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Weekly News Review / Issue 37

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Top News for the Week


More than 90% of 300 Avenue South Residence units launched on first day sold

More than 90 per cent of the 300 launched units in Avenue South Residence were snapped up on Saturday, the first day of sales.

UOL Group, which is part of the consortium behind the 1,074-unit development at Silat Avenue, said buyers were mostly Singaporeans, comprising both investors and homeowners.

The other members of the developer consortium are UOL subsidiary United Industrial Corporation, and Kheng Leong Company.

One-bedroom units (474 to 527 sq ft) started from S$858,000 and two-bedroom units (657 to 883 sq ft), from S$1.15 million.

Another 200 units, including the Peak Collection, were launched on Sunday, with majority of the units south-facing with waterfront views. Units categorised as the Peak Collection – from the 37th storey onwards – offer unblocked views of the city skyline and are going at more than S$2,250 per square foot (psf).

The developers secured the land parcel via government tender in May last year at S$1.035 billion or S$1,138 psf, based on gross floor area.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/more-than-90-of-300-avenue-south-residence-units-launched-on-first- day-sold


Tenders awarded for Tan Quee Lan St, Bernam St and one-north Gateway sites

The tenders for three sites under the first half of the 2019 Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme were awarded by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

The three sites are at Tan Quee Lan Street, Bernam Street and one-north Gateway. The tenders closed on Sept 5 and were awarded to the highest bidders. The land parcels were offered for sale on 99-year lease terms.

The 124,116 sq ft site at Tan Quee Lan Street, which attracted two bids, was awarded to GuocoLand subsidiary GLL D, Intrepid Investments and Hong Realty with their bid of S$800.2 million, or S$1,535 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr)

The 41,400 sq ft Bernam Street site was awarded to Chinese firm HY Realty, which put in a top bid of S$440.9 million (S$1,463 psf ppr). That was the highest among the four bids received by the URA.

The 62,201 sq ft site at one-north Gateway, which attracted a total of nine bids, was awarded to TID Residential, a joint venture between Hong Leong Holdings and Mitsui Fudosan Co. Their offer was S$155.7 million, or S$1,001 psf ppr.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/tenders-awarded-for-tan-quee-lan-st-bernam-st-and-one-north- gateway-sites


Higher grants for first-time HDB buyers

The Ministry of National Development (MND) and the Housing & Development Board (HDB) are enhancing housing grants for first-time buyers as well as raising the income ceiling for public housing with the aim of making public homes more affordable and accessible for Singaporeans. Announcing the policy changes at the HDB Awards 2019, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong highlighted that the new grant would make HDB flats more affordable for first- time buyers.

As of Sept 11, a new grant, the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) will replace the Additional CPF Housing Grant and the Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG). The maximum grant under EHG will be S$80,000, while the income ceiling for the grant will be set at S$9,000. It will apply to both new and resale flat purchases, with no restrictions on flat type and location.

Eligible first-timer families can receive up to S$80,000 under the EHG, provided they purchase a flat with a remaining lease that covers them and their spouse until at least the age of 95. Otherwise, the grant amount will be pro-rated based on the extent that the flat can cover them to age 95.

The monthly household income ceiling for eligible first-time single buyers will go up from S$6,000 to S$7,000, while the monthly household income ceiling for households to purchase an executive condominium (EC) from a property developer will increase from S$14,000 to S$16,000. The measures should stimulate the HDB resale market further and could lead to further price stabilisation, or even price improvement for some flats.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/higher-grants-for-first-time-hdb-buyers https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/housing/higher-grants-more-choice-for-first-time-flat-buyers https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/new-one-stop-hdb-sales-portal-by-end-of-next-year https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/housing/more-options-now-for-couple-who-failed-to-get-a-flat-last-year


HDB launches flats for sale in Punggol and Tampines

The Housing Board (HDB) launched 4,089 flats for sale, a day after higher grants and higher income ceilings for flat buyers were announced.

A total of 3,373 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats in Punggol and Tampines are up for sale, and they include flats ranging from two-room flexi to five-room units.

Prices start from $109,000 excluding grants for a two-room flexi flat in Punggol, and from

$312,000 for a four-room flat in Tampines.

