• Stand Chard raised GDP forecast for Malaysia to 5.4%
  • Producer Price Index up 7% in July
  • RAM assigns AAA financial rating to SME Bank
  • edotco partners Dawood Hercules to announce its biggest deal
  • 9 of 10 Singaporeans prefer cash payments

Standard Chartered raised Malaysia’s 2017 GDP growth forecast to 5.4%
Standard Chartered Malaysia has raised Malaysia’s 2017 GDP growth forecast to 5.4% from 4.6%. This reflects strong H1 growth of 5.7%, although the bank still expect growth to ease in H2. The Bank identified to key positive areas in the first half data – the resilience of private consumption, which rose close to 7% y/y; and private investment, which increased 10% y/y. The Bank noted that exports picked up in line with expectations, although higher imports curtailed the contribution from net exports. “Despite the strong H1 growth, we maintain our view that growth will moderate in H2- 2017 and that private consumption will ease.

Malaysia’s Producer Price Index up 7.1% in July
The Producer Price Index (PPI) for local production in July 2017 rose 7.1 per cent to 106.0 compared to the same month last year. The Department of Statistics Malaysia said the mining index recorded the highest increase at 24 per cent, followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing (7.8 per cent), manufacturing (5.9 per cent), electricity and gas supply (1.7 per cent) and water supply (0.4 per cent). On a month-to-month basis, the PPI for local production declined by 0.3 per cent in July 2017 compared to June 2017 due to decreases in two sectors – manufacturing (0.7 per cent) and agriculture, forestry and fishing (0.1 per cent).

RAM assigns AAA/Stable financial rating to SME Bank
RAM Ratings Services Bhd has assigned a AAA/Stable/P1 financial institution rating to Small Medium Enterprise Development Bank Malaysia Bhd (SME Bank), reflecting its expectation of strong government support for it. In a statement today, it said the bank had been mandated to support SMEs through the provision of financing and advisory services, highlighting its strategic role in the government’s socio-economic agenda to develop the sector. “SMEs are a critical component of the Malaysian economy, accounting for 36.6 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and 65.3 per cent of total workforce in 2016. “Under the SME Master Plan (2012-2020), the government has targeted to increase SME contribution to the GDP to 41 per cent by 2020,” it said. SME Bank accounts for around 40 per cent of SME financing among development financial institutions, though its overall market share is small. Apart from bridging the financing gap of the unserved or underserved SMEs, SME Bank is also the government’s conduit in developing the targeted sub-segments of the SME sector through specific financing programmes.

edotco partners Dawood Hercules to announce its biggest deal to date
edotco Group Sdn Bhd (“edotco”), a subsidiary of Axiata Group Berhad (“Axiata”), announced its biggest expansion plan to date with the proposed acquisition of approximately 13,000 towers in Pakistan to solidify its position as one of the largest independent tower companies in the world. edotco is acquiring the towers from Pakistan Mobile Communications Limited (“PMCL”) together with Dawood Hercules Corporation Limited (“DH Corp”), a leading listed investment conglomerate in Pakistan. With its existing portfolio of over 26,000 towers owned and operated across six countries, the move will effectively place edotco as the eighth largest independent tower company and second largest multi-country tower operator globally.

PayPal: 90pc of Singaporeans prefer cash payments
Despite the Singapore Government’s push for digital payments, 90 per cent of Singaporeans surveyed by digital payment giant PayPal say they prefer to use cash as their primary mode of payment. The preference for cash in Singapore was followed next by traditional payment modes such as bank transfers or Internet banking at 74 per cent, with 61 per cent saying they prefer credit cards. When it came to using cash regularly, however, only 43 per cent did so, citing problems such as having insufficient cash on hand, and long queues at automated teller machines (ATMs). This was behind consumers surveyed in China in the same study, where only 25 per cent use cash regularly, but close to Hong Kong’s 44 per cent. In Asia, 57 per cent on average used cash regularly. The latest PayPal study surveyed 4,000 consumers and 1,400 merchants across seven markets in Asia — China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore.