Sunday, September 9, 2007

Dunsfold 18 @ Dunsfold Drive

An exquisite development located in the Exclusive and tranquil setting of the Braddell Height Estate.

Total Units : 18 individual strata titled Bungalows (of which seven are unsold)with its own individual private pool, lush landscaping, numerous water features, coupled with an efficient layout and modern fixtures and fittings-offers a luxurious lifestyle for a selective few only.

Location :
With the two main expressways ( PIE and CTE ) only minutes away, not to mention the future MRT station ( Lorong Chuan Station – Circle Line ), there is also a number of renown educational institutions eg. The Australian International School, St.Gabriel’s Primary School, Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Pri/Sec Schools etc, just to mention a few, as well as the Bishan Junction 8 Shopping Centre- make Dunsfold 18 an ideal dream home that should not be missed!

Address : 43-43H & 45-45H, Dunsfold Drive

Map Source :

Tenure : Freehold
Estimated TOP : 1 st July 2011
Site Area : 3,503.8 sqm / 37,715 sqft
Size : Range from 4,015 sqft to 4,618 sqft

Floor Finishes :
Living/Dining Room – Imported Marble tiles with marble skirting
Bedrooms – Timber strip Flooring
Bathrooms – Marble tiles

Price : $780 psf of built-up area, or $3 million onwards.

Features : Each bungalow is two storeys high and comes with five bedrooms, an attic, a basement, two basement carpark lots and a private pool.

Developer : Fortune Land Pte Ltd

Facilities :
-Individual Private Pool
-Children’s Playground
-Basement Car Park

Westmont @ West Coast Road

Total Units : 11 exclusive units (Nine terrace houses and two semi-detached houses )with contemporary interiors that bring style and ambience to modern day living.

Tenure : Freehold.

Size: The terraces range in size from 2,820 sq ft to 3,498 sq ft, while the semi-detached houses range from 2,949 sq ft to 3,079 sq ft.

Developer: Macly

Estimated Price : +/1 $700/psf (Open for Sale on 11 Sept 2007)

District : 05

Location : Junction of West Coast Road, Clementi Road & Pasir Panjang Road

Facilities : include a pool, private jacuzzi and barbecue areas. The units are three storeys high and come with four bedrooms, an attic and a basement.

How Can I Reduce Payments To Ex-Wife?

Source : The Sunday Times, September 9, 2007

Q. I SETTLED my divorce this year. In the papers, we agreed on my monthly maintenance payments to my former wife and two children, totalling about $2,200. This is about 30 per cent of my monthly salary.

On top of this, I am also paying for expenses such as insurance, school fees and other miscellaneous items for my children.

After taking into account my car loan, expenses for my parents, daily expenditure and so on, I am left financially tight every month.

I would like to buy a new home and start a family and have children with my girlfriend. We also have plans to invest in properties other than our home. I would like to seek your professional advice on the following:

If I were to re-marry and start a new family, based on the above information, would I be able to reduce the monthly maintenance?

What will the judgment be based on? Will my personal income or my household income - that is, including my new wife’s income - be taken into consideration?

What are the procedures I have to take? Will my investments in more than one property affect the reduction of the maintenance?

My former wife requested an amount to be paid to her monthly out of the $2,200 and I understand that I will have to pay this until she remarries.

However, if she never remarries, is there any way I can stop paying her since she is working and earns a fairly good income?

A. IF YOU are thinking of reducing the monthly maintenance for your children and former wife, you will have to apply to the court to vary the existing maintenance order. This is usually done with the help of lawyers.

The court will look at the circumstances of the case to decide if there has been a material change since the making of the existing maintenance order to warrant a review of the monthly maintenance amount.

The court applies different considerations in the variation of the monthly maintenance for the children as compared to the monthly maintenance for your former wife.

Where the monthly maintenance for the children is concerned, the interest and welfare of the children are paramount. The court is loath to reduce the monthly maintenance for the children unless the material change in circumstances involves a reduction of earnings, such as losing one’s job.