Huttons Asia research director Lee Sze Teck expects the two sites in Punggol – Punggol Point Crown and Punggol Point Cove – to be more popular, as they are near the future Punggol Coast MRT station and near the coast, “where they can get an unblocked view of the sea”.

But he added that he did not think there would be a significant spike in applicants just because of the new announcements. “Buyers need time to digest the information and decide whether to buy. Some buyers might hold out for the upcoming launches.”

Also up for sale are 716 Re-Offer of Balance Flats across various towns in both mature and non- mature estates. These are unsold flats from the sales exercise last November. About 12 per cent of these are already completed, while the rest are under construction. HDB said those with more urgent housing needs or who are less particular about flat attributes may wish to apply for these flats. Applications for the flats are now open and will end on Sept 17.

In November this year, HDB will offer another 4,500 BTO flats in Ang Mo Kio, Tampines and Tengah. A further 3,000 BTO flats in Sembawang and Toa Payoh will be released in February 2020.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/housing/hdb-launches-flats-for-sale-in-punggol-and-tampines https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/hdb-launches-3373-bto-flats-for-sale-in-tampines-punggol


Some sellers look to raise asking prices in light of new enhanced HDB grant

The new Enhanced Central Provident Fund Housing Grant offers up to S$80,000. There will also be a higher income ceiling for those buying HDB flats, as announced by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

The new grant applies to all flat types and all estates, and replaces the Additional CPF Housing Grant, as well as the Special CPF Housing Grant, which was not available for new five-room flats or new units in mature estates.

When some sellers look at these new grants, they get very optimistic and excited and end up raising prices based on HDB’s ballpark figure of the grants that buyers can get.

Prices of HDB resale flats have been generally declining since 2013, according to HDB’s resale price index, but some commentators have said that HDB’s moves may turn the tepid market around.

Huttons Asia director of research Lee Sze Teck said the resale market will bear watching three to six months down the road as the number of resale transactions is expected to rise thanks to the increased grants.

Besides resale flats, demand for new flats could also follow suit as the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant would also apply for those with household incomes under S$9,000 who seek a new Build- to-Order flat in any estate.

Links to the story:

https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/some-sellers-look-raise-asking-prices-light-new-enhanced-hdb-grant https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/housing/no-price-spikes-for-resale-flats-but-ec-crunch-could-worsen


HDB resale market may emerge big winner from the changes

Young couples with high incomes and those looking to offload their Housing Board flats in the resale market are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of the new HDB policies announced yesterday, said observers.

And the resale market itself could get a lift with new incentives being extended to buyers, they added.

In the medium term, Huttons Asia research director Lee Sze Teck said the grant changes would ease the burden of owning a home for young couples.

“Hopefully, it will help nudge families to have more kids,” he added. Overall, analysts see the changes as a major boon for both buyers and sellers.

Link to the story:



Condo resale prices flat between July and August

Singapore resale condominium and apartment prices remain unchanged for the month of August, while volume of sales fell from the previous month, going by monthly figures.

There had been a 0.5 per cent drop in July from June, which in turn saw a drop from the figure in May.

Year on year, overall prices edged up 0.2 per cent from August 2018.

Sales volume fell 13.6 per cent, with 751 units transacted in August, compared with 869 units resold in July. This could be attributed this to the “double whammy” of growing economic uncertainties and the Chinese Hungry Ghost month in August.

Year on year, however, sales volume was 4.3 per cent higher than in August 2018; it was also above the 12-month average of 702 units from August 2018 to July 2019.

The biggest increase of 1.1 per cent in the month came in the prices in the city fringes, or the rest of central region (RCR). Prices for the core central region (CCR) went up 0.4 per cent. Meanwhile, prices outside the central region (OCR) fell 0.9 per cent.

Link to the story:



Fewer condos and HDB flats leased in August

Rental volumes shrank in August for both non-landed private homes and HDB flats compared to July.

Meanwhile, rents edged up for condominiums but fell slightly for HDB flats on a month-on-month basis.

About 4,306 condo units were leased in August – down 18 per cent from 5,252 units in July. Year on year, rental volumes for condos shrank 17.5 per cent from August 2018.

However, compared to the five-year average volume for the month of August, last month’s figure was only 1.6 per cent lower.

