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Sunday, February 22, 2009
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Wednesday, February 4, 2009
WASHINGTON: Layoffs are spiking as the recession rips through the U.S., with retailers, banks, factories and others cutting costs ever deeper this week.
It is inflicting a painful toll on workers, and there is little relief in sight.
The latest round of pink slips and cost-cutting measures came Tuesday on the heels of tens of thousands of layoffs ordered by a slew of companies last week alone.
PNC Financial Services Group said it plans to cut 5,800 jobs. Airplane maker Hawker Beechcraft Corp. said 2,300 employees will lose their jobs before the end of the year and warned more layoffs may be coming.
Liz Claiborne Inc., will eliminate 725 jobs, or 8 percent of its work force, one day after Macy's Inc. said it was axing 7,000 jobs, or 4 percent of its work force.
King Pharmaceuticals Inc., will get rid of 520 jobs.
Military contractor and aerospace company Rockwell Collins Inc. is cutting 600 jobs and freezing salaries at last year's level for all executives and managers.
UPS Inc. is freezing management pay and is suspending its matching contributions to employees' retirement plans.
And General Motors Corp. said it will offer buyouts to all of its hourly workers.
With jobs vanishing at a breakneck pace, it's becoming increasingly difficult for the unemployed to find new jobs.
And some of those who still have jobs are rapidly losing ground in other ways.
Employers are freezing or cutting pay, trimming hours, suspending matching contributions to retirement plans and doing away with health care, bonuses or perks that were offered during better economic times.
"Businesses are slashing jobs in order to survive in the deepening economic downturn," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com.
All told, economists, on average, estimate that at least 524,000 more jobs vanished in January alone, and some think the figure will total around 700,000.
The unemployment rate - now at 7.2 percent - is expected to jump to 7.5 percent, a 17-year peak, in January when the government releases new figures Friday.
In this job-killing recession, all workers - blue collar, white collar, those with advanced degrees and those with high-school diplomas - are feeling the pain.
Rising unemployment is sparing no state or corner of the country.
Jobless rates were higher in a staggering 364 of the United States' 369 metropolitan areas in November compared with a year earlier.
And a new report from the Labor Department due out Wednesday is likely to show equally grim results.
"A lot of people are realizing that once you lose your job, your expectation for being unemployed for a longer period of time is higher," said John Silvia, chief economist at Wachovia Corp.
"That really adds to the tension in the marketplace and the degree of frustration among the unemployed."
The average time it took an unemployed person to find a job - full time, part time or otherwise - in December was 19.7 weeks, up sharply from 18.9 weeks in November, according to Labor Department figures.
Meanwhile, the number of "long-term" unemployed - those out of work for 27 weeks or more - jumped to 2.6 million in December, up from 2.2 million in November.
To help revive the economy and jump-start job creation, President Barack Obama is pushing Congress to enact a stimulus package of increased government spending, including on big public works projects as well as tax cuts.
The House passed an $819 billion package; the Senate is working on an $885 billion plan.
Obama says his plan will save or create more than 3 million jobs over the next "few" years.
The Federal Reserve announced Tuesday that it is extending the life of key programs intended to relieve the credit and financial problems that have aggravated the recession.
It will keep these programs, which had been slated to expire on April 30, running through the end of October.
The programs being extended include those that: provide emergency loans to investment firms; buy mounds of companies' short-term debt, known as "commercial paper;" bolster the mutual fund industry; and allow investment firms to temporarily swap risky securities for super-safe Treasury securities.
On Wall Street, investors set aside angst on the economy and took comfort in a rare uptick in housing activity.
The Dow Jones industrials rose nearly 142 points, or about 1.8 percent, to 8,078.36. Looking ahead, economists predict up to 3 million jobs will disappear this year even if Congress quickly approves the stimulus package.
The country lost a net total of 2.6 million jobs last year, the most since 1945, though the labor force has grown significantly since then.