If you are remarrying and starting a new family (a material change), the court is more likely to reduce the maintenance amount payable to your former wife. This is especially the case where she is working and earning a fairly good income.

If your wife never remarries and she is working, the court may consider reducing the maintenance amount payable to her to a nominal sum.

Ang Kim Lan Director Goodwins Law Corporation

Advice provided in this column is not meant as a substitute for comprehensive professional advice.

What’s Best Way To Add Name To Property?

Source : The Sunday Times, September 9, 2007

Q. MY PARENTS are owners of an existing private property as joint tenants. They wish to pass on the property to me ultimately when they die.

The property is worth about $1 million and still has a small outstanding bank loan.

What are the full costs, taxes and so on involved to add my name as a joint tenant? And what would the costs be like if my name is added as a tenant-in-common instead?

After adding my name as either joint tenant or tenant-in-common, can I use my Central Provident Fund (CPF) money to pay off the outstanding bank loan in either case?

Alternatively, if my parents choose to write a will after one of them dies, what are the costs to be considered?

And when the time comes to exercise the will, what costs and taxes are there to exercise the will and to transfer the property to my name. Are there stamp duties to be paid?

Other than what has already been mentioned, are there other smarter or more cost-effective ways to transfer the property to me?

A. IN ORDER to add your name as a joint tenant, you are likely to have to pay stamp duty on the transfer of your notional share of the property.

The Commissioner of Stamp Duties will adjudicate the amount of stamp duty payable on the transfer. Your notional share is taken at one-third of the value of the property since there will be three joint tenants when your name is added.

On the basis of your computation of $1 million as the value of the property, your notional one-third share is $330,000 and the stamp duty payable is $4,500.

There is also your lawyer’s legal fees to effect the transfer which you will have to consider.

Joint tenancy means that you own the whole of the property jointly with your parents and the right of survivorship exists. This means whoever lives longest retains the property.

The joint tenant who has predeceased the remaining joint tenants cannot will his notional share to anyone because of this right of survivorship.

You are more likely to outlive your parents, in which case you are likely to be the sole surviving joint tenant with the passage of time.

If your name is added as a tenant-in-common, your parents may specify the percentage of the property to be allocated to you, for example, 1 per cent or 25 per cent or whatever percentage your parents decide.

Based on your share, you will have to pay stamp duty assessed on your share of the value of the property and your lawyer’s legal fees for the transfer.

The difference between transferring as tenants-in-common and joint tenants is that the share given to you by your parents is specific when transferred as a tenant-in-common. The larger your share, the higher the stamp duty payable.

Another difference is that your parents may make a will to give away their share in the property under tenant-in-common but not if the property is held as joint tenants.

However, as you have said that your parents intend for the property to be ultimately yours after they die, transferring the property to you as a tenant-in-common will not fulfil their goal.

This is because you own only the share that they transfer to you, and not their remainder which is still in their name. In order to obtain their share, they must specifically will their share to you in a will.

Once your name is added as joint tenant or tenant-in-common, you may start to use CPF to pay the outstanding loan.

If your parents write a will to will the entire property to you after their death, it will essentially ensure their wish that the property be passed to you when they are no longer around.

However, this means that you cannot use your CPF to pay for the property.

There are legal costs for preparing the will and for subsequently administering the estate of your parents when they die.

There is estate duty to be paid on your parents estate although dwelling houses are exempt up to $9 million and personal property up to $600,000 (for example, cash in hand, shares, and so on).

Therefore, if your parents’ private property does not exceed $9 million, it is unlikely to be taxed on an estate duty basis. There is nominal stamp duty of $10 payable on the transfer pursuant to the administration of probate.

It would seem that the best way for the property to be transferred to you pursuant to your parents’ wishes would be by way of a will rather than by effecting a transfer to you by way of gift or sale.

