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Nur Aisha Abd. Wahab


The Edge Markets



The Week Ahead: Brexit and new Trump-Xi date in focus as parliament reconvenes

The Edge Markets (11/03/2019) - The world is waiting for confirmation of a new Trump-Xi date, one that is hoped to result in a deal to end the year-long US-China trade war. Last Friday, news got out that the March 27 date for a summit between US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in Florida was off. Both sides, however, are still reportedly working to avoid a no-deal outcome, as seen for the summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Vietnam last month.

All eyes will also be on China’s draft foreign investment law being deliberated at the country’s 13th National People’s Congress.

“It is a full testament to China’s determination and confidence in opening wider to the outside world and promoting foreign investment in the new era,” Xinhua news agency reported on March 8, citing an explanatory document on the new law that contains unified provisions for the entry, promotion, protection and management of foreign investment activities in China. “It includes many stipulations that ensure domestic and foreign enterprises are subject to a unified set of rules and compete on a level playing field,” the report read. It remains to be seen if the law will help pin down a US-China deal.

China’s top legislature is scheduled to vote on the draft law on March 15. The law is to replace the country’s three current statutes concerning wholly foreign-owned entities, China Daily reported on March 8.

US Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell’s interview on March 10’s episode of CBS’ 60 Minutes, alongside former chairs Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen, to speak on the outlook for the US economy and cybersecurity risk on the financial system, may also be of interest.

Powell is likely to be asked about monetary policy normalisation, given intense criticism from Trump for raising interest rates. The US Federal Open Market Committee, which held rates steady in January, will have its next meeting on March 20.

Over in the UK, the parliament will this week vote on whether to accept Prime Minister Theresa May’s revised Brexit deal, exit the European Union without a deal or delay Brexit beyond the March 29 deadline. The latter is subject to approval by the EU at its March 21 summit.

Markets may also react to the Norway government’s recommendation that its US$1 trillion sovereign wealth fund — the world’s largest, and which owns some US$37 billion worth of energy shares — sell out of upstream oil and gas producers to reduce the risk of falling oil prices to the Norwegian economy. Norway’s central bank, which oversees the fund, insists that the plan does not reflect a particular view of the oil industry’s prospects.

At the time of writing, Brent crude oil was hovering above US$64 a barrel, up 28% from as low as US$50 a barrel on Christmas Eve.

Back home, Malaysia’s parliament reconvenes this Monday. The list of bills to be discussed in the 20-day second session of the 14th seating had not been made available on the parliament’s website at the time of writing. However, it is understood that the anticipated public procurement bill will not be tabled in the current session that runs through April 11.

Also, on Monday and Tuesday, the Court of Appeals will hear four appeals by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in relation to SRC International, a former unit of 1Malaysia Development Bhd. His appeals include a gag order to prohibit the media from discussing the merits of his case.

Across the Causeway, the focus is on whether Malaysian businessman John Soh Chee Wen and his alleged co-conspirator Quah Su-Ling would change their plea to charges of stock market manipulation that led to Singapore’s October 2013 penny stock crash. The trial had been rescheduled from March 11 to March 25 after Goh Hin Calm — who was supposed to have been charged alongside the duo — had a change of heart at the eleventh hour. He is now a witness for the prosecution, and will reportedly plead guilty on March 20.

Meanwhile, economic data releases in Malaysia this week include labour statistics for January (March 11) as well as the Industrial Production Index and monthly manufacturing statistics for January (March 14).

Economists are expecting the IPI to chart a year-on-year increase of 2.5% compared with 3.4% the month before.

On Monday, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board will publish the official palm oil data for February. According to a Reuters survey, palm oil stocks are expected to show a 1.7% decline to 2.95 million tonnes from three million tonnes as at end-January. Lower stocks would support palm oil prices, which fell to their lowest in three years in November.

On the Malaysian corporate front, companies holding their annual general meeting this week include Pelangi Publishing Group Bhd on March 15. Formosa Prosonic Industries Bhd and Eduspec Holdings Bhd have their respective extraordinary general meeting scheduled for March 14 and 15.

Read more at https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/week-ahead-brexit-and-new-trumpxi-date-focus-parliament-reconvenes