Discover more from The Coffee Break
☕️ Bersih slams PMX & Gov over political appointments
'Datuk Roy' remanded in relation to Jana Wibawa. Meta sunsets its NFT project for Facebook and Instagram. Top 10 highest return stocks of household names in Malaysia in the past 10 years.
1. MARKET SUMMARY 📈
The US Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose 0.4% in February 2023, compared to the month before, according to the US Labor Department. The year-on-year increase of 6.0% is the smallest annual gain since September 2021. The US Federal Reserve’s target of 2% seems far from reality at this rate. With the risk of contagion to banks contained, the markets seem happy — all green.
2. NUMBERS AT A GLANCE 🔢
18.7 million people watched the Oscars in 2023, an increase of 12% from last year’s drama-filled ceremony (yup, that infamous slap). The figure is the most since 2020. Viewership peaked in 1998 when 55.2 million saw the box-office juggernaut Titanic become the big winner. Since we’re on this topic, the team at Chartr.co revealed that critics’ choice usually wins the best picture award (including Everything Everywhere All At Once).
Malaysia exported RM35.98 bil worth of rubber (RM8.82 bil) and rubber products (RM27.16 bil) in 2022, according to the Malaysian Rubber Council. Despite the paring down of Covid-19, rubber gloves remain the biggest contributor to the exports of rubber products — contributing RM19.04 bil.
58% of US and European institutional investors (n = 257) — professionals who trade for banks, hedge funds and pensions – used Reddit for an investment decision. According to investment advisory firm Brunswick Group, there are over 33 million finance conversion threads on Reddit! The power of meme stocks.
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3. IN MALAYSIA 🇲🇾
Waste of ‘green’ toothpaste as Rafizi and PM Anwar are not potheads
Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli said it was a waste to deliver the toothpaste laced with cannabis to him and PM Anwar Ibrahim as neither of them takes ganja. The parcels containing toothpaste labelled ‘Happy Green’ that were addressed to both of them were confiscated by the police at a courier company in Sepang.
While it is fun to joke about the ‘green’ marijuana, however, there is another slowly diminishing ‘green’ that we should take seriously. According to the Auditor-General’s Report 2021, it was revealed that the Selangor State Government was weak in managing 40 out of 76 permanent forest reserves, which may or may not lead to 40 cases of illegal land clearing involving an area of 3,537.01 hectares, about the size of 6,609 football fields.
MACC brings ‘Datuk Roy’ to court
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) brought Mohd Hussein Mohd Nasir, better known as ‘Datuk Roy’, to the court on Tuesday to obtain a remand order believed to be related to the Jana Wibawa probe. Datuk Roy, that was previously convicted for a separate graft conviction, was rumoured to surrender himself to the MACC on Monday.
Bersih slams the PM and the Government over political appointments
Electoral reform group Bersih condemned Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and the government over political appointments — namely, the appointment of former UMNO Youth chief Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki as the new chairman of Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) and Balik Pulau MP Bakhtiar Wan Chik as the chairman of MyCreative Ventures Sdn Bhd. Bersih chief Thomas Fann said MPs and assemblypersons should be banned from holding positions in GLCs. What ever happened to reformasi?
Of immunity and empty threats
Ayer Hitam MP Dr Wee Ka Siong stated that the country’s sole egg importer J&E Advance Tech could not sue him as Wee is protected under Article 63 of the Federal Constitution, where any speech by MPs during parliamentary sittings is legally protected. Previously, J&E Advanced Tech had issued a letter of demand to Wee for giving misleading statements relating to the imported eggs from India.
Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli doubted that opposition leader Hamzah Zainuddin would expose the sensitive files that he allegedly has on certain government leaders, as Rafizi said that Hamzah would be in the line of fire of the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972 if he decides to do so. Interestingly, Rafizi was speaking from experience as he was also being put behind bars for breaching OSA in 2016.
Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) has introduced a comprehensive automobile financing solution catered towards electric vehicle (EV) and hybrid customers. The customers will get holistic financing solutions, insurance and takaful coverage and EV charging privileges. Maybank Community Financial Services Group CEO John Chong said that the move was made partly to support Putrajaya’s vision to grow the EV market share to 38% by 2040.
