SINGAPORE, August 19 -- Internet search giant Baidu has launched cloud computing services in Singapore, as the company moves to catch up with Chinese rivals Alibaba Group Holding and Tencent Holdings in Southeast Asia’s biggest information technology market.
Nasdaq-listed Baidu will focus on supporting mainland Chinese companies expanding in the region, as well as meeting the requirements of domestic firms for “high-performing, secured and reliable” cloud services, the company said in a statement on Monday.It is offering a full stack of cloud services for a range of industries – including gaming, finance and internet services – in Singapore, which was forecast by Forrester Research to spend US$30 billion on enterprise technology in 2019 and 2020 to lead all economies in Southeast Asia. The huge demand for cloud computing services in the city state, according to Baidu, is driven by its prime geographic location in Asia and its role as one of the world’s largest international financial centers.
Cloud computing enables companies to buy, sell, lease or distribute over the internet a range of software and other digital resources as an on-demand service, just like electricity from a power grid. These resources are managed inside data centers. Baidu’s foray into Singapore’s cloud services market comes as Southeast Asia has become one of the focal points for global investors, start-ups and Chinese technology conglomerates, led by Alibaba and Tencent, which have been expanding outside their home market.
TOKYO, August 13 -- Asian shares slumped on Tuesday (Aug 13) as fears about a drawn out US-China trade war, protests in Hong Kong and a crash in Argentina’s peso currency drove investors to safe harbors like bonds, gold, and the Japanese yen.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan skidded 1 per cent. Chinese stocks fell 0.8 per cent, while Hong Kong’s main market index tumbled more than 1 per cent to a seven-month low.
“The protests in Hong Kong are negative for stocks, which were already in an adjustment phase because there is talk that the trade war will trigger a recession,” said Kiyoshi Ishigane, chief fund manager at Mitsubishi UFJ Kokusai Asset Management Co. Hong Kong’s airport, the world’s busiest cargo airport, reopened on Tuesday, which could ease some concern about the immediate economic impact of protests over the past two months. The protests began in opposition to a bill allowing extraditions to mainland China but have quickly morphed into the biggest challenge to China’s authority over the city since it took Hong Kong back from Britain in 1997. Japan’s Nikkei was also hit hard, down a sharp 1.5 per cent and on course for its biggest daily decline in a week.
US stock futures were 0.13 per cent higher in Asia, but that did little to ease the mood. Stocks in Singapore shed 1.1 per cent to reach their lowest since June 6 after the government slashed its full-year economic growth forecasts. The city state is often seen as a bellwether for global growth because of its importance as a key trade hub. The selling in regional markets came as Wall Street stocks took a beating on Monday, with the S&P 500 losing 1.23 per cent.
Sentiment was already weak due to increasing signs that the United States and China will not quickly resolve their year-long trade war. Markets were hit with further turbulence after protesters managed to close down Hong Kong’s airport on Monday. Traders were also on edge after market-friendly Argentine President Mauricio Macri suffered a mauling in presidential primaries, increasing the risk of a return to interventionist economic policies. Benchmark 10-year Treasury yields were near the lowest in almost three years, gold was pinned close to six-year highs, and the yen was within a whisker of a seven-month peak versus the dollar in a sign of the heightened anxiety in financial markets already battered by global growth woes. “Long-term rates will continue to fall, and stocks will adjust lower, but this is temporary. Major central banks are cutting rates, which will eventually provide economic support,” Mitsubishi UFJ’s Ishigane said. Analysts said that trading could be subdued as many investors are off for summer holidays. Yet, there was no shortage of gloomy news for investors looking to catch their breath from several months of market ructions. The Argentine peso collapsed overnight, falling to 55.85 to the dollar, after voters snubbed Macri by giving the opposition a surprisingly bigger-than-expected victory in Sunday’s primary election. The Merval stock index crashed 30 per cent and declines of between 18-20 cents in Argentina’s benchmark 10-year bonds left them trading at around 60 cents on the dollar or even lower. Refinitive data showed Argentine stocks, bonds and the peso had not recorded this kind of simultaneous fall since the South American country’s 2001 economic crisis and debt default.
