Breakfast briefing: Tuesday, February 14

MarketWrap: US equity indexes hit record highs on Monday, with the benchmark S&P 500’s market value topping US$20 trillion as investors bet tax cuts promised by President Donald Trump would boost the economy. – Reuters

The DJIA rose 0.7% to end at 20,412.16 points, the S&P 500 gained 0.52% to 2,328.25 points and the Nasdaq added 0.52% to end at 5,763.96..

Energy

Oil prices declined on Monday by about 2%, the most since mid-January, pressured by a stronger dollar and signs of rising US crude output. Brent futures LCOc1 lost US$1.11, or 2%, at US$55.59 a barrel, its biggest percentage decline since Jan.18.. – Reuters

Top foreign stories

Wal-Mart to tear down walls between store, online buying operations: Wal-Mart Stores Inc for the first time will combine its own buying for products sold at its stores with purchases it makes for its website, sources said, a significant move to stamp out duplicate efforts as it consolidates buying operations to better fight Amazon.com Inc. – Reuters

Apple hits record high: Apple shares cruised to a record-high close Monday, helping catapult the S&P 500 stock index over the US$20 trillion mark in what amounts to a victory for plain-vanilla mutual funds over a bevy of hedge fund managers who recently backed away from the iPhone maker. – Reuters

Allergan to buy fat-fighter Zeltiq Aesthetics for US$2.48b: Botox maker Allergan Plc agreed to pay US$2.48 billion in cash for Zeltiq Aesthetics Inc, adding a system that it says helps people slim down by freezing fat away to the company’s line-up of aesthetic products. – Reuters

Burger King and Tim Hortons owner in bid to buy Popeyes: Restaurant Brands International Inc, owner of the Burger King and Tim Hortons fast-food chains, has approached Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Inc about a possible acquisition, sources said. RBI and Popeyes have yet to agree on a deal price, and there is no certainty that negotiations will continue, the people said. – Reuters

Top local stories

Higher dividend from Petronas?: Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) chairman Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan says the national oil company may review the amount of dividend it pays to the Government following the increase in Brent crude oil. Petronas has committed RM13bil in dividend to the Government this year, the lowest since 2007. – StarBiz

Jobless rate up slightly: The unemployment rate in Malaysia inched up by 0.1 percentage point to 3.5% in December 2016 compared to November,  the Statistics Department said. Year on year the unemployment rate was also up 0.1 percentage point.

PR1MA scheme to boost home ownership: Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia’s new Special PR1MA End Financing scheme will increase the threshold for  loan eligibility for prospective buyers and also increase home ownership among the bottom 40% and middle 40% of Malaysian households. – StarBiz

Cuscapi to place out RM7.6mil new shares: Cuscapi Bhd plans to place out 10% of its capital to raise as much as RM7.63mil for working capital. – StarBiz

New shipping alliances buffer for Westports: Westports Holdings Bhd could face an uncertain year ahead as the shifting in key shipping alliances may effect its throughput figures, say analysts. But several research houses say the company can make up for lost volume, thanks to new alliances. – StarBiz

Medical tourism revenue to hit RM1.3bil this year: The medical tourism industry in Malaysia is poised to achieve revenue of RM1.3bil this year, says Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council . Chief executive officer Sherene Azli saiys the industry has been growing 30% year-on-year. – Bernama

PDZ sees minimal impact over ship arrest: PDZ Holdings Bhd expects the arrest of its PDZ Mewah ship, over the supply of marine fuel and gas oil to the vessel, to have minimal financial and operational impact to the group. PDZ’s lawyers say the company has a strong arguable case to challenge the arrest and set aside the claims. – StarBiz

IOI Properties launches worth up to RM2.5b in 2017: IOI Properties Group Bhd is looking to launch property projects worth a total gross development value (GDV) of RM2 billion to RM2.5 billion this year, says chief executive officer Lee Yeow Seng. – Edge FD

Ekovest to pay 25 sen special dividend post DUKE stake sale:  Ekovest Bhd, which has completed the sale of a 40% stake in the Duta-Ulu Kelang Expressway (DUKE) concession to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), will pay a 25 sen special dividend to shareholders. The company said its shares will trade ex-dividend on Feb 23, with the payout slated for March 8. – Edge FD

Petronas mulling relocation of Canadian LNG terminal: Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) says it is considering shifting its Pacific Northwest project in Canada, amid opposition to the US$27 billion (RM119.88 billion) liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal project due to environmental concerns. – Edge FD