Proton announced the start of the production of its upcoming three-row SUV, dubbed the X90, at its Tanjung Malim plant. Proton chairman Syed Faisal Albar said that the X90 will come with hybrid power, believed to be in a setup consisting of a 1.5 litre turbocharged three-cylinder petrol engine with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system.
Property developer Landmarks Bhd stated that its wholly owned subsidiary, Andaman Resort Sdn Bhd, had defaulted on its repayment of RM133.37mil financing facilities. Andaman Resort Sdn Bhd is currently talking with its creditor, OCBC Bank (Malaysia) Bhd, to devise an alternative repayment plan. Landmarks is an associate of Genting Bhd, which owns 21.7% of the property developer.
Read: What is the difference between an associate company vs subsidiary?
4. AROUND THE WORLD 🌎
The US, UK and Australia unite to counter China
The trilateral pact, also known as AUKUS, unveiled details of their plan to create a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. Australia will be the first to get its nuclear-powered subs from the US. Beijing has strongly criticised the significant naval deal with China’s UN mission, saying the plan sets back nuclear non-proliferation efforts. However, US President Joe Biden defended the deal and said it aimed to bolster peace in the region. From 2027, the US and UK will also base a small number of nuclear submarines in Perth. The defence plan costs a staggering AUD368 bil over 30 years.
Not so Meta anymore
Meta Platforms Inc announced another 10,000 job cuts and the closure of 5,000 roles that they haven’t hired yet, just four months after it let go 11,000 employees. The move underscores Zuckerberg’s push to turn 2023 into the “Year of Efficiency” with promised cost cuts of USD5 billion in expenses.
Barely less than a year since the company piloted its non-fungible tokens (NFTs), Meta is sunsetting its NFT and digital collectables features on Instagram and Facebook. The company is looking to focus on products like Meta Pay, as well as features that enable creators to earn money directly on Meta platforms. What would people wear in the metaverse then?!
The different fates of two AIs
Microsoft laid off its entire artificial intelligence (AI) ethics and society team of seven people — the team that is responsible for ensuring Microsoft’s responsible AI principles are actually reflected in the design of products that ship. The move is a little unusual because the company is making its controversial AI tools available to the mainstream. However, Microsoft still maintains its Office of Responsible AI (ORA), which sets rules for responsible AI through governance and public policy work. If the ethics team is not here to monitor the ORA, what’s the purpose then?
Seeing the threat of Microsoft, the folks at Google are bringing ts generative AI models to virtually every part of its productivity suite, in addition to new developer solutions. However — there’s a catch, the features will only be available for what Google calls “Trusted Testers.” It could be an exciting feature — think formula generation in Sheets, drafting emails in Gmail, writing documents in Docs or creating decks in Slides.
From today (March 15), foreign offices can process applications for Chinese visas after easing restrictions as China declared victory over the Covid-19 virus. Valid visas issued before China closed to the world on March 28, 2020, will be honoured again. Expect tourist hotspots to be packed as Chinese citizens can also travel on tour groups to 60 countries. Revenge Travel 2023 edition.
Looking to fulfil your dream of riding bikes around Indonesia’s Bali? It may not be possible soon as there are proposals to ban foreign tourists from using motorbikes after a spate of cases involving people breaking traffic laws. From late February to early March, more than 171 foreign nationals violated traffic orders.
Big pharma Pfizer is spending USD43 bil to deepen its reach into treating cancer. Pfizer is looking to buy Seagen Inc. at USD229 in cash per share. Seagen is a biotech drug developer specialising in antibody-drug conjugate, or ADC, technology. Its key products use lab-made proteins called monoclonal antibodies that seek out cancer cells to help deliver a cancer-killing drug while sparing surrounding healthy tissue.
5. FOR YOUR EYES 📺
How to be more than just a consumer of brands around you? You invest in them. The team at Stockbit put together the returns of 10 companies in the last ten years. 12.6x returns on TIME dotCom Bhd had you invested in them in 2013 — how many of you use TIME at home? You could have gotten free internet in the past ten years. Disclaimer — Not Financial Advice.
With bank failures spreading in the US, it’s time to visit how safe is your deposit with Malaysian banks. TCB breaks down to what extent PIDM covers. This is for the 43.1% of you.