Friday, August 17, 2007

The Lumiere

Project Design Highlights :-
-Beacon of lights, a place where urbanites live, work and play

-45 Storey Tower is a spectacular building to look at, illuminated at night with colourful LED lighting hence its name "Lumiere" (Light in French)

-the first approved project in CBD by URA under the new lighting scheme (Light Up our City Centre) -The roofline, a bold statement of the skyline showcases two upward seeping curves suggesting the movement of 2 hands reaching to the sky, a dynamic gesture. The two glass curves give a poise definition to the form of the building. The architecure is dynamic and at the same time depicting a sense of elegance.

-Staggered balcony - a play of the facacde to break away from the rigidity of the office like neighbours. Randomness gives a unique texture to the facade.

-Development - it is specially designed to create an environment which suites the dual usage - office / home or both.

Unit General Layout, Design and Features :-
-A north-south orientation allows for full-height glass and/or bay windows, increasing natural light and creating opportunities for residents to take advantage of natural ventilation.

-The layout of every units is specifically designed for dual usage. Layouts are very flexible and easily converted to office or a SOHO to suite individual's requirement.

-A full range of appliances are provided including hood, hub, fridge, washing cum dryer and microwave oven.

-Every kitchen is designed in a clean one-line manner to enhance a modern clean touch at the same time allowed for flexibitiy.

-Situated near the coast line, every unit comes with at least one balcony. A special design feature which allows residents to enjoy the view of the tranquil sea. For office users, it is a unique element which is rare in traditional office environment.

Consultants: -
Architect : P&T Consultants Pte Ltd
M&E Consultant : J Roger Preston (S) Pte Ltd
Interior Consultant : Warner Wong Design
Structural consultant : RSP Architects Planners and Engineers Pte Ltd
Quantity Surveyor : Davis Langdon & Seah Singapore Pte Ltd

Developer : Bs Shenton Pte Ltd
Address : 2 Mistri Road Singapore 079624
Project Description : 45 Storey block with 6 1/2-sty podium carpark, commercial on 1st storey recreational facilities on the 8th floor and sky garden on the 34th flr.
Tenure : 99 years wef 21 Mar 06
Site Area : about 15,000 sqft
Expected TOP Date : 31st Dec 2011
No of block : 1
No of residential units : 168 units
No of units per floor : 5
No of Lifts : 3
No of Carpark Lots : 136 units

Studio 33 units
Type A - 560sf
Type Aa/Ab - 506sf

1 Bed+Study: 99 units
Type B1 - 678sf
Type B1a - 624sf
Type B1b - 635 sf
Type B1c - 646sf
Type B2 - 775sf
Type B2a/B2b - 678sf
Type B3- 711sf
Type B3a - 678sf

2 bedroom : 33 units Type C - 1238sf
Type Ca - 969sf
Type Ca-1 - 990sf

Total Shop Units : 4























Map Source : http://www.streetdirectory.com

Location
-Lumiere is situated right in between the two exciting hotspots - Marina Bay Sands and Integrated resort at Sentosa
-Stone's throw away from all the important financial instituation and professional centres in CBD.
-Exciting shopping centres and entertainment hubs are steps away.
-Prominence of site from ECP
-Easy access to MRT (Tanjong Pagar Station) and bus transportation System.

Recreational Facilities: -
-Infinitiy Pool (20m)
-Jacuzzi
-Tennis Court
-Basketball Half Court
-Floating Gym
-Multi-Function Room
-Star Gazing Deck
-Floating Lounge
-Sky Viewing Garden on the 34th Floor
-Wireless Connection on Recreational Deck and Sky Garden

Common Facilities :-
-Despite situated within the city centre, residents of Lumiere have the luxury of enjoying the full condominium facilites including a tennis court and basketball half court which is a rarity in most of the development nowadays.
-Sky Garden at 34 storey allows resident to nip upstair to unwind and enjoy the spectacular harbour and city view.
-Sky Garden and the podium both have wireless broadband connectivity allowing the busy executives to get connected while working out.
-Carpark - will be on "Pay As You Use" basis. Resident who do not drive will not be imposed for carpark charges under monthly manintenance fees.
-E-directory System At the Main Lobby Area- Lumiere is positioned iteself as SOHO-concept living, resident who wishes to display their company names, may make use of the system.

Applicances and Fittings :-
1) Kitchen Hood & Hob (De Dietrich)
2) Microwave Oven (De Dietrich)
3) Fridge (Electrolux)
4) Washing Machine cum dryer (Brandt)
5) Kitchen and Bath Mixers (Damixa)

Asian Stock Rout Worsens

Source : The Business Times, August 17, 2007

HONG KONG - Asian stocks headed for their biggest weekly fall in nearly a decade on Friday as stubborn credit fears drove investors away from risky trades despite a dramatic late rebound on Wall Street.

The yen rose, industrial metal prices fell and safe-haven government bonds extended gains as worries that the current market turmoil will hurt global growth further hit investor confidence.

'The biggest concern for Asian markets is whether it will spur a US economic slowdown that will therefore hit consumption,' said Lim Chang Gue, a fund manager at Samsung Investment Trust Management in South Korea. 'If we see tangible signs of this happening, I'm afraid then a worldwide bear market will begin.'

MSCI's measure of Asia Pacific stocks excluding Japan fell 2.5 per cent by 0421 GMT at a fresh 4-month low.

The index was down 10.6 per cent on the week - its worst weekly performance since January 1998. It is now down almost 19 per cent from its July 24 record high and year-to-date gains have been cut to just 3 percent.

Tokyo's Nikkei average dropped 3.3 per cent after touching levels last seen in September, and was down about 7 per cent this week.

Major exporters such as Honda Motor, Canon and Toyota Motor all lost ground despite the late rally on Wall Street.

Speculation of a possible US interest rate cut and talk that Bear Stearns, one of the largest US mortgage bond underwriters, would get funding from a Chinese bank helped the Dow Jones industrial average rally over 300 points in the closing 45 minutes to end only slightly lower.

But Countrywide Financial Corp, the largest US mortgage lender, again worried investors after saying it had drawn down an entire US$11.5 billion bank credit line as the global credit squeeze limited its access to short-term cash.

'Everyone's still scared and many people want to cash out in the short term, so we'll see more selling even into next week,' said Alex Huang, vice-president at Mega Securities in Taiwan.

The yen rose from late New York levels and remained within easy reach of overnight multi-month highs as investors continued to unwind risky trades funded by the Japanese currency.

The dollar bought 112.61 yen after reaching a 14-month low around 112 yen, while the euro fetched 151.13 yen not far off a 9-month low near 150 yen.

Against the dollar, the single European currency was trading at US$1.3416 little changed from late New York levels. It had dipped to a two-month low near US$1.3360 on Thursday.

The Aussie retested a near one-year low against the yen at below 88 yen London Brent crude climbed 18 cents to US$69.95 a barrel, recouping some of the US$2.22-drop on Thursday on worries about slowing economic growth.

Shanghai copper and zinc futures dropped by their 4 per cent daily limit but 10-year Japanese government bond (JBG) futures powered to 17-month highs. -- REUTERS

S'pore's July Exports Rise 0.5% From June

Source : The Business Times, August 17, 2007

SINGAPORE - Singapore's non-oil exports rose less than expected in July, climbing a seasonally adjusted 0.5 per cent from June, data showed on Friday.

July's rise compared with market expectations for a 1.3 per cent rise, and followed a disappointing 2.9 per cent increase in June, which prompted the Government to cut its 2007 growth forecast for non-oil domestic exports to 4-6 per cent from 7-9 per cent.

Related link: http://tinyurl.com/2edgho
IE Singapore's press release


Non-oil exports in July rose a faster-than-expected 5.5 per cent from a year earlier to $14.5 billion (US$9.5 billion), trade agency International Enterprise Singapore said in a statement. That compared with a 1.2 per cent rise in June, and with a median forecast in a Reuters poll for annual increase of 3.2 per cent.

Economists had forecast that higher exports of drugs and offshore oil rigs in July offset sluggish electronics exports, which make up around 40 per cent of Singapore's non-oil exports.

July's electronics shipments fell for the sixth month in a row, down 10.6 per cent from a year ago, while drugs exports rose 45.3 per cent in the same period. Petrochemicals climbed 1.0 per cent.

Singapore's non-oil domestic exports, which comprise of goods that have been manufactured in Singapore or undergone further processing, include mobile phones, medical instruments, and active ingredients for some blockbuster drugs. -- REUTERS

S'pore Firms Likely To Weather Sub-Prime Storm

Source : The Business Times, August 17, 2007

Electronics, financial services somewhat vulnerable: analysts

SINGAPORE) The stock market may catch a cold, but Singapore companies in general are unlikely to be infected by US sub-prime woes, analysts said.

The only ones slightly vulnerable to the fallout are those in the electronics and financial services sectors, they added. That, too, is indirectly so.

It is the uncertainty in stock markets and poor investor sentiments, rather than any collateral debt obligation (CDO) exposure, that could hurt financial services companies.

'Trading volumes are already starting to dry up,' noted Citigroup economist Chua Hak Bin.

Offshore lending, which has been growing very strongly, is also likely to slow down.

Market observers also pointed out that fewer deals such as mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and initial public offerings (IPOs) are taking place.

'So there will probably be an impact on banks' fee-based income for the second half,' said David Lum, an analyst with Daiwa Institute of Research.