Link to the story:



Share of pricier units in new condo sales rises in Q2: Report

The effects of the collective sale frenzy two years ago are starting to be seen in the housing market, with pricier units increasing their market share.

A new report noted that apartments selling for less than $1 million comprised 24 per cent of all new sales in the second quarter, down from 37 per cent in the first.

And the proportion of new units priced above $3 million hit 5 per cent, up from 3 per cent.

The higher prices reflect the lofty amounts paid for collective sale sites from 2017 to mid-2018. They also reflect the increase in average unit sizes and a greater preference for larger apartments. It was a little different in the resale market, where the proportion of units priced under $1 million remained unchanged from the first quarter at 24 per cent. But resale apartments above $3 million accounted for 11 per cent of sales in the three months to June 30, up from 8 per cent in the previous quarter.

Prices for resale properties remained relatively stable quarter on quarter.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/condo-buyers-go-for-pricier-larger-units-in-q2 https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/share-of-pricier-units-in-new-condo-sales-rises-in-q2-report


Serviced apartment block in Mt Elizabeth Link for sale

A freehold serviced apartment block in Mount Elizabeth Link has been put up for sale via tender with an indicative price of $230 million.

The 22-storey tower comprises 72 apartments ranging from 760 square feet (sq ft) to 7,135 sq ft. It sits on a regular plot with a land area of about 35,385 sq ft and has a total gross floor area of about 104,375 sq ft.

This translates to a plot ratio of 2.95, which exceeds the plot ratio of 2.8 under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Master Plan 2014.

It is leased and operating as Fraser Residence Singapore, a brand under Frasers Hospitality.

The District 9 property is a five-minute walk from the Orchard Road shopping belt with the Orchard and Somerset MRT stations on the North-South Line nearby.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/mt-elizabeth-serviced-apartment-block-for-sale https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/serviced-apartment-block-in-mt-elizabeth-link-for-sale


Jervois Road GCB for sale with S$38.8m guide price

At least two good-class bungalows (GCBs) were put on the market – one at Jervois Road and another at Belmont Road.

The GCB at Jervois Road has been put up for sale by tender with a guide price of S$38.8 million. This translates to around S$2,007 per sq ft (psf), based on a total land area of 19,333 sq ft. The property has a wide frontage of almost 40 metres and is positioned on elevated ground in a low- rise area.

The District 10 freehold property is located within the Chatsworth Park GCB area, and is minutes from Orchard Road and the Central Business District. It is also within the embassy enclave.

The tender for the Jervois Road GCB will close on Oct 23 at 3pm.

Meanwhile, the GCB at Belmont Road will be auctioned in a mortgagee sale with a guide price of S$20 million.

This works out to a price tag of around S$1,225 psf, based on the guide price and 16,327 sq ft in land area.

The auction will be held on Sept 23 at Amara Hotel.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/jervois-road-gcb-for-sale-with-s388m-guide-price https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/jervois-road-bungalow-up-for-sale-with-guide-price-of-388m


Belmont Road GCB takes 3rd stab at mortgagee sale

A good class bungalow (GCB) at 80 Belmont Road, owned by The Stratech Group’s Chew family, will be relaunched for auction next week with a lower guide price of S$39 million.

The auction will be held on Sept 18 at 2.30pm at Amara Hotel, Level 3.

The new guide price works out to S$1,444 per sq ft, based on 27,000 sq ft in freehold land area. This will be the third sale attempt for the property. It failed to sell at the first auction in July with a S$42 million guide price, or S$1,556 psf. It was later relaunched via private treaty in August at S$40.8 million, or about S$1,511 psf.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/belmont-road-gcb-takes-3rd-stab-at-mortgagee-sale https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/belmont-rd-bungalow-up-for-auction-with-new-39m-guide-price


Sycamore Tree saga: trade creditor throws spanner in the works

On Aug 20, unsecured creditor, Jay Machinery Pte Ltd filed a winding up application in Singapore’s High Court against Astoria Development, the developer of the 96 residential units and 17 shops in the Sycamore Tree project in Joo Chiat which went bust. Astoria owes Jay Machinery S$1.3 million. The court hearing is scheduled to be heard on Friday, Sept 13, 2019.

