Record foreign turnout shows KL firmly on investment map

KUALA LUMPUR (June 17, 2013): Fund managers came out in droves with a record number of foreign turnout at the just concluded Invest Malaysia 2013 conference last week, as an opportunity to meet and listen to some of the best companies in the region.

Organisers Bursa Malaysia Bhd and Maybank Kim Eng said more than 500 group as well as one-on-one meetings were held during the two-day investment conference.

"The record turnout of foreign fund managers clearly affirms Bursa Malaysia's strength as the prime marketplace for buying into the growth opportunities offered by Asean,'' Bursa Malaysia CEO Datuk Tajuddin Atan said.

More than 2,000 delegates attended the event, representing 60 global fund managers with over US$15 trillion of assets under management, the organisers said last Friday.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak in his keynote address on Thursday pledged he will continue with reforms that had put Malaysia back on the global investment map.

The star of the conference, famed investor and currency speculator Jim Rogers of Roger Holdings and Beeland Interest Inc took to the stage next, to say he was impressed by the dramatic positive changes taking place in the country over the past three or four years.

But he warned that while Malaysia and the rest of Asean are doing the right things, troubles in the developed economies continue to post a major risk in the near-term.

He said that there was no escape from the turmoil that is developing in the West.
And the Sage of Singapore was on the money that day.

As he was speaking to the audience in Kuala Lumpur last Thursday, capital markets across the region went into a tailspin.

Japanese stocks dived 6% to drag the market into bear market territory after the Nikkei 225 Average fell 20% from its recent peak on May 22.

No market was spared from the rout on Thursday, Malaysia included. A recovery rally on Friday helped limit the losses.

The MSCI Emerging Market Index had fallen 10% since US Federal Reserves chairman Ben Bernanke said on May 22 that the US could cut back of its asset buying programme if the economy continue to recover.

The reversal of flows out of from the markets in recent weeks has weakened Asian currencies and had prompted centrals banks in Thailand and Indonesia to defend their exchange rates.

In a separate event, Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz said on Friday that the central bank is keeping a close tab on the situation.

"We see depreciation but over the medium term what is important is it reflects our underlying fundamentals,'' she said.

The ringgit ended the week at 3.1149 against the US dollar. The local currency had fallen 4.2% over the past one month.

It was an interesting week just ended. The World Bank lowered its growth forecast with global GDP projects at 2.2% this year from a target of 2.4% expansion made in January.

This week, investors will tune in to the Federal Reserves press conference on Jun 19 for inspiration. In the meantime, investors should brace for more volatility.