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The Star Online: Business

US confirms duties on steel pipes from Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand

Posted: 23 May 2014 03:59 PM PDT

WASHINGTON: The United States on Friday confirmed duties on imports of stainless steel pressure pipe from Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam after finding the products had been sold at unfairly low prices.

Duties will be as high as 167.1 percent for some pipe from Malaysia, the Department of Commerce said in its final determination.

The pipe is used in pharmaceutical lines, petrochemical lines, brewery process and transport lines and general food processor lines.

Imports from the three countries totaled $39.1 million in 2013. The U.S. International Trade Commission is due to make its final decision on whether the imports harmed local industry on July 6. - Reuters

Business as usual for wealthy Thais after 'inevitable' coup

Posted: 23 May 2014 03:55 PM PDT

SINGAPORE/BANGKOK: Many of the wealthy Thais who come to investment manager Charles Blocker have a question for the generals who seized control of the country in a military coup this week: What took you so long?

After months of turmoil and government paralysis, the rich individuals and companies that Blocker works with welcome anything that might get the machinery of state turning again.

"It's business as usual", said Blocker, head of boutique investment firm Invision Capital Partners in Thailand, where the company manages some $140 million of cash in from individual investors and family offices.

"They are continuing to re-invest in their businesses within Thailand, whether that is in real estate, the food business, semiconductors, or tier 1 or tier 2 auto-parts supplies," he added.

"This coup was inevitable and a lot of people are saying I wish they could have done it in February. Why drag it on for four more months?"

That sense of relief was fairly widespread on Friday, when Thailand's stock market fell less than 1 percent - more a mild sell-off than a scramble for the exits.

Thailand's army chief, General Prayuth Chan-ocha, said he was taking over to restore order and push through reforms to end a six-month a struggle for power between supporters of ousted former premier Thaksin Shinawatra and opponents backed by the royalist establishment.

"Thailand is now approaching the end game of the political crisis...", analysts at ANZ wrote in a note to clients.

Thai investors have been here before. The country has seen 18 previous successful or attempted coups since it became a constitutional monarchy in 1932, most recently when the populist Thaksin was deposed in 2006.

"Military rule could paradoxically offer a limited stability, allowing civilian leaders time to find peaceful reconciliation and reducing the threat of violent disruptions to economic activity," wrote Citi strategist Siddharth Mathur.

Rich Thais appeared to share that confidence. "It's business as usual. We were selling yesterday and we are selling today," said Deepa Chatrath, general manager for Southeast Asia at Swiss luxury brand watch maker Patek Philippe.

"Sentiment in the market is not affected at all," she said. A Patek Philippe watch can cost between $25,000 and half a million dollars in Thailand.


Not everyone is quite so sanguine as Blocker and his clients, partly because of memories of policy mis-steps by the lackluster junta that ran the country after the 2006 coup.

Boon Vanasin, a doctor and founder of the mid-size Thonburi private hospital in Bangkok, isn't betting on a quick resolution of a crisis that has festered off and on since Thaksin's ouster.

Yet, Vanasin says he is making no changes to his investments. "I'm not a risk taker and so my investment portfolio is defensive, mostly in the healthcare sector, and so I will make no change to the holding," he said.

"But in the crisis time and in panic selling, prices will fall and that's an opportunity to buy for me."

Data from the stock and bond markets shows both local and foreign investors are drawn to the bond market in the expectation that the stagnating economy will drive down policy rates, thereby pushing up prices.

Foreign investment money tends to be more flighty in times of political upheaval.

But much of the heavy foreign portfolio flows that went into Thai stocks as a result of aggressive monetary easing in developed markets since the global financial crisis have already left the country, leaving less scope for market turmoil.

So far since November, nearly $3 billion of foreign money has left the Thai stock market, according to BNP Paribas. The index is up 6 percent this year.

After the September 2006 coup, it took the military government more than a year to conclude constitutional reforms, conduct a referendum on them and then hold elections.

Investors were spooked when the authorities began to more strictly enforce a bar on foreign firms using proxy Thai shareholders to set up companies, and tightened disclosure rules after Thaksin's family was probed for avoiding capital gains tax on its sale of a stake in communications firm Shin Corporation.