The unemployment rate could hit 10 percent or higher later this year or early next year, under some analysts' projections.
Companies are slashing jobs and cutting costs because the steepening economic tailspin in the U.S. and overseas is sapping customer demand.
Americans throttled back spending at the end of last year, thrusting the economy into its worst backslide in a quarter-century.
Another illustration of the collapse of big-ticket purchases came Tuesday with the release of monthly auto sales that set a somber tone for the rest of the year.
U.S. vehicle sales at GM plunged 49 percent in January and Ford's sales dropped 40 percent, while Japanese rival Toyota's sales fell 32 percent and Honda's tumbled 28 percent.
Subaru bucked the trend for a second straight month, posting an 8 percent sales increase, but the industry overall was on track for its fourth straight month in which U.S. sales plunged 30 percent or more.
Many economists predict the current January-March quarter will be the worst of the recession, now in its second year.
They predict the economy will shrink at a staggering rate of 5 percent or more as consumers and businesses hunker down further under the force of the worst housing, credit and financial crises to slam the U.S. since the 1930s.
Even under the best-case scenario, with the recession ending in the fall, the situation will be rocky.
The economy is expected to remain quite weak this year and into 2010. Businesses will be in no mood to ramp up hiring or capital spending until they feel confident that any recovery will be lasting.
Meanwhile, a rush to buy foreclosed - and deeply discounted _ properties is prompting more house hunters to sign contracts.
The National Association of Realtors' index of pending sales for previously owned homes rose 6.3 percent in December to 87.7.
While that's a welcome dose of good news for the depressed housing market, home prices are expected to keep falling through 2009, another negative force that is likely to keep consumers in hibernation.
*** The content was copied from http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/2/4/business/20090204081819&sec=business for discussion purposes ***
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Monday, February 2, 2009
Monday February 2, 2009PETALING JAYA: Tay, 46, a sales manager at a local manufacturing company, has been forced to take unpaid leave for a week this month.
“My salary has been reduced by about 25% as a result of the unpaid leave and benefits such as handphone, petrol and entertainment allowances have been cut by half,” he told StarBiz.
Tay, who declined to give his full name, said that with demand not showing any signs of recovery in the near term, he was prepared to accept further pay cuts.
“My wife recently took a course and just started a part-time business offering nail art and treatment services from home. This additional income proves useful at times like these,” he added.
Like Tay’s wife, more Malaysians are seeking additional sources of income to cope with the current economic slowdown and higher cost of living.
Nirmala Paramaswaran, 27, a team leader at an IT outsourcing company in Cyberjaya, is selling food items such as nasi lemak and sandwiches.
“Demand from my colleagues has been great and the extra income is handy as daily necessities have become more expensive,” she told StarBiz.
Nirmala, who enjoys cooking, said the venture had also been a good learning experience as she was able to improve her culinary skills based on her customers’ feedback.
Many people are also drawn to seek a second income to sustain a comfortable standard of living.
Samantha Chin, 28, a technical support executive at an insurance company who aspires to buy an apartment for her family, earns up to RM1,000 a month providing Web page design services to small and medium-scale enterprises.
“The additional income has increased my savings considerably and would enable me to make my purchase much sooner than I had hoped for. However, orders have fallen slightly in recent times,” she said.
Meanwhile, Great Eastern Life Assurance (M) Bhd senior group sales manager Reginald Yoganathan Hunt said a good part-time insurance agent with more than five years of experience can make up to RM6,000 in recurring commission.
“The insurance business can yield lucrative income even on a part-time basis, provided the agent is commited,” he said, adding that he had 16 part-time agents in his group.
Talent2 International Ltd director for South Asia Leigh Howard said the current job market in Malaysia was definitely slowing.
“Several multinational corporations have blanket hiring freezes although they would continue hiring for specialist skills,” he said, adding that the manufacturing sector appeared to be having a tough time as retrenchments loomed, but they were still looking for higher-grade skills as well.
