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Weekly News Review / Issue 33

By in Weekly News Review with 0 Comments

Top News for the Week

Residential

Private home sales up 43.5% in July, with 1,178 units sold

Developers sold 1,178 private homes in July, up 43.5 per cent from the 821 units they moved in June, but 31.7 per cent lower than the bumper crop of 1,724 units they sold in July last year during the last-minute rush to beat property cooling measures.

Last month, developers launched 911 units for sale, an increase of 36 per cent from 670 units in June, but a sharp drop from the 2,239 units in July last year.

Including ECs, developers sold 1,556 units last month, a hefty 89.3 per cent increase from 822 units in June. This was 12.4 per cent less than the total 1,776 private and EC units sold in July last year.

Last month’s best-selling project was the 820-unit Piermont Grand EC in Punggol – the only EC launch of the year – which saw 378 units booked at a median price of $1,107 psf. Property analysts noted that a rise in July sales, compared with June, is not unusual, as buyers are stirred to move after the month-long school holidays and close deals before the Hungry Ghost Festival month of August.

Huttons Asia research head Lee Sze Teck said solid sales recorded for One Pearl Bank and Sky Everton was “a catalytic factor for the primary sales market in July”, which saw positive sentiments spill over to the rest of the market.

Excluding ECs, the 774-unit One Pearl Bank condo project by CapitaLand, from the collective sale of the iconic Pearl Bank Apartments, was the bestseller last month.

Launched last month, it sold 197 units, at a median price of $2,353 psf, which represents almost a quarter of its total 774 units.

Meanwhile, a consortium led by Sustained Land managed to move another 67 units of the 262- unit freehold Sky Everton in Everton Road. This was sold at a median price of $2,606 psf.

Analysts also expect sales volume this month to be slower as both developers and buyers hold back owing to the inauspicious Hungry Ghost month. Post-August, however, the launches include Parc Clematis, Avenue South Residences, Meyer Mansion, The Antares and Guoco Midtown.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/private-home-sales-up-435-in-july-with-1178-units-sold https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/private-home-sales-surge-july-analysts-say-outlook-uncertain-amid- economic-downturn

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/new-launches-affordability-help-property-buck-economic-gloom

 

Singapore condo resale prices ease further in July

Resale prices of condominium units in Singapore dipped again in July for the second consecutive month, while volume of sales surged by almost one-third, according to monthly figures.

Overall condo resale prices were down 0.5 per cent in July from the previous month. June had seen a 0.4 per cent decline from the peak in May, breaking an upward trend that had lasted four months. Prices in the city fringes, or rest of central region (RCR), posted the biggest drop of 1.1 per cent in July, while prices for the suburbs or outside central region (OCR) retreated 0.3 per cent.

Prices in the core central region (CCR) inched down by 0.1 per cent month on month.

The softer prices in all three market segments of CCR, RCR and OCR could be due to the increase in supply of new homes.

Many new projects were launched in recent months, and the rising competition for potential buyers probably caused some sellers to lower their asking prices for their resale homes.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/singapore-condo-resale-prices-ease-further-in-july-srx https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/condo-resale-prices-dip-again-in-july-but-sales-surge-srx

 

Singapore condo rents recover slightly in July; HDB rents stable

Rents of condominiums in Singapore inched up in July after two straight months of decline, while those of HDB flats held largely steady from June, according to monthly flash data.

The number of units leased also saw a month-on-month increase for both condos and HDBs.

For non-landed private homes, overall rents last month improved 0.8 per cent from June, and were up 2.7 per cent on a year-on-year basis. Previously, condo rents had dipped 0.2 per cent month on month in both June and May.

By location, July’s condo rents rose across the board, with the core central region (CCR) posting the largest rise of 1.1 per cent from June, followed by the suburbs or outside central region (OCR) with a 1 per cent growth and the city fringes or rest of central region (RCR) up 0.3 per cent.

Rents for non-landed private homes in the CCR increased the most compared to the other segments. This could be due to both supply and demand factors.

