Friday, October 10, 2008

Sale Of 683 HDB Flats

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 10, 2008

THE Housing Board on Friday put up some 683 flats in 21 towns under its half-yearly sale scheme.

These include 491 four-room flats, which make the bulk of this launch. The bigger flats are mainly five-room flats and Executive flats, of which 156 units are available.

The remaining 33 units are three-room premium flats.

Applicants with a gross monthly household income of up to $8,000 are eligible to buy these units located in estates such as Sengkang, Punggol, Jurong West, Tampines, Bedok, and Bukit Merah.

A computer ballot will be conducted to determine the queue positions of all submitted applications after Friday.

Hotel Site Draws Just One Bidder

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 10, 2008

A TENDER for a hotel site on Kallang Road has attracted just one bidder, who has lodged the minimum price allowed under the process.

Tenders typically attract prices above the minimum bid but on this occasion Citywide Land's $51 million offer was right at the limit for the plot next to Lavender MRT station.

'It's a reflection of the highly uncertain market environment,' said Knight Frank's director of research and consultancy, Mr Nicholas Mak. 'And some developers may find it challenging to get funding for land purchases.'

The 99-year leasehold site is on the reserve list and was launched after an unnamed firm applied on Aug 1 for it to be put up for sale.

In the application, it had to commit to bid at a minimum price acceptable to the State, which was $51 million.

The bid from Citywide Land was right on the money at $249.6 per square foot per plot ratio for the 4,219 sq m site.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority said it will decide on the awarding of the tender after evaluating the bid.

When the application was made in August, Mr Mak had expected bids of between $400 to $450 psf, although he added that poor market sentiment or lower-than-expected visitor arrival numbers could bring bids down to $330 psf.

An unnamed consultant had reportedly expressed surprise that the site was even triggered given global economic concerns and soaring construction costs. Since then, the economic climate has worsened further.

The site has a maximum allowed gross floor area of 18,986 sq m, which could accommodate a hotel of up to 25 storeys. This means some of the rooms will have views of Kallang River, said Mr Mak. 'This is a good hotel site. When the situation improves, the bidder will be seen as very lucky,' he added.

Fellow consultant Ku Swee Yong, director of marketing and business development at Savills Singapore, said the low bid is not surprising as construction costs are still high.

'To build a 3 1/2-star hotel, they have to bid low,' he said.

Citywide Land is an unfamiliar name in the property market here.

Q3 Property Investment Sales Plunge 79% To $1.1b

Source : The Business Times, October 10, 2008

Activity set to stay low for rest of '08; asset pricing now more 'realistic': DTZ

INVESTMENT sales in the third quarter totalled just $1.1 billion, a dizzy 79 per cent slide from the second quarter, according to DTZ. And most deals in Q3 were small, at less than $100 million each, due to 'credit tightening'.

Investment activity is expected to stay low for at least the rest of this year. But DTZ senior director (investment advisory services and auction) Shaun Poh said: 'Assets are now priced more realistically and there are funds looking for opportunistic purchases, in particular distress sales.'

Still, he said that deals are likely to be small, at less than $200 million, and mostly from private equity.

In Q3, Kuwait Finance House acquired 36 apartments at Goodwood Residences for about $2,800 per square foot.

The retail property market also slowed in Q3. 'Gross fixed rents remained unchanged for three consecutive quarters, a sign of a peaking market,' DTZ said.

Average prime first-storey monthly rents came to $42.40 psf in Orchard/ Scotts Road, $27.10 psf in other city areas and $33.70 psf in suburban areas.

DTZ associate director Anna Lee said that retail property prices and rents would come under pressure in 2009 when there is a spike in potential supply. 'For the rest of 2008, rents are expected to hold firm with little new supply and Christmas around the corner.'

Separately, CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) said that rents for factories and warehouses edged up or stayed flat in Q3.

'The bright spot was the high-tech sector, which showed a strong 9.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter increase in monthly rent,' it said.

Monthly rent for high-tech space increased 9.5 per cent from Q2 to $3.45 psf in Q3, driven by rising numbers of qualifying office tenants.

'An active pre-letting market for business park space was observed, especially among financial institutions,' said CBRE.

The average monthly rent for factory space rose 3.2 per cent from Q2 to $1.60 psf for ground-floor units and 3.8 per cent to $1.35 psf for upper-floor units. The average monthly rent for warehouses stayed flat at $1.55 psf and $1.25 psf respectively for ground and upper-floor units.

