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PETALING JAYA: As 2023 begins, industry players still see speed bumps ahead, albeit with varying degrees of optimism.
Industry leaders are still concerned about what the US Federal Reserve’s policies would be in terms of rate hikes to rein in inflation, which would affect economic sentiment, along with how quickly China could bounce back from its “zero-Covid” policy.
However, chief executive and founder of fund management firm Tradeview Capital Sdn Bhd Ng Zhu Hann said Malaysia would not slip into a recession despite the widespread expectation of recessionary pressure.
“While we do not think recession would be our foremost concern, we agree that there could be a demand or consumption slowdown in 2023 as we come off a bumper 2022, which itself benefited from a low-base effect,” he told StarBiz.
Therefore, Ng said the market should not be overly optimistic that 2023 would be as good or better than last year with the anticipated tapering off of consumer spending.,
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Having said that, he viewed the ending of China’s “zero-Covid” initiative – which has been dampening demand for the past 18 months – as the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
“The global market needs some catalysts to perform well, and with the United States still on a rate hike mission, funds are flowing back there unlike before when it is exporting capital. “In fact, there does not seem to be any major exporter of capital in 2023, and hence, China’s return would be heavily expected, assuming there are no further outbreaks,” said Ng, pointing out that the anticipated re-emergence of the Middle Kingdom should cushion any consumption downturn in Malaysia as well as Asia.
For Tradeview, its chief executive said the company had garnered a 5% effective return on its assets under management over eight months, and it would be maintaining a strategy of prudence, and would only pursue a more aggressive investment stance in the second half of the year.
Malayan United Industries Bhd concurred that 2023 would present similar macro challenges namely rate hikes and inflation levels which could reduce consumer confidence.
Chief executive and chairman Andrew Khoo said the two metrics have to be closely watched as their effects could spill over into the hospitality and property sectors, which are two of the major business segments of the group.
“Higher interest rates can also cause a further dislocation in property yields and values. Over and above that, the labour and talent shortage in not only Malaysia, but also in the region, is something all businesses will have to look to address,” Khoo said.,