The grim backdrop was enough to push investors into safe-havens, and US Treasury yields dropped across the board on Monday as trade worries and political tensions supported safe-haven assets. In Asia on Tuesday benchmark 10-year Treasuries yields fell to 1.6471 per cent. On August 7 yields had skidded to 1.5950 per cent, the lowest since October 3, 2016. Spot gold rose 0.33 per cent to US$1.516.42 per ounce, near the highest in six years. The yen last fetched 105.37 per dollar, and was within striking distance of 105.03, its strongest since the January 3 flash crash. The Swiss franc, which along with the yen is considered a safe haven in times of trouble, traded at 0.9697 per dollar , near its highest in a year. Oil prices edged slightly lower in Asian trading as expectations that major producers will continue to reduce supplies ran into worries about sluggish economic growth. US West Texas Intermediate futures fell 0.33 per cent to US$54.75 a barrel.
“This is a significant milestone for DiMuto because it strengthens our capabilities in using disruptive innovation to grow the global agri-food cold chain market in a bigger way,” said founder and chairman Gary Loh. “With PwC’s deep expertise in helping companies expand, we are confident of accelerating our expansion worldwide, as we continue rolling out our Track & Trace blockchain to benefit more industry players. Now that we have stronger resources, we envisage a faster rate of market adoption for DiMuto, which is platform-agnostic and interoperable among the different blockchain systems currently used by the big global retailers.”
DiMuto’s Track & Trace, which digitises each fruit into a traceable digital asset, tackles key issues that are hampering global trade in the cold chain market, including financing, supply chain transparency, food safety and waste. It also levels the playing field for small and medium-sized fruit businesses to compete with the big global brands. As it stands, Thailand’s Queen Frozen Fruits and Australia’s Morning Glory Enterprise are now using Track & Trace to monitor durians and spaghetti squash, respectively. During its three-month trial between March and June, DiMuto has tagged 1.2 million durians, apples, avocados, lemons and oranges for firms in the US, Thailand, Mexico, Australia and China.
“In today’s business environment, innovation is no longer just nice to have,” said Patrick Yeo, Venture Hub leader. “Businesses in all industries need to constantly innovate in order to keep up with the pace of change. Strengthening traceability in the food supply chain through innovative technologies is in line with our purpose of building trust in society and solving important problems, and we are pleased to be working with DiMuto in this regard.” Both parties intend to develop a trust framework for Track & Trace by establishing a set of principles to enhance safety and security in the food supply chain.
SINGAPORE, June 22 -- Some Singapore Airlines (SIA) flights to Europe may take "slightly longer" routings to avoid Iranian-controlled airspace over the Strait of Hormuz amid ongoing tensions between Iran and the United States, an SIA spokesman said on Friday.
This would affect flights to and from some SIA destinations, such as Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Dusseldorf, the spokesman added. The airspace over the Strait of Hormuz had been flagged as a potential danger zone by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Thursday. The FAA issued an emergency order prohibiting US flight operators from flying in the overwater area, citing heightened tensions after a US drone was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. It also said in an advisory that it remained concerned about the escalation of tension and military activity within close proximity to high-volume civil aircraft routes, as well as Iran's willingness to use long-range missiles in international airspace with little or no warning.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, an SIA spokesman said its flights will also look to avoid the affected area, and that it only chooses routes that are safe and cleared for use by the authorities.
"For context, our decisions on the use of airspace are made based on numerous factors, such as weather, safety and security conditions, advisories from international and regional bodies, information from external independent security consultants and any restrictions that may be imposed by the national authorities responsible for the airspace," the spokesman said.
SINGAPORE, March 3 -- Countries risk being vulnerable to spying if they use foreign telecoms providers, but banning Chinese companies such as Huawei will not eradicate the issue, Singapore’s former foreign minister George Yeo has said.
Yeo, Singapore’s foreign minister from 2004 to 2011 and minister for trade and industry for five years before that, said the suggestion that Huawei equipment would allow the Chinese government to spy on customers was one-sided. “To be worried that 5G can expose you to foreign intelligence efforts is a legitimate worry, and every country must take precautions,” Yeo said in an interview with De Peet Journal.
