Singapore Economy

Logistics players ponder the industry's future as deliveries grow

Winning the last mile: that's what it's all about as logistics players everywhere compete to stay relevant in the new economy.  And it's down to consumers like avid online shopper Tan Siang Wei, 32, who buys clothing and small items from online retailers several times a year.  But after several instances of the deliveryman arriving at her home when no one was in, the communications professional decided to have her purchases delivered to her office instead.

Markets adjust to lower likelihood of Brexit

The ongoing suspense over Britain's future in the European Union (EU) has sent the markets into a surreal real-life re-enactment of Monty Python's dead parrot sketch, in which argument swings back and forth over whether the subject at hand is pining for the fjords or has in fact ceased to be.  The forecaster's needle on Friday swung towards a "Remain" outcome for the so-called "Brexit" referendum on June 23.

Brexit on minds of expats in Singapore too

Out or in? The Brexit debate on whether the United Kingdom should quit the European Union has also been preoccupying British expatriates here, and views are mixed.  But there is a common worry whether this week's vote could leave the country divided after a four-month campaign marked by vitriol, and especially coming in the wake of last week's killing of pro-EU British lawmaker Jo Cox, who was shot by a man heard shouting "Britain first" before the attack.

Exports stage stunning turnaround in May

Exports rebounded strongly in May after months of decline, but economists believe it is still too early to pop the champagne as the outlook remains murky.  Non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) surged 11.6 per cent last month over the same period last year - the best performance since the 18.5 per cent jump in March 2015.  It was a stunning turnaround from April, when Nodx - the main measure of shipments - slumped 7.6 per cent year on year.  On a month-on-month seasonally adjusted basis, Nodx rose 16.8 per cent to $14.8 billion in May following 4.5 per cent growth in April, thanks to an increase in both electronic and non-electronic exports.

Asia seen at turning point in currency rally

The rally in Asian currencies from January's seven-year low hasn't convinced strategists that this newfound strength can last. Every currency in the region will weaken by year end, with those of Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea all predicted to drop at least 3 per cent, surveys compiled by Bloomberg show.  The cost of hedging against losses has climbed for seven straight days, the longest streak in a year. China's economic slowdown and the Federal Reserve's bias to consider raising US interest rates will hasten declines, according to Standard Life Investments Ltd and Societe Generale SA.

Singapore Real Estate

Property sales up, but market not in recovery yet

Recent real estate statistics have showed buyers returning in greater numbers to snap up homes in both the new and resale segments, but pundits have refrained from using the term “recovery” to describe the current state of the housing market.  This is because the recent jump in transactions is mostly seen in those with low overall dollar quantums and in developments with particularly attractive attributes — indicating that buyers remain cautious amid the continued enforcement of cooling measures and loan curbs.

Tuan Sing hops on Batam bandwagon

Batam is becoming a hot spot for investors, with a flurry of high-profile property developments earmarked for the island.  One of the latest to venture into what has long been seen as an industrial zone is listed developer Tuan Sing, which announced last week that it was developing an 85ha site in Marina City into an integrated mixed-development township.  The resort-style development will comprise close to 2,000 apartments, a hotel, as well as retail and entertainment zones. Tuan Sing added it was interested in making Batam a hot spot for tourism and meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions.  The announcement follows several other developments on Batam.

Another crowdfunding scheme goes sour

Another crowdfunding scheme marketed by financial advisory firm Noble Consulting Group has failed to return promised payouts to investors.  At least four investors said they had invested more than $400,000 with Noble Consulting in loans to security services firm Glen Iris, fronted by Mr Richard Koh, former vice-president of the Security Association of Singapore. The scheme promised annual returns of up to 24 per cent to investors for lending the security firm fixed sums of money.

GLP's prospects brighter than what analysts think

Global Logistic Properties Limited (GLP) may well be a misunderstood stock, as far as its risk profile and accounting treatment are concerned.  Amid worries over a slowdown in its key market China, group CEO Ming Z Mei said the group is still slated to achieve strong profits from development completions in China this year.  Net operating income (NOI) from its US assets is also expected to be "very strong" on the back of high rental growth on renewal leases, Mr Mei told The Business Times.