As for public housing, overall rents for HDB flats were unchanged in July, slipping marginally by 0.08 per cent from June.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/singapore-condo-rents-recover-slightly-in-july-hdb-rents-stable-srx-0 https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/condo-rents-recover-slightly-while-hdb-rents-stay-flat

 

Developers dangle higher commissions to clear less ideal units

Some developers are dangling fatter commissions to incentivise property agents to help clear inventory.

A check with property agents suggested that commissions in some cases could rise to 3-4 per cent, or more. Developers may also wheel out incentives or a cash bonus when it comes to units that are harder to sell, such as ground-floor units or units with a less-attractive facing, as agents need to work harder to find suitable buyers once the choice units are snapped up.

It makes more sense to offer agents higher commissions as opposed to cutting prices across the board. This could also lead to a price war with other developers, which is a lose-lose situation. In addition, if developers offer rates under the market norm, there is the risk that agents may direct their buyers elsewhere.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/developers-dangle-higher-commissions-to-clear-less-ideal-units

 

Stephen Riady buys GCB from OUE unit for S$95m

Property developer OUE’s executive chairman and controlling shareholder Stephen Riady is buying a good class bungalow at Nassim Road from an OUE subsidiary for S$95 million, OUE announced in a regulatory filing.

OUE’s indirect wholly-owned unit OUE Reef Development has entered a sale and purchase agreement with Dr Riady for the 3,182 sq m plot at 26A Nassim Road and the property on it.

The sale is in its ordinary course of business, said OUE. Completion of the sale and purchase of the property shall take place on Dec 31, 2019.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/companies-markets/stephen-riady-buys-gcb-from-oue-unit-for-s95m

 

White House Park GCB for sale, could fetch S$75m-S$80m

A freehold good class bungalow (GCB) at White House Park – in District 10 in Bukit Timah – is up for sale by tender, with the marketing agent expecting offers in the S$75 million to S$80 million range.

The two-storey property sits on a land area of 35,290 sq ft, and has a frontage of 54 m onto White House Park. The plot allows for a single mansion or it can be sub-divided into two GCB parcels. Among the recent high-profile GCB transactions in Singapore was for a 84,543 sq ft plot at Nassim Road which went for S$230 million (S$2,721 psf). Another GCB at Cluny Road that sits on a land size of 15,100 sq ft was sold for above S$2,720 psf.

The vendor of the White House Park GCB is expecting offers in the region of S$75 million to S$80 million, which translates to S$2,125 psf to S$2,267 psf on the land area.

The tender will close on Sept 20 at 2.30pm.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/white-house-park-gcb-for-sale-could-fetch-s75m-s80m

 

Braddell View in fresh collective sale effort

Braddell View estate – the largest private residential site in Singapore – has relaunched its collective sale with the reserve price unchanged at an eye-watering $2.08 billion.

After factoring in the 7 per cent bonus balcony gross floor area, the estimated differential premium and the cost of topping up the lease to a fresh 99 years, the reserve price translates to a land rate of about $1,159 psf ppr.

The property in Braddell Hill was initially put up for sale on March 27 but the tender closed in May with no bids, likely due to the estate’s size and last July’s property cooling measures.

Braddell View, which is on a 1.14 million sq ft hilltop site overlooking MacRitchie Reservoir Park, comprises two commercial units and 918 apartments. The plot has a lease tenure of about 102 years with effect from Feb 1, 1978.

Huttons Real Estate Group’s head of research Lee Sze Teck said that recent improvement in the primary sales market could have given the confidence to relaunch.

The number of new units sold in Singapore has been creeping up since February, a report by Huttons pointed out last month. The report also stated that the average monthly developer sales in the first half of the year was 724 units, up from 658 units in the same period last year.

These figures showed that demand had been “buoyant” as people look to property as a good store of value against uncertainty and inflation in  the mid  to long run, Mr  Lee said.  As  en-bloc  sales hinge on sales in the primary market, the chances should technically be higher as well, he noted.

However, Mr Lee did say that most developers still have land in their banks to last one to two years, and “won’t be actively looking out for a purchase”.