Companies in the electronics sector may also take a hit.

'What is worrying is whether the sub-prime crisis will translate into dampened demand in investment and consumption,' said UOB economist Alvin Liew.

If it does, companies will start paring down investments.

And if the US economy goes into a recession, companies in the electronics sector may suffer. Said Citigroup's Mr Chua: 'A lot of the electronic exports are dependent on US consumer demand which is already very weak.'

There is also some risk to the luxury property market segment here, as a large proportion of the buyers are wealthy foreigners 'who are more sensitised to global sentiments and who may have had their financial assets hit already', said Mr Chua.

But the risks are largely contained.

Domestic economic growth will continue to be fuelled by burgeoning construction and building activities which are not going to halt, said analysts.

'Domestic demand is going to hold up fairly well, and investments should still be quite strong. We still see a lot of commercial and industrial construction investments going on,' said UOB's Mr Liew.

Agreed Daiwa's Mr Lum: 'I doubt any of the projects are going to be delayed. The IRs (integrated resorts) are still going to be built, and many of the other projects are already pre-sold.'

The tight office space supply also means that there will continue to be strong demand for office space.

'So the building and construction driver is not going to slow down at all, and that driver is good for a few more years, not just this year,' said Mr Lum.

Other sectors like pharmaceuticals and tourism will be fairly resilient, said Mr Chua.

Companies, even in the electronics business are not too worried.

'While USA remains the largest economy, the consumption power of China, India and others has edged up considerably in recent years,' said Tan Kay Guan, chief operating officer of Miyoshi Precision Ltd. This could mitigate any US slowdown.

Not mincing his words, Leslie Wa, CEO of HLN Technologies, said: 'The world market does not hinge solely on the US market. For example, one of our smartphone makers will launch its products in Europe. Moreover, the China market is booming.'

The weakening Singapore dollar against the greenback could also make up for any weakness in demand, said Miyoshi, HLN and other companies with export sales.

Said Tan Kok Hiang, executive director of Viz Branz Ltd: 'Most of our exports are invoiced in US dollar, so the strong US dollar is positive for us.'

Would the drying up of liquidity cause concern? Analysts don't think so. 'For a long time, money supply growth has been incredible in Singapore,' said Daiwa's Mr Lum. 'If you look at the local interbank rates, they are not spiking up, so there is ample liquidity in Singapore.'

The loans to deposits ratio in banks here is also very low, so they do have the ability to finance companies in their expansion and businesses, he added.

Companies also said that they do not foresee difficulty in raising capital, said Miyoshi's Mr Tan, as the fundamentals are still strong.

However, Singapore companies that might be adversely affected are the larger ones that have been turning to global capital markets to raise funds, said Citigroup's Mr Chua.

'Corporate bond spreads have been widening, even for investment grade in the US. They are increased by about 50-70 basis points,' he added. 'So those companies that had been able to price their bonds very cheaply in the past - at only 20-30 basis points above the Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) - may now find that their cost of capital has increased.'

Markets Mauled As Hedge Funds Bail Out

Source : The Business Times, August 17, 2007

(SINGAPORE) Shares in Asia yesterday suffered some of their worst one-day falls this year, with markets bracing themselves for further selling as hedge funds raise cash to pay off panicking investors.










'People are pulling back in Asia, in emerging markets such as Thailand,' Warut Siwasariyanon, director of research at Globlex Securities in Bangkok, told Bloomberg.

'Some global funds have problems with redemptions so they may have to raise liquidity to pay back shareholders.'

Asia shares may suffer further losses today if they were to take a cue from the Europe and US markets.

In Europe, stock markets suffered major losses yesterday, with London's FTSE closing 4 per cent down. On Wall Street, the Dow had dived more than 200 points by lunch time.

In the US, the VIX index - a measure of broad stock market volatility there - hit its highest level since March 2003 after the sharp sell-off on Wednesday.

Yesterday's blood-bath in Asia extended a bout of panic-selling around the world on Wednesday in anticipation of more bad news, as reports suggested investors in some hedge funds were preparing to make last-minute applications before an Aug 15 deadline to withdraw their money at the end of September, which would force the hedge funds to sell their investments to raise cash.

Several other hedge funds, including two run by US investment bank Bear Stearns, are already at risk of collapse after investors tried to withdraw their money but discovered that the underlying securities were nearly worthless.A US website, hf-im plode.com, set up by a private individual to track the number of hedge funds affected by the sub-prime mortgage crisis lists more than 20 hedge funds around the world that have publicly collapsed or are facing large losses from sub-prime mortgage exposure since May.

A sister website, ml-im plode.com, counts some 120 US mortgage lenders that have failed or fallen into financial distress since the end of last year.

In fact, the US Federal Reserve had planned to signal a future cut in interest rates - a move that would have cheered the markets - according to columnist Robert Novak. Fed chairman Ben Bernanke had initially prepared a statement hinting at such a cut, but eventually put the plan on hold.

Here, the Straits Times Index (STI) ended 121.09 points or 3.7 per cent lower at 3,152.16, after plunging as much as 5.2 per cent earlier in the day. The decline extended a 3.3 per cent loss on Wednesday.

In percentage terms, the plunge was the STI's steepest one-day fall since Feb 28 and the fourth time this month that the index has seen a decline of more than 3 per cent in a day.

Share indices in all other major Asia-Pacific markets also fell yesterday, with South Korea taking the worst beating. The Kospi Index dived 6.9 per cent, its biggest fall since June 2002.

This was followed by the Philippines and Indonesia, where major share indices plunged 6 per cent and 5.9 per cent respectively.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index fell 3.3 per cent, its second largest fall this year. Similarly, the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index slid 3.5 per cent, its sharpest fall since March. In China, the CSI 300 index slid 1.6 per cent, while shares in Thailand fell 3 per cent.

In Australia, local mortgage lender Rams Home Loans Group saw its shares plunge 36 per cent after it said it was unable to refinance some US$5 billion worth of short-term debt due to the lack of liquidity in the US credit market. Overall, shares ended 1.3 per cent lower in Sydney.

On Wednesday, shares in the US fell amid more signs of trouble stemming from sub-prime mortgage lending there. Countrywide Financial, the largest mortgage lender in the US with more than 50,000 employees, had its shares downgraded from 'buy' to 'sell' by brokerage Merrill Lynch, which warned that the firm may face bankruptcy if it is forced by creditors to sell off its assets at a fraction of their original value.

Meanwhile, regulators have started to turn the heat up on major credit ratings agencies such as Moody's and Standard & Poor's, which have come under fire over their perceived delays in downgrading the credit ratings of financial securities backed by the high-risk sub-prime mortgages. Yesterday, reports out of Europe said the credit ratings agencies are now facing an investigation by the European Commission.Since last week, central banks around the world have poured billions of dollars in additional funds into the global financial system in an effort to stave off a looming credit crunch as banks become less willing to lend money and investors shy away from new debt issues. But analysts expect the volatility in the financial markets to continue for now.

Shares Battered For 2nd Straight Day

Source : The Business Times, August 17, 2007

Banks lead falls, as ST Index closes 3.7% lower after shedding as much as 5.2% in the morning

STOCKS here were hammered for the second day in a row yesterday, as the spectre of a credit crunch caused by the US sub-prime mortgage crisis refused to go away. The Straits Times Index (STI) dived 121.09 points or 3.7 per cent to end at 3,152.16, extending a 3.3 per cent loss on Wednesday.














Just before the morning trading session ended, the index plunged as much as 5.2 per cent, led by falls in the banks and other heavyweights including Singapore Exchange (SGX) and rig-builder Keppel Corp.

Despite a brief recovery after the lunch-time break, the index never traded above 3,165 for the entire afternoon session - a full 3.3 per cent below Wednesday's close of 3,273.25.

The banks led declines among the blue chips, dragging the index down by a total of 38.5 points, or about one-third of the fall in the STI.

Shares in United Overseas Bank fell the most among its peers, ending 4.8 per cent lower at S$19.90. DBS Group closed 3 per cent lower at S$19.60, while OCBC fell 4.2 per cent to S$8.

Keppel Corp's shares shed 5.8 per cent to S$11.30, pulling the STI down by 11.2 points.

Meanwhile, SGX saw its shares dive 7.8 per cent to S$8.25, causing the index to shed 10.7 points. On Wednesday evening, it issued a statement 'to clarify the impact of current market volatility on our externally managed funds', saying it had decided last month to liquidate S$139 million worth of investments in 14 funds. It said there would be 'no material impact' on its current financial year, which started in June.

CIMB analyst Kenneth Ng said in a report yesterday that potential losses to SGX from these funds were 'not an issue' and warned that a decline in trading volumes was a bigger worry. 'If the current credit crunch drains out liquidity from the global system and if trading volumes decline towards previous levels, SGX's earnings could be at risk.'

But he maintained his 'outperform' rating on the stock, noting that 'market sell-downs are bad for investors but market volatility is good for exchanges'.

Of the STI's 49 members, just four stocks rose, while 43 fell. Two stayed unchanged. The biggest percentage losers among the blue chips were shipping groups Cosco Corp, which plunged 11.3 per cent to S$4.10, and Neptune Orient Lines, which dived 9.4 per cent to S$4.06.