“It is not just China which may enter your system – the United States and others are also trying to enter your system. If you are a small country, it is very tough because you don’t have all the capabilities.” Yeo, the chairman and executive director of Kerry Logistics Network, said that during his time in government Singapore asked BlackBerry to build a data centre in the city state so that data would not have to go through Canada. “In the field of intelligence, trust nobody and take your own precautions,” he said. The US was concerned about alleged spying by Huawei partly because if more countries used the company’s equipment, American intelligence could be prevented from doing its own snooping, Yeo said. “The Americans are so worried about Huawei not only because Huawei represents a possible vulnerability, but because using Huawei also makes it harder for American intelligence to gain access into other people’s systems,” he said. “Huawei has been talking about the Americans’ Prism surveillance system, which [American whistle-blower] Edward Snowden divulged was collecting information, even tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s telephone conversations. “If you have a Huawei system it is harder for the Americans to do all this. So we can understand why they are not happy with Huawei.”
In February, Huawei’s chairman Guo Ping denied his company had “back doors” in its equipment that facilitated spying and referred to the US intelligence work exposed by Snowden. The US has been pressuring its allies to impose blanket bans on using Huawei 5G equipment and networks, and has threatened to reconsider sharing intelligence with them. Canada, Australia and New Zealand have banned Huawei, while the European Union said this week it would not block Huawei but would increase scrutiny of it.“The Europeans are not complying, the British and the Germans are going their own way, and more and more countries will take their alignment from Germany and Britain,” Yeo said.
The solution, especially for smaller countries, he said, was to identify vulnerabilities rather than ban a specific provider. “The solution is not to say ‘I ban Huawei’, but to go into smaller granularity about exactly what you are afraid of, what is vulnerable and how to armour-plate those things,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a binary problem; the answer is to go deeper, and all countries should begin to do that not just with respect to Huawei but with every telecom system that they allow into their country. “It is not just Huawei that poses an intelligence threat – all the major powers pose an intelligence threat to small countries.”
SINGAPORE, March 8 -- It seems to be a commonly held view in the West that China’s economic success heralds misfortune.
Year after year, voices are heard claiming that the country’s good fortune is built on reckless and irresponsible borrowing that presages collapse — a catastrophe that is forever imminent.
As part of this false analysis, Western rating agencies have been sounding the alarm over what they interpret as mounting credit risks in China’s financial sector for many years. The worry they spark each time they warn that China is supposedly going to hit a “debt iceberg” necessitates top Chinese government officials explaining to the world what the country’s debt level is, how it is likely to affect China’s overall economic well-being and what they are doing to address the risks. That’s why, at a news conference held on the sidelines of the top legislature’s annual session on Thursday, Finance Minister Liu Kun addressed the topic once again. He clarified that the total government debt ratio stood at 37 percent of the national GDP at the end of 2018, a little higher than the 36.2 percent for 2017, but still much lower than the globally accepted warning level of 60 percent.
Given that the ratio is more than 200 percent for Japan and around 100 percent for other major economies such as the United States and France, it is hard to understand why China, with a much higher economic growth rate, is so often identified as cause for concern. Some might point to China’s growth-obsessed local governments, which have long been criticized for their opaque ways of raising funds to invest in massive infrastructure projects, often using financing institutions known as “local government financing vehicles”. Much of the so-called hidden debts have been raised through such vehicles. Yet thanks to deleveraging, the curbing of irregularities and the standardizing of government financing, among other measures that have been taken to rein in the hidden debts and prevent systemic debt risks, China’s local government debts are under control.
As Liu noted, the debt balance of local governments stood at 18.39 trillion yuan ($2.74 trillion), well below the official ceiling of 21 trillion yuan. The local debt ratio of 76.6 percent is also much lower than the international warning line of 100 percent to 120 percent. The government has said there will be no major changes in the government debt ratio in the years to come versus the level in 2017, and, more important, it has vowed to increase the transparency of government debts.
Hopefully, this will help root out the exaggerated fears about a systemic financial meltdown, so that doomsayers will no longer have an excuse to cry wolf.