The collective sale tender closes at 3pm on Sept 25.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/braddell-view-in-fresh-collective-sale-effort https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/braddell-view-mega-site-relaunched-for-en-bloc-sale-at-same-reserve- price-of-s208b-0

https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/braddell-view-launches-another-en-bloc-bid-barely-3-months-after-failed- attempt

 

Boon Keng 5-room HDB flat sells for record $1.2 million

Despite a Boon Keng five-roomer selling for a record sum, HDB resale prices remained pretty much stable last month, new figures show.

The 39th-floor unit at City View @ Boon Keng went for $1,205,000 – $5,000 more than the previous record for a HDB resale, set by a five-room flat in Boon Tiong Road, Tiong Bahru, in April.

It was the second time this year a City View unit has claimed the record after a five-room unit at adjacent Block 9 sold for $1,185,000 in January. The 714-unit development was completed in 2011, and five of the nine flats sold there this year surpassed a million dollars.

Analysts say it has proved popular because it is a new development located among ageing counterparts in a mature estate and in close proximity to two MRT stations – Bendemeer on the Downtown Line and Boon Keng on the North-East Line.

Despite the record sale, HDB resale prices in July fell by 0.2 per cent from June, although the number of resale transactions rose by 11.9 per cent. The prices of three-room and five-room flats fell by 0.9 and 0.1 per cent respectively. Four-room prices remained flat while those for executive flats rose by 0.3 per cent. Non-mature estate prices rose by 0.2 per cent while mature estate flats fell by 0.8 per cent.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/housing/boon-keng-5-room-hdb-flat-sells-for-record-12-million https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/boon-keng-5-room-hdb-flat-sells-at-record-12m-but-resale-prices-dip- 02-in-july

 

High rentals fuel demand for illegal ‘cubicle’ units in apartments

Four square metres – or just enough space to squeeze in a modest clothes rack, a creaky bunk bed with worn-out mattresses, and two unfussy occupants.

There is little room to stand and the air is heavy with the smell of damp clothes. A narrow window in the otherwise depressing cubicle home offers a glimpse of a noisy Chinatown, 20 floors down. Forget about privacy. In the same apartment are six other box-like rooms – all up for short-term stays. This, despite stays of less than three months in private homes remaining illegal. Two no- frills toilets are shared by over a dozen people living there – more than the number of people allowed per unit, which is six.

The apartment in Chinatown is one of many carved up into smaller – and generally more affordable – rooms and let out to tourists, foreign workers and students.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/many-apartments-carved-up-and-let-out-as-cubicle-homes

Commercial

S$210m sale of Anson House completed

Hong Kong-based fund manager Arch Capital Management completed the acquisition of Anson House for S$210 million.

The price works out to S$2,435 per sq ft based on the 13-storey building’s net lettable area (NLA) of 86,239 sq ft.

This confirms a report in June in The Business Times Weekend, which had cited market watchers tipping Arch Capital Management as the party that was doing exclusive due diligence with a view to buying Anson House for about S$210 million.

The property stands on a 17,035 sq ft site at the corner of Anson Road and Bernam Street – a stone’s throw from Tanjong Pagar MRT Station. It is on a site with 99-year leasehold tenure expiring in March 2096; this leaves about 76.5 years of balance lease.

Anson House was developed about two decades ago by a joint venture between former Singapore Land chairman S P Tao and his Indonesian partner Mackmoor Pte Ltd on a 99-year leasehold site that they bought for S$53.38 million or nearly $560 psf per plot ratio at a state tender.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/s210m-sale-of-anson-house-completed

Retail

Retail, industrial property markets set to feel the heat

Trade tensions and a gloomy economic outlook could stifle any near-term recovery for the retail and industrial property markets

A prolonged economic downturn, should it happen, will likely crimp consumer confidence, resulting in cutbacks on discretionary spending among households.

Meanwhile, industrialists may be more cautious and could shelve expansion plans. That said, there are pockets of opportunities for investors in both markets that will likely provide a decent yield. Retail rents remained weak in the first six months this year.

One mall slated to open later this year is PLQ – the 340,000 sq ft retail part of Paya Lebar Quarters. Islandwide retail vacancies declined by 0.8 percentage point from the second half of last year to

7.7 per cent in the six months to June 30 this year, likely boosted by the good take-up at Jewel Changi Airport and Funan mall.