Lim Choi Ming Partner KhattarWong

Advice provided in this column is not meant as a substitute for comprehensive professional advice.

Transfer of ownership

Joint tenancy: This means you own the whole of the property jointly with your parents and the right of survivorship exists. On the basis of $1 million as the value of the property, your notional one-third share is $330,000 and the stamp duty payable is $4,500.

Tenant-in-common: If your name is added in this manner, your parents may specify the percentage of the property to be allocated to you. Based on your share, you will have to pay stamp duty assessed on your share of the value of the property and your lawyer's legal fees.

Writing a will: If your parents write a will to will the entire property to you after their death, it will ensure their wish that the property be passed to you when they are no longer around.

However, this means you cannot use your CPF to pay for the property's outstanding loans. There are legal costs to preparing the will and administering your parents' estate.

Time To Raise The $8,000 Income Ceiling For HDB Flat Buyers?

Source : The Sunday Times, September 9, 2007

THE economy is booming and property prices are heading north. Although the housing market moves at a frenetic pace these days, one thing has stayed the same for more than 12 years now - the $8,000 ceiling on monthly household income for those buying new Housing Board flats.

Of late, some people have wondered if home prices are getting out of reach. The Government appeared to try to tackle those concerns last month by expanding the pool of low-income households which qualify for extra housing aid.

Households earning up to $4,000 a month, instead of up to $3,000 previously, are now eligible for grants of as much as $30,000 to buy their first home. With this change, more people now qualify for the aid, and households already qualifying will now get an even bigger grant.

But what about the $8,000 income ceiling? Will it be raised too? The current cap has not changed since it was last raised from $7,000 in December 1994. For most of 1992, it stood at $6,000.

Yet many things have changed since 1994.

Data from the General Household Survey, which is conducted once every 10 years, shows that the proportion of resident households earning $8,000 and above every month has nearly doubled from 10.85 per cent in 1995 to 19.9 per cent in 2005.

This means that the proportion of households qualifying to buy new flats shrank by roughly 9 percentage points.

More recent data from the Department of Statistics shows that the proportion of employed households earning $8,000 or more stood at 23.4 per cent last year.

This means that the proportion of households not qualifying for new public housing is even bigger when we factor out the number of households made up of unemployed people, who probably would not be in a position to buy homes.

And in real terms, taking into account inflation, $8,000 in 1994 had the same spending power as $9,110 in July.

Meanwhile, the price index of HDB resale flats grew 36 per cent from 1995 to June this year.

New HDB flats are the cheapest homes in Singapore, a refuge for home seekers feeling the heat from the buoyant private and HDB resale market.

So the real question for policymakers is this: Have market conditions changed sufficiently since 1994 that households earning somewhat more than $8,000 now need the option of buying new HDB flats?

One can tell what a difference that option makes by comparing the prices of flats within one area. A batch of new four-room flats in Sengkang were offered at $145,000 to $200,000 in May. Resale four-room flats in the same area, for the period from April to June, changed hands at a median price of $245,000, notably higher.

In the more volatile private market, prices of 99-year leasehold condominiums - a typical choice for many home buyers who could otherwise have picked HDB flats - grew 11 per cent between the third quarter of 1999 and the second quarter of this year. Given the massive slump that followed the 1997 Asian financial crisis, there’s a chance they could be cheaper now than they were in 1994.

But families with only a little more than $8,000 in monthly income may not be in a strong position to buy a home for $600,000.

New HDB flats, by comparison, are a ’safer’ choice. Although their prices generally follow market trends, it is understood that the changes are moderated by the Government in order to keep public housing affordable.

The Singaporeans caught between public and private housing are the proverbial ’sandwich class’ - not well off enough to cruise into private housing but not poor enough to be entitled to much government aid.

Is housing becoming less affordable for them? Are they left with the option of spending an increasing - or perhaps disproportionate - part of their income on housing?

If so, is it time to adjust the $8,000 income limit to put them back under the HDB umbrella?