Other STI component stocks that saw large percentage falls were Chinese meat producer People's Food and gaming firm Genting International. People's Food shares slid 9.3 per cent to S$1.17, while Genting's shares ended 8.6 per cent lower at 69.5 cents.

The four blue chips that rose against the broader tide of red ink yesterday were Jardine Matheson, Jardine Strategic, Singapore Petroleum Co and StarHub.

Jardine Matheson's shares rose 2.2 per cent to US$23.10 after it said on Wednesday evening that its first-half net profit rose 44 per cent to US$793 million. It also announced plans to buy up to 1.7 per cent of Jardine Strategic, its holding company, whose shares rose 5.5 per cent to US$13.50 on the news.

The broader market was also weak, with falling counters outnumbering gainers 605-28, excluding warrants and bonds. Total trading volume, including warrants and bonds, came to 2.78 billion units worth S$3.3 billion.

Bruised Asian Stock Markets Dive Further

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 17 August 2007

Picture : A South Korean Exchange Board

Battered Asian stock markets suffered another drubbing on Friday, spiralling ever lower as panicky investors continued to dump shares with no end in sight to the recent turmoil on global markets.

An early rally on some markets quickly fizzled out as Tokyo set the region up for another nasty fall.

Japanese shares ended down by a massive 5.42 percent as a stronger yen pummelled exporters.

Investors fled "the crashing stock markets and headed to the safer bond market," said Akihiko Inoue, a strategist at Mizuho Investors Securities.

Hong Kong shares plunged 6.0 percent, Malaysian market slumped 5.08 percent while the Singapore bourse dived more than 5.0 percent in afternoon trade, as investors fretted that problems rippling out of the US mortgage sector could spark a full-blown credit crunch.

Elsewhere, markets were buckling again under heavy selling.

Seoul closed down 3.1 percent after plunging nearly 7 percent Thursday -- its biggest ever one-day point decline.

Manila ended 2 percent lower.

Indian share prices slid as much as 3.06 percent to fall below the key 14,000 point level before recovering slightly to 14,020.56.

Shanghai closed 2.28 percent lower while Bangkok declined 1.03 percent.

Australian shares closed down 0.70 percent while New Zealand stocks fell 1.63 percent in late trade.

"It's hard to believe that all the skeletons are out of the closet," said Eric Betts, an equity strategist at Nomura Securities in Sydney.

"Some of these (firms' problems) will only come to light if their lenders pull the plug on them or force them to come clean," he added.

For Asian markets the main worry is that foreign investment funds will be forced to further offload shares to cover losses in securities backed by US sub-prime mortgages to risky borrowers, or to stash funds in more stable bonds.

Overnight on Wall Street, US shares fell deep into the red again before recovering much of the losses to close slightly lower after another extremely volatile day, while the London market tumbled by over four percent.

In Tokyo a stronger yen dimmed prospects for Japanese exporters' future earnings, while uncertainty about whether the Bank of Japan will raise interest rates next week kept investors on edge.

An unravelling of risky "carry trades" that have allowed investors to binge on cheap Japanese credit to invest in fast-growing Asian stock markets appeared to be taking a heavy toll around the region.

The yen shot higher against other major currencies as players scrambled to unwind risky positions and send funds back to Japan.

The Australian and Japanese central banks injected extra liquidity into the banking system again Friday to try to calm markets but the focus of investors remained on events overseas.

Overnight on Wall Street the Dow Jones index ended lower for a sixth straight day, but pared back steep losses to end down 0.12 percent as the market tried to find a bottom.

The stock gauge had pitched to a more than 10 percent loss from its record intra-day trading peak of 14,021.95 on July 17 after American investors received a double dose of bad news tied to the housing market.

The US government reported that new home construction dived to a 10-year low in July, and Countrywide Financial -- America's leading mortgage lender -- said it had tapped an 11.5-billion-dollar credit line to boost its finances.

European stock markets took another dive Thursday, led by London where the FTSE 100 index of leading shares closed down 4.10 percent, its biggest fall since March 12, 2003, shortly before the outbreak of the Iraq war. - AFP/ir

Australia Injects More Cash Into Bank Sector

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 17 August 2007

Picture : Glenn Stevens, Governor of Reserve Bank of Australia

SYDNEY - Australia's central bank on Friday injected a larger than usual A$3.87 billion (US$3.06b) into the banking system as fears of a credit crunch jolted global markets.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) revealed in data that the cash it pumped into the system on a short-term basis was well above its average daily injection for the year of A$1.9 billion.

The bank injected another A$3.04 billion into the banking system on Thursday as central banks around the world scrambled to boost liquidity and ease fears of a credit crunch spawned by the US sub-prime mortgage market crisis.

Australian stocks plunged a breathtaking five percent during Thursday's trade but managed to claw back some losses to close 1.3 percent lower.

Australian stocks were however barely changed from Thursday's close, with the benchmark SP/ASX200 index up 0.43 percent or 24.6 points at 5736.1 while the broader All Ordinaries was up 0.29 percent or 16.7 points at 5708.9. - AFP/ir

World Stocks Plummet Yet Again

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 16 August 2007

Picture : Brokers At Taiwan Stock Exchange

LONDON - Global share prices tumbled again on Thursday, with a brutal round of losses in Asia and Europe as investors took flight on fears of fallout from the US housing market crisis.

Traders are worried about a global credit squeeze as more banks and investment funds around the world reveal their exposure to the slumping US sub-prime or high-risk home loan sector, analysts said.

From London to Tokyo, Shanghai to Mumbai and Hong Kong to Sydney, weary traders' screens were awash with red again on Thursday as fears over US housing continued to buffet stock markets.

Across Europe, markets nursed more heavy losses after further dramatic falls in Asia that were sparked by yet another overnight slump in New York.

All eyes remained on Wall Street where credit market anxiety gripped investors again Wednesday as the fear of the unknown prompted a flight to safe haven assets such as government bonds. US markets reopen at 1330 GMT.

"The mood changed again on Wall Street ahead of last night's close, with another sustained run of selling as traders remain somewhat unsure of the extent of the credit squeeze and sub-prime fallout," said CMC Markets trader Adam Neal in London on Thursday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, meanwhile, called for the Group of Seven most industrialised nations to take steps to improve transparency in world markets in the wake of the US home loan crisis.

Markets have buckled under a fresh wave of selling as the growing fallout from turmoil in US credit markets prompted investors to flee to safe havens such as bonds.

Australian home loan group RAMS sparked fresh jitters after it failed to roll over five billion US dollars in debt due to worries over the US credit crunch.

In early deals on Thursday, London's FTSE 100 index of leading shares slumped as much as 2.3 percent to 5,968.80 points -- the lowest level since October 5, 2006.

That was the first time the FTSE has fallen beneath 6,000 points since March 5 earlier this year. The index later stood at 5,984.60 points.

In Frankfurt, the DAX 30 index dived 1.91 percent to 7,303.77 points, and the Paris CAC 40 tumbled 2.27 percent to 5,319.15 points.

Markets in Amsterdam, Madrid, Milan and Stockholm all registered steep losses of around 2.0 percent in early trade.

"There has been no let up in the financial market turmoil with equity markets in the US last night and Asia today all lower underlining the fact that fears and uncertainty remain to the fore," said economist Derek Halpenny at The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.

In a nerve-wracking day for investors, Seoul reeled from its biggest ever one-day plunge in terms of points, ending down 6.93 percent.

And South Korean shares tumbled almost 7.0 percent, posting their biggest ever one-day point decline.

Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei-225 index fell below the key 16,000-point level for the first time since November before clawing back to end down 1.99 percent.

Hong Kong shares tumbled 3.3 percent, the Chinese market dived by 2.14 percent and Singapore shed 3.86 percent.

A fresh 400-billion-yen (3.4 billion dollars) injection of funds into the banking system by the Bank of Japan failed to calm frayed nerves.

New York stocks had fallen sharply on Wednesday on fresh anxiety about the credit market, despite the US Federal Reserve's seven-billion-dollar cash infusion to support the financial system.

The US Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 1.29 percent to end at 12,859.19 points -- the fifth straight closing loss and the first time since late April it closed below 13,000.

Market watchers said that confidence had drained out of the markets, so even though many stocks look cheap there is no obvious trigger on the horizon for a rebound.

Meanwhile, crude oil prices fell heavily as traders fretted that the turmoil on global markets could crimp economic growth and demand for energy. - AFP /ls

BoJ Injects Extra Funds For First Time In Three Days

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 16 August 2007

TOKYO - The Bank of Japan IPicture) pumped extra funds into the financial system Thursday for the first time in three days to try to stabilise interest rates as fresh havoc erupted on global financial markets.

The BoJ said it had injected 400 billion yen (3.4 billion dollars) into the money market after draining funds for two straight days.

The Japanese central bank's latest move came as the Tokyo stock market tumbled for a second straight day after another rout overnight on Wall Street, with the Nikkei-225 index going on to finish down almost 2.0 percent.

But analysts said that there was still no sign of a credit squeeze in Japan, where banks are believed to have taken less risks than overseas rivals.

"My understanding is that at the moment the BoJ is basically showing solidarity with other central banks rather than there being a pressing liquidity concern in Japan," said Jeremy Hall, a Japanese equity fund manager at Henderson Global Investors in Singapore.

The BoJ had pumped 1.6 trillion yen of emergency funds into the financial system over Friday and Monday as part of a concerted action by global central banks to try to avert a credit squeeze caused by problems in US mortgages.