Separately, the industrial real estate sector seemed to have found its footing, with overall rents bottoming out.

However, deteriorating manufacturing and trade statistics could put pressure on industrial rents and occupancy.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/retail-industrial-property-markets-set-to-feel-the-heat

 

Athleisure – the buzz word that keeps the spring in Skechers’ step

Retail sales have been falling here amid a slowing economy but global footwear and apparel firm Skechers is bucking the trend.

The brand’s ability to jump onto consumer trends has allowed it to record double-digit growth despite the general slump, said Ms Megan Zhang, vice-president for marketing, store design and development for China, Korea and South-east Asia.

Skechers, which is headquartered in the United States, officially opened its South-east Asian flagship store at Jewel Changi Airport last month. The outlet spans 5,000 sq ft, making it the largest concept store in the region.

The stores themselves have a more contemporary look that is targeted at millennials. You will not find children’s shoes there, for instance.

The brand also wants to capture their young clientele by allowing for more personalisation in its products. The Skechers store at Jewel Changi Airport is the first in Singapore to allow consumers to customise their shoes and shirts.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/athleisure-the-buzz-word-that-keeps-the-spring-in- skechers-step

Government

Singapore’s resilience will see it through latest slowdown: PM Lee

Singapore will take the upcoming slowdown in its stride, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his annual National Day Message. Whenever the island has faced trials, it reinvented and renewed itself to thrive again, he said.

Notwithstanding slowing economic growth, weaker global demand and trade, and the worldwide electronics down-cycle, other parts of the economy are doing well, he noted.

“We have experienced such slowdowns before, and we will take this one in our stride,” he said. “Should it become necessary to stimulate the economy, we will do so.”

More fundamentally, the world “is entering a more troubled period” with grave challenges: economic uncertainties, strategic risks amid friction between major powers, and existential threats such as global warming and rising sea levels.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapores-resilience-will-see-it-through-latest-slowdown- pm-lee

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/spore-must-prepare-for-a-very-different-future-says-pm-lee

PM Lee to deliver National Day Rally on Aug 18

More affordable pre-school and tertiary education, as well as the raising of the retirement and re- employment ages, will be among the many topics that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is expected to touch on when he delivers this year’s National Day Rally on Aug 18.

The annual rally – the most important political speech of the year in Singapore – will be delivered at the Institute of Technical Education in Ang Mo Kio. It will be broadcast on local TV channels and radio stations, said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in a statement.

Mr Lee mentioned in his National Day Message that the Rally would include more information on how the government plans to make pre-school and tertiary education more affordable, especially for lower- and middle-income families. The needs and concerns of older Singaporeans will also be addressed, such as healthcare and retirement.

This is Mr Lee’s 16th National Day Rally since he became prime minister in 2004. He will first speak in Malay and Mandarin from 6.45pm to 7.30pm, and in English from 8.15pm to 9.30pm.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/pm-lee-to-deliver-national-day-rally-on-aug-18 https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/pm-lee-to-deliver-national-day-rally-speech-on-sunday-0 https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/pm-lee-to-discuss-climate-change-in-rally-speech

Economy

Growth downgrades, heightened risks and the stimulus question

Singapore cut its full-year growth forecast again as the economy almost came to a standstill in the second quarter of the year, while the outlook for exports worsened considerably.

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) now expects GDP growth to come in between 0 per cent and 1 per cent, with the final figure pegged at around the mid-point of the range. This is sharply down from its previous forecast range of 1.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent, as the economy logged 0.1 per cent growth in the second quarter.

The downgrade comes amid escalating global trade tensions and weakness in the manufacturing sector, and MTI expects that Singapore will likely continue facing strong headwinds for the rest of the year.

But Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said that while Singapore should brace itself for challenges ahead, it “need not be overly pessimistic”. The country continues to attract good investments, and this reflects the confidence that investors have in its long-term value proposition, he added.