The central bank imposed draconian capital controls in December 2006 to rein in an appreciating currency, only to backtrack after the stock market collapsed.

This time will be different, seems to be the view of most onshore investors, based on optimism that the military will help break the logjam that had seen much of the business of government grind to halt since protests against a pro-Thaksin administration began in November.

"It's a soft coup, a coup with a condom," said Blocker. "It's a coup that's trying to help the young adults to install a prime minister."- Reuters

Palm oil logs biggest weekly drop in 3 weeks

Posted: 23 May 2014 03:52 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian palm oil futures edged down on Friday, falling for five out of six sessions as a stronger ringgit dampened buying interest from overseas investors and refiners.
    Anticipation of firm export demand, however, curbed losses
and kept prices locked in a tight trading range of 2,509-2,537
    The benchmark August contract on the Bursa Malaysia
Derivatives Exchange lost 0.3 percent to close at 2,515 ringgit
($783) per tonne on Friday. Weekly prices dropped 2.5 percent,
their biggest fall in three weeks. 
    Total traded volume stood at 32,141 lots of 25 tonnes, just
below the average 35,000 lots.   
    "Prices came back down again because the ringgit is strong
and palm technicals are uncertain," said a trader with a foreign
commodities brokerage. 
    The ringgit gained 0.7 percent this week on
stronger-than-expected economic data and a wider current account
surplus, making the ringgit-denominated palm feedstock more
expensive for overseas buyers. The currency was trading at
3.2100 per dollar late Friday. 
    Technicals showed signals are mixed for palm oil, as it is
not clear if a rebound from the May 21 low of 2,492 ringgit per
tonne has completed, said Reuters market analyst Wang Tao.
    The Malaysian palm market, which sets the tone for global
prices, slipped off from last week's high of 2,630 ringgit to
fall to a more than four-month low of 2,492 ringgit on
Wednesday, after weak comparative edible oil markets and a firm
ringgit triggered technical selling.  
    Market participants expect exports of palm oil products,
used in a wide range of foodstuff, to be stronger in May and
June as buyers re-stock ahead of a Muslim festival, but say that
weak comparative markets overseas would cap gains.
    "Although exports are good, but overseas markets, especially
the U.S. and China soybean oil markets, are dragging on palm
oil," the Kuala Lumpur-based trader added.
    Weaker prices of rival soybean oil narrows palm's discount
and could channel demand away from the tropical oil. 
    Traders said the Malaysian Palm Oil Association, a group of
growers, estimates that Malaysia's palm output grew 5.1 percent
in the 1-20 May period compared with a month earlier. The No.2
producer churned out 1.56 million tonnes of crude palm oil in
    In other markets, Brent crude oil held above $110 a barrel
on Friday, supported by the crises in Ukraine and Libya as well
as by positive economic data in the world's top two oil
consumers, the United States and China.      
    In other competing vegetable oil markets, the U.S. soyoil
contract for July edged up 0.5 percent in late Asian
trade, while the most active September soybean oil contract
 on the Dalian Commodities Exchange edged up 0.6
  Palm, soy and crude oil prices at 1022 GMT
  Contract        Month    Last   Change     Low    High  Volume
  MY PALM OIL      JUN4    2535   -15.00    2534    2560     665
  MY PALM OIL      JUL4    2523    -8.00    2519    2548    5968
  MY PALM OIL      AUG4    2515    -7.00    2509    2537   16766
  CHINA PALM OLEIN SEP4    5952   +30.00    5916    5980  266346
  CHINA SOYOIL     SEP4    6834   +38.00    6802    6854  258534
  CBOT SOY OIL     JUL4   41.06    +0.20   40.74   41.15    4205
  NYMEX CRUDE      JUL4  103.79    +0.05  103.64  103.93    9885
  Palm oil prices in Malaysian ringgit per tonne
  CBOT soy oil in U.S. cents per pound
  Dalian soy oil and RBD palm olein in Chinese yuan per tonne
  Crude in U.S. dollars per barrel
 ($1 = 3.2105 Malaysian ringgit)
 ($1 = 6.2365 Chinese yuan)- Reuters

Kredit: www.thestar.com.my

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