' index (PMI), which tracks manufacturing activity in factories and workshops, fell to 49.5 this month.

It was its lowest figure since July and fractionally below the preliminary 49.6 reading HSBC announced last week.

The index is a closely watched gauge of the health of the Asian economic powerhouse. A reading above 50 indicates growth, while anything below signals contraction.

By Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months slid to $7,063 a tonne from $7,210.50 week earlier.

Three-month aluminium fell to $1,713.50 a tonne from $1,768.

Three-month lead retreated to $2,108 a tonne from $2,152.
Three-month tin dropped to $21,925 a tonne from $22,000.

Three-month nickel dipped to $13,750 a tonne from $14,553.

Three-month zinc declined to $1,964 a tonne from $2,027. 

Sugar dives, but cocoa and coffee surge
SUGAR: Prices dived to multi-year lows, weighed down by worries over emerging markets turmoil and plentiful supplies.

Sugar sank to 14.70 US cents per pound in New York, the lowest point since June 2010.

In London, the commodity touched the weakest level since April 2009, at $399.10 a tonne.

"With sugar prices stuck in freefall since mid-October 2013, the recent events in emerging markets, particularly in Argentina, have led to concerns of contagion to Brazil and further pressure on sugar prices," said Societe Generale analyst Christopher Narayanan.

"For the moment, then, sugar prices remain pressured by a larger than expected global surplus, a strong start to the Thai harvest, uncertainty surrounding India's export policy and support programmes, and tepid demand."

By Friday on LIFFE, the price of a tonne of white sugar for March rose to $410.50 from $404.90 a week earlier.

On New York's ICE Futures US exchange, the price of unrefined sugar for delivery in March eased to 15.04 US cents a pound from 15.05. 

COCOA: Prices zoomed to their highest levels in more than two and a half years on the prospect of another production deficit this year.

The commodity, which is mostly used to make chocolate, rallied this week to 1,865 in London and $2,933 in New York, reaching levels last witnessed in September 2011.

By Friday on LIFFE, London's futures exchange, cocoa for delivery in March rose to 1,861 a tonne from 1,778 a week earlier.

On ICE Futures US, cocoa for March increased to $2,921 a tonne from $2,806. 

COFFEE: Coffee futures rebounded from the precious week's losses.

Prices jumped to a six-month high at $1,825 in London. They also reached 123.45 cents in New York, which was the best level so far this year.

"Coffee futures moved higher ... amid short covering following recent lows," said analysts at industry publication The Public Ledger.

By Friday on the ICE Futures US exchange, Arabica for delivery in March rallied to 121.60 US cents a pound from 114.50 cents a week earlier.

On LIFFE, Robusta for March gained to $1,801 a tonne from $1,700. 

RUBBER: Prices in Kuala Lumpur fell as the ringgit strengthened against the US dollar, while jitters persisted over slowing growth in top consumer China.

The Malaysian Rubber Board's benchmark SMR20 fell to 193.20 US cents a kilo from 213.70 cents a week earlier.


Tokyo investors eye Japanese earnings, US data next week

Posted: 31 Jan 2014 08:11 PM PST

TOKYO: Tokyo investors will keep a close eye on US data next week and more Japanese corporate earnings with firms including Sony, Toyota and Panasonic due to report.

After the Federal Reserve this week reduced its stimulus programme by another $10 billion a month to $65 billion, following a similar cut in December, investors will be looking for more clues about the state of the worlds' biggest economy.

While the US central bank cited a firming US economy for the wind-down, the announcement rattled emerging markets such as India, South Africa and Russia on fears of a capital flight, which in turn sent their currencies diving.

That helped boost the yen, a safe-haven currency in times of turmoil.

"Investors are seemingly taking profits ahead of this weekend as the yen firmed slightly," said Hiroaki Hiwata, strategist at Toyo Securities.

"Looking ahead, the US economic recovery will be the main focus as the majority of Asian markets are closed for Lunar New Year holidays. Domestically, share prices will depend on each company's earnings report."

On Friday, Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei-225 index slipped 92.53 points to finish at 14,914.53. The Nikkei lost 3.10 percent over the week.

The broader Topix index of all first-section shares ended down 0.28 percent, or 3.45 points, at 1,220.64. 

It lost 3.48 percent over the week.

On currency markets, the dollar bought 102.47 yen in late Asian trade, down from 102.71 yen in New York but firmer than the 102.30 yen earlier Thursday in Asia.

Japanese corporate earnings for the nine months to December have seen mixed results so far with many notching up stronger profits thanks to a weak yen inflating their bottom line.

Among major shares in Tokyo, Fujitsu soared 12.89 percent to 578 yen after the sprawling IT conglomerate said Thursday it had swung back to profit in the three months to December thanks to a weaker yen and brisk sales in PCs and networking services for public and business customers.

NEC rocketed 10.74 percent to 299 yen on the sale of a mobile carrier unit -despite falling into the red in the nine months to December - mainly because of restructuring costs and a drop in sales after it left the smartphone business.

Toshiba slipped 7.49 percent to 432 yen as its nine-month net profit dropped 29.1 percent due to higher taxes, although healthy sales saw its operating profit rise.

Nintendo fell another 1.41 percent to 12,150 yen after tumbling 4.30 percent Thursday as the struggling videogames giant said it would stick to its games console business despite slumping Wii U sales.

Japan Airlines rose 2.58 percent to 5,160 yen while rival All Nippon Airways gained 0.92 percent to 218 yen ahead of their Friday earnings announcements.

Both saw their nine-month profits decline as the weak yen pushed up fuel costs.



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