Analysts said the downgrade in the economic forecast was gloomy but realistic given Singapore’s sensitivity to global trade flows.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/spore-slashes-growth-forecast-exports-tumble https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/growth-downgrades-heightened-risks-and-the-stimulus- question

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/recession-or-not-there-will-be-more-pain-ahead

 

MAS rules out off-cycle monetary policy review

Singapore’s central bank has ruled out the possibility that it will change monetary policy outside of its usual schedule, even as the Republic downgraded its full-year growth forecast and second- quarter growth came to a near standstill.

Economists now expect the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to ease policy during its upcoming October review, and are looking to other stimulus measures to support poor-performing sectors amid heightened uncertainties ahead.

Although second-quarter growth came in at just 0.1 per cent, with the Ministry of Trade and Industry pegging full-year growth at between 0 per cent and 1 per cent, MAS chief economist Edward Robinson said that it is “not considering an off-cycle policy meeting”.

The Singapore dollar weakened to 1.39 to the US dollar.

Regardless, the Republic has a “sound strategy” in place for the medium to long term. This includes looking into new sectors such as agri-tech. Projects such as a $9 billion investment by the two integrated resorts, announced earlier this year, can also help stimulate the economy.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/mas-rules-out-off-cycle-monetary-policy-review https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/mas-chief-economist-rules-out-off-cycle-singdollar- tweaks

 

Construction looks to turn corner with slower 4.6% Q2 decline

The tide may be turning for the ailing construction sector, which has been a persistent drag on growth, a government economist has said.

Construction shrank by 4.6 per cent year on year in the second quarter, with the decline easing from 5.2 per cent in the quarter before, according to figures from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

The contraction still marked a 15.4 per cent quarterly fall, on a seasonally adjusted, annualised basis. But growth is expected to pick up, the latest property curbs notwithstanding, with public projects forming the bedrock of the sector’s performance.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/construction-looks-to-turn-corner-with-slower-46-q2- decline

 

Singapore exports fall 14.6% in Q2 amid slowing electronics demand

Singapore exports took a tumble in the second quarter, shrinking by 14.6 per cent on the back of slowing global demand for electronics and sluggish trade conditions.

This was a sharp fall from the 6.4 per cent contraction in non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) in the first three months of the year, according to Enterprise Singapore (ESG) data.

It also marked the third consecutive quarter of negative year-on-year Nodx growth.

With global economic and trade growth expected to moderate further this year, the Republic slashed its Nodx projection for the year again to between -9 per cent and -8 per cent, down from – 2 per cent to 0 per cent growth previously.

In the second quarter, exports of electronic products contracted 26.9 per cent due to drops in integrated circuits, disk media products and personal computers.

Non-electronic shipments fell 10.5 per cent in the second quarter compared with a year ago, due to decreases in civil engineering equipment parts, non-monetary gold and petrochemicals.

Nodx to Singapore’s top 10 markets except the United States also fell in the April to June period, mainly due to decreases in exports to China, Europe and Japan.

The total merchandise trade forecast for this year was also revised downwards to between -3 per cent and -2 per cent.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/spore-exports-fall-146-in-q2-amid-slowing-electronics-demand https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/2019-exports-forecast-slashed-as-q2-performance-dives- 146

 

Takings at the till down for 5th straight month

Takings at the till plunged for the fifth consecutive month in June, according to figures released by the Department of Statistics.

Retail sales fell 8.9 per cent compared with the same period last year. The figure disappointed analysts polled by Bloomberg, who had predicted a drop of 3.7 per cent.

Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales dropped 2.7 per cent year on year. The sale of motor vehicles recorded the largest decline out of all the categories of goods, falling 32.4 per cent in June.

Analysts said the slowing domestic economy and macro headwinds such as the re-escalation of China-US trade tensions have caused consumer sentiments to weaken, as people tightened their purse strings for both big ticket items and discretionary consumer goods.

They said that the retail sales outlook for the year remains soft and might stay in the negative territory.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/takings-at-the-till-down-for-5th-straight-month https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/infographics/retail-sales-in-june-fall-for-the-fifth-straight-month https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/retail-sales-in-june-plunge-for-the-fifth-straight-month

 

Singaporeans spend less on clothes, footwear

Singaporeans are spending less on clothes and shoes compared with five years ago, a government survey has found.