On Tuesday and Wednesday the BoJ drained a total of 3.6 trillion yen from the domestic banking system as fears of a domestic credit squeeze faded.

Analysts said Japanese banks did not appear to be significantly exposed to the troubles in the US sub-prime mortgages to high-risk borrowers.

"It was an asset bubble which caused all the Japanese banks' problems from which they only emerged three years ago in terms of financial strength standing," said Hall.

"Therefore I think the idea that they have gone headlong into another financial bubble in a foreign country is probably quite unrealistic because these guys are fundamentally risk averse," he added.

Bank stocks ended narrowly mixed Thursday, recovering from steep losses earlier in the session.

Mizuho Financial Group finished down 10,000 yen or 1.5 percent at 666,000 while Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group edged up 3,000 yen or 2.8 percent to 1.11 million yen.

A persistent housing slump and rising property foreclosures in the United States has sparked a financial storm that has prompted investors to shun mortgage-backed securities and other risky investments. - AFP /ls

Bruised Asian Markets Struggle To Find A Floor

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 17 August 2007

Picture : Traders At Manila Stock Exchange

TOKYO - Credit fears unleashed fresh turbulence on Asian stock markets Friday as Tokyo spiralled lower and other bourses in the region struggled to find a floor a day after one of the worst routs in recent years.

A late recovery overnight on Wall Street helped shares to open higher in Sydney, Hong Kong and Manila, while Seoul and Singapore saw much more modest losses than the previous day's carnage sparked by US mortgage worries.

But much of the gains soon faded with confidence still at a low ebb after Thursday's slump that saw some Asian bourses fall by over five percent.

Tokyo, Asia's largest market, came under heavy selling pressure with the Nikkei-225 down 2.33 percent by lunch as a resurgent yen forced investors to take a more cautious view of the earning prospects of major exporters.

And Hong Kong quickly reversed course to slip 1.5 percent into the red.

Elsewhere investors were taking a welcome breather after Thursday's severe sell-off, but it was unclear how long the respite would last given concerns that the US mortgage problems could spark a full-blown credit crunch.

"It's looking a fair bit healthier than it has for a while. I guess the late rebound in the US has reassured people a bit," said Eric Betts, an equity strategist at Nomura Securities in Sydney where stocks opened up 0.8 percent.

But he said it was too soon to say the worst of the sub-prime problems were over.

"It's hard to believe that all the skeletons are out of the closet. Some of these (firms' problems) will only come to light if their lenders pull the plug on them or force them to come clean," he added.

Elsewhere in the region, Taipei gained 0.68 percent, Shanghai added 0.83 percent and Kuala Lumpur picked up 0.8 percent in early deals.

Seoul dipped 0.3 percent after plunging nearly seven percent Thursday -- its biggest ever one-day point decline.

"The market trimmed much of its earlier losses but it is too early to say that the bout of correction is completely wrapped up," said Woori Investment & Securities analyst Kang Hyun-Cheol in Seoul.

The Australian and Japanese central banks injected extra liquidity into the banking system again Friday to try to calm markets but the focus of investors remained on events overseas.

Overnight on Wall Street the Dow Jones index ended lower for a sixth straight day, but pared back steep losses to end down 0.12 percent as the market tried to find a bottom.

The stock gauge had pitched to a more than 10 percent loss from its record intra-day trading peak of 14,021.95 on July 17 after American investors received a double dose of bad news tied to the housing market.

The US government reported that new home construction dived to a 10-year low in July, and Countrywide Financial -- America's leading mortgage lender -- said it had tapped an 11.5-billion-dollar credit line to boost its finances.

European stock markets took another dive Thursday, led by London where the FTSE 100 index of leading shares closed down 4.10 percent, its biggest fall since March 12, 2003, shortly before the outbreak of the Iraq war.

Emerging markets also felt the pain. Brazil's stock market plunged nearly nine percent Thursday before recovering for a 2.5 percent loss as worries over US housing debt woes spilled through Latin America's bourses for yet another day. - AFP/ir

BoJ To Inject 1.2 Trillion Yen Into Banking System

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 17 August 2007

TOKYO - Japan's central bank said Friday it would inject emergency funds of 1.2 trillion yen (10.5 billion dollars) into the financial system after fears of a credit squeeze wreaked fresh havoc on global markets.

The Bank of Japan pumped extra funds into the money market for a second day in a row as part of a concerted global effort by major central banks to calm fears about the fallout from problems in the US mortgage sector.

On Thursday, the BoJ had injected 400 billion yen into the banking system to try to stabilise short-term interest rates, having drained funds for the two previous days as fears of a credit crunch in Japan eased.

Central banks from Sydney to Washington have together pumped billions of dollars into the global financial system in recent days amid signs that private banks and firms are having trouble raising funds and rolling over debt.

The US Federal Reserve injected a further 17 billion dollars into the US banking system on Thursday, bringing to 88 billion dollars the amount it has funnelled into the financial markets in the past week.

But the moves by the world's top central bankers have provided only limited comfort to panicky investors amid signs that hedge funds are being forced to dump shares to cover losses in mortgage-backed securities. - AFP/ir

Farmers Hope To Overturn Govt's Plans To Stockpile Granite At Lim Chu Kang

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 16 August 2007

SINGAPORE : Plans to stockpile granite at Lim Chu Kang are not going down well with some farmers there.

And they are trying to see how they could overturn government plans to use the area as a granite stockpile site.

Storing granite at Lim Chu Kang is part of the government's strategy to ensure that there is an adequate supply of essential building materials.

It also serves to tide the industry over in the short term, as shown by the recent disruption in supply after Indonesia banned granite exports to Singapore.

A high fence has been erected around the granite stockpile site between Lim Chu Kang Lane 1 and Neo Tiew Road.

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) said the fencing is one way to reduce dust from stockpiling work over the next 12 months.

While farmers agree such measures will help, they are worried about the possible impact on their crops, especially those located within 200 metres of the site.

Some of the 200 farms in the area sell their produce to local supermarkets.

"You can't control the elements, the wind can carry the dust for many kilometres. The dust settles on the vegetables, and will this have an impact on consumers? We don't know. And it could also harm the environment," said Alan Toh, MD of Yili Vegetation & Trading.

But according to the BCA, due care will be taken to mitigate any negative impact on the environment.

Related Video Link :- http://tinyurl.com/35j6j2
Farmers hope to overturn govt's plans to stockpile granite at Lim Chu Kang


This includes having designated routes for trucks and adequate drainage to discharge rainwater into existing drainage channels.

The farmers are also concerned about the heavy vehicles that would be plying the roads once stockpiling begins.

They say it will not only cause pollution, but also pose a danger to road users, especially cyclists who ride around the area in the evening.

But BCA told Channel NewsAsia that it would restrict operating hours, and there would be no delivery of granite on weekends and public holidays.

Apart from environmental issues, the Kranji Countryside Association, led by Ivy Singh-Lim said this latest development undermines efforts to promote eco-tourism.

She added that the area, zoned as agricultural land, is also an educational tool.

"For the past three years, a group of us - farmers - created a jewel here, a little gem of a countryside place. And we've been seeing thousands of Singaporeans, especially kids, three-generation families coming out here to bond in the natural area. But this granite dumping is going to destroy the whole spirit of the place," said Ivy Singh-Lim, president of Kranji Countryside Association.

BCA said it has consulted the farmers. But the farmers are not quite satisfied.

BCA added that it has studied possible sites for stockpiling, and Lim Chu Kang was selected as it is away from densely built-up urban areas.

But the farmers hope that stockpiling can be done away from their doorstep. - CNA /ls

Battered Asian Stock Markets Tumble Again

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 17 August 2007

Picture : A Broker Monitoring Market Situation

TOKYO - Bruised Asian stock markets suffered another drubbing on Friday, spiralling ever lower as panicky investors continued to dump shares with no end in sight to the recent turmoil on global markets.

An early rally on some markets quickly fizzled out as Tokyo set the region up for another nasty fall, with Japanese shares down by more than five percent in late trade as a stronger yen pummelled exporters.

Investors fled "the crashing stock markets and headed to the safer bond market," said Akihiko Inoue, a strategist at Mizuho Investors Securities.

Hong Kong slumped 3.30 percent, sliding below the key 20,000 points level, while Singapore tumbled 3.4 percent as investors fretted that problems rippling out of the US mortgage sector could spark a full-blown credit crunch.

"It's hard to believe that all the skeletons are out of the closet," said Eric Betts, an equity strategist at Nomura Securities in Sydney.

"Some of these (firms' problems) will only come to light if their lenders pull the plug on them or force them to come clean," he added.

For Asian markets the main worry is that foreign investment funds will be forced to further offload shares to cover losses in securities backed by US sub-prime mortgages to risky borrowers, or to stash funds in more stable bonds.

Overnight on Wall Street, US shares fell deep into the red again before recovering much of the losses to close slightly lower after another extremely volatile day, while the London market tumbled by over four percent.

In Tokyo a stronger yen dimmed prospects for Japanese exporters' future earnings, while uncertainty about whether the Bank of Japan will raise interest rates next week kept investors on edge.

An unravelling of risky "carry trades" that have allowed investors to binge on cheap Japanese credit to invest in fast-growing Asian stock markets appeared to be taking a heavy toll around the region.

The yen shot higher against other major currencies as players scrambled to unwind risky positions and send funds back to Japan.

