A toast to new beginnings

YEAR 2O2O is a year of new beginnings and renewals, according to Philippine Feng Shui Queen Marites Allen. “The Year of the Metal Rat is the year that the Chinese Zodiac will have come full circle — with the Rat being the first sign from the 12 animals cycle — and is seen to be a strong, prosperous, and lucky year, and is a great year for founding and evolving.”


Lucky charms in line with the Year of the Rat hang at a store along Ongpin Street in Binondo, Manila. 2020 is the year of the Metal Rat according to Chinese zodiac. PHOTO BY ENRIQUE AGCAOILI

How Bela, JC get over heartbreak

JC Santos and Bela Padilla Prior to their first project together, Bela Padilla and JC Santos’ interactions were limited mostly to perfunctory his and hellos, whenever they chance upon each other at the ABS-CBN compound or at random events. And so, Bela couldn’t help but feel nervous on the set of their first starring movie, “100 Tula Para Kay Stella,” two years ago. It was their first scene, and it


The district of Binondo in Manila is beginning to be cautious in preventing the possible entry of coronavirus especially in the light of the Chinese New Year festivities on January 25. Because many people are expected to be trooping on the streets during the celebration, barangay officials are aware that transmission of the virus is very likely in this area. As a preventive measure, Johnny Sy, chairman of Barangay 297,

Everything you need to know about the 2020 Ford Ranger FX4

To start off 2020, Ford Philippines expanded its Ranger lineup with the local reintroduction of the Ranger FX4. After some time away, the feisty version of Ford’s popular truck has made its way back to our shores. There’s already a handful of Ranger variants available in the local market—all of which were also given some minor upgrades for 2020—but this newest one bridges the small gap between the Wildtrak and the model’s base

Gov’t to sell at least P30B in RTBs


By Beatrice M. Laforga, Reporter
THE Bureau of the Treasury (BTr) is looking to raise at least P30 billion via the issuance of retail treasury bonds (RTB) starting Tuesday, Jan. 28.
In a notice posted on its website on Friday, the BTr said the fixed-rate RTBs will have a tenor of three years and an initial volume size of P30 billion, with option to upsize.
This will be the government’s first RTB offering this year and the 23rd issuance overall, following the sale of five-year RTBs in March last year where the Treasury raised P235.935 billion.
The offer period will start on Tuesday, Jan. 28 and run until Feb. 6 or at an any earlier date set by the BTr.
The three-year papers will be issued on Feb. 11 and mature in 2023.

These type of papers are offered to small investors as they consist of low-risk, higher-yielding savings instruments backed by the national government.
The papers will have a minimum investment of P5,000 and in multiples of P5,000 thereafter.
National Treasurer Rosalia V. De Leon said in a phone message that the proceeds of the fundraising activity will be used to fund the general budget.
Robinsons Bank Corp. peso debt trader Kevin S. Palma said the offer will likely be met with strong demand from the general investing public.
“The government was also prudent to come up with ways to manage its debt after it re-introduced its bond switch program. It basically allows current investors of the RTB 03-08 to extend maturity for another three years without having to shell out some cash,” Mr. Palma said in a Viber message on Friday.
In a separate notice, the Treasury said the RTBs will be officially launched on Tuesday along with its plan to “conduct switch tender offer for the 19th tranche of RTB as part of its liability management exercises.”
To encourage “wider participation among individual investors,” BTr said it will continue using its online ordering facility or the RTB Online Facility.
When ordering through the online platform, the BTr said a maximum of P500,000 will only be accepted per transaction.
The interest rate will be determined through a Dutch auction “based on current market levels of comparable securities rounded down to the nearest 1/8 of one percent.
Meanwhile, interest payments will be paid quarterly in arrears on the last day of each three-month interest period.
The bonds will be listed on the Philippine Dealing and Exchange Corp.
Of the P1.4-trillion borrowing program this year, the government will borrow 75% from the local market, while the remaining 25% will be sourced from external sources.
The Treasury has set a P420-billion local borrowing program this quarter, broken down into P240 billion in Treasury bills and P180 billion via Treasury bonds.
Earlier this week, the Treasury raised €1.2 billion from its offer of the euro-denominated bonds, €600 million each for the two tenors — three years and nine years.
Broken down, the three-year bonds were priced at a rate of 0.1%, while the nine-year papers carry a coupon of 0.7%, a spread of 40 basis points (bps) and 70 bps over benchmark rates, respectively.