When a company is being liquidated, its assets are collected and sold off to pay debts by an independent liquidator whose powers and duties are regulated by the Companies Act (Cap 50).

There is no precedent to this case at all. It is not a foregone conclusion that buyers can get their units because in the event of an liquidation, other unsecured creditors and buyers are treated equally. In addition, it depends on whether the court will follow strictly the insolvency law or the Housing Developers Rule which is designed to protect buyers, when residential projects go bust before completion.

The last time Singapore witnessed a case where a developer ran into financial difficulties before project completion was when the developer of office and residential skyscraper Springleaf Tower, a subsidiary of the now defunct Ban Hin Leong Group, faced problems in the late 1990s.

But unlike the Springleaf case, the Laurel Tree and Sycamore Tree projects involved HDB upgraders, some of whom had sold their flats and are incurring rents while waiting for the completion of their new homes.

Link to the story:



Welcome to a new era of co-sharing in office real estate

Today’s workforce desires flexibility, convenience and being part of an enlarged community. This desire is fulfilled by co-working spaces – the new, trendy version of shared office communities where people from different organisations work in the same environment. As a result, workers are enjoying the conducive co-working spaces and achieving a sense of empowerment and meaning in their work.

Once seen as utilitarian-serviced offices for start-ups and travelling professionals, co-working spaces are now attracting established corporations, and emerging as a prominent office tenant trade in cities around the world.

The sharing economy of today is the key driver behind the rising phenomenon of co-working, along with other modes of co-sharing spaces that are emerging in the real estate market.

Link to the story:



New faces of retail

With Metro departing as The Centrepoint’s anchor tenant, one question has been hanging on many people’s lips: Is physical retail dead?

Not quite – it might just be in need of a few new tricks.

When it was later announced that French sporting goods giant Decathlon would take over as the anchor tenant, complete with immersive and experiential concepts, the buzz around “experiential retail” was re-ignited.

But experiential retail alone cannot keep a brand afloat, retail experts told The Straits Times. They outlined brand identity, consistency in messaging, retail experience and community centred activities or services as key factors in retaining shoppers today.

To attract consumers to shop at a physical store, brands need to go beyond offering tangible products.

Link to the story:



E-store to real store

In the face of competition from e-commerce in recent years, many retailers have gone online to reach more consumers.

But a handful of online brands are going the other direction, opening brick-and-mortar stores to showcase their products.

It started with the fashion blogshops and indie fashion labels. Then, the lifestyle and home furnishing brands followed suit.

The latest online retailer to venture offline here is Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao, which opened its first South-east Asia store in Funan mall on Wednesday.

At least four home-grown lifestyle and furniture brands that started online have also gone physical.

Link to the story:



LTA awards 2 deals worth S$740m to build 5 stations on Jurong Region Line

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has awarded two contracts worth S$739.5 million to construct five MRT stations on the Jurong Region Line (JRL).

The five stations are Choa Chu Kang, Choa Chu Kang West, Tengah, Hong Kah and Corporation stations, the LTA said.

Construction work, expected to start next year, is slated for completion in 2026.

The stations will form part of JRL, Singapore’s seventh MRT line, set to open in three stages from 2026. Comprising 24 stations, the line was announced last year to improve connectivity in the Jurong area, with the aim of boosting the area’s transformation into a second Central Business District.

The LTA said the contract to design and construct three stations – Choa Chu Kang, Choa Chu Kang West and Tengah stations – as well as a 4.3km viaduct linking them, was awarded to Shanghai Tunnel Engineering for S$465.2 million.

Work includes integrating the existing Choa Chu Kang station on the North-South Line into the JRL.

The other two stations, Hong Kah and Corporation stations, together with a 3.4km viaduct between them, will be built jointly by Eng Lee Engineering and Wai Fong Construction, two local construction companies, at a contract value of S$274.3 million.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/transport/lta-awards-2-deals-worth-s740m-to-build-5-stations-on-jurong-region-    line

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/transport/construction-of-5-stations-on-jurong-region-line-set-to-start-next-   year


EU-Singapore FTA signals commitment to economic integration: Iswaran

Against the backdrop of threats posed to the multilateral trading system by anti-globalisation and anti-trade rhetoric, agreements such as the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) are important both in symbolic and practical terms, Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations S Iswaran said while in Italy last weekend.