Around the region markets were buckling again under heavy selling.

Singapore lost 3.44 percent, Mumbai was down 1.63 percent, Shanghai slipped 0.71 percent, Bangkok declined 1.03 percent while Kuala Lumpur fell 2.5 percent and Manila ended two percent lower.

Seoul dipped 0.3 percent after plunging nearly seven percent Thursday -- its biggest ever one-day point decline. Sydney dipped 0.6 percent.

"It is too early to say that the bout of correction is completely wrapped up," said Woori Investment & Securities analyst Kang Hyun-Cheol in Seoul.

The Australian and Japanese central banks injected extra liquidity into the banking system again Friday to try to calm markets but the focus of investors remained on events overseas.

Overnight on Wall Street the Dow Jones index ended lower for a sixth straight day, but pared back steep losses to end down 0.12 percent as the market tried to find a bottom.

The stock gauge had pitched to a more than 10 percent loss from its record intra-day trading peak of 14,021.95 on July 17 after American investors received a double dose of bad news tied to the housing market.

The US government reported that new home construction dived to a 10-year low in July, and Countrywide Financial -- America's leading mortgage lender -- said it had tapped an 11.5-billion-dollar credit line to boost its finances.

European stock markets took another dive Thursday, led by London where the FTSE 100 index of leading shares closed down 4.10 percent, its biggest fall since March 12, 2003, shortly before the outbreak of the Iraq war. - AFP/ir

Singapore Shares Down More Than 5% In Afternoon Trade

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 17 August 2007

Singapore share prices were down more than 5.0 percent in afternoon trade Friday, with the index falling below 3,000 points due to fears of a global liquidity crunch, dealers said.

As key regional stock markets like Japan and Hong Kong reported massive losses, the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) quickly reversed a feeble rally in the morning. The STI was down 160.88 points to 2,991.28 as of 2:19 pm (0619 GMT).

DMG and Partners Securities dealing director Gabriel Yap said the market was still trying to find support following the recent sharp falls.

"Having been sold down quite badly in recent days, you can't expect it to recover so quickly," Yap said.

Daniel McCormack, a strategist at Macquarie Securities in Hong Kong, said it might be too early to re-enter the Singapore market because it looked overvalued when compared with other markets in East Asia.

"Singapore companies had decent results in the first half of the year, but we're concerned earnings growth is going to slow," McCormack said. - AFP/ir

Singapore July Exports Rise 0.5%

Source : AsiaOne News, Fri, Aug 17, 2007

SINGAPORE, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Singapore's non-oil exports rose less than expected in July, climbing a seasonally adjusted 0.5 percent from June, data showed on Friday.

July's rise compared with market expectations for a 1.3 percent rise, and followed a disappointing 2.9 percent increase in June, which prompted the export-dependent city-state's government to cut its 2007 growth forecast for non-oil domestic exports to 4-6 percent from 7-9 percent.

Non-oil exports in July rose a faster-than-expected 5.5 percent from a year earlier to S$14.5 billion ($9.5 billion), trade agency International Enterprise Singapore said in a statement. That compared with a 1.2 percent rise in June, and with a median forecast in a Reuters poll for annual increase of 3.2 percent.

Economists had forecast that higher exports of drugs and offshore oil rigs in July offset sluggish electronics exports, which make up around 40 percent of Singapore's non-oil exports.

July's electronics shipments fell for the sixth month in a row, down 10.6 percent from a year ago, while drugs exports rose 45.3 percent in the same period. Petrochemicals climbed 1.0 percent.

Singapore's non-oil domestic exports, which comprise of goods that have been manufactured in Singapore or undergone further processing, include mobile phones, medical instruments, and active ingredients for some blockbuster drugs.

Singapore Shares Tumble 3.7 Per Cent To 5-Month Low Amid US Sub-Prime Woes

Source : AsiaOne News, Aug 16, 2007

SINGAPORE (AP) -- Singapore shares tumbled Thursday to their lowest level since March 20 as fears over U.S. subprime woes gripped the market.

Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index fell 3.7 percent to close at a five-month low of 3,152.16. During the session it fell as much as 5.2 percent before paring losses.

Traders said weakness will likely continue into next week and the STI could possibly bottom out at 3,000 points.

Selling was across the board with 43 component stocks for the index ending lower; two were flat and four closed higher.

Cosco Corp. was among the biggest losers, falling 11.3 percent to S$4.10.

SGX fell 7.8 percent to S$8.25 after announcing it had liquidated its entire portfolio of S$139 million (US$90 million; €67 million) invested in hedge funds.

Property and banking shares also took a battering due to the spillover from the global credit crisis.

Allgreen Properties fell 6.6 percent to S$1.42, CapitaLand lost 4.3 percent to S$6.6, and DBS dropped 3.0 percent to S$19.60.

OCBC fell 4.2 percent lower to S$8, and UOB fell 4.8 percent to S$19.90.

Volume was 2.8 billion shares, higher than Wednesday's 2.4 billion. In the broader market, losers beat gainers 914 to 127.

Credit Worries Keep Asian Stocks In Check

Source : The Straits Times, Aug 17, 2007

HONG KONG - STUBBORN fears of a global credit squeeze kept Asian stock markets mostly under pressure on Friday and boosted the yen, but financial shares rebounded, thanks to a dramatic turnaround on Wall Street.
Worries that the financial market turmoil will hurt global growth also weighed on exporters and continued to drive investors to safe-haven government bonds.

Speculation of a possible US interest rate cut and talk that Bear Stearns, one of the largest US mortgage bond underwriters, would get funding from a Chinese bank helped spark the last-minute US rebound, led by financial issues.

SINGAPORE
The Straits Times Index open lower on Friday, the third straight session of losses, as investors remained cautious amid credit market worries and lower stock markets across Asia.

At midday, STI was down by 108.48 points or 3.44 per cent to 3,043.68

HONG KONG
Hong Kong share prices plunged below the key 20,000 points level on Friday with investors still fretting over the extent of credit problems in the wake of the US subprime crisis, dealers said.

By midday, the Hang Seng Index slumped 688.8 points to 19,983.64 after opening 88.92 points higher at 20,761.31.

The last time the index hit below the key level was in Jan 17 this year at 19,841.00.

TOKYO
Japanese share prices were down by more than five per cent in late trade on Friday as US housing worries battered Asian markets, dealers said.

The Tokyo Stock Exchange's benchmark Nikkei-225 index of leading shares tumbled by as much as 886.40 points or 5.49 per cent to 15,262.10.

The Japanese market has been particularly hit by concerns over a rising yen, which hurts exporters.

The Japanese currency has shot higher as dealers unwind risky carry trade bets that play on differences in global interest rates. -- AFP

CHINA
China's main stock index fell 0.71 per cent at midday, led by large-caps as institutions continued to take profits aggressively.

But rises in a wide range of shares - and the fact that no stock fell its 10 per cent daily limit - showed many individual investors remained positive towards the market, believing capital controls would keep China immune from plunges in global markets.

The Shanghai Composite Index ended the morning at 4,731.379 points, with losing Shanghai stocks outnumbering gainers by 501 to 373.

Turnover in Shanghai A shares shrank to a modest 62.2 billion yuan (S$12.6 billion) from Thursday mornin'?s 66.4 billion.

Several traders said the index might move between 4,500 and 5,000 points in coming weeks.

KUALA LUMPUR
Share prices on Bursa Malaysia turned lower at mid-morning as gains posted earlier were clipped by profit-taking activities, dealers said.

As of 12.30 pm, the 100-quality stocks Composite Index dropped 30.13 points to 1,177.48.

Decliners outnumbered advances by 1,007 to 44 while 101 counters were unchanged, 249 untraded and 33 suspended.

Volume stood at 846.202 million shares valued at RM1.35 billion (S$593 million).

SEOUL
Seoul shares fell 3.3 per cent on Friday, extending losses for the session as fears about a global credit squeeze and its potential impact on the global economy continued to weigh on blue chips such as Hyundai Heavy and POSCO.

The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) was down 3.3 per cent to 1,636.40 points by 12.50 pm Singapore time.

The main index has now dropped 10.5 per cent for the week, and is on course to post its biggest drop since the week of Sept 11, 2001, when the KOSPI fell 13.1 per cent as global markets reeled after attackers crashed airliners on US targets. -- REUTERS, AFP

Asian Shares Tumble, STI Plunges In Biggest 1-Day Fall In 6 years

Source : The Straits Times, Aug 16, 2007

ASIAN stock markets endured one of their most brutal selloffs in recent years with dramatic falls of more than five per cent on some bourses as the fallout from US mortgage woes escalated.

Singapore shares dived more than five per cent on Thursday, their sharpest one-day drop since Sept 2001.

Investors here continued to dump financial stocks such as DBS and Singapore Exchange on fears of a credit squeeze.

Asian markets buckled under a wave of selling as the growing fallout from turmoil in US credit markets prompted investors to flee to safe havens such as bonds.

From Tokyo to Sydney, Hong Kong to Mumbai, weary stock dealers' screens were awash with red again as fears over problems in US subprime mortgages to high-risk borrowers continued to buffet stock markets around the world.

The benchmark Straits Times Index fell as much as 5.16 per cent, its biggest percentage drop in one day since Sept 21, 2001.

The index pared its losses by the close, ending down 3.7 per cent, or 121.09 points, at 3,152.16.