The latest Household Expenditure Survey, based on data collected in 2017 and last year, found that the average household spent about $120 a month on clothing and footwear, down from about

$160 in the 2012/2013 poll.

“Notably, clothing and footwear experienced the largest decline in expenditure in percentage terms,” said a report on the survey, which is conducted every five years by the Department of Statistics.

In comparison, expenditure on accommodation services, food and health increased.

But retail experts say the reduced expenditure on fashion does not necessarily mean people are shopping less. Instead, the availability of more affordable options for shoppers these days makes it easier to spend less.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/fashion/singaporeans-spend-less-on-clothes-footwear

 

Firms report poorer Q2 results, glum for H2: BT-SUSS survey

Businesses reported a poorer second quarter and warned of gloomier times ahead, according to the latest Business Times-Singapore University of Social Sciences (BT-SUSS) Business Climate Survey.

The quarterly survey received responses from 135 firms on their performance in the second quarter, and their upcoming business prospects for July to December 2019.

Of the three performance indicators, sales continued to contract at a similar rate as the previous quarter, with a net balance of -35 per cent, down 14 percentage points.

The net balance is the difference between the percentage of firms reporting a year-on-year increase in an indicator and those reporting a decrease. A positive net balance suggests overall expansion and a negative one, a contraction.

Pessimism about business prospects in the next six months deepened sharply by 18 points to -40 per cent.

Firms were also asked for their expected sales in 2019 versus 2018. Sales growth was predicted by 27 per cent of firms, while 59 per cent expected sales to decline.

Construction firms expected the least contraction. Manufacturing tied with financial and business services in expecting the most contraction, in contrast to the previous two years when manufacturing firms expected the most expansion instead.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/firms-report-poorer-q2-results-glum-for-h2-bt-suss-survey

 

Singapore’s rule of law, zero tolerance for graft big draws for foreign investors: US diplomat

More than 4,500 American companies call Singapore home not just because of its strategic location but also because Singapore offers an excellent business climate – notably, the government’s commitment to the rule of law and zero tolerance for graft, said a top American diplomat and several businessmen.

In an interview with The Business Times, Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, the former chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Singapore, said that the United States and Singapore share the values of transparency, good governance and respect for a rules-based order.

“Singapore has earned its ranking as one of the least corrupt countries in the world. US companies regularly cite transparency and a lack of corruption as leading factors in their decision to invest here,” she said.

According to graft watchdog Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index, Singapore has moved up three notches to third spot in an annual ranking of countries deemed to have the least corruption in the public sector, after Denmark and New Zealand.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapores-rule-of-law-zero-tolerance-for-graft-big-draws- for-foreign-investors

 

Strong Singapore-US economic ties overrule political climate: AmCham chairman

Singapore’s interests in nurturing an environment of entrepreneurship through its support of startups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are aligned with the strengths of US corporates, and this ultimately overrules the political climate between the United States and the rest of Asia, Dwight Hutchins, chairman of the board of governors of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Singapore, believes.

On whether ties have been affected by Singapore’s policy of not choosing sides in the US-China rivalry, and its position on the South China Sea, Mr Hutchins insisted that the US-Singapore relationship has strengthened in recent years. “The US’ trust in Singapore was shown when Singapore was asked to host the first US-North Korea summit in history,” he pointed out. US President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last June in Singapore for the historic summit between leaders of the old foes.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/strong-singapore-us-economic-ties-overrule-political- climate-amcham-chairman

 

Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia lead in BRI opportunities

Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia are seen as the markets in Asean and South Asia with the most opportunities related to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), according to a survey by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and PwC Singapore.

Vietnam was named by 66 per cent of respondents as a country where their firm “primarily sees BRI opportunities”. Singapore and Indonesia were each named by 57 per cent.

The three countries also came in joint first, along with Thailand, as the survey respondents’ choice of preferred government partners.