"SET drops ahead of Thai Raksa Chart ruling"
BANGKOK, March 6 -- Thai stocks dropped ahead of the Constitutional Court' ruling on the Thai Raksa Chart Party, while Philippine shares jumped 2% on Wednesday, led by real estate and consumer stocks.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand main index fell 13.49 points or 0.82%, in turnover of 44 billion baht, with all sectors except energy in the negative territory. The court will give its ruling on Thursday whether to ban Thak Raksa Chart for nominating Princess Ubolratana as its candidate for prime minister in the March 24 general election. The Election Commission had asked the court to dissolve the party after it nominated the princess. "Tomorrow's ruling will be worth closely monitoring as it may trigger a start of heightened political risks that could derail the Thai economy," OCBC Bank said in a note.
The Philippine benchmark stock index, which was Southeast Asia's worst performer last month, gained the most among regional markets as a selloff last week made valuations more attractive. Foreign investors bought net 273 million pesos (US$5.23 million) in equities on Wednesday, exchange data shows. SM Prime Holdings, the country's second-largest firm by market value, advanced 3.6%, while real estate conglomerate Ayala Land Inc gained 2.3%.
Singapore stocks closed lower for a second session in three, dragged by industrial and consumer stocks. Index heavyweight Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd dipped 2.1%, while food retailer Dairy Farm International Holdings Ltd weakened 4%.
Meanwhile, Indonesian shares snapped two consecutive sessions of losses, helped by consumer and financial stocks. Clove cigarette maker Gudang Garam Tbk PT rose 2.1%, while lender PT Bank Mayapada Internasional Tbk added 11.4%.
SINGAPORE, March 5 -- Volvo and a Singapore university unveiled a driverless electric bus Tuesday that will soon undergo tests in the city-state, the latest move towards rolling out autonomous vehicles for public transport.
High-tech Singapore has become a testbed for self-driving technology and the world's first driverless taxis went into operation in a limited public trial in the country in 2016. Swedish automaker Volvo Buses and its local partner Nanyang Technological University (NTU) unveiled what they described as a full-size autonomous electric bus and said the vehicle would soon start trial runs in the university's sprawling campus. Volvo Buses president Hakan Agnevall also said that the company is willing to increase its investment in developing autonomous vehicles in Singapore, having already put in a significant sum of money in a joint project with the Nanyang Technological University (NTU).
The Swedish carmaker launched a full-sized, autonomous electric bus with NTU, with both saying that the 12m-long bus was the first of its kind. Mr Agnevall said: "Everybody is looking at developing autonomous vehicles, but I would say that Singapore is very formulated in terms of (developing) autonomous vehicles. It also puts a lot of money, effort and resources to make it happen.
"This is where Singapore stands out."
Volvo signed its partnership with NTU to develop driverless electricity-powered buses in January last year. As part of the deal, the firm provided two buses fitted with autonomous driving technologies.
Mr Agnevall said that Volvo has invested $4 million so far in the trials, with the additional amount spent on technology development on the bus "much, much more" than $4 million.
Despite having spent a significant sum, Volvo would continue investing in Singapore. "There is a great future in this cooperation. It is highly strategic for Singapore and for Volvo as a group," Mr Agnevall added. "We are very much looking forward to continuing and deepening the cooperation." A report by research house Fitch Solutions Macro Research on Monday said that Singapore is now a step closer to autonomous vehicle adoption, with the publication of provisional national standards to guide the development and roll-out of autonomous vehicles. The standards, termed as Technical Reference 68 (TR 68), were published by Enterprise Singapore in January. They aim to promote the safe deployment of fully autonomous vehicles in Singapore. In its report, Fitch said: "We believe that this clear set of standards will support the development of autonomous vehicles, as it will create targets for autonomous vehicle technology developers to reach and will seek to eliminate a lot of the risk and uncertainty surrounding this technology.
"Furthermore, it will attract more developers to Singapore, as they will be able to operate the vehicles in a real world environment which will support their development of this tech." In a separate report released last month, consulting firm KPMG International said Singapore is second in the world behind the Netherlands, and first in Asia in its readiness to adopt autonomous vehicles. This was judged based on four criteria - policy and legislation, technology and innovation, infrastructure, and consumer acceptance.
"SET drops, other Asean stock markets rise"
BANGKOK, February 14 -- The Stock Exchange of Thailand index ended lower, while other Southeast Asian stock markets closed higher on Thursday as a surprise jump in monthly Chinese trade data brought slight relief amid continued focus on Sino-US talks.