'It's horrible. People can't believe this is happening. A triple-digit fall for two days in a row smacks of a mini crash,' said Najeeb Jarhom, research head at Fraser Securities.

The STI had dropped 3.35 per cent, or 113.34 points, on Wednesday, and has slumped 14.5 per cent from a record high of 3,688.58 on July 16. The index is up 5.6 per cent since January.

Asian markets

But in some markets stocks managed to recover ground in late trade.

Tokyo's Nikkei-225 index fell below the key 16,000-point level for the first time since November before clawing back to end down 1.99 per cent.

Hong Kong tumbled 3.3 per cent.

Jakarta stocks fell as much as 8.2 per cent - their sharpest one-day loss since October 2002 - before ending down 5.94 per cent.

Malaysian shares dropped 3.5 per cent to a near five-month low.

Philippine stocks dropped 6 per cent to a seven-month low, Thai shares were off 2.8 percent, and Vietnam's main stock index fell 1.65 percent.

Financial and blue chip stocks with large foreign holdings - which have led losses in regional markets in the past three weeks - continued to bear the brunt of Thursday's sell-off.

Fallout

Singapore's DBS Group Holdings, South-east Asia's biggest lender, dropped 3 per cent. United Overseas Bank fell 4.8 per cent, and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp dropped 4.2 per cent.

Singapore Exchange, Asia's third-largest listed bourse, slid 7.8 per cent to its lowest in more than two months on investor fears that its profits would be hit by shrinking trading volumes amid volatile markets.

Although most regional markets are oversold at current levels, some investors said it is not yet time to buy because markets may fall further on uncertainty over the extent of the fallout from US subprime mortgage problems.

The 10-day Relative Strength Indexes for the Singapore, Malaysian, Thai, Philippine and Indonesian markets are well below the 30-point level, indicating that markets are oversold.

In Malaysia, Bumiputra-Commerce Holdings, the country's second-largest bank, fell 1 per cent. -- REUTERS

Soleil @ Sinaran Condo 80% Sold

Source : The Business Times, 17 Aug 2007

FRASERS Centrepoint has sold 80 per cent of its Soleil @ Sinaran condo near Novena MRT Station at an average price of nearly $1,500 psf, with 173 units sold at yesterday’s soft launch, following last week’s staff and VIP preview when 156 units were sold.

The 99-year leasehold condo seems to have attracted predominantly Singaporeans and permanent residents, according to Frasers Centrepoint Homes chief operating officer Cheang Kok Kheong.

Buyers included a mix of investors as well as likely owner occupiers, drawn by the project’s location and its proximity to the Orchard Road belt, he added. There was a buyer who purchased an entire floor of seven apartments, Mr Cheang revealed.

‘Those who’re buying properties are basically looking at a long-term investment and the real economy here is still doing well,’ Mr Cheang said in explaining why the US sub-prime woes and global stock market rout seem to have had little impact on Soleil buyers.

Soleil @ Sinaran comprises two 36-storey blocks. Apartments come with one, two, three and four bedrooms. Frasers Centrepoint will release the project’s four penthouses - each with five bedrooms - at today’s official launch. Their prices start from $8.5 million.

Bukit Merah Hotel Site Up For Sale

Source : The Business Times, 17 August 07

THE first of the four hotel sites to be put on the reserve list of the Government Land Sales Programme for the second half of this year is to be at the junction of Jalan Bukit Merah and Alexandra Road.

The site has an area of 0.79 ha and a maximum permissible gross floor area of 22,249 square metres (239,486 sq ft).

A spokesman for the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said it has already received some market interest for the site, which is close to Mount Faber andSentosa.

The URA said: 'The area is of a mixed-use character and there is no change in planning intentions in the near future.'

Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han says that, as the site is near Alexandra Hospital, a hotel there might attract 'medical tourists'.

At present, the area is predominantly an industrial and car showroom enclave.

'There's a price to everything and hotel sites are well in demand now - regardless to location,' Mr Han said.

He thinks the site could sell for between $400 to $450 per square foot per plot ratio (psf ppr), putting it in the $100 million range.

He pointed out that hotels near regional hubs are needed to help commercial growth as part of URA'sdecentralisation strategy.

Mr Han reckons a 3-star hotel with up to 400 rooms would be feasible. Rates would be below $180 per night.

Highlighting that the current $220 per night average room rate has caused some concern within the tourism industry, Mr Han said: 'More suburban or 3-star hotels may be needed to keep hotel rates affordable, particularly for the budget-conscious tourists.'

Knight Frank director (research and consultancy) Nicholas Mak believes interest for the site is not likely to come from any of the big players.

'If any developer were to be interested in this site, they are likely to be small developers or hotel operators such as Fragrance Land or Hotel 81,' he said.

For the first half of the year, URA released three hotel sites on the reserve list.

In July, a hotel site in the Tanjong Pagar area sold for $97.07 million or $562 psf ppr.

S&P, Moody’s Face EU Investigations

Source : TODAY, Friday, August 17, 2007

Credit rating agencies may have been slow to react to sub-prime crisis

CREDIT rating agencies including Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s (S&P) are facing an investigation by the European Commission into their response to the sub-prime credit crisis.

“The review will focus on issues such as governance, management, conflict of interest and resourcing,” Ms Antonia Mochan, a spokesman for EU Internal Market and Financial Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy, said yesterday. She said: “The recent sub-prime crisis and the credit rating agencies’ reaction to the credit market situation has made it even more important for us to do this.”

Officials at Moody’s and S&P declined to provide immediate comment. Investors and politicians have criticised credit rating firms for misjudging the risk on bonds backed by mortgages to homeowners with poor or limited credit.

United States Senate Banking Committee chairman Christopher Dodd earlier this month said regulators might need to ensure that the rating services are not biased in their assessments of bonds because of fees they earn.

Banks warned about a potential crisis in sub-prime last year. But S&P and Moody’s started downgrading the ratings of mortgage-backed securities on a significant scale recently, reported the Financial Times (FT).

FT reported yesterday that Mr McCreevy met senior S&P executives last month and expressed his concern about the apparently slow reaction of some agencies. He has invited European securities regulators to meet next month to discuss ratings agencies and the problems that have surfaced with regard to rating-structured products.

An unnamed commission official said: “The securitised sub-prime mortgage market would not have grown to the extent that it did without the favourable ratings given by some agencies.”

FT said the agencies previously defended themselves from legal action by maintaining that their ratings are simply opinions, covered in the US by constitutional free speech protections. The agencies said they would downgrade only upon evidence showing that mortgages or other assets are underperforming rather than on a speculative basis.— BLOOMBERG

Sub-Prime Crisis: Asian Govts Are Calm

Source : TODAY, Friday, August 17, 2007

ASIAN officials said the United States housing-loan crisis that has sparked a loodbath in the region’s stock markets would have minimal effect on their economies.

Their assurances came as central banks in Japan and the US injected fresh funds into their markets.

According to Hong Kong’s financial chief John Tsang, the city’s financial system is able to withstand the biggest daily slump in the benchmark Hang Seng stock index.

He told reporters in Beijing yesterday that the city’s government “can’t see the need for the time being” to inject any additional cash into the city’s banking system. “The government is confident the banks can withstand the market’s volatility,”he said.

In South Korea, the Vice Finance Minister Kim Seok-dong said: “Foreign investors are selling Korean stocks because of the global drop, not because of Korea-specific issues.” He added: “The size of the investment in sub-prime by our financial institutions is relatively small.”

US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson told the Wall Street Journal that the financial turmoil would “extract a penalty” from US growth, though the economy is strong enough to avoid a recession.

The global stock sell-off “is going to be short-term”, Malaysia’s Deputy Finance Minister Awang Adek Hussin said. “It’s all originating from abroad,” he added.

Most Asian central banks have refrained from joining counterparts in the US, Europe and Japan in pumping cash into their markets over the past week, reflecting confidence that the fallout from the sub-prime mortgage losses can be contained.

The Bank of Japan said yesterday it injected 400 billion yen ($5.4 billion) into the banking system to try to curb a rise in short-term interest rates. Between Tuesday and Wednesday, it had siphoned off a total of 3.6 trillion yen — which is more than the 1.6 trillion yen pumped in between last Friday and Monday — when the overnight rate fell below its target of 0.5 per cent.

The US Federal Reserve injected US$7 billion ($10.8 billion) into the banking system on Wednesday, a smaller amount than the double-digits pumped in since last week. The total figure now stands at US$71 billion. —BLOOMBERG

Banks Defend Currencies

Source : TODAY, Friday, August 17, 2007

Hundreds of millions spent to shore up currencies












SOUTH-EAST Asian central banks defended their currencies yesterday against waves of selling as investors fled risky assets on deepening credit worries.

Authorities in Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia sold hundreds of millions of dollars in market interventions to sustain their local currencies.

Intervention was needed in the face of the sell-off of emerging-market assets as the US sub-prime crisis worsened.

“We have been in the market and will continue to be in the market” to slow the rupiah’s rise, said Bank Indonesia governor Burhanuddin Abdullah, even as he said the currency’s level, around 9,460 rupiah to the dollar, was “OK”.

Currency dealers suspect the bank sold more than US$400 million ($615 million) yesterday through state banks as foreign investors exited Indonesian markets.