The average capital value of 60-year leasehold strata-title factory units edged up about 2.3 per cent from Q2 to $309 psf and $225 psf respectively for ground and upper-floor units. The average capital value of freehold warehouses held firm during at $458 psf for ground-floor units and $401 psf for upper-floor units.

CBRE director for industrial and logistics services Bernard Goh said: 'While rents for factories and warehouses are not expected to show significant movements, high-tech and business park space is expected to continue on a moderate upward trend.'

S'pore Is 'Fifth Most Competitive Economy'

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 9, 2008

It moves up 2 places in WEF survey; Hong Kong up one place to 11th

SINGAPORE has climbed two notches to fifth place in the World Economic Forum's (WEF) latest global competitiveness index, distancing itself from the other Asian economies.

The annual survey, released last night, showed that the next most competitive Asian economy - Japan - had dropped to ninth from eighth spot.

It was only last year that Singapore overtook Japan in the annual ranking, which polled a record 12,297 business leaders in 134 economies this year.

Perennial business rival Hong Kong improved one place to 11th.

In the survey, economies were assessed according to 12 'pillars' of competitiveness, ranging from infrastructure and macroeconomic stability, to business sophistication and innovation. These are weighted for each economy to reflect their stage of development.

Singapore's improved ranking was reflected by its strong institutional environment that came about as a result of a strengthening across all aspects of the institutional framework.

It has the best ranking of all economies in terms of public trust of politicians, wastefulness of government spending, burden of government regulation and transparency of government policymaking.

It was also ranked among the top two countries for the efficiency of all of its markets - goods, labour and financial - ensuring proper allocation of these factors to their best use, the survey said.

'Singapore also has world-class infrastructure, leading the world in the quality of its port and transport facilities.'

It scored high in other indicators as well, such as higher education and training, and technological readiness.

On the flipside, its overall ranking is constrained by its small domestic market and mixed performance in the macroeconomic stability pillar, where it ranks 59th and 121st respectively for its interest rate spread and government debt.

Respondents also cited inflation as their biggest bugbear for doing business in Singapore.

Notwithstanding the current financial crisis, the US retained its position as the world's most competitive economy.

The survey was conducted between January and May this year, which means that the index does not reflect the worsening global crisis.

But Ms Jennifer Blanke, senior economist of the forum, said the index aimed to take a longer-term view, and on that basis, the US ranking was fully justified, Reuters reported.

The US scored highly as it is endowed with many structural features that make its economy extremely productive. This places it on a strong footing to ride out business cycle shifts and economic shocks.

Despite rising concerns about the soundness of the banking sector and macroeconomic weaknesses, the country's many other strengths continue to make it a very productive environment, the survey noted.

On the other hand, the business costs of terrorism, crime and violence are points of concern.

But the country's greatest weakness is its macroeconomic stability, where it ranks a lowly 67th overall.

Its burgeoning levels of public indebtedness - at more than 60per cent of gross domestic product -suggest that the US is not preparing financially for its future liabilities. Interest payments will increasingly restrict its fiscal policy freedom going into the future, the survey warned.

In second, third and fourth places were the Northern European countries of Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden, rounding off an unchanged top four.

China continued to climb up the charts - up four places to 30 - helped by its large market and strong economic performance.

Ninth-ranked Japan has a major competitive edge in the areas of business sophistication and innovation.

Its overall performance, however, is dragged down by its macroeconomic weaknesses, with an extremely high budget deficit (ranked 110th), which have led to the build-up of one of the highest public debt levels in the world (ranked 129th).

As for Hong Kong, it is ranked first for its legal rights, capital flows and access to financing via the local equity market.

But its small domestic market size and mixed performance in the areas of health and primary education, as well as higher education and training, were a drag on its overall ranking.

A Long, Hard Road To Recovery

Source : The Business Times, October 9, 2008

ONCE the dust settles on the present carnage in financial markets, attention will turn to the issue of how long the resultant economic contraction might last and where a bottom might lie for stocks. As always, the key lies with the US and, as is becoming increasingly obvious, whether or not European governments can fashion a cohesive and coordinated rescue package to calm markets that are suffering an unprecedented crisis of confidence.