Lift-related injuries must be reported to BCA under new rules

From next month, lift owners and contractors will have to inform the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) of any injury or malfunction of safety-critical components such as brakes, as soon as possible.  This is part of stricter regulations to take effect from next month, a BCA spokesman said yesterday in response to a Straits Times query about the latest lift incident involving a 68-year-old woman.  Retired factory worker Lai Hsiu-Lan was going to the market on June 9 when she tripped while exiting the lift.

German architect Ole Scheeren moved to Asia to design for Asia

Rising from the lowish architecture of mosques, old shophouses and office buildings in the Bugis- Kampong Glam area are two sleek, unmissable buildings.  They are Duo Tower and Duo Residences, though, as with any buildings with unique silhouettes, they may acquire another nickname: "Tetris", for instance, for the way that parts of the structure jut out dramatically like the outlines of jigsaw pieces.  Both eye-catching towers are part of Duo, a mixed-use development that opens next year.  Demand for the residential units has been strong. So far, about 95 per cent of the 660 apartments at the 99-year leasehold project have been snapped up.

Companies' Brief

New Frasers Reit over six times subscribed

Australian industrial property play Frasers Logistics & Industrial Trust (FLT) will make its mark as the hottest major initial public offering (IPO) in town this year.  The offering, which closed on Thursday, was over six times subscribed, drawing keen demand from institutional investors and to a lesser extent by members of the public.

Manulife US Reit

Credit Suisse (Singapore) has ceased price stabilisation action in relation to the offering of units in Manulife US Real Estate Investment Trust as of Friday. The stabilising manager said on Friday that it has, either as principal or through dealers, bought 15.5 million units to date.

CapitaLand Retail China Trust

According to Savills, retail sales in Beijing increased 1 per cent year on year for the first two months of 2016 while mall occupancy rates decreased 0.3 percentage point to 94.5 per cent city-wide by the end of the quarter.

Hospitality Reits

The hospitality market had much to cheer about in the month; with overall revenue per available room figures expanding by about 4 per cent year on year.  Our channel checks reveal that April's performance is unlikely to be indicative of Q2 2016's performance. The exceptional results could have been attributable to events like Food & Hotel Asia, as well as the Easter holidays, with April 2015 and March 2016 having seen weaker performances.  Watch out for re-rating of hospitality real estate investment trusts (Reits) on stabilisation of room rates and sustained tourist arrival growth.

Genting Singapore

Resort World Jeju (RWJ) is a US$1.8 billion (S$2.4 billion) development built on 2.5 million sq m of land in south-west Jeju. It is a 50-50 joint venture between Genting Singapore and Landing International.

Ascendas Reit

Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust (A-Reit) has completed the sale of A-Reit Jiashan Logistics Centre near Shanghai, China, for $26 million, the trust's manager said in a filing to the Singapore Exchange.

Yamato Asia exploring open locker concept in Singapore

Yamato Asia is looking to embark on a trial of an open locker system here to facilitate deliveries of parcels to consumers, even as it expresses support for the government's nationwide locker system.  At the same time, it will be the operator that receives, consolidates and distributes deliveries to retailers in a government-supported trial.

Reviews, Views & Forum

Measured approach to crowdfunding

Raising funds from a large number of people, generally through an online platform, offers start-ups a chance to push ahead despite the tightening of criteria by traditional lending sources following the global financial crisis. The new licensing regime for crowdfunding platforms, announced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), acknowledges the utility of this form of raising capital. However, a balance has to be struck between facilitating the development of securities-based crowdfunding and ensuring that there are sufficient safeguards for investors. Complaints made by investors who failed to receive their payouts highlighted the need for action.

Brexit: Asean comparison puts choices in fresh light

British voters will go to the polls on Thursday to decide the future of their country's membership in the European Union (EU). Strictly speaking, the poll is not legally binding, but most observers agree that any attempts to defy the decision would be political suicide for a sitting government. In the final days, momentum appears to be swinging to the Brexit camp, which favours leaving the EU, according to several polls. However, a decisive number of voters are still undecided, and how those swing could determine the result in either direction.

Buying a home: Beat the crowd or wait it out?

Gem Residences was the most-talked about property launch last month, for some positive and not-so-positive reasons.  The Toa Payoh condominium sold 300 units, slightly more than 50 per cent of the entire development in the first two days, which was a huge success given the current housing climate.  However, sales momentum slowed in the following week, with only a handful of units sold. The developer also had to tweak its highly publicised triple-key units from three kitchens to one to comply with plans approved by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

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