Jakarta shares plunged 7.7 per cent for the day. The central bank sold US dollars around 9,480 rupiah to keep the US currency from rising above the psychological 9,500 rupiah level, traders said. However Mr Abdullah would not discuss the size or levels of the intervention.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) apparently bought US$200 million yesterday morning, selling the US currency from $1.53 to about $1.54, one local trader said.

Another said it appeared to be the central bank’s second day in the market. The suspected sales of the Singapore dollar are noteworthy as the MAS officially targets a moderate rise in the local currency.

The central bank uses the exchange rate, rather than interest rates, as a policy instrument because Singapore’s huge trade flows dwarf the island’s domestic economy.

Malaysia’s central bank strongly defended the ringgit through agent banks during the day, selling the dollar at RM3.496 and RM3.498 to keep it below RM3.5. It then sold at RM3.508 when the US currency popped to a five-month high, said traders in Kuala Lumpur.

The banks didn’t appear to be trying to reverse the tide of selling — only to slow the decline in their currencies. — DOW JONES

Singapore Property Developers Extend Reach Overseas

Source : TODAY, Friday, August 17, 2007

TWO of Singapore’s biggest property developers have extended their reach overseas.

CapitaLand announced yesterday that it had entered into an agreement to acquire Gurney Plaza — Penang’s leading retail mall — for RM770 million ($336.8 million).

Located along the famous Gurney Drive promenade, the freehold asset has more than 700,000 sq ft in net lettable area (NLA).

CapitaLand also has an option to buy the mall’s new four-storey extension block, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2008.

Separately, CapitaLand inked an agreement to buy MINES Shopping Fair for a price not exceeding RM450.2 million. The retail mall located at the growth corridor south of Kuala Lumpur has about 650,000 sq ft in NLA.

CapitaLand said the latest acquisitions were seed investments for a proposed second CapitaLand-sponsored real estate investment trust in Malaysia.

In Korea, City Developments Limited (CDL) will invest US$150 million ($231 million) to US$300 million to build a commercial site in Incheon, host city of the 2014 Asian Games.

CDL said in a statement that its South Korean joint venture partner DC Chemical Company and its affiliates own most of the 383-acre site.

The proposed mixed-commercial development will include a five-star hotel, office tower, serviced apartments and a shopping mall. Construction is scheduled to start in 2009 and end three years later.

Bloodbath In Asia

Source : TODAY, Friday, August 17, 2007

As markets tumble, region’s small investors feel the pain

EVEN before the Singapore stock market opened at 9am yesterday, many a trader had his finger on the “sell” button. And for the next hour or so, share prices went into a free fall.

The day that ensued was, as local remisier Albert Fong called it, “so wild”.

From Tokyo to Sydney, Hong Kong to Mumbai, panic seized bourses, prompting one of the worst sell-offs in years, as investors fled to safer havens such as government bonds.

Growing fears of a credit contagion infecting Asian economies dragged down the Straits Times Index (STI) before bargain-hunters tiptoed in to prop up prices.

At the closing bell, the index stood at 3,152 points, down 121 points, or 3.7 per cent.

Add to this the previous day’s 3.3-per cent plunge, and the STI has suffered its biggest twoday losses in six years — since September 2001.

More frightening for some, perhaps, is how all the STI’s gains since the start of the year are fast receding. At its peak this year, the index was up 22.7 per cent from January. As of yesterday, the gains had dropped to around 5.6 per cent and industry players are unsure if more bloodletting is in store.

“It’s a selling panic,” high-profile fund manager Mark Mobius, who oversees US$30 billion ($46 billion) at Templeton Asset Management in Singapore, told Bloomberg. “We’re seeing a lot of negative news with very few positives.”

More mortgage firms outside the United States, the epicentre of the credit crunch sparked by rising delinquencies in high-risk home loans, are also sounding alarm bells. In Australia, home loan group Rams sparked fresh jitters after it said it was unable to refinance US$5 billion of debt.

Ms Nicole Sze, an analyst at Bank Julius Baer & Co, which manages US$350 billion worldwide, added: “The sell-off is fuelled by fear and a concern that the sub-prime issue will snowball into something more significant.”

Echoing this sentiment, Mr Patrick Chang, who helps manage US$4.5 billion at CIMB Principal Asset Management in Kuala Lumpur, said: “Blood is hitting the streets, everyone seems to be panicking … we don’t know when it’s going to end. Liquidity is drying up.”

But amid the chaos, government officials worldwide were trying to assuage jittery nerves.

In response to media queries, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) yesterday issued a statement saying it had been “closely monitoring” financial developments.

“At this stage, domestic money market and foreign exchange markets are functioning in an orderly fashion and MAS has not needed to conduct any extraordinary operations in the markets. However, we stand ready to act if the situation warrants,” said an MAS spokesperson.

MAS and its counterparts across South-east Asia reportedly stepped in to defend their currencies yesterday, as investors continued dumping “risky” emerging-market assets.

Even the closely-guarded Chinese yuan ended the day at 7.5983 against US dollar, depreciating from Wednesday’s close of 7.5869.

At home, the man in the street is “getting more cautious”, said Mr Fong, who is also president of Singapore’s Remisier Society. “People are not sure how much further the market will slip,” he told TODAY.

According to broker CIMB, the worst is not over yet. “We expect to see a continued deteriorating of asset quality in the sub-prime market though the sub-prime woes should not have serious broader spill-over effects on banks or thrift institutions,” said CIMB.

Looking around the region, the brokerage also highlighted some bright spots: Asia’s pool of liquidity is abundant, bank exposure to sub-prime loans minimal and economies are more resilient to external shocks.

But this was of little comfort in Seoul. The Kospi was the region’s biggest decliner, falling 6.9 per cent — its steepest percentage drop in five years. This was made worse by the public holiday which closed the market on Wednesday, when other markets in Asia were already plunging.

Alarmed by the drop, South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun’s office urged investors “not to overreact”.

In Thailand, the SET fell 3 per cent, as Deputy Prime Minister and Industry Minister Kosit Panpiemras said “foreign investors are removing their money from this part of the world for liquidity”.

He warned that if the US economy slows because of its sub-prime loans “fiasco”, Asian exports would “catch a cold”.

New Hotel Site On Alexandra Road

Source : TODAY, 17 Aug 2007

URA releases the first of four sites on reserve list to meet increased demand

A New hotel development is being planned beside Ikea along Alexandra Road, as part of the Government’s efforts to meet greater demand for hotel rooms in Singapore in the coming years.

Yesterday, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) released the detailed sale conditions for a reserve site at the corner of Alexandra Road and Jalan Bukit Merah.

This 0.79ha site, with a maximum permissible gross floor area of 22,249 sq m, is the first of four new hotel sites to be released for application by December.

















The site sits just next to furniture mall Ikea and opposite the popular Queensway Shopping Centre (see map).
In a statement, the URA described it as sitting on a “prominent location” near two MRT stations and a short distance away from attractions like Mount Faber, VivoCity and Sentosa.

The statutory board is now calling for developers interested in buying the site to apply for it to be put up for tender. The other three hotel sites on the reserve list for the second half of 2007 are at Jalan Besar/ Sturdee Road, Race Course Road/Bukit Timah Road and Bernam Street/Tanjong Pagar Road.

In a bid to deal with the anticipated hotel room crunch, other options being considered by the Government include a novel idea to refurbish existing cruise ships to create hotels on water.

With Singapore gearing up to welcome a whopping 17 million tourists by 2015, “floating” hotels could be built by retrofitting existing cruise ships from a charter company, to be moored off either Labrador Park or Changi, according to a report published by The Business Times yesterday.

During the first half of this year, 4.9 million tourists came to Singapore, spending some $6.4 billion. That led to hotels hitting an average occupancy rate of 86 per cent, with average room rates moving past the $200-per-night mark for the first time.

Last month, the Singapore Tourism Board said it was working with the URA to monitor the supply of hotel rooms here.

Novena Condo 80% Sold (Soleil @ Sinaran), Belying Depression Fears

Source : TODAY, 17 Aug 2007

Despite fears of dampened demand caused by the Hungry Ghost Festival and the US sub-prime crisis, a condominium near Novena Square managed to sell off 80 per cent of its 417 units in just four days, ahead of its launch today.

Soleil @ Sinaran, the latest lifestyle residential condominium by Frasers Centrepoint Homes (FCH), sold an impressive 173 units at its preview yesterday, following a private viewing at the weekend which saw 156 units snapped up.

Located close to the Novena MRT station, the units — ranging from studios to loft apartments and penthouses — are priced at an average $1,500 per square foot.

Designed to suit urbanites, the condominium — which, upon completion, will be the biggest development in the area to date — features a flagship partnership with Aramsa Spas, which will provide residents with private spa treatments.

“Discerning homebuyers today no longer just purchase the conventional ‘four walls’ but look for the X-factor,” said Frasers Centrepoint Limited’s chief operating officer Cheang Kok Kheong.

Other features include entertainment and spa pavilions and a sports bar on the sky terrace.

FCH will be launching two more development projects — an as-yet unnamed 302-unit development in Kim Yan Road in October, and a joint-venture project with Far East Organisation at Bedok Reservoir later this year. — Daphne Chuah

Apollo Centre Put Up For Sale

Source : The Straits Times, 17 Aug 2007

APOLLO Centre in Chinatown is being put on the market, but tenants need not worry that the 14-year-old office building will be torn down.

Owner Apollo Enterprises yesterday appointed Knight Frank to sell the seven-storey building.