“The current economic climate may also see wages stalling while the cost of living continues to rise,” he added.
Howard said that it was possible for employees to seek a second income but they should first check their current employer’s policies.
“Specific permission may be required and potential conflict of interest declared. It depends on the situation. The rule is, make sure a second job would not jeopardise your current one,” he said.
On the downside, a part-time job could be tiring and leave one with less time to spend with family and friends, Howard said.
“Also, look out for hidden expenses such as transport costs,” he added.
Malaysian Trades Union Congress secretary-general G Rajasekaran said there was no restriction on workers pursuing part-time jobs except for certain key or high-risk employment positions.
“In fact, in view of the rising cost of living, it was recently announced that government staff would be allowed to take on part-time jobs, but for a limited number of hours per day,” he said.
*** The content was copied from http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/2/2/business/3048795&sec=business for discussion purposes ***
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Saturday, January 31, 2009
A FURTHER decline in loan applications and approvals has turned investors away from banking stocks.
As at 4pm yesterday, the finance index on Bursa Malaysia had fallen more than 36 points but managed to bounce back to close 2.01 points higher at 6,912.13.
In early trade, most banking stocks fell at least 0.5% with Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings Bhd leading the loss. The counter fell more than 2.4% to RM6.15 in the morning but ended 10 sen higher at RM6.40. Public Bank Bhd gained 5 sen to RM8.80, Alliance Financial Group Bhd put on 3 sen to RM1.89 while EON Capital Bhd added 2 sen to RM3.46.
Among the losers were Malayan Banking Bhd and Hong Leong Bank Bhd, both down 5 sen to RM5.25 and RM5.10 respectively. RHB Capital Bhd shed 4 sen to RM3.68 while AMMB Holdings Bhd slipped 3 sen to RM2.29.
An analyst from a foreign brokerage says the selling on banking stocks yesterday is just a knee-jerk reaction.
“The local banks are still resilient and we expect them to weather the current economic turmoil. It (the fall in banking stocks) was just an automatic response by investors after Bank Negara released the latest data on Thursday,” he says.
The analyst says as loan growth is one of the components contributing to a bank’s bottomline in the future, investors will be sensitive to monetary and financial developments.
Although loan applications and approvals continued to slide, loan disbursements to both the business and household sectors in December grew by 12.8%.
RAM Holdings Bhd chief economist Dr Yeah Kim Leng says the higher loan disbursement means more money is getting into the hands of individuals and corporate borrowers, which in turn will translate into higher spending.
“The other implication we can draw from the increased lending in December is that banks are heeding calls from the Government and the public not to turn off the credit flows in the face of a worsening global recession,” he said.
Yeah says the December disbursements likely comprised loan applications processed prior to the month.
“We expect bankers to turn more cautious in the coming months given the uncertainty over the severity and length of the global downturn at this point in time.
“Given that most countries, including Malaysia are rolling out sizeable fiscal and monetary stimulus packages to help boost confidence among banks and businesses, a depression is unlikely in these countries,” he says.
To a question, Yeah says stimulating domestic demand is the key to offsetting the sharp export downturn caused by the recession in the advanced economies.
“Lower interest rate encourages more borrowing and spending while declining inflation rate raises real disposable income or purchasing power. As long as the overall spending by government, consumers and businesses is not cut back drastically, the Malaysian economy will be able to withstand the global recessionary forces,” he adds.
On the external front, the analyst says there were positive signs.
*** The content was copied from http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/1/31/business/3163064&sec=business for discussion purpose ***
NEW YORK (AP): Wall Street ended its worst January ever by stumbling again over the banking system and the economy.
The major indexes all fell sharply for the second straight day, leaving the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor's 500 index with record percentage drops for January - 8.84 percent and 8.57 percent, respectively. Some market watchers believe that's a bad omen for the rest of the year, as the market usually ends a year down after having fallen in January.
