• Floods hit Pahang, Kelantan and Johor
  • Malaysia’s Headline Inflation to Moderate To 2.7 per cent
  • Business Output to Remain Positive in Next 12 Months
  • South Korea offers high-level talks with North Korea
  • Singapore 2017 GDP grows 3.5% after Q4 slowdown

Floods hit Pahang, Kelantan and Johor
Floods forced 11 schools Kuantan, Pekan and Jerantut in Pahang to postpone their first day of the new school year. In Kuantan alone, nine schools, with over 1,000 students and 140 teachers, were unable to begin the new school year today. In Kelantan, the Drainage and Irrigation Department expects floods to hit six districts in the state’s river basin tomorrow. The Department’s director Kamal Mustapha said the level of Sungai Kelantan is expected to rise and many low-lying areas along the river are at risk of floods. JOHOR BARU: Flash floods brought parts of Johor Baru to a standstill, with at least three districts – Labis, Kota Tinggi and Mersing – being affected after continuous rainfall for two days. In Johor, 371 people have been evacuated in Mersing and Kota Tinggi as of 8am on Tuesday.

Malaysia’s Headline Inflation to Moderate To 2.7 per cent
RHB Research Institute expects Malaysia’s headline inflation to normalise to 2.7 per cent in 2018, easing from the 3.8 per cent estimated in 2017. The research firm also said it expected Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) to raise the overnight policy rate (OPR) by 25 basis points to 3.25 per cent this year, after maintaining it at 3.00 per cent in 2017. “This comes as major global central banks are increasingly inclined to tighten monetary policies this year, amid stronger growth in advanced economies,” it said.

Business Output to Remain Positive in Next 12 Months
Businesses would remain positive in terms of output over the next 12 months. The projection of an improvement in underlying demand conditions was the key reason behind business confidence, according to anecdotal evidence, said the Nikkei Malaysia Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). “However, the level of business sentiment eased from November’s 47-month high and remained weaker than the series average,” it said in a note today. The Nikkei Malaysia Manufacturing PMI said business conditions in the Malaysian manufacturing sector broadly stagnated in December, following an improvement in November.

South Korea offers high-level talks with North Korea
South Korea has proposed holding high-level talks with Pyongyang next week. South Korea’s unification minister Cho Myoung-gyon said, Seoul hopes both parties can sit face to face and discuss the participation of the North Korean delegation at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as well as other issues of mutual interest for the improvement of inter-Korean ties,” told a press conference. Cho proposed that the two Koreas meet at the truce village of Panmunjom.

Singapore 2017 GDP grows 3.5% after Q4 slowdown
Advance estimates released by Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry showed that the economy grew 3.5 per cent in 2017 although the manufacturing-led growth spurt lost some steam in the final three months of the year. The estimates showed the economy expanded 3.1 per cent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, easing from growth of 5.4 per cent in the previous quarter but beating expectations of 2.7 per cent in a Reuters poll.  On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted basis, the gross domestic product (GDP) for the October to December period also expanded at a slower pace of 2.8 per cent, compared to the 9.4 per cent growth in the preceding quarter. The manufacturing sector remained the brightest spot in the economy with an expansion of 6.2 per cent on a year-on-year basis in the fourth quarter. This, however, was a moderation from the 19.2 per cent growth in the previous quarter.