July NODX suffers double-digit fall
Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) got off to a bad start in the second half of the year, with the key NODX sinking 10.6 per cent year on year in July and extending the 2.4 per cent dip in June. The drop exceeded the 2.5 per cent fall the market was expecting. Already, the NODX has tumbled year on year in four of the first six months, leading to a 4.5 per cent decline in the first half of 2016. Private-sector economists have expressed expectation that the economy would bounce back in the last six months of the year, but now – given July’s numbers – they are not so sure it will.
Singapore consumer confidence plummets to post-2009 low
Consumer confidence in Singapore has dived to its lowest since June 2009, according to the Mastercard Index of Consumer Confidence for H1 2016. According to data from the latest survey, Singapore’s overall consumer confidence fell by 10.7 points on the index compared to H2 2015, pushing it from a neutral to pessimistic outlook. Between June and July 2016, 8,746 respondents aged 18 to 64 in 17 Asia-Pacific markets were asked to give a six-month outlook on five economic factors including the economy, employment prospects, regular income prospects, the stock market and their quality of life to arrive at the figures in the index.
DPM urges banks to continue support for innovation in SMEs
Banks in Singapore should continue to support innovation in small-medium enterprises (SMEs), said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Wednesday. Speaking at the Infocomm Commerce Conference and SME Expo organised by the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCCI), he called on banks to take a medium- to long-term view of SMEs despite the economic slowdown, highlighting that such an approach is important not just for the economy and SMEs, but for the banks themselves.
S’pore’s fiscal position strong in near term despite lower GIC, Temasek returns, says Moody’s
There are strong institutional and fiscal safeguards in place to prevent lower returns from Singapore’s government-owned investment entities from weighing on its sovereign credit profile. But should the current weak investment climate drag on, a slowdown in the Singapore economy could weigh on the country’s credit rating, said credit-rating agency Moody’s in a report on Wednesday. “Over time, meaningfully lower returns (from these investment entities) could curb fiscal space, and limit the possibility of fiscal stimulus. That could be particularly relevant if domestic growth were to cool.
Gloomy sentiment over Singapore’s economy
It has become almost impossible to find a business owner, market watcher or economist who feels upbeat about the economic outlook. Gloomy sentiment has become par for the course – a mood borne out in a deluge of depressing data. Lacklustre global growth continues to weigh on Singapore’s small, open economy, and disappointing July trade figures out yesterday indicated that the second half of the year will offer little reprieve.
Asian funds pour into alternative assets as traditional returns slide
As returns on traditional assets have nosedived or turned more volatile in Asia, conservative investors such as pension funds and insurers have been pouring cash into alternative investments that bring the yield they need, but at significantly higher risk. Many countries in Asia only started to cut interest rates in 2015 or 2016, but they are now at or near record lows and expected to fall further; India, South Korea, Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand are all likely to see rate cuts this year, according to economists at Nomura. The resulting decline in bond yields has hit the region later than many other parts of the world, but is now forcing a strategy rethink for investors who need predictable income to match their fixed commitments.
One Belt, One Road not ‘by China, for China’
Panellists at the Singapore Regional Business Forum on Tuesday said that even though the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) development framework and setting up of the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) are often seen as China-driven initiatives for China’s own benefit, this is not very true. In fact, the Chinese government has been trying to promote both as regional platforms, and AIIB has already begun funding projects in neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan. The OBOR, first unveiled in 2013, is a key part of China’s development strategy to deepen economic cooperation with countries in Asia, Europe and Africa. It has the potential to benefit some 60 countries with a population of 4.4 billion people along the economic belt, and much of the investments is likely to be in infrastructure.
Singapore Real Estate
Bumper crop of over 4,800 BTO flats launched
Property consultants are expecting keen interest for 4,841 build-to-order (BTO) flats the Housing & Development Board (HDB) launched for sale on Wednesday. These flats are spread across five projects – three in the non-mature towns of Hougang, Sembawang and Yishun, and two in the mature town of Tampines. Eugene Lim, key executive officer at ERA Realty Network, noted that more than half the units for sale are in the Tampines projects – Tampines GreenVerge and Tampines GreenView.
Bendable concrete invented by NTU-JTC could cut road-construction time
The time taken for construction and resurfacing of roads could be cut by half in the future, when they are paved with a bendable concrete invented in Singapore. Called ConFlexPave, this material is stronger and more durable than conventional concrete, which is now a substitute for asphalt in heavily-used roads. And with each ConFlexPave slab being thinner and lighter than typical concrete slabs, it means installation of worn-out pieces can be done more quickly, effectively cutting down the time needed for road works and construction.
Huge fire breaks out at CK Building
A huge fire broke out in a light industrial building in Tampines on Wednesday, causing some 67 occupants to be evacuated from the building as the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers battled the raging fire. The incident at CK Building was first reported just before 2pm when fire raged on the third and fourth floor of the building. There were no injuries resulting from the fire, though a firefighter was earlier treated in hospital for heat exhaustion.
New app that cuts out middleman could shake up property market
After being hit by a lean spell that saw the number of licensed agents in the Republic fall to its lowest since 2011, the real estate agency business is set for another shake-up, with the entrance of a mobile application that seeks to eliminate hefty agent commission fees. OhMyHome, founded by sisters Rhonda and Race Wong, provides a platform for Housing and Development Board (HDB) dwellers — sellers and buyers, landlords and tenants — to transact directly with one another without going through an agent.
North-South Corridor tunnel works to affect Ellison Building
Part of a 1924 building at the edge of Selegie Road will be demolished, and later rebuilt, to make way for the construction of the North- South Corridor. This is despite the Ellison Building’s status as a conserved structure gazetted by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). The authorities described the decision as an “exceptional course of action” that was taken after considerable study and deliberation by the agencies.
Shareholders dispute Tang Plaza’s value
The value of Tang Plaza in Orchard Road was again the bone of contention between die-hard minority shareholders and the CK Tang board at the firm’s annual general meeting (AGM) yesterday. Shareholders believe the property – part owned by CK Tang – is a goldmine, given its prime location. Questions over its valuation dominated much of the nearly three-hour AGM at the RELC Building, next to Shangri-La Hotel.
Views, Reviews & Forum
Right time to buy London property?
If you are eyeing a piece of London, this might seem an opportune moment to strike. One British pound bought about S$1.737 on foreign exchange markets on Tuesday – its weakest level since at least 1981. Yesterday it recovered slightly to S$1.7506. So is this the right time? Mr Richard Jerram, Bank of Singapore’s chief economist and a member of the OCBC Wealth Panel, offered some words of advice to participants at The Straits Times Global Outlook: Quarterly Briefing yesterday. “As the next couple of months show how much of a hit there’s been to Britain’s economy, the sterling is going to head closer to 1.70 and below against the Singapore dollar,” he said. “I guess if you do want to buy London property, you might find a cheaper occasion before the end of the year.”
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