For the US, analysts who had consistently underestimated the enormity of the risks posed by the sub-prime collapse over the past year - and were until last week still in denial - are only now coming round to the realisation that this is not your normal, run-of-the-mill cyclical downturn that can be expected to pass in a few quarters. The prognosis? At least 18 months but possibly longer.

This was the conclusion of both Morgan Stanley (MS) and Merrill Lynch (ML) earlier this week. In a report titled Stress Fracture in which it examined the IMF's latest World Economic Outlook, MS said that a typical recession that is preceded by a banking crisis can be expected to last 7.6 quarters (about 30 months) and is associated with a cumulative output loss of 19.8 per cent, both figures being much higher than during a normal, non-banking-related recession.

Worse, interest rate cuts - and both the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank cut by 50 basis points yesterday - may have limited effect: as MS pointed out, monetary policy gets transmitted through banks, and if banks are under stress, the monetary policy response is weakened.

Similarly, ML pointed out that the negative credit dynamics of a recession have yet to start in the US, and that the country's consumer recession is just starting this quarter. Perhaps more worrying is that the American consumer accounts for more than 70 per cent of the country's GDP and 18 per cent of global GDP - bigger than the entire economies of Japan, China, Russia and India combined. If ML is correct, then Wall Street can only be expected to bottom around the end of 2009, based on an analysis of previous recessions that shows the market tends to bottom about four months before the recession ends.

As for Europe, the UK government's move yesterday to partially nationalise the country's banks is a welcome move to try and shore up confidence, but it remains unclear if other countries will follow suit, or even if it has come too late. Despite the news, the UK market fell 5 per cent in the first two hours of trading, with the rest of Europe also suffering losses of 3-5 per cent. Even if Europe's governments can agree on a coordinated response, it is clear that the road to recovery will be a long and hard one.

As it stands now, the best estimates are that it will take 18-30 months and this is probably what the tumbling equity markets are now pricing in.

Asia To Fare Better Than Rest Of World: ADB Chief

Source : The Business Times, October 9, 2008

TOKYO - The global financial crisis will have 'considerable' effects on Asia but the region will fare well by world standards, Asian Development Bank president Haruhiko Kuroda said on Thursday.

Developing Asia's economic growth rates will be 'comparatively high', said Mr Kuroda.

'The financial crisis that happened in the United States and Europe has not inflicted big damage on Asia's financial system, either directly or indirectly,' he said at an event in Tokyo.

'But the real economy in Japan, the United States and Europe is slowing down and in some countries the speed is rapid. Asia's economy cannot help but be affected considerably,' he said.

Asian share prices have fallen sharply this week as pessimism engulfs global markets. In Indonesia, the stock exchange shut down for two straight sessions.

But Mr Kuroda doubted a replay of the 1997-98 financial crisis in Asia, when the collapse of the Thai baht set off a chain reaction across the region with devastating consequences.

'I believe that the possibility of a currency crisis happening again in Asia is extremely small,' he said.

Experts note that Asian economies have built up large foreign currency reserves to shield themselves from a repeat of the regional financial crisis and enjoy low levels of foreign debt. -- AFP

S'pore Is In Recession

Source : The Straits Times, Oct 10, 2008

# MTI lowers 2008 forecast to 3%, from earlier 4-5%
# MAS moves to ease monetary policy
# Inflation has peaked

SINGAPORE'S economy has slid into its first technical recession since 2002, as a slump in exports pushed quarterly growth into negative territory for the second quarter in a row.

It added that Singapore's export-oriented sectors, such as manufacturing, will be affected, noting that Europe is also facing severe strains in the banking sector, tighter credit conditions, and adjustments in housing prices. -- ST PHOTO: TERENCE TAN

The economy shrank by a worse-than-expected 0.5 per cent in the third quarter compared to the same period last year, according to estimates from the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) released on Friday morning.

MTI has also revised its full-year growth forecast for the second time this year, lowering it to 'around 3 per cent' from 4 to 5 per cent previously. This would make it the weakest pace in seven years.

Recognising growth concerns, the Monetary Authority of Singapore also changed its policy stance to zero appreciation of the Singapore dollar, reversing the gradual appreciation policy it has adopted since 2003.

On a quarterly basis, third-quarter GDP contracted 6.3 per cent from the second quarter, on top of a 5.7 per cent decline in the previous three months. A technical recession is generally defined as two consecutive quarters of decline.

