Ringgit continues to climb to 19-month high
The ringgit continued its upward momentum to open at a 19-month high of 3.9880 against the US dollar, on improved sentiment towards the local note. “The stronger ringgit is most likely due to a strong trade surplus, as well as higher oil prices during the period. This is accompanied by expectations of a hike in the OPR by the central bank this year,” said RHB Research. the research house expects the ringgit to strengthen gradually to RM3.95 against the US dollar at the end of 2018, from RM4.062 as at end-2017. (The Star Online)

Savills: Properties increasingly accessed by MRT station proximity
As the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) line is rapidly gaining wide acceptance and changing commuter patterns, properties will increasingly be assessed by the distance from the stations, said Savills Malaysia Sdn Bhd (Savills) managing director Datuk Paul Khong. “Working together with ride shares, the MRT is providing a credible public transport network that is long overdue in this city. This will focus demand around stations and reshape the pattern of property values in Greater KL,” he said. (The Edge Markets)

Rumawip owners allowed to rent out their units, minister says
The Federal Territories Ministry will allow owners under the Federal Territories Affordable Housing (Rumawip) project to rent out their units, subject to certain conditions. Among the ‘conditions’ under consideration concerned owners who are transferred to another state after purchasing the housing unit. However, they can only rent out their unit to locals and this matter will be monitored by the Joint Management Body (JMB). Previously, Rumawip buyers were not permitted to rent out the units bought. (Malay Mail Online)

Property demand in Johor likely to stay strong
Demand for real estate in Johor is expected to remain strong this year, especially for landed properties and affordable houses, as buyers view them as a better long-term investment option. Johor Rehda chairman Datuk Steve Chong Yoon On said besides the type of properties, location is also important for buyers. “The southern corridor of Johor Baru, namely Austin Height and Tebrau areas, and the western corridor of Johor Baru, especially the Kulai area, are expected to be attractive.” Meanwhile, demand for high-rise residential properties and high-end properties priced above RM1 million would be soft this year. (NST Online)

New Setiawangsa expressway to open in 2020
The Setiawangsa-Pantai Expressway (SPE) and underpass along Jalan Setiawangsa, Kuala Lumpur, will be opened to public in the first quarter of 2020. Construction of the underpass, which is under DBKL, is expected to finish in March but will only be operational after the SPE (formerly known as the Duta-Ulu Kelang Expressway Phase 3) is completed two years from now. The 29.8km SPE is being built at a cost of RM3.73bil. (The Star Online)

Photo from The Star

Japan claims anchor role in HSR bid
Japan is making an all-out bid for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) contract to construct Southeast Asia’s largest ever infrastructure project. The Japanese package would be a truly holistic one with the best HSR technology via the first invented and world-renowned high-speed railway system, the Shinkansen, plus total transfer of technology and local vendor development to greatly benefit Malaysian and Singaporean companies, including small and medium enterprises, said Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia, Makio Miyagawa. Bids for the HSR, described as a game-changing joint-venture between Malaysia and Singapore, must be submitted by the middle of this year with the contract expected to be awarded by year-end. Other bidders for the project may include from China, South Korea and France. (NST Online)

AMMB inks agreement with AmCorp Properties to manage AmFirst REIT
AMMB Holdings Bhd’s wholly owned subsidiary AmInvestment Group Bhd (AIGB) has entered into a new shareholders’ agreement with Amcorp Properties Bhd in the business of managing AmFirst REIT after the agreement termination with ARA Asset Management (Malaysia) Ltd. AIGB and ARA Asset Management had set up a subsidiary known as Am ARA REIT Managers Sdn Bhd to o undertake the management of AmFirst REIT. Am ARA REIT Managers is 100%-owned by Am ARA REIT Holdings Sdn Bhd. However, as ARA Asset Management has disposed of its 30% stake in Am ARA REIT Holdings to Amcorp Properties, both AIGB and ARA Asset Management have mutually agreed to terminate the joint venture. (The Sun Daily)

MCT rises 4.14% on Ayala Land takeover offer
MCT Bhd rose 4.14% today after it received notice of an unconditional takeover offer at 88 sen per share from Philippine-listed Ayala Land Inc, after the latter raised its stake in MCT to 50.19%. The takeover offer after the SPA for the stake buy became unconditional today following the receipt of a waiver from Bursa Malaysia. Ayala, which is undertaking the takeover via its wholly-owned unit Regent Wise Investments Ltd (RWIL), is obliged to extend the takeover offer. (The Edge Markets)

Photo from Metro News | The Star Online

No phone lines and high crime rate plague PPR Puchong folks
Taman Saujana Puchong 1 People’s Housing Project (PPR) residents have been living without a telephone landline as well as dealing with crime issues ever since they moved in. Residents could only rely on handphones as landlines are not available, and many have had items like car batteries and tyres stolen. There was no management body at the PPR, which consists of five blocks and about 500 units. (The Star Online)