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Najib Razak, Malaysia's former prime minister, gestures as he leaves the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex in Malaysia, on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018.

Joshua Paul | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Najib Razak, Malaysia’s former prime minister, gestures as he leaves the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex in Malaysia, on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018.

A Malaysian court on Monday postponed the corruption trial of former prime minister Najib Razak over charges related to a multibillion-dollar scandal at state fund 1MDB pending an appeal, his lawyer said.

Najib was ousted in an election in May last year amid public fury over the alleged theft of $4.5 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

He has pleaded not guilty to ten charges of criminal breach of trust, money laundering and abuse of power and his trial was originally set to begin on Tuesday.

His lawyers, however, filed an application last week to stay the trial pending an appeal over a lower court’s ruling to transfer some of the charges to Kuala Lumpur High Court, media reported.

Harvinderjit Singh, one of Najib’s lawyers, told Reuters in a brief text message that the Court of Appeal had agreed to postpone the trial “until the appeal is heard”.

No new date for the trial or the appeal has been set, he said.

The postponement is seen as a blow for the government of Mahathir Mohamad, which reopened probes into 1MDB shortly after the election and had promised to bring those involved in the scandal swiftly to justice.

Prosecutor V. Sithambaram told Reuters he expected the appeal to take only a week or two.

“It’s just a hiccup,” he said. “The case is just delayed slightly.”

The charges against Najib relate to a suspected transfer of 42 million ringgit ($10.3 million) into Najib’s bank account from SRC International, a former 1MDB unit.

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Goldman Sachs rules out an oil price rally

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Iranian workers walk at a unit of South Pars Gas field in Asalouyeh Seaport, north of Persian Gulf, Iran November 19, 2015.

Raheb Homavandi | TIMA

Iranian workers walk at a unit of South Pars Gas field in Asalouyeh Seaport, north of Persian Gulf, Iran November 19, 2015.

Goldman Sachs expects the United States’ decision to end exemptions from sanctions for countries still buying oil from Iran to have a limited impact on crude prices, even though the timing is likely to have caught energy market participants by surprise.

“While we acknowledge the near-term upside price risks, we reiterate our fundamentally derived Brent price trading range of $70-75 per barrel for the second quarter of 2019,” the U.S. investment bank said in a research note published Monday, Reuters reported.

The world’s largest economy said Monday that from May 1, it would eliminate all waivers allowing eight economies to buy Iranian oil without facing U.S. sanctions.

These eight economies that were initially allowed to continue buying Iranian crude without facing penalties include: China, India, Japan, Turkey, Italy, Greece, South Korea and Taiwan.

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China says economic growth improving. Analysts warn stimulus is needed

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Robin Xing, chief China economist at Morgan Stanley, said the emphasis now will be on non-monetary measures.

“They didn’t mention that they’re going to end the policy easing,” Xing said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Street Signs” of the politburo gathering.

“They’re relying more and more on fiscal easing,” he said, referring to a 2 trillion yuan (298 billion) package announced last month at the National People’s Congress that includes cuts to taxes and fees.

“It’s locked in, they’re not going back on that, there’s no possibility of scaling back the fiscal package,” Xing said, adding Morgan Stanley is still “confident that the overall policy mix is still supportive.”

China’s massive debt levels, which authorities were trying to bring under control before the trade war kicked in last year, are a major worry for policymakers.

Economists Larry Hu and Irene Wu at Macquarie Capital said that officials have to tread carefully as they will need to keep some stimulus in reserve in case the economy worsens.

“It’s understandable that policy makers have to reduce the intensity of stimulus once the economy shows signs of stabilization, as the amount of ammunition is limited,” Hu and Wu said in a note dated Sunday.

Stimulus is set to wane, they said, “as policy makers have to save the ammunition for the next dip, which should not be too far away, in our view.”

— CNBC’s Yen Nee Lee contributed to this report.

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Twitter Q1 2019 earnings beat estimates, stock surges

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Twitter‘s first-quarter earnings report crushed expectations, sending the stock surging as much as 17% Tuesday.

The pop added around $3.9 billion to Twitter’s market cap, bringing it over $30 billion.

Here’s what Twitter reported Tuesday:

  • Earnings per share: adjusted 37 cents vs. 15 cents expected in a Refinitiv survey of analysts
  • Revenue: $787 million vs. $776.1 million expected in the Refinitiv survey
  • Monthly active users (MAUs), excluding SMS users: 330 million vs. 318 million expected in a FactSet consensus estimate

This quarter will be the last for which Twitter reports monthly active users (MAUs), the company announced during its last earnings report. As a replacement, Twitter began to report what it calls monetizable daily active users (mDAUs) last quarter, which it said would better reflect its audience. This metric includes “Twitter users who log in and access Twitter on any given day through Twitter.com or our Twitter applications that are able to show ads,” according to the company.

Twitter reported 134 million average mDAUs for the first quarter, compared with 120 million a year earlier. In the fourth quarter, Twitter said it had 126 million mDAUs.

In the U.S., Twitter reported 28 million average mDAUs forthe first quarter, compared with 26 million a year earlier. It reported 105 million average international mDAUs for the first quarter, compared with 94 million a year earlier.

The shift to a new metric came after Twitter reported MAUs that fell short of analyst estimates for two straight quarters during its fiscal year 2018. Twitter previously blamed the shortfall in part on a July 2018 purge of “locked” accounts that was meant to get rid of bots and fake users, among other factors. Twitter said the 330 million average MAUs it reported for the first quarter was a decrease of 6 million year over year.

Twitter forecast second-quarter revenue of $770 million to $830 million, compared with analyst estimates of $783.9 million to $853.6 million in the Refinitiv survey. The company reiterated its announcement from last quarter that it expects cash operating expenses to increase about 20% year over year in 2019 as it continues to invest in “health, conversation, revenue product and sales, and platform.”

Twitter’s stock slid after its previous earnings report when it provided light guidance for the first quarter, but it is still up about 10% over the past 12 months. Twitter has been toying with the best way to optimize the experience on the platform for user well-being rather than purely based on engagement metrics. CEO Jack Dorsey told Rolling Stone in an interview published in January that his team has considered “what happens if we remove the ‘like’ counts from tweets.”

Twitter rolled out a public beta test through a separate app last month where it has tested new features, including hiding some replies by default to unclutter conversations and hiding engagement options until a user taps on a tweet, TechCrunch reported.

On a call with analysts following the report, Dorsey said the prototype “twttr” app results so far have been promising, but he did not provide a concrete timeline for the broader release of new features.

“Generally, most of the people that have been testing the prototype app prefer it over the main Twitter production app,” Dorsey said. “So it’s shown that we’re heading in the right direction, but we still have some work to do before we feel confident that we should put it in production.”

In Twitter’s earnings release, Dorsey said the company is “taking a more proactive approach” to abuse on its platform.

“We are reducing the burden on victims and, where possible, taking action before abuse is reported,” Dorsey said. Twitter now removes 2.5 times more tweets sharing personal information, and about 38% of abuse tweets taken down each week are detected by machine learning models, he said.

On the analyst call, Dorsey addressed a question about regulation, saying Twitter is “completely open to regulation where it makes sense.”

“Regulations like GDPR have been a net positive, and not just for our service but for our broader industry in general,” Dorsey said. “It’s added a lot more clarity around privacy and how data is being used to the people that we serve.”

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