Italy is Singapore’s sixth largest trading partner in the EU. Bilateral trade in goods between both countries has been on the rise, exceeding S$6 billion in 2018.

One company named in Mr Iswaran’s Forum speech was Italian pharmaceutical firm Menarini, which has its regional headquarters in Singapore. Since 2012, Menarini Asia-Pacific has nearly tripled its revenue to almost 600 million euros (S$921 million) this year.

The firm continues to grow its business in Asean and China especially, which will strengthen its operations in Singapore as a regional hub, said Pietro Giovanni Corsa, Menarini Group corporate general manager for management, finance and ICT.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/eu-singapore-fta-signals-commitment-to-economic- integration-iswaran

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/eu-singapore-fta-signals-commitment-to-economic-integration- says-iswaran


EU-Singapore FTA opens doors to third markets: Iswaran

Singapore firms can benefit from the European Union-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (EUSFTA) not just in providing goods and services to Europe, but forming partnerships to enter third markets.

For Singapore firms, Asean may be a natural market. He said: “Our companies will be looking at the immediate region, and so they should. But at the same time, partnership with Europe can come in different forms.”

Apart from exporting, another model is “partnering European enterprises, because they may have complementary strengths, in order to create solutions which we can then take to regional markets”.

Links to the story:



Stretch of Kallang River gets better flood protection after $86m facelift

A 1.8km stretch along the Kallang River has received a facelift, to make it not only more attractive but also a better defence against the onslaught of rain.

The four-year, $86 million project called ABC Waters @ Kallang River is meant to boost flood protection for residents in the area, as well as strengthen the canal’s structural integrity.

With the canal wider and deeper, drainage capacity has been increased by 80 per cent.

The drainage improvement works by national water agency PUB at Singapore’s longest river was completed recently and unveiled, at an event attended by Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MPs Ng Eng Hen and Chong Kee Hiong. Dr Ng is also Defence Minister.

Previously, this part of the canal, between Bishan and Braddell roads, was plain concrete and did not have such water features.

Features to beautify the area include a naturalised slope, small islands with plants, and water cascades that help the water to flow from a higher elevation. However, the canal is not accessible to the public owing to safety reasons.

A meandering stream, meant to enhance the look of the canal, is the first to be located within a canal in Singapore.

Link to the story:



Singapore, Russia sign 6 agreements to deepen cooperation in various sectors

Six agreements were inked between Singapore and the Russian Federation at a high-level bilateral commission to cooperate in various areas, including digital development, innovation and education.

Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam witnessed the signing of these agreements with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov at the 10th Session of the High-Level Russia- Singapore Inter-Governmental Commission (IGC) in Vladivostok, Russia.

These agreements include memorandums of understanding to develop a programme for technical education based on Singapore’s experiences with the Institutes of Technical Education, and for collaboration between the National University of Singapore’s Centre for Healthy Ageing and Russian sport retailer Sportmaster to conduct research on clothing materials for healthy ageing.

Started in 2010, the IGC has promoted bilateral trade and investments, and also increased cooperation in sectors such as transport, infrastructure, agriculture, culture and legal cooperation. The next session of the IGC will be held in Singapore next year.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-russia-sign-6-agreements-to-deepen- cooperation-in-various-sectors


Singapore, Philippine agencies exchange eight MOUs

Eight agreements were exchanged between Singapore and Philippine agencies.

The memorandums of understanding (MOUs) covered areas such as water resource, agri-trade, agri-tech, skills training and education, and emerging areas such as smart city infrastructure and data protection.

The signed agreements were exchanged at the Malacanang Palace and witnessed by President Halimah Yacob and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

The exchange also marked Singapore’s first data protection-related MOU with a data protection authority in Asean.

Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Commission will be working with the Philippines’ National Privacy Commission to cooperate on issues such as the mutual exchange of information and assistance in joint investigations, the development of compatible mechanisms to facilitate cross- border data flows and the exploration of the use of sandboxes to test innovative data-sharing ideas. Besides data protection, Singapore agency Infrastructure Asia will collaborate with the Development Bank of the Philippines to support infrastructure development in the Philippines.