After all, a household earning above $8,000 a month is not just barred from new HDB flats, but also disqualified from subsidised housing loans and housing grants of up to $40,000 to buy resale flats. (Those earning not more than $4,000 a month are entitled to additional grants, as explained above.)

The HDB does ‘exercise flexibility on a case-by-case basis’ for home buyers whose household incomes marginally breach the limit.

But rather than bending the rules occasionally, perhaps it should be reviewing the limit instead.

For if encouraging home ownership is a key strategy to root Singaporeans to Singapore, then shouldn’t the Government be concerned about the increasing proportion of Singaporeans possibly finding homes less affordable?

Public housing here plays a different role from that in other countries, where it is often merely a roof for the poor. In Singapore, more than 80 per cent of the population live in HDB flats. These properties are seen not just as a store of value but also a source of retirement income.

To be fair, the HDB has to perform a delicate balancing act. It cannot lift the income ceiling by too much lest demand for resale flats collapse. This would depress the value of what, for many people, is their single biggest asset.

But perhaps the balance has now swung too far against the middle-income group.

It could have been something on the minds of policymakers when they recently decided to raise the income limit of families receiving aid for their children attending independent schools. From next year, the ceiling will be set at $7,200 monthly, almost double the current cap.

The HDB income ceiling question rings even louder these days as the Government looks at ways of getting its rapidly ageing population to save enough for retirement.

An obvious way of doing so is simply by not overspending on housing in the first place. And that can best be done when someone actually has the choice of buying the cheapest home available.

Current And Upcoming Cluster Housing Projects

Source : The Sunday Times, 9 Sept 2007

Bungalows in Hua Guan Avenue
What: Six freehold bungalows, of which one has been sold.

Size: Units range from 4,200 sq ft to 4,500 sq ft.

Price: About $1,280 per sq ft (psf) of built-up area, or $5.4 million onwards.

Features: Each bungalow comes with individual swimming pools and two basement carpark lots.

Developer: A boutique developer/contractor

Dunsfold 18 in Dunsfold Drive
What:18 freehold bungalows, of which seven are unsold.

Size: Units range from 4,155 sq ft to 4,499 sq ft.

Price: $780 psf of built-up area, or $3 million onwards.

Features: Each bungalow is two storeys high and comes with five bedrooms, an attic, a basement, two basement carpark lots and a private pool.

Developer: Fortune Land

Siglap 33 at Siglap Hill

What: Six freehold cluster bungalows.

Size: Units range from 3,498 sq ft to 4,284 sq ft.

Launch/Price: Launch date and pricing still unknown.

Westmont in West Coast Road

What: Nine terrace houses and two semi-detached houses, all freehold.

Size: The terraces range in size from 2,820 sq ft to 3,498 sq ft, while the semi-detached houses range from 2,949 sq ft to 3,079 sq ft.

Features: Facilities include a pool, private jacuzzi and barbecue areas. The units are three storeys high and come with four bedrooms, an attic and a basement.

Developer: Macly

Dalla Vale in Springleaf Avenue

What: 60 units of semi-detached houses. Thirty-six units were released in the first two phases, half of which have been sold. Phase 3 will be released when 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the first two phases have been sold.

Size: Units range from 3,218 to 3,261 sq ft.

Price: Phase 1 houses are priced at $2.1 million, while houses released in phase 2 are priced between $2.2 million and $2.3 million, depending on the direction the unit faces.

Features: Each unit has five bedrooms and comes with two basement carparks. Other facilities include a jacuzzi, a clubhouse, swimming pools and a gym.

Developer: Far East Organization

Lornie 18 at 14 Lornie Road
What: 18 freehold bungalows

: Units range from 4,392 sq ft to 4,930 sq ft.

Price: Priced between $5 million and $5.5 million. As at July 31, three had been sold of which two were sold in July for $1,150 psf.

