1. Petroleum prices go down from midnight, dealers claim will lose up to RM40m
  2. China confirms US trade talks in Beijing next week
  3. Chang’e 4 landing on moon marks start of China’s space race with the US
  4. Thousands stranded in Thailand’s south coast as Pabuk stikes

RON95, RON97 and diesel to cost less from mid-night
The retail price of petroleum will go down from mid-night today for the period from 5 January to 11 January, 2019. The Finance Ministry said for the period, RON97 petrol will cost RM2.23 per litre, down from RM2.50 per litre, while RON95 petrol will cost RM1.93 per litre, down from RM2.20 per litre, and the price of diesel will drop to RM2.04 per litre from RM2.18 per litre. Finance Minister, Lim Guan Eng said, “The federal government will set the retail prices of petroleum products weekly so that consumers can benefit from any price changes more quickly in line with the downward trend in petroleum prices on world markets.” “The retail prices of petroleum products will be re-coordinated weekly according to the managed float system under the Automatic Pricing Mechanism (APM) formula, in line with the current downward trend in oil prices on world markets,” he added. The retail prices are set to be announced every Friday, and will come into effect the following day until the next Friday.

Meanwhile, petrol dealers claim they will lose up to RM40 million tonight after fuel prices were slashed. Petroleum Dealers Association of Malaysia (PDAM) president Datuk Khairul Annuar Abdul Aziz said the reduction of fuel by 14 sen per litre for diesel and 27 sen per litre for RON95 and RON97 petrol respectively will result in RM30 to RM40 million in petroleum retail losses, based on existing fuel stocks. “All operators will have to bear with it. However. we welcome the announcement by the government after they took into consideration the margin of losses which we must sustain,” Datuk Khairul was reported saying. Although admitting the announcement provides balance for all involved, he said the crisis resulting from the fuel price mechanism indicates it could be further refined. “We do not want to buy [fuel stocks] at a higher price only to sell for lower, as various issues can arise such as the weekly difficulties between us and transportation logistics.

China confirms US trade talks in Beijing next week
China today confirmed that a vice-ministerial level delegation from the United States will visit Beijing next week for “proactive and constructive talks” to flesh out trade agreements reached between President Xi Jinping and US counterpart Donald Trump in Argentina last month. The talks will be the first face-to-face meeting between the two the countries over trade since Xi and Trump agreed a 90-day truce on December 1. China’s Ministry of Commerce said Deputy US trade representative Jeffrey Gerrish will lead the American delegation. Bloomberg reported that the talks will be divided into groups dealing with non-tariff measures, intellectual property, agriculture and industrial purchases.

Chang’e 4 landing on moon marks start of China’s space race with the US
China’s space programme scored a major victory on Thursday morning when the Chang’e 4 lunar spacecraft landed on the far side of the moon, territory that has never before been explored. The probe completed the world’s first ever soft-landing on the uncharted far side at 10.26am Hong Kong time, and almost immediately transmitted a “close range” image of the mysterious land back to Earth. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) said the mission had “lifted the mysterious veil” from the far side of the moon, which is permanently blocked from view from Earth, and “opened a new chapter in human lunar exploration”. “China is making a tremendous effort to become a space power. This mission will be a landmark event in this endeavour,” Wu Weiren, chief scientist of the Chang’e 4 programme, said in an interview with state broadcaster China Central Television.

Thousands stranded in Thailand’s south coast as Pabuk stikes
Thousands of people were left stranded on Thailand’s southern gulf coast as Tropical Storm Pabuk made landfall on Friday. Authorities had moved to suspend all flights and ferry services ahead of the storm, which hit Pak Panang district in Nakhon Si Thammarat Province at 12.45 p.m. local time with maximum sustained wind speeds of 75 kilometers per hour according to Thailand’s Meteorological Department. Some of the country’s most popular tourist destinations, including Koh Samui, Koh Phangan and Koh Tao islands, along with islands in the Andaman Sea such as Phuket and Koh Phi Phi are expected to be affected by the storm during what is peak holiday season. It is highly unusual for tropical storms and typhoons to make landfall in Thailand. The last time a tropical storm made landfall in Thailand was in 1962, when Tropical Storm Harriet impacted 12 provinces and claimed 900 lives. The only typhoon ever to make landfall in the Southeast Asian nation was Typhoon Gay in 1989.