Breakfast briefing: Thursday, March 31

MarketWrap: US stocks plowed further into positive territory for 2016 on Wednesday, helped for a second session by comments from Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen that eased anxiety about potential interest rate hikes. - Reuters

The DJIA added 0.47% at 17,716.66 points, the S&P 500 gained 0.44% to end at 2,063.95 points and the Nasdaq added 0.47% to 4,869.29.

Forex summary

*The ringgit rises 0.16% to 3.9290 per US$

*It rises 0.07% to 4.4512 per euro

*Up 0.34% to 5.6440 to the pound sterling

*0.17% higher to2.9080 per Singapore dollar

*0.24% higher to 3.0076 per Aussie

*Up 0.27% to 3.4904 per 100 yen

Energy

Oil prices settled steady on Wednesday, erasing most of the day's gains, after US government data showed crude inventories at all-time peaks again despite strong refinery runs. Crude stockpiles in the United States rose 2.3 million barrels last week, reaching a seventh straight week of record highs at 534.8 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration reported. Brent crude's front-month LCOc1 settled up 12 cents at US$39.26, retreating from a session peak of US$40.61. - Reuters

Top foreign stories

Allianz to sell US$5b life insurance portfolio in Italy: German insurer Allianz is looking to sell a US$5 billion portfolio of life insurance policies in Italy, sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. Europe's biggest insurer has picked Goldman Sachs to run the sale of the closed life policies. - Reuters

Twenty-First Century interested in Paramount deal: Twenty-First Century Fox Inc is interested in acquiring a minority stake in Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures, a source close to the situation said on Wednesday. The company would be interested in exploring a deal that would create synergies for Paramount but not in being a pure financial investor, according to the source. - Reuters

Brexit and eurozone worries weigh on UK consumers: British consumers remain their least confident in more than a year as they worry about the country's European Union referendum and the euro zone's unresolved economic problems, a survey showed on Thursday. Market research firm GfK said its overall consumer sentiment indicator stood at zero in March, unchanged from February and its joint lowest level since December 2014. - Reuters

Top local stories

Sona adjourns EGM: Shareholders of Sona Petroleum Bhd debated for two hours before deciding to adjourn a meeting that was supposed to decide on the company’s qualifying acquisition (QA). A shareholder made the request for postponement on the grounds that shareholders needed more time to understand the proposed capital repayment exercise. - StarBiz

Nomura ‘broadly positive’ on ringgit: Nomura said it is “broadly positive” on the ringgit from a macroeconomic standpoint. The research house said Malaysia has resilient macroeconomic growth, credible fiscal and monetary policy amid reduced political risks, higher commodity prices and forex valuations that are going in its favour. - StarBiz

1MDB to repay RM6bil of debt: 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) said it would repay RM6bil in coming weeks as asset sales gave it room to pare down debt. 1MDB won’t have any more short-term debt and bank loans after the repayments, president Arul Kanda Kandasamy said. It would have a cash surplus of at least RM2.3bil after settling the debt, he said. - Bloomberg

Yinson posts lower net profit at RM47mil: Yinson Holdings Bhd posted a net profit of RM47.43mil for its fourth quarter, down 52.6%, due to a disposal loss in the previous year. Revenue came in at RM241.07mil, 4.96% lower than RM253.62mil last year. - StarBiz

AirAsia denies privatisation plans - again: AirAsia Bhd has denied that its founders are planning to privatise the budget airline. Over the weekend, it had been reported that Tune Air was planning to privatise AirAsia with China Everbright Bank Co Ltd. - StarBiz

Zeti: Malaysia can meet growth forecast of 4%-4.5%: Malaysia will be able to meet its gross domestic product (GDP) growth projection this year, based on existing policy measures that have been put in place to counter current global economic challenges, said Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz. - StarBiz

Lay Hong teams up with Japan's NH Foods: Lay Hong Bhd has entered into a joint-venture agreement with Japan-based NH Foods Ltd, marking its venture into the overseas market, especially to countries with large potential like Singapore and Japan. Under the agreement, NHF Manufacturing (M) Sdn Bhd will be set up to manufacture, market, dis- tribute and sell processed meat- based foods. - StarBiz

GAB cautious about hiking prices in near term: Guinness Anchor Bhd (GAB) said it will be cautious not to hike prices of its products further in the near term on pressures of a higher inflation rate in the second half of 2016. - StarBiz

TPPA a boon to banks’ market access: The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) will increase Malaysian banks’ access to global markets in the long run, said RAM Rating Services Bhd. “We see strategic opportunities for Malaysian banks arising from the TPPA,” said RAM’s financial institutions rating specialist Joanne Kek. - StarBiz

Ex-AmBank Group chief leaves ANZ: AMMB Holdings Bhd’s (AmBank Group) former group managing director Ashok Ramamurthy has resigned from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd (ANZ), just over a year after exiting the Malaysian banking group. - Edge FD

AlloyMtd withdraws bid for US$2.65b project in Manila: Malaysian infra- structure conglomerate AlloyMtd Group, a merger between MTD Capital Bhd and Alloy Consolidated Sdn Bhd, has pulled out of bidding for a US$2.65 billion (RM10.41 billion) contract to build a 47km expressway, flood control dike, and for 700ha land reclamation works near Taguig in Manila, the Philippines. - Edge FD

AGMs/EGMs

CapitaLand Malaysia Mall Trust

Time: 10am

Venue: Impiana Banquet Hall, Level 2, Impiana KLCC Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Watta Holding Bhd

Time: 9am

Venue: Penthouse@ Level 16, The Federal Kuala lumpur,  Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur

Stone Master Corporation Bhd

Time: 11.30am

Venue: Cherry Klubb Conference Room, Jalan Tuaran, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah

Bursa Malaysia Bhd

Time: 10am

Venue: Ballroom 1, 1st Floor, Sime Darby Convention Centre, Jalan Bukit Kiara 1, Kuala Lumpur

Kuantan Flour Mills Bhd

Time: 2pm

Venue: Casuarina Hall, Swiss Garden Beach Resort, Kuantan, Pahang

Boustead Plantations Bhd

Time: 10am

Venue: The Royale Ballroom, Level 2, The Royale Chulan Damansara, Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Al-Salam Real Estate Investment Trust 

Time: 12.30pm

Venue: Permata Ballroom, Level B2, The Puteri Pacific Hotel Johor Bahru, Johor

Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Bhd

Time: 10am

Venue: Dewan Ahmad Mohamed Ibrahim, 5th Floor, Annexe Block, Menara Takaful Malaysia, Jalan Sultan Sulaiman, Kuala Lumpur

Oriented Media Group Bhd

Time: 11am

Venue: Dewan Tan Sri Hamzah, Royal Selangor Club Kiara Sports Annexe, Jalan Bukit Kiara, off Jalan Damansara, Kuala Lumpur

Oriented Media weeks shareholder nod to change its name to Accost Technology Bhd

Al-Aqar Healthcare REIT

Time: 12pm

Venue: Permata Ballroom, Level B2, The Puteri Pacific Hotel Johor Bahru, Johor

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