Features: Facilities include 36 private basement carparks, a children’s pool and swimming pool and barbecue areas.

Expected temporary occupation permit (TOP) Date: Dec 31, 2009

Developer: Clydesbuilt Group

Hillcrest Villas in Hillcrest Road/ Dunearn Road
What:168 strata terrace houses, 99-year leasehold.

Size: Each unit is about 3,100 sq ft.

Price: Has not been determined, but the houses are expected to be released for sale in a few weeks’ time.

Features: The two-storey houses come with five bedrooms, an attic, a basement and private carpark lots.

Communal Facilities: Swimming pools, a clubhouse, a gym, and a lounge.

Expected TOP Date: June 30, 2011

Developer: MCL Land

Illoura in Old Holland Road, behind Tessarina

What: 28 freehold semi-detached houses.

Size: Units are about 4,000 sq ft.

Price: Prices believed to be upwards of $4.5 million each. Six were sold in July for $970 to $1,175 psf of built-up area.

Developer: Brisbane Properties

Kings’ 8 in Kings Road
What: Eight freehold detached houses.

Size: Units range from 4,898 sq ft to 5,414 sq ft.

Price: Starts at $5.25 million.

Features: Each two-storey house comes with an attic, two private basement carparks and its own private pool.

Strata Landed Homes Look Set To Be Big Trend

Source : The Sunday Times, 9 Sept 2007

AUGUST and September are typically slow months for new property launches, due to the superstition surrounding the Hungry Ghost month.

But developers are not sitting idly by this year. Several launches are in the works for the last months of the year, and one of the big emerging trends appears to be strata-titled landed homes, or cluster housing projects.

Property firm CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), for one, identifies at least 21 such projects in the pipeline.

For the uninitiated, cluster homes look exactly like conventional landed homes. They are usually at least two storeys high and come in a variety of sizes, ranging from terrace houses to bungalows.

The main difference is that cluster homes come with strata titles, as do condominiums, rather than land titles.

In a cluster project, the land is shared by all the owners, explained Mr Li Hiaw Ho, an executive director of CBRE Research.

This has two main implications. First, cluster projects can be sold en bloc as long as the minimum required owner consensus is met. This means an 80 per cent agreement for projects more than 10 years old and 90 per cent for younger estates.

Second, owners of strata houses do not have the flexibility of tearing down and rebuilding their properties. Owners of conventional landed homes, on the other hand, can make additions and alterations that affect the external appearance of the homes.

Generally, cluster housing projects tend to be more standardised in appearance than the usual landed houses.

Each unit is typically two to three storeys high, and most come with four to six bedrooms, attics or roof terraces, and basements, said Mr Li.

Parking spaces are also a plus in cluster projects, which usually include one or two basement carpark lots for each house.

The built-up area for each house ranges from about 2,500 sq ft for a terrace house to 3,500 to 4,000 sq ft for a detached house, added Mr Li.

The larger bungalows can go up to almost 6,000 sq ft, with roof terraces usually accounting for another 500 sq ft.

Cluster housing is not a new concept in Singapore, having first made an appearance in 1993. But these projects became more mainstream only from 2000 onwards, and have taken off in a big way just recently.

‘More customers are accepting the product now, so developers are also encouraged to build more of these houses,’ said Mr Ku Swee Yong, the director of marketing and business development at Savills Singapore.

He noted that Far East Organization’s Greenwood series of landed homes, one of the more popular landed housing projects in recent years, is planning to release its next phase in a cluster housing style.

Anecdotal evidence from property agents also seems to indicate that foreigners find it easier to get approval to buy strata landed homes than to buy conventional landed homes.

‘Cluster homes are strata-titled, so in such a development, there would be a good balance of voting share rights between foreigners and Singaporeans,’ said one agent. ‘Also, generally, the smaller the property, the easier it is to get approval if you are a foreigner.’

For the individual home buyer, there are several advantages to strata homes that conventional landed housing do not offer.