Both parties will jointly identify local government unit partners in the Philippines that would benefit from the sharing of best practices and technical advisory in various fields, including smart cities, urban mobility, climate resilience, water supply and sanitation, and off-grid renewable energy.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapore-philippine-agencies-exchange-eight-mous https://www.straitstimes.com/business/spore-manila-deepen-ties-with-eight-pacts


Singapore a major partner for us: Indian minister

Singapore is a major partner for India in every area of priority – smart cities, aviation, skills development and others – in the second term of the Modi government, a visiting Indian minister said.

Linkages between the two nations are mushrooming. Singapore became India’s top foreign investor in 2018-2019 while around 20 per cent of outbound investment from India comes to

Singapore. Nearly 9,000 Indian firms have a presence here. India is the third-largest source of tourists to Singapore. Some 18 Indian cities are connected to Singapore through over 500 weekly flights.

Link to the story:



Singapore, Chongqing deepen ties with project deals

Singapore and China’s Chongqing city have strengthened cooperation with a slew of project signings that cement the fast growth of the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI).

Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said the CCI – which focuses on modern connectivity and modern services – has shown that Singapore-China collaboration has evolved in tandem with China’s priorities, while also showcasing how the two countries complement each other’s strengths.

Launched in 2015, the CCI is the third government-to-government project between the two sides. Mr Chan said Chongqing’s strategic location is why it has been tapped to anchor the development of China’s western region while advancing its Belt and Road Initiative and the Yangtze River Economic Belt strategy. Singapore, on the other hand, is a base for global businesses to access markets, capital and technology.

Links to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/singapore-chongqing-deepen-ties-with-project-deals https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/spore-china-leaders-must-deepen-mutual-trust-chan


Private urban planners can help build a better Singapore: Lawrence Wong

The Government will continue to lead urban planning efforts in Singapore to tackle issues like climate change, but it will need help from urban planners and other stakeholders in the private sector.

This is essential to build Singapore into a better, greener and more liveable city, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said.

Mr Wong said that how cities are planned and organised is becoming more critical amid challenges such as social inequality, environmental issues and climate change.

He added that while the Government takes charge of urban planning here, it would be able to develop better plans working with planners in the private sector.

He also noted that planners would need to consider a wide range of views to tackle challenges such as climate change.

Link to the story:



Tougher job market in Q2, unemployment for locals creeps up: MOM

Jobseekers faced a tougher slog in the first half of this year, although there was no spike in layoffs amid the economic slowdown.

The latest labour market data released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) also showed citizen and resident unemployment rates inching up and job openings declining.

The number of job vacancies fell for the second consecutive quarter to 47,700 in June, down from 57,100 in March, after accounting for seasonal variations. This resulted in the ratio of job vacancies to unemployed dipping below one for the first time in more than a year. There was 0.94 opening per unemployed person in June.

MOM said manufacturing shed 4,700 workers in the first half of the year, and the hiring outlook is likely to remain cautious due to weak global demand for semiconductors. However, the aerospace and food and beverage manufacturing segments should continue to do well.

The construction sector continued to recover, adding 2 ,800 workers in the first half. The ministry said construction output is likely to see a turnaround this year after three consecutive years of contraction.

In the service sector, which added 19,000 workers in the first half, employment growth is expected in both outward-oriented and domestic-oriented segments, supported by demand for enterprise information technology solutions and payment processing services, as well as the ramp-up of operations in healthcare facilities.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/tougher-job-market-in-q2-unemployment-for-locals- creeps-up-mom


Weaker hiring prospects for Q4: Survey

Job seekers should expect a tighter labour market in the last three months of this year, as hiring prospects are down from both the current quarter as well as a year ago, based on survey results from a recruitment firm.

The net employment outlook of +4 per cent is the weakest reported in two years, as trade conflicts and uncertainties weigh on business confidence, said ManpowerGroup Singapore in a statement today.

The firm polled 669 Singapore employers on their hiring plans for the upcoming quarter and found that 8 per cent plan to decrease headcount, while 13 per cent plan to increase it.

Another 77 per cent expect to maintain their payrolls, while the remaining 2 per cent said they do not know.