Investors began the day on edge about the economy and were further rattled by reports that the government's plans to help banks may have hit a snag. Investors have been hoping that the government would create what's being called a "bad bank" to buy financial companies' toxic assets, removing them from banks' balance sheets. But some in Washington suggested the administration may be re-examining that idea because of its cost.
"So many people were anticipating good announcements about the bad bank over the weekend, but now, not expecting any good news," said Anton Schutz, portfolio manager of the Burnham Financial Industries Fund and the Burnham Financial Services Fund.
Earlier in the day, investors found little solace in a milder-than-expected report on fourth-quarter economic activity. In fact, the report only heightened concerns that the economy is worsening.
Gross domestic product, the widely followed measure of the economy, shrank at a 3.8 percent pace in the final three months of 2008, the Commerce Department reported.
That compared with a 0.5 percent decline the previous quarter.
Friday's reading was much better than the 5.4 percent drop economists expected. But many analysts suspect the economy is shrinking at an even faster pace in the first quarter. Weak earnings reports and rising job losses are helping to solidify that belief.
"We expected fourth quarter to be the worst of the recession," said Randy Frederick, director of trading and derivatives at Charles Schwab. "From an investor's perspective, they may see this stronger-than-expected report setting us up for the first quarter to be worse.
"Each time you get a report that indicates that maybe we hadn't bottomed out yet, it prolongs the recovery."
The Dow fell 148.15, or 1.82 percent, to 8,000.86 after falling 226 on Thursday on negative employment and housing news.
The S&P 500 fell 19.26, or 2.28 percent, Friday to 825.88, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 31.42, or 2.08 percent, to 1,476.42.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller companies fell 9.71, or 2.14 percent, to 443.53. Declining issues outnumbered advancers by 3 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange, where consolidated volume came to 5.22 billion shares, up from 4.87 billion on Thursday.
Volatility was high this week, with the market zigzagging on a mix of earnings and economic news as investors tried to determine what the rest of 2009 will bring.
In the end, the Dow fell 0.90 percent for the week, while the S&P 500 fell 0.70 percent and the Nasdaq dipped 0.10 percent.
It was the market's fourth straight losing week.
Friday's corporate earnings reports were anything but encouraging.
Evidence that consumers are cutting back on even the most basic of items came as Procter & Gamble Co. said sales in the fourth quarter dipped 3 percent on weakening demand for its products _ which include Tide detergent, Olay skin cream and Crest toothpaste. The company also lowered its earnings projections for the full year, and said it expects sales to fall in the current quarter.
Meanwhile, two of the country's largest oil companies reported feeling the pain of sinking oil prices. Exxon Mobil Corp. said that it surpassed its own record for annual earnings by a U.S. company last year, but saw a big drop in profit during the fourth quarter. Chevron Corp.'s fourth-quarter results also suffered from the late-2008 plunge in oil prices.
Honda Motor Co. slashed its 2009 profit target by more than half as its earnings dropped 90 percent in the latest quarter.
Also Friday, Japanese electronics maker NEC Corp. said it will cut 20,000 jobs worldwide as it reported a $1.46 billion loss for the fourth quarter. The cuts are in addition to big staff reductions announced earlier this week by Starbucks Corp., Eastman Kodak, Allstate Corp. and others.
"The market is a forward-looking indicator, but the market sees nothing good in front of us," said Stu Schweitzer, global markets strategist at J.P. Morgan's Private Bank.
One bright spot came from Amazon.com Inc., which reported late Thursday that its fourth-quarter profit rose 9 percent and easily surpassed analysts' forecasts. The online retailer also provided an optimistic forecast for 2009.
Its shares soared more than 17 percent, adding $8.82 to $58.82.
After rising earlier in the day, Exxon and Chevron turned lower. Exxon closed down 52 cents to $76.48, while Chevron fell 10 cents to $70.52.