Among the greatest draws of cluster houses are the communal facilities and security features. Facilities often include at least one swimming pool, jacuzzis, a gym, a clubhouse and barbecue areas.

But these perks come at a cost: Strata home owners have to pay a monthly maintenance fee, much like condominium owners, to maintain these facilities.

Previous estimates by consultancy Colliers International have put these fees at $250 to more than $400 a month, depending on the size of the estate and the facilities available.

Apart from the maintenance cost, cluster homes and landed homes in the same location are usually similarly priced, said CBRE’s Mr Li. ‘The facilities provided in a cluster project will be a trade-off against the loss of the private enjoyment of land.’

For a home buyer who is trying to decide between strata and conventional landed homes, ‘it will ultimately boil down to a question of lifestyle’, said Mr Li.

While some home owners might prefer a landed home with large common areas and some facilities within the compound, others might want to have the land title to their landed property, he added.

Want Free Legal Advice? Get In Line

Source : The Straits Times, Sep 9, 2007

Over 20 people have already signed up for Law Society's first two clinics this week By Tan Dawn Wei

MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC WAITED for legal advice at the Mountbatten Community Club last Thursday. Lawyer Anuradha Sharma (far left, behind the screen) of Eng Leong and Partners was one of the professionals who helped them out with their queries. -- ST PHOTOS: WANG HUI FEN

EVEN before the Law Society's free community legal clinic opens its doors, a queue has formed.

Since registration started last weekend, more than 20 people have signed up for free advice from volunteer lawyers on issues ranging from divorce and employment disputes to problems with time-share companies.

The first clinic will be held tomorrow evening at the North West Community Development Council (CDC) and the second, at the South East CDC on Tuesday night.

MS YANG BISUEN, 57, has provided free legal consultation for 22 years.

Given the demand for legal aid, the law fraternity has also stepped up its involvement: 17 law firms so far are committed to running the clinic - which will be held four times a week - on a rotational basis.

Most of the big firms - such as Drew & Napier, KhattarWong and Harry Elias Partnership - are on board. A few small and mid-size outfits have also volunteered their time, such as the five-person Clifford Law Corporation.

The clinic is a pilot project of the Law Society's new Pro Bono Services office, set up on Aug 1 to coordinate all its pro bono efforts.

It has the support of the two CDCs, the Ministry of Law and the Singapore Academy of Law.

Some of the society's existing programmes come under this new office. These include the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme, which provides legal help to those charged in court with a criminal offence but cannot afford a lawyer; and Project Law Help, which assists charities and voluntary welfare groups.

Before this, pro bono legal work was undertaken largely by individual lawyers or law firms.

The man running this new office is 38-year-old Mr Lim Tanguy, who heads a staff of seven at its new 900 sq ft premises in the Subordinate Courts building.

Mr Lim, who has been doing pro bono work for the migrant worker welfare group Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics, fought his last court case in July. He helped to acquit Miss Sri Uli Darti, an Indonesian maid accused of stealing from her employer.

'My most fulfilling moments in my career were when I was doing pro bono work,' said the father of two who took a pay cut - he declined to say how much - with his new job.

His top three targets as new director: inculcating a pro bono culture in the profession, finding roles in pro bono work for all lawyers across specialities and seniority, and making sure those who need help have access to justice.

He already has a few ideas brewing, such as organising legal clinics at youth-oriented malls targeted at the younger set and making legal help accessible to the elderly with mobile clinics.

If the community legal clinic takes off, it could be rolled out at the other three CDCs.

Law firm Rajah & Tann already has 50 volunteers who signed up for the clinic out of its pool of more than 200 lawyers.

Partner Andrew Ong calls the better-than-expected response a 'happy problem', since the firm is expected to man the clinic only once a month, with two lawyers at a time.

It is looking for other legal clinics to offer its services to.

The firm has been running refresher courses for its lawyers who may not specialise in the legal issues that usually crop up at such clinics, such as matrimonial disputes, bankruptcy and minor criminal offences.