Knight Frank said it expects interest from institutional investors to be keen, but that the 99-year leasehold complex is unlikely to be redeveloped.

‘We have spoken to several private equity funds and expect a good level of interest due to the lack of good quality office space at the moment,’ it added.

While Knight Frank said it was unable to confirm an indicative price, property consultants expect Apollo Centre to fetch prices well above $200 million.

Mr Donald Han, managing director of Cushman & Wakefield, believes the building can fetch about $1,200 to $1,300 per sq ft (psf) of net lettable area.

This works out to about $220 million, assuming that the net lettable area is about 85 per cent of the building’s total gross floor area of 217,528 sq ft, he said.

He also noted that the last done transaction was at Chinatown Point, where almost a whole floor was recently sold for about $1,250 psf of net lettable area.

At this price level, Apollo Centre ’should be able to get a fairly good response from the market, and from local players looking for corporate offices’, said Mr Han.

Apollo Centre sits on a 54,560 sq ft plot with a 99-year lease that commenced in May 1983.

It is selling with tenancy, said Knight Frank, which added that the current occupancy rate is ‘very healthy’.

Asking rentals at Apollo Centre are believed to be about $7.50 psf per month.

En-bloc Residents Requested To Stay On Longer

Source : The Straits Times, 17 Aug 2007

WE REFER to the letter, ‘En bloc sale: Work starts even before all move out’ (ST, Aug 13), where Mr Chio Tan Seng queried why the developers of Balmoral View, which had been sold en bloc, were allowed to start building a showflat onsite even though seven units in the development are still occupied.

He asked if the developers are legally allowed to do this as residents have been allowed to stay till November. He was also concerned about the safety of the residents.

We understand that the developers took legal possession of the site in May. Some residents were allowed to stay longer at their request. This was privately agreed upon between the developers and the residents.

In July, the developers obtained Written Permission from URA to redevelop the site. Written Permission was given after URA had determined that the redevelopment plans complied with various planning requirements.

The developers need not obtain a further permit from either URA or BCA to build the showflat within the approved redevelopment site after they receive Written Permission. The developers and stakeholders of the project are directly responsible for safety at the worksite and they should take the necessary safety precautions to protect workers and the residents.

Han Yong Hoe
Director (Development Control)
Urban Redevelopment Authority

Ong Chan Leng
Director
(Special Functions Division)
Building and Construction Authority

CDL To Invest Up To $460m In Korean Project

Source : The Straits Times, 17 Aug 2007

It signs MOU to develop residential and commercial site in Incheon

CITY Developments (CDL) will be giving one of South Korea’s leading cities, Incheon, an image boost, with plans to invest up to US$300 million (S$459.2 million) in a major residential and commercial project.

The Singapore-listed property giant yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding with DC Chemical Company (DCC) to develop a large site in the city.

Under the deal, it will pump between US$150 million and US$300 million into the site, which is more than 600,000 sq m. By comparison, Suntec City Mall has only about 82,498 sq m of retail space.

Incheon, which will play host to the 2014 Asian Games, is a major seaport with a population of about 2.5 million, not far from the country’s capital of Seoul.

A large-scale commercial centre will be built on a site of 281,850 sq m, DCC said at a press conference held in Incheon yesterday.

The centre will consist of a 50-storey tower, incorporating a ‘top-class’ hotel, a service residence and an office building. These will be anchor facilities.

Department stores, brand outlets, multiplex cinemas and an e-sports gaming hall will flank both sides of the tower.

To the north of the integrated commercial centre, another large site of about 380,000 sq m of land is slated for residential development.

Renowned British and engineering firm Atkins - which was responsible for the Burj Al-Arab in Dubai, the world’s first seven-star hotel - has been roped in to be the conceptual designer for the project.

Development work is scheduled to begin in two years with the main commercial centre to be constructed first, followed by residential blocks in 2010.

The large-scale commercial centre, according to DCC’s chief executive, Mr Baik Woo Suk, will ’significantly increase’ economic activity in the area and will create many jobs, in a boost to Incheon’s economy.

‘When Incheon City hosts the Asian Games in 2014, this commercial centre will be the very first image visitors will see when crossing over on Incheon Bridge into Incheon City,’ he said.

CDL’s group general manager, Mr Chia Ngiang Hong, said the firm is always on the lookout for ‘new strategic growth opportunities’, and it believes this investment is timely, given the ‘exciting developments’ in South Korea.

‘With the synergistic collaboration of an established company such as DCC, coupled with our many decades of experience in the real estate and hotel industry, we are very positive about the prospects of this project,’ he added.

This is not CDL’s first investment in South Korea’s burgeoning economy.

Subsidiary Millennium and Copthorne Hotels owns and operates Millennium Seoul Hilton hotel, Hong Leong Group spokesman Gerry de Silva told The Straits Times. ‘Of course we’re looking for viable investments in the region, and we’ve been looking at Korea for several years now. We think Korea is a market that can offer more value.’

Shares of CDL, which is part of the Hong Leong Group, closed 50 cents lower at $13.60 yesterday. The announcement came after the market had closed.

Listed on the Korean Stock Exchange, DCC is among the world’s top producers of carbon black, soda ash and pitch.

CapitaLand Buys Two Malaysian Malls For $527m

Source : The Straits Times, 17 Aug 2007

CAPITALAND has bought two Malaysian shopping centres for around $527.1 million, it announced yesterday.

The property giant, working through two of its subsidiaries, paid $336.8 million for Gurney Plaza in Penang and about $190.3 million for Selangor’s Mines Shopping Fair.

The malls will form the first two seed assets for the proposed CapitaLand-sponsored Malaysian retail real estate investment trust (Reit), CapitaLand said.

Gurney Plaza is a seven-storey mall strategically located on Penang’s Gurney Drive promenade. The mall is about five minutes’ drive from the city centre of Georgetown.

It has more than 700,000 sq ft in net lettable area and more than 300 specialty stores.

Mines Shopping Fair is a prime retail mall that is part of the Mines Resort City in Selangor. Opened in 1997, it has a unique Venetian-styled canal flowing through the mall.

The mall is located in the growth corridor in the south of Kuala Lumpur, and measures around 650,000 sq ft in net lettable area.

CapitaLand Retail’s chief executive, Mr Pua Seck Guan, said Mines Shopping Fair is a ‘quality asset’ that ‘enjoys a good flow of human traffic’ while Gurney Plaza ‘enjoys close to 100 per cent occupancy’.

‘The acquisitions provide CapitaLand with a unique opportunity to extend our retail real estate platform to Malaysia which, in addition to Singapore, China, India and Japan, will further strengthen our position as the leading retail property company in Asia,’ he said.

CapitaLand Group president and chief executive Liew Mun Leong said in a statement that the two acquisitions will help the company increase its Reit portfolio in Singapore and overseas.

‘In line with our current Reit strategy, we have identified other quality Malaysian retail assets that will augment Gurney Plaza and Mines Shopping Fair, and form the pipeline of assets for our pure-play Malaysian retail Reit, which could possibly be listed within a year,’ he added.

CapitaLand has sponsored five Reits. Four are listed on the Singapore Exchange and one on Bursa Malaysia.

CapitaLand Plans Launch Of New Malaysian Reit

Source : The Business Times, 17 Aug 2007

It spends $336.8m to buy Gurney Plaza, $190.3m on Mines Shopping Fair

CAPITALAND is aiming to launch a new Malaysian retail real estate investment trust (Reit) within a year and has just spent $527.1 million on the plan.

Yesterday, it announced that it had entered into sale and purchase agreements to acquire two shopping malls in Malaysia. The larger of the two is Gurney Plaza in Penang, which will be acquired for $336.8 million. Mines Shopping Fair in Selangor will cost $190.3 million.

In a statement, CapitaLand said the two assets would ‘form seed assets for CapitaLand’s proposed Malaysian retail Reit’. CapitaLand CEO and president Liew Mun Leong added that the company was ‘on track’ to build up its assets under management through increasing the Reit’s portfolio in Singapore and abroad.

Mr Liew said: ‘In line with our current Reits strategy, we have identified other quality Malaysian retail assets that will augment Gurney Plaza and Mines Shopping Fair and form the pipeline of assets for our pure-play Malaysian retail Reit, which could possibly be listed within a year.’

CapitaLand did not say what the target size of the Reit would be. Its other retail Reit, CapitaMall Trust, which was listed in 2002, now has a portfolio worth almost $6 billion.

CapitaLand said it has not yet decided to list the new trust. CapitaLand has sponsored five Reits, all but one of which are listed on the Singapore Exchange. Quill Capita Trust, which was launched in January, is listed on Bursa Malaysia.

Of the latest properties, CapitaLand Retail CEO Pua Seck Guan said: ‘The acquisitions provide CapitaLand with an unique opportunity to extend our retail real estate platform to Malaysia, which in addition to Singapore, China, India and Japan, will further strengthen our position as the leading retail property company in Asia.’

He said the 700,000 sq ft Gurney Plaza is close to 100 per cent occupied. CapitaLand also signed a put and call option to acquire Gurney Plaza’s four storey extension which is under construction. It will provide an additional 130,000 sq ft of net lettable area when completed around the end of next year.

Mr Pua said that there were ’substantial asset enhancement and tenancy remixing opportunities’ at the 650,000 sq ft Mines Shopping Fair.