Procter & Gamble shares hit a four-year low of $54.24 before plunging $3.72, or 6.4 percent, to close at $54.50.
Bond prices were mixed. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite its price, fell to 2.85 percent from 2.87 percent late Thursday.
The yield on the three-month T-bill, considered one of the safest investments, dipped to 0.22 percent from 0.23 percent.
The dollar was mixed against other major currencies. Gold prices soared.
Light, sweet crude for March delivery rose 24 cents to settle at $41.68 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Overseas, Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 3.12 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.97 percent, Germany's DAX index dropped 2.03 percent, and France's CAC-40 fell 1.19 percent.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed the week down 76.70, or 0.90 percent, at 8,000.86. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 6.07, or 0.70 percent, to 825.88. The Nasdaq composite index lost 0.87, or 0.10 percent, closing at 1,476.42.
The Russell 2000 index, which tracks the performance of small company stocks, fell 0.83, or 0.17 percent, to 443.53.
The Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 Composite Index - a free-float weighted index that measures 5,000 U.S. based companies - ended at 8,335.64, down 49.49 points, or 0.59 percent, for the week. A year ago, the index was at 14,091.09.
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Friday, January 23, 2009
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Thursday, January 22, 2009
国家银行降息的幅度超过市场预期，指标利率降至2.5%，为逾10年最低点，也将银行存款准备金率由3.5%调降至2%。 Read more ...
KUALA LUMPUR: Telekom Malaysia Bhd has secured a RM334.05mil contract from the government to implement the Malaysian emergency response system 999.
TM announced on Thursday that under the three-year contract, it would supply, install and manage the integrated emergency response system over three years.
The contract would see the telco consolidating four emergency service providers under one common platform. This would provide uniformity and consistency in processing of emergency calls.
“This platform will create a unified database for emergency services with capability to automate the filtering of crank and prank calls of which will improve efficiency and response time of emergency services in Malaysia,” it added.
TM said the parties would enter into a formal agreement based on mutually agreed terms and conditions in due course.
*** This content was copied from http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/1/22/business/20090122174251&sec=business for discussion purposes. ***
GEORGE TOWN: US chipmaker Intel Corporation is planning to close two its existing assembly test facilities in Bayan Lepas, Penang, but said the more than 1,000 affected employees would not be laid off.
In a statement released Thursday from its Santa Clara, California office, the company said the plans were part of the company’s move to restructure some of its manufacturing operations and align its manufacturing capacity to current market conditions.
When contacted, Intel Corp’s corporate affairs manager in Penang Loo Cheng Cheng said the two affected facilities, the PG6 and PG7 plants, where manufacturing takes place, were the company’s older and smaller plants.
“We have a total of six plants in Malaysia running manufacturing, research and development and other services.
“With three plants in Penang and another three in Kulim, Kedah, Intel Corp in Malaysia has about 10,000 employees,” she said.
Loo said the closure of the two plants in Penang would affect over 1,000 of employees but the company would be offering the effected workers comparable job positions in its other Malaysian plants.
“It is safe to say that the company has no plans to lay off any workers for now,” she said.
However, it is still unknown when the two facilities will stop its operations in Penang.
Following the move to close the two plants here, the company’s operations in its Kulim Hi-Tech Park site will assume the role as Intel’s global manufacturing hub.
When asked to comment on the relocation to Kulim, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government appreciated that no jobs would be lost due to the plant closures.
“Although Kulim and Penang are usually seen as one, we are still unhappy with the relocation.
“We cannot blame Intel but the question is why efforts were not made to set up operations in Bukit Minyak on mainland Penang, which is closer to the island than Kulim,” he said.
Apart from the two test facilities in Penang, Intel will also close one plant in Cavite in the Philippines and will halt production at a water fabrication facility in Hillsboro, Oregon in the United States.
*** This content was copied from http://biz.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/1/22/business/20090122111358&sec=business for discussion purposes ***