Manufacturing led the slowdown again this time around, weighed down by a poor performance in the biomedical sciences segment. It was also hit by weakened global demand for exports as the United States-triggered financial crisis spreads around the world.

The sector shrank by 11.5 per cent in the third quarter, after declining 4.9 per cent in the previous quarter.

Growth in construction and services also slowed. Construction, in particular, saw its pace of expansion halved to single-digit growth, as projects were delayed by the construction squeeze, said MTI.

Services, touted as a key driver of growth this year, is likely to take a hit as well as financial services falters in the wake of the global credit crunch.

Most economists expect the economy to grow even more slowly next year, with the chance of a technical recession turning into a 'real' one.

'With external conditions deteriorating and the lack of domestic demand support, we expect Singapore to register no growth next year... with a muted recovery, if at all, expected only in the second half of next year at the earliest,' said Morgan Stanley economists in a report.

Inflation peaks
Inflation, which reached a 26-year high earlier this year, has peaked, said MAS. Consumer prices will rise between 6 per cent and 7 per cent this year, and gains will ease to between 2.5 per cent and 3.5 per cent in 2009, it predicted.

'Against the backdrop of a weakening external economic environment and continuing stresses in global financial markets, the growth of the Singapore economy is expected to remain below potential in the period ahead,' said MAS.

'Inflation is expected to trend down in 2009 as the global and domestic economies slow.'

Exports slump
Singapore's US$161 billion (S$239 billion) economy declined 0.5 per cent last quarter from a year earlier, compared with a revised 2.3 per cent gain between April and June.

Growth has deteriorated as a slump in export demand forced factories to cut production, tourist arrivals faltered and a real-estate boom ended, reported Bloomberg news.

The island's manufacturing industry, which accounts for a quarter of the economy, contracted 11.5 per cent last quarter from a year earlier, compared with a revised 4.9 per cent drop in the previous three months, according to today's report.

Singapore's government expects exports to decline as much as 4 per cent this year, and the island's shipments of electronics goods have fallen for 19 consecutive months.

Financial services
Services climbed 6.1 per cent in the third quarter from a year earlier, slowing from a 7 per cent pace in the previous three months. The city-state will probably miss a government target of 10.8 million visitors in 2008, the tourism board said on Sept 23, after visitor arrivals dropped 7.7 per cent in August.

'The financial services sector is likely to see slower growth in the coming months as the ongoing global financial crisis has heightened uncertainties for sentiment-sensitive segments such as stocks trading and fund management activities,' said MIT.

The construction industry grew 7.8 per cent, easing from a revised rate of 19.8 per cent in the previous quarter.

Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index slumped 7.3 per cent to its lowest level since November 2004 on Friday in opening trade after the economic data and policy statement.

The Singapore dollar rose to $1.4724 per US dollar after the central bank's announcement compared with $1.4780 as traders adjusted positions after the widely expected move. -- AFP, REUTERS

达士岭组屋 七人争一间

Source :《联合早报》October 10, 2008

建屋发展局两周前在抽签选购制度下,推出达士岭(The Pinnacle@Duxton)卖剩的摩天组屋单位,屋价比四年前首次推出时高出了20多万元,有些单位甚至要价近65万元。尽管如此,公众反应仍非常热烈,每间组屋平均有七人申购。










达士岭组屋价格 比附近转售价低

















Source :《联合早报》October 10, 2008

虽然这次推出的达士岭(The Pinnacle@Duxton)摩天组屋单位创下新组屋价格的新高,但房地产经纪认为,由于市场情况和组屋种类不同等因素,对周围组屋转售价格的影响应该不大。

离达士岭摩天组屋最近的两个组屋区分别是丹戎巴葛广场(Tanjong Pagar Plaza)和广东民弄(Cantonment Close)。丹戎巴葛广场8座组屋的屋龄已经超过30年,房地产经纪认为达士岭摩天组屋高价应该不会对这些老旧组屋的转售价格造成影响。







组屋转售价增幅 料不会超过10%









Dennis Wee房地产经纪行董事许家荣说:“达士岭的摩天组屋单位和一般的组屋单位不同,是无法相提并论的,达士岭组屋是优质组屋,有其他组屋所没有的良好设施,是完全不同的组屋类型,因此不会互相影响。”