Partners of the firm will also be on hand to mentor younger volunteer lawyers at the clinics.

Law undergraduates from the National University of Singapore and the Singapore Management University will join the act, with students serving as translators.

'This helps to inculcate a heart for pro bono work,' said Mr Lim.

Those seeking free legal advice at the clinics have to be interviewed first, either at the Pro Bono Services office or at a Family Service Centre. This is to determine if an applicant is eligible for the service. At the clinic, each person has 20 minutes with a volunteer lawyer.

Singaporeans and permanent residents who have no current legal representation are welcome. There is no income ceiling but advice is dispensed only for personal matters.

So don't show up if all you want is a second opinion or someone to look through your business contract.

Hire a lawyer.

Wall St Tumbles After Jobs Data

Source : The Straits Times, Sep 8, 2007

NEW YORK - US stocks tumbled on Friday, driving major indexes down nearly 2 per cent, as data showing the first monthly drop in payrolls in four years stoked fears on Wall Street that the economy was headed into recession.

Stocks across the board dropped sharply after the government said employers cut a net 4,000 jobs in Aug, when turmoil in the subprime mortgage market led to a tightening of corporate credit and heightened concerns about the wider economic impact.

The report cemented expectations the Federal Reserve would cut interest rates when policymakers meet on Sept 18.

Anxiety about next week's anniversary of the Sept 11 attacks further soured the mood on Wall Street.

'Going into the weekend and the Sept 11 anniversary looming, I think buyers are a little bit reluctant,' said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer of Solaris Asset Management in Bedford Hills, New York.

But the main focus was on the economy as shares of industrial companies, which often react to economic cycles, fell sharply. Caterpillar Inc, was down 3.1 per cent at US$73.44 (S$111.9), while Honeywell International, was down 3.4 per cent at US$54.71.

Computer-related companies, which had been outperforming the broader market, also were among the top drags. Chip maker Intel fell 2.6 per cent to US$25.47.

The jobs data 'was so negative and bad, now the recession fear is jumping back into the market', said Scott Wren, senior equity strategist at A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc., in St. Louis.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 249.97 points, or 1.87 per cent, at 13,113.38. The Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500 Index was down 25 points, or 1.69 per cent, at 1,453.55. The Nasdaq Composite Index closed 48.62 points lower, or 1.86 per cent, at 2,565.70.

The Dow was down 1.8 per cent for the week, while the S&P 500 shed 1.4 per cent and the Nasdaq fell 1.2 per cent. For the S&P, it was the worst week since the beginning of Aug, while the Dow had its worst week since the week ended July 29.

Drop in payrolls
The drop in payrolls came as a surprise since economists' consensus forecast was for creation of 110,000 jobs. Payroll growth in July and June was also revised sharply lower.

Interest-rate futures reflecting expectations for a half-percentage-point cut in US benchmark rates, followed by further cuts, jumped aggressively following the data.

US staffing companies' shares dropped, with a gauge of staffing and human resources stocks, the Standard & Poor's HR Employment Services index down 2.7 per cent.

Shares dependent on discretionary spending also fell as speculation mounted that consumers will tighten their grip on their wallets in the face of a weakening housing and employment climate.

Trading volume was below average on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), as it has been all week. About 1.46 billion shares changed hands compared with last year's estimated daily average of 1.84 billion. On Nasdaq, about 1.9 billion shares traded, below last year's daily average of 2.02 billion.

Declining stocks were outnumbering rising ones by a ratio of about 13 to 4 on the NYSE and by 4 to 1 on Nasdaq. -- REUTERS

Shock Payrolls Decline Sends Wall Street Tumbling

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 08 September 2007

New York Stock Exchange (Picture)

NEW YORK : Wall Street shares took a dive Friday as news of a surprise drop in US payrolls, the first in four years, heightened fears that the world's biggest economy is flagging.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 249.97 points (1.87 percent) to close at 13,113.38 and the Nasdaq slid 48.62 points (1.86 percent) to 2,565.70.