The SET index eased 3.09 points or 0.19% to 1,652.64, in turnover of 45.88 billion baht, despite gains in shares of telecom operators. True Corporation jumped 25 satang or 4.81% to 5.45 baht, Advanced Info Service added 2.50 baht or 1.37% to 184.50 and Jasmine International ended 25 satang or 4.24% higher to 6.15 baht. PTT shares however dropped 75 satang or 1.53% to 48.25 baht. The region's biggest trading partner, China, reported better-than-expected trade figures for January, easing some fears of an imminent slowdown in the economic powerhouse. High-level talks between the country and the United States have been a major focal point for markets this week. US President Donald Trump is considering a 60-day extension of the Mar 1 deadline for higher tariffs on Chinese imports, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing unnamed sources.
The Philippine benchmark firmed 0.9% to snap four consecutive sessions of losses and led the gains among its regional peers. Financial stocks were the biggest boost to the index, with BDO Unibank Inc rising 2.3% to post its best close in nearly 11-months. Asian fast-food giant Jollibee Foods Corp jumped 1.7% and was also among the top gainers on the Philippine benchmark after reporting a rise in fourth-quarter net income. Philippine markets had seen large outflows over the past four sessions as foreign investors rebalanced their portfolios.
Meanwhile, the Vietnam stock exchange continued to gain for the fourth straight day, closing 0.8% up, supported by a persisting rally in the country's real estate sector. Property developers Vingroup JSC and Vincom Retail JSC gained 3.6% each. "(The) Vietnamese market has been moving in a positive direction on Wall Street cues. Investor sentiment has also been supported by a possibly positive outcome of the Trump – Kim summit slated for Hanoi later this month," said a stock broker with SSI Securities Corp. "Traditionally, cashflows into the market in Vietnam are often strong in the first quarter of the year as several corporate investors have abundant cash at hands."
The Malaysian index ticked up 0.2%, after data showed on Thursday that the country's economy expanded 4.7% in the October-December quarter from a year earlier, in line with expectations, ending four quarters of slowing growth.
Singapore's index ended 0.3% higher ahead of a fourth-quarter GDP report due on Friday. The country's economy likely grew at a slower pace than initially estimated as growth in the city-state's manufacturing and services sectors came under strain from slowing demand, a Reuters poll showed.
"Energy stocks lead SET gains, Philippine shares continue slide"
BANGKOK, Februari 13 -- Thai shares rose on Wednesday, with energy stocks leading broad-based gains, while the Philippine index declined for a fourth consecutive session.
Singapore stocks closed at a more than 4-month high, leading the gains in Southeast Asia after US President Donald Trump said he could relax the China trade deal deadline. Trump said on Tuesday that he could let the March 1 deadline to reach a trade agreement "slide for a little while," although he added he was not inclined to do so. However, his remarks spurred a rally in Wall Street overnight, as well as a number of Asian players.
The Stock Exchange of Thailand index advanced 13.24 points or 0.81% to 1,655.73, in turnover worth 45 billion baht. Shares of energy stocks were among the largest boosts to the index. PTT Plc added 50 satang or 1.03% to 49 baht. PTT Global Chemical Plc gained 1.75 baht or 2.59% to 69.25 baht and PTT Exploration and Production Plc advanced 2.50 baht or 2.06% to 124 baht.
The Philippine index, which has outperformed its peers this year so far, declined for a fourth consecutive session to end 1.1% lower, pressured by industrial and financial stocks. Industrial conglomerate JG Summit Holdings Inc dropped 3.9% and was the top loser on the benchmark, whereas BDO Unibank Inc fell 1.1%. Philippine's latest downturn appears to be a flow driven correction due to international investors reallocating their funds, said Rachelle C Cruz, an analyst with AP Securities.
The Singapore index, which has a high trade exposure with China, outpaced its peers for the day with a 1.4% rise, posting its highest close since Oct 3, 2018. Financials bolstered the benchmark with lender United Overseas Bank Ltd jumping 2.5%.
The Vietnam benchmark rose for the third day, closing about 0.8% higher, driven by financial and consumer stocks.
Malaysian shares ended 0.1% lower ahead of the country's fourth-quarter GDP figures released on Thursday.