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Phillip Capital Morning Note - 3 May 2019

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US factory orders post largest increase in seven months. New orders for US-made goods rose by the most in seven months in March amid strong demand for transportation equipment, but rising inventories and a marginal rebound in unfilled orders pointed to slower manufacturing activity. Factory goods orders rebounded 1.9 per cent, also boosted by orders for computers and electronic products, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. That was the largest rise since August 2018. Data for February was revised up to show factory orders slipping 0.3 per cent instead of falling 0.5 per cent as previously reported.

US Q1 productivity rise fastest since 2014; labour costs fall. The Labour Department said on Thursday nonfarm productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, increased at a 3.6 per cent annualised rate in the last quarter. That was the strongest pace since the third quarter of 2014. Data for the fourth quarter was revised down to show productivity rising at a pace of 1.3 per cent instead of the previously reported 1.9 per cent rate.

US weekly jobless claims unchanged last week. The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits was unchanged at higher levels last week, but the trend remained consistent with tightening labour market conditions. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits were flat at a seasonally adjusted 230,000 for the week ended April 27, the Labour Department said on Thursday. Claims surged 37,000 in the prior week, which was the largest rise since Sept 2017.

Oil drops nearly 3% on oversupply worries. Oil plunged Thursday, with US crude dropping almost 3 per cent as the market grappled with oversupply fears as increased US sanctions on Iran had more gradual impact than expected and US crude oil inventories rose sharply. US crude settled down US$1.79 or 2.8 per cent at US$61.81 a barrel, heading for its biggest weekly fall since February. Brent crude futures fell US$1.43 a barrel, or 2 per cent to US$70.75.

Sembcorp Marine posts first quarter 2019 net profit of $2 million. In 1Q 2019, Group revenue totalled $811 million, compared with $1.18 billion booked. New contracts secured to-date totalled $175 million, for projects comprising the design and construction of a 12,000 cubic metre LNG bunker vessel as well as repair and modernisation works on 13 cruise ships. The Group net order book stands at $5.77 billion. Excluding Sete Brasil drillships, the net order book is $2.65 billion.

OUE H-Trust posts 6.3% fall in Q1 DPS to 1.18 Singapore cents. Net property income was down by 2.2 per cent to S$27.7 million for the three months to March 31, the manager reported in unaudited financial statements on Thursday. Gross revenue declined by 3 per cent to S$31.7 million, dragged down by lower master lease income from Mandarin Orchard Singapore, which was thrust into the spotlight in late-2018 when a string of severe food poisoning incidents forced the hotel's main ballroom to close.

Hi-P posts surprise Q1 earnings growth on lower forex costs. Gross profit came in 4.3 per cent lower for the three months to March 31, which was attributed to both price pressures and a turn to lower-margin products compared with the same period the year prior. Still, Hi-P clocked growth on a sharp drop in forex-related expenses, with net profit picking up 5.8 per cent year-on-year to S$10.7 million. Meanwhile, revenue increased by 2 per cent to S$286.8 million, which the company said was "despite challenging market conditions".

Source: SGX Masnet, The Business Times, Bloomberg, Channel NewsAsia, Reuters, PSR

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