The survey was conducted by invitation only, with almost 50 senior representatives of companies and organisations in the regional infrastructure market, in sectors including financial and professional services, oil and gas, manufacturing, and construction.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/vietnam-singapore-indonesia-lead-in-bri-opportunities

 

Singapore to benefit from rise in long-term demand for chips: DPM Heng

Despite official forecasters’ expectations of a full-year manufacturing decline here, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat affirmed that the ailing semiconductor industry – which makes up about 7 per cent of the economy – will stay key to the Singapore factory landscape.

“More broadly, the global demand for semiconductors in the longer term remains strong,” he added, citing consumer electronics growth and development of new technologies, which are expected to drive the industry.

“We must continue to invest for the longer term and strengthen our ecosystem,” he said, as he opened a facility in Woodlands. “This way, we will be ready to harness new opportunities when the global demand picks up.”

Mr Heng said the semiconductor slump came in the wake of a “super cycle” and pointed to industry hope for a return to growth next year.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-to-benefit-from-rise-in-long-term-demand-for- chips-dpm-heng

Industrial

Tech firm Micron invests billions of dollars in Singapore for expansion

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat has said that Singapore is well positioned to meet the global demand for semiconductors – a key driver of the country’s growth – after a multibillion- dollar investment here even though the industry is facing challenging times.

Mr Heng, who is also Finance Minister, said at the official opening of Micron Technology’s new and expanded semiconductor plant in Woodlands: “No doubt the semiconductor industry is experiencing headwinds this year, (with) a sharper-than-expected downswing. This is due to global economic uncertainties and weaker demand…

“But these headwinds should be viewed in the context of the ‘semi-conductor super cycle’. In the preceding few years, global demand grew by more than 35 per cent.”

He said recent forecasts suggest that global demand could return to modest growth next year, and expand at between 2 per cent and 9 per cent annually in the following years.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/tech-firm-invests-billions-of-dollars-here-for-expansion https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/micron-ceo-says-singapore-operations-will-be-spared- capex-cuts

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/companies-markets/micron-plans-to-add-1500-more-jobs-to-its-singapore- operations

 

Dark clouds loom over industrial sector

Despite the subdued manufacturing outlook, the rental index for all industrial spaces rose marginally by 0.1 per cent from the first quarter to the second. This was supported mainly by rental gains in the single-user factory category, where the index rose 0.5 per cent over the preceding quarter.

This marked the first quarterly increase since the first quarter of 2015. However, due to the increased headwinds in the global economy and trade uncertainty, the temporary rebound is unlikely a sign that the industrial market is out of the woods.

Overall multiple-user factory rents also rose marginally, by 0.1 per cent quarter on quarter. The bulk of the rental gains materialised in the north, which saw increases of 0.5 per cent, and the north-east, up 0.4 per cent.

This could be due to the increased demand for food factories in these regions, which account for 40 per cent of the total number of food establishments in Singapore. More players in food and beverage are starting to explore a more cost effective centralised industrial food facility by tapping lower rents.

Leasing demand seems to be propped up by the multiple-user factory category, which saw a net absorption of 67,000 sq m, although about 45,000 sq m was taken off the market in the same quarter. If this space had not been taken out, it would have resulted in a higher multiple-user factory absorption of up to 112,000 sq m. This has led to a reduction of vacancy rates from 13.7 per cent to 12.8 per cent.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/invest/dark-clouds-loom-over-industrial-sector

 

Made-in-Singapore sports car set to hit the road in 2023

The prototype of a Singapore-made car could hit the roads here as early as 2023, with start-up Catalyst Motors looking to break into the automotive manufacturing industry.

The local firm is in the final stages of building a rolling chassis which will be used for its prototype

– a classic-style two-door sports car.

The driveable chassis – without the body shell – is expected to be completed in three to four months, the firm told The Straits Times recently.

The chassis is the modular platform on which Catalyst Motors plans to build two other car types – a crossover sport utility vehicle and a supercar.

Catalyst Motors was started in 2014 by Singaporean Lionel Lau, 45, who has worked in private equity, and American entrepreneur Anthony Parks, in his 40s. The two automotive lovers have known each other for 15 years.