BSP: Inflation likely to stay within target range until 2021


INFLATION is likely to settle within the midpoint of the central bank’s target range this year until 2021, with risks tilting slightly upward, according to officials from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).
“It’s not something that we should worry about… Inflation will get closer to the midpoint of the target range,” BSP Deputy Governor Francisco G. Dakila, Jr. said during a briefing held at the central bank headquarters in Manila on Friday.
The BSP has set an inflation target range of two to four percent for 2020 until 2021.
BSP Monetary Policy Sub-Sector Officer-In-Charge Dennis D. Lapid cited several upside risks to inflation such as volatility in oil prices caused by tensions in the Middle East and the potential impact of the African Swine Fever on the price of some food commodities.
Petitions for adjustments in electricity rates as well as the higher excise taxes on alcoholic beverages are also flagged as upside risks, Mr. Lapid said in his presentation.
On the other hand, Mr. Lapid said slower economic growth due to the escalation of protectionist policies and geopolitical tensions will be a downside risk to inflation.

Asked how the weather disturbances in countries (like Vietnam and Thailand) where the Philippines mainly imports rice could affect inflation, Mr. Lapid said weather conditions are expected to be “largely neutral” for the most of 2020.
“As of the moment, as I recall correctly, the most recent outlook by the weather services continue to indicate a largely neutral conditions…going into the second and the first half and for most of 2020… So that suggests that we will continue to see, on the whole, normal weather conditions to the agriculture activity,” he said.
Mr. Dakila said the rice tarriffication’s impact to inflation is -0.6%.
BSP Governor Benjamin E. Diokno said that headline inflation in the fourth quarter of 2019 slowed to 1.6% from 1.7% in the third quarter.
“Inflation slowed down slightly during the quarter due mainly to lower food and non-food inflation,” Mr. Diokno said.
Core inflation also eased to 2.7% in the fourth quarter of 2019, from 2.9% in the preceding quarter.
Inflation in 2019 was at 2.5%, slowing from the 10-year high 5.2% print seen in 2018.
The Monetary Board will have its first policy meeting this year on Feb. 6.
“In terms of decision-making for the policy, the consideration is not whether inflation is going up or down but whether inflation is within the target or not,” Mr. Lapid said.
“A consideration also is the assessment is whether the uptrend is due to temporary supply side or whether we’re seeing a broad-based uptrend in prices,” he added.
Mr. Diokno has previously said that another rate cut is possible as early as the first quarter of 2020, depending on key data and conditions. — Luz Wendy T. Noble

World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) called a new coronavirus that killed 18 people in China and infected about 650 worldwide “a Chinese emergency” on Thursday but stopped short of declaring the international epidemic. Chinese state television announced that so far 634 cases have been confirmed. The Chinese National Health Commission announced 17 deaths from the Hubei virus, the province at the center of the epidemic, and the health authorities recorded

Suzuki set to unveil electric crossover concept called the Futuro-e

Add this to the ever-growing list of electric vehicle concepts coming out from Japanese car brands: Suzuki has announced it will be unveiling its own EV crossover called the Futuro-e at the 2020 Auto Expo in India. The Futuro-e, according to Maruti Suzuki India Limited senior executive director of engineering CV Raman, is a coupe-style SUV that will represent a significant departure from the mainstream SUV architecture. “Offering a sneak-peek

Philippine peso

The Philippine peso retreated on Thursday against the US dollar as market players were risk-averse amid fears of the novel coronavirus (n-CoV) spreading potential. The local currency lost 7 cents to close Thursday at P50.98:$1 from Wednesday’s P50.91:$1 finish. Therefore, fears about the new coronavirus led partly to an increase in market risk aversion, especially in affected Asian countries, with possible adverse effects on the regional economy and financial markets