Weak sentiment likely to persist for construction, property, building materials sectors in 2019
Weak sentiment among retail investors is likely to persist in 2019 for the construction, property and building materials sector, according to Hong Leong Investment Bank (HLIB) Research. This is partly due to the US-China trade war, as well as internal obstacles such as the massive national debt of nearly RM1 trillion and softer corporate outlook amid cancellation or postponement of megaprojects. The sharp decline of Brent crude oil prices and weakening ringgit could also dampen the growth in the oil and gas, as well as domestic sectors. Investors may focus on a few of the strategies in Budget 2019 which are related to the healthcare and insurance for the B40 group in 2019, as well as East Malaysia development expenditure. The research firm advised investors to look out for companies with solid fundamentals and strong net cash or a steady dividend track record over the years. (The Edge Markets)

Mega developments in Sabah port area
Mega developments are on the cards in the old Kota Kinabalu Port area that will further propel the cruise and tourism industry in Sabah. The entire Kota Kinabalu Port land is in the process of being re-developed into multi-billion commercial projects. These include the 15-acre Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC), Kota Kinabalu Convention City (8.33 acres) Jesselton Quay (16.25 acres), seven-acre One Jesselton Waterfront, the proposed International Cruise Terminal (ICT) and the proposed Ferry Terminal. These developments are collectively known as the Jesselton Waterfront City (JWC). All mega developments will be undertaken by Suria Capital Holdings Berhad whose major shareholder is the State Government of Sabah. (Daily Express)

70 witnesses to testify in RM6.6 billion CBT trial of Najib and Irwan
About 70 witnesses will testify in the RM6.6 billion criminal breach of trust (CBT) trial of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah. Deputy public prosecutor Datuk Jamil Aripin said there were a total of 138 witnesses but 70 are expected to be called up. On Oct 25, Najib and Irwan were jointly charged at the Sessions Court, in their capacities as finance minister and treasury secretary-general respectively, with six counts of CBT. The charges, under Section 409 of the Penal Code for CBT by a public servant or agent, carries a maximum 20 years’ imprisonment, whipping and a fine upon conviction. (NST Online)

RAM: Malaysian businesses less optimistic on prospects for next six months
Malaysian businesses are displaying less optimistic sentiment on prospects for the next six months as the RAM Business Confidence Index (RAM BCI) fell to its lowest level since its inception two year ago. The cooler sentiment is attributable predominantly to the weak economic prospects in the next six months, with a number of firms citing this as the main challenge. Decelerating domestic growth, uncertain global demand and investment activities and a lack of positive catalysts, including the relatively neutral Budget 2019, all play a part in the generally weaker business sentiment on the next six months. (The Sun Daily)

Hong Kong won’t relax property cooling measures
The Hong Kong government has no plan to ease property-cooling measures, including the stamp duty on second homes or for overseas buyers, as many residents still cannot afford to purchase homes in the city, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in a blog post on Sunday. The government also does not plan to lift the special stamp duty, which levies home owners who sell property within three years of purchase. The goal is to fight short-term speculation, he added. After an almost 15-year bull run that made Hong Kong’s property market the world’s least affordable, home prices have fallen for 13 straight weeks since August, the longest losing streak since 2008. (The Business Times)