Link to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/transport/made-in-spore-sports-car-set-to-hit-the-road-in-2023 https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/banking-finance/citi-puts-bigger-bet-on-singapore-with-family-offices-as-ace-in- hand-0

 

Shophouse

Six shophouses along Kampong Bahru up for sale with S$39.6m guide price

A row of six adjoining conservation shophouses along Kampong Bahru Road has been launched for sale at a guide price of S$39.6 million, or about S$6.6 million each

Located at 69, 71, 73, 75, 77 and 79 Kampong Bahru Road near Outram MRT station, the six freehold two-storey shophouses can be sold either individually or collectively.

As the property sits on land zoned for commercial use, foreigners are eligible to purchase the property. There is also no additional buyer’s stamp duty, or seller’s stamp duty imposed on the purchase of the property.

The site occupies a combined land area of 7,068 sq ft, and has a total gross floor area (GFA) of about 17,600 sq ft. The guide price of S$39.6 million works out to about S$2,250 psf on the GFA. The expression of interest exercise will close at 3pm on Sept 12.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/six-shophouses-along-kampong-bahru-up-for-sale-with-s396m-guide- price%C2%A0-0

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/row-of-6-shophouses-in-kampong-bahru-up-for-sale-with-396m- guide-price

 

Overseas

Sellers of UK luxury homes forced to bargain amid Brexit woes

Britain’s luxury property market remained under pressure in July as more million-pound-plus homes sold for under the asking price.

Almost 70 per cent of agents said the prices paid for homes marketed at over £1 million (S$1.68 million) fell short, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The report found heightened Brexit uncertainty weighing on the property market as a whole, with new Prime Minister Boris Johnson threatening to let Britain crash out of the European Union on Oct 31 unless a new deal can be negotiated.

Rental prices are also expected to rise amid growing demand and diminishing supply, with landlords starting to sell up because of higher taxes, a ban on charging tenants one-time fees and proposals to abolish section 21 notices, which give landlords the power to evict tenants at the end of their contracts without reason

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/sellers-of-uk-luxury-homes-forced-to-bargain-amid-brexit-woes

 

Australia’s housing market heating up again

After a two-year slide, Australian house prices look to have bottomed out, sending buyers flocking back to the market.

Case in point – an auction for a four-bedroom house in the Sydney suburb of Ryde on Saturday attracted about 100 people. Spirited bidding pushed offers A$226,000 (S$212,000) above the reserve price, before it finally sold for almost A$1.5 million – a buzz last seen during the boom years.

The sudden turnaround in sentiment can be traced to three factors: the central bank’s back-to-back interest rate cuts which have pushed mortgage rates to record lows, the regulator’s loosening of mortgage stress tests, and the surprise re-election of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government in May, which killed off the opposition Labor Party’s plans to wind back tax breaks for property investors.

The nascent rebound is a rare bright spot in an otherwise sluggish economy, which has been beset by stagnant wages and a sharp slowdown in growth. Rising home prices may help underpin consumer spending by making homeowners feel wealthier.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/australias-housing-market-heating-up-again

 

China’s new home prices rise at their weakest pace this year

China’s new home prices rose in July as the property sector held up as one of the few bright spots in the slowing economy, although momentum flagged in some markets as persistent curbs hit speculative investment.

Average new home prices in China’s 70 major cities rose 0.6 per cent in July from the previous month, unchanged from June and marking the 51st straight month of gains, according to Reuters calculations based on National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) data.

The majority of the 70 cities surveyed by the NBS still reported a monthly price increase for new homes, although the number of cities fell to 60 in July from 63 cities in June.

The property sector directly impacts over 40 industries in China and a fast deterioration would risk adding pressure to the economy, which is slowing due to weak domestic demand and an escalating trade war with the US.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/chinas-new-home-prices-rise-at-their-weakest-pace-this-year

 

 

 

By:

Lee Sze Teck Head, Research

 

This document has been prepared by Huttons Asia for general information only. Huttons Asia does not guarantee warrant or represent that the information contained in this document is correct. Any interested party should undertake their own enquiries as to the accuracy of the information. Huttons Asia excludes unequivocally all inferred or implied terms, conditions and warranties arising out of this document and excludes all liability for loss and damage arising directly or indirectly there-from. All rights reserved.

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