The broad-market Standard Poor's 500 index slumped 25.00 points (1.69 percent) to 1,453.55.

Ahead of the opening, the Labor Department reported nonfarm payrolls fell by 4,000 in August. That was the first drop in employment in four years and far below Wall Street expectations of a gain of 110,000 jobs.

The report, one of the best indicators of economic momentum, underlined fears that the real estate crisis and a credit squeeze are taking a toll on the US economy.

The "surprisingly weak jobs report raised fears the economy is heading for a recession," said Al Goldman, chief market strategist at AG Edwards.

Investors abruptly shifted expectations for the economic outlook and took a view that the Federal Reserve will move swiftly to cut rates to stimulate growth.

"The jobs data, which included a downward revision of 81,000 jobs over the past couple of months, is simply horrific and fans the most pessimistic fears," said Marc Chandler at Brown Brothers Harriman.

"The housing market woes will undermine the US consumer, push the US economy into recession and drag down growth in much of the rest of the world."

While the bond market rallied and pushed key rates lower, even the prospect of a Fed rate cut failed to allay investor fears.

"While lower rates are helpful for equity valuations, at this point, the stock market is more worried about the threat to earnings if the economy decelerates too sharply," said Avery Shenfeld, economist at CIBC World Markets.

"It is clear from this report and from the other reports on the labor markets that the employment situation in the United States is worsening and the pace is accelerating," added David Kotok at Cumberland Advisors.

"There is no sufficient inflation risk in the economy to keep the Fed from cutting. There is a rising recession risk."

A rush into safe-haven bonds sent yields sharply lower. The 10-year Treasury bond yield fell to 4.368 percent from 4.500 percent Thursday and the 30-year bond yielded 4.693 percent, from 4.790 percent. The lower yield reflects higher bond prices.

Financial stocks were pressured by the economic fears and concerns about tighter credit. Bear Stearns slid 2.14 percent to 105.37 dollars after a brokerage downgrade, while Lehman Brothers fell 1.63 percent to 52.95.

Apple dropped 2.4 percent to 131.77 as the tech giant remained in the spotlight after cutting the price by 200 dollars of its new iPhone device, enraging customers who had paid full price.

Hovnanian Enterprises slid 7.1 percent to 10.56, after the home builder reported it swung to a loss on higher contract cancellations.

Among the 30 blue-chip Dow shares, only Johnson Johnson was higher, gaining 0.03 percent to 61.68 dollars. - AFP /ls

Opera Estate, East View Garden chosen for pte estate upgrading

Source : Channel NewsAsia, 08 September 2007

SINGAPORE: Opera Estate in Siglap and East View Garden in Simei have been selected for the Private Estate Upgrading Programme.

This was announced as hundreds turned up for the East Coast Town Day held near the Tanah Merah MRT station, organised to celebrate the progress made by the Town Renewal Programme.

As part of the programme, residents will be consulted on what improvements they want for their neighbourhood.

Jessica Tan, MP for East Coast GRC and Chairman of East Coast Town Council, said: "A lot of residents have been talking to us about covered drains and levelling the road, street lights, better facilities in terms of parks."

Ms Tan added there are plans to make commuting easier for Bedok residents by integrating the transport network and the new commercial and residential developments.

While the talk is all about upgrading, the green message is also something the town council is taking seriously as it can yield huge savings.

Ms Tan said: "We've used energy saving devices. We've changed to the fluorescent tubes and over the last two years we've saved over $400,000. We expect to continue these efforts to save another $200,000 a year."

A town-wide recycling exercise was done last week and a whopping 5,500 kilogrammes of recyclables were collected, a boost for ongoing green efforts here.

The town council will also carry out a tree planting programme over the next three years, with the help from the National Parks Board. - CNA/ir