Net employment outlook is calculated by subtracting the share of employers planning to decrease headcount from the share of those planning to increase it, and then accounting for seasonal variations.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/weaker-hiring-prospects-for-q4-survey https://www.straitstimes.com/business/job-vacancies-shrink-as-firms-turn-cautious-amid-slowdown https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/construction-service-sectors-behind-rise-in-foreign-hires


Retail sales fall for sixth straight month in July

Retail sales declined for a sixth consecutive month in July amid weak consumer sentiment in a slowing economy.

Overall takings fell 1.8 per cent compared with July last year, although an increase in motor vehicle sales took some of the sting out.

If these sales are excluded, takings would be down 2.4 per cent year on year, according to data released by the Department of Statistics.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/retail-sales-fall-for-sixth-straight-month-in-july https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/retail-sales-down-18-in-july https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/infographics/singapore-retail-sales-down-18-in-july


German firm Syntellix opens first overseas facility in Singapore

Syntellix, a German firm that pioneered the use of bioabsorbable bone implants, opened its first overseas production site in Singapore on Tuesday, amid expectations of strong growth in the medical technology industry in this region.

While initial investment in the facility falls within an undisclosed “single-digit” million dollars, Syntellix founder, CEO and executive chairman Utz Claassen projected overall investment to reach S$200 million by 2024, with a potential cumulative revenue of S$500 million by then.

This would involve having about 50 staff and 16 production modules, up from the current staff strength of over 10 and just one module.

Link to the story:

https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/german-firm-syntellix-opens-first-overseas-facility-in- singapore


Airlines up the ante on the ground, in premium lounges

Amid crowded skies, the battle for premium passengers seems to be starting on the ground – with airport lounges. To secure customer loyalty, a number of airlines have made, or plan to make, sizeable investments in their on-the-ground products, not just at their home base but also at selected key hubs in their network. And what’s now de rigueur at some of the lounges offered by airlines today are less stale sandwiches and more made-to-order meals, with a chilled glass of bubbly on the side, of course.

In July, Singapore Airlines announced that it would be ploughing S$50 million into overhauling its SilverKris and KrisFlyer Gold Lounges at Changi Airport Terminal 3, to be carried out in phases and completed by mid-2021.

With a 30 per cent bump in customer capacity, the new lounges will be able to handle over 1,000 passengers at a time.

Link to the story:



Killiney Road freehold hotel site on sale for at least $155m

A Killiney Road freehold hotel development site is up for sale, with the owner seeking at least

$155 million.

The plot in the Orchard Road area has a land area of 13,148 sq ft with a gross plot ratio of 2.8, and provisional permission to be rezoned for hotel use.

Foreigners are eligible to buy the site with no additional buyer’s or seller’s stamp duty imposed. A hotel could be six storeys with around 115 rooms and a street frontage restaurant.

The development would yield a total gross floor area of about 40,000 sq ft. The sale exercise closes at 3pm on Oct 16.

Links to the story:

https://www.straitstimes.com/business/property/killiney-road-freehold-hotel-site-on-sale-for-at-least-155m https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/real-estate/owner-seeking-at-least-s155m-for-killiney-rd-freehold-hotel-site-0


Property boom turns unlikely Chinese cities into real-estate gold

Some of the world’s priciest housing markets are not exactly where one might expect. A four-year property boom in China has elevated a collection of little-known cities and turned them into real estate gold.

While that’s been great news for speculators, it’s raising concern about whether China’s educated middle-class is quickly being priced out of these so-called second-tier cities, undermining Beijing’s goal of making them home to the millions moving from rural areas.

Another risk is increasingly stretched family budgets: The average household debt-to-income ratio in China soared to a record 92 per cent last year from just 30 per cent a decade ago.

A 1,000 square foot apartment in downtown Xiamen, a port city on China’s southeast coast, is almost as expensive as the average home in London, even though local wages are a quarter of what’s on offer in the British capital.

In Hangzhou, home to the headquarters of tech giant Alibaba, prices per sq ft now rival Seattle, where Amazon.com is based.

How these cities found themselves here is a confluence of urbanisation and the promise of quick capital gains.

Link to the story:






Lee Sze Teck Head, Research




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