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Thread: Shelford Suites (D11, Freehold, CDL)

  1. #1
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    Default Shelford Suites (D11, Freehold, CDL)

    Exquisite & located conveniently in Prime Area Bukit Timah & Dunearn Road. Minutes drive or bus ride to Orchard & Scotts Road.

    Details: 3 blocks of 5-storey low rise condominium development

    Location: 16, 16A & 16B Shelford Road

    Total Units: 77 units

    Tenure: Freehold

    Unit Types:
    2 Bdrm - 893 sqft (6 units)
    3 Bdrm - 1227~1636 sqft (64 units)
    4 Bdrm Penthouse - 2754~4110 sqft (6 units)
    3 Bdrm Penthouse - 3583 sqm (1 unit)

    Expected Date of TOP: TBA

    Price: TBA

    Facilities:
    Guard House
    Water Feature
    Arrival Plaza
    Foot Reflexology Walk
    Fitness Area
    Children Playground
    Clubhouse (Function Room, Gymnasium, Lounge, Changing Rooms with Steam Rooms)
    Garden Plaza
    Children's Pool
    Lap Pool
    Pool Deck
    Sun Deck
    BBQ Terrace
    Water Cascade
    Spa Pool
    Relaxation Plaza
    Manicured Lawn Garden


    Contact:
    Richard Sng
    ERA Singapore
    HP: +65-92993342
    Email: [email protected]
    Home Page: http://www.homes88.net
    My Space: http://richardsng-era.spaces.live.com
    Last edited by richardsng_era; 15-03-08 at 01:02.

  2. #2
    Very Keen
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    Question Re: Shelford Suites @ Shelford Road. Launching Soon! (+65-92993342)

    Quote Originally Posted by richardsng_era
    Exquisite & located conveniently in Prime Area Bukit Timah & Dunearn Road. Minutes drive or bus ride to Orchard & Scotts Road.

    Details: 3 blocks of 5-storey low rise condominium development

    Location: 16, 16A & 16B Shelford Road

    Total Units: 77 units

    Tenure: Freehold

    Unit Types:
    2 Bdrm - 893 sqft (6 units)
    3 Bdrm - 1227~1636 sqft (64 units)
    4 Bdrm Penthouse - 2754~4110 sqft (6 units)
    3 Bdrm Penthouse - 3583 sqm (1 unit)

    Expected Date of TOP: TBA

    Price: TBA

    Facilities:
    Guard House
    Water Feature
    Arrival Plaza
    Foot Reflexology Walk
    Fitness Area
    Children Playground
    Clubhouse (Function Room, Gymnasium, Lounge, Changing Rooms with Steam Rooms)
    Garden Plaza
    Children's Pool
    Lap Pool
    Pool Deck
    Sun Deck
    BBQ Terrace
    Water Cascade
    Spa Pool
    Relaxation Plaza
    Manicured Lawn Garden


    Contact:
    Richard Sng
    ERA Singapore
    HP: +65-92993342
    Email: [email protected]
    Home Page: http://www.homes88.net
    My Space: http://richardsng-era.spaces.live.com
    What is the average psf?

  3. #3
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    Thumbs up Re: Shelford Suites @ Shelford Road. Launching Soon! (+65-92993342)

    Quote Originally Posted by Very Keen
    What is the average psf?
    I guess should be @1800psf & above.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: D.11 Shelford Suites @ Shelford Road. Launching Soon! (+65-92993342)

    still can get this price or not ,,,so ex !!!

    Jardin has already having a very hard time selling at this rocket psf !!!

  5. #5
    Unregistered
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    Talking Re: D.11 Shelford Suites @ Shelford Road. Launching Soon! (+65-92993342)

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered
    still can get this price or not ,,,so ex !!!

    Jardin has already having a very hard time selling at this rocket psf !!!
    Jardin is in dist 21 & not consider prime Dist but Shelford Suites is in Prime Dist 11.If Jardin can be sold @ 1800psf then Shelford Suites in Prime Dist 11 should be selling at least 2000psf.Moreover,the walking distance from the Shelford Suites to the botanic MRT station is only 8 minutes away.For Jardin is not eaily accessible to any MRT station or not MRT station near the vincinty at aii. Remeber property value is all about location,location or dist 9,10,11.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: D.11 Shelford Suites @ Shelford Road. Launching Soon! (+65-92993342)

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered
    Jardin is in dist 21 & not consider prime Dist but Shelford Suites is in Prime Dist 11.If Jardin can be sold @ 1800psf then Shelford Suites in Prime Dist 11 should be selling at least 2000psf.Moreover,the walking distance from the Shelford Suites to the botanic MRT station is only 8 minutes away.For Jardin is not eaily accessible to any MRT station or not MRT station near the vincinty at aii. Remeber property value is all about location,location or dist 9,10,11.
    Yes, Jardin shouldn't be brought into the picture.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: D.11 Shelford Suites @ Shelford Road. Launching Soon! (+65-92993342)

    it should be below $1500 after discount. It delayed to launch almost 5 months. Let's see when it will "really" launch.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: D.11 Shelford Suites @ Shelford Road. Launching Soon! (+65-92993342)

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered
    it should be below $1500 after discount. It delayed to launch almost 5 months. Let's see when it will "really" launch.
    Are you referring to US$1500psf ?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: D.11 Shelford Suites @ Shelford Road. Launching Soon! (+65-92993342)

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered
    it should be below $1500 after discount. It delayed to launch almost 5 months. Let's see when it will "really" launch.
    It delayed to launch because developer is unwilling to lower the price of this prime dist 11 project ?

  10. #10
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    Default Re: D.11 Shelford Suites @ Shelford Road. Launching Soon! (+65-92993342)

    Leading Economic Indicators in U.S. Probably Fell in February

    By Courtney Schlisserman

    March 20 (Bloomberg) -- The index of U.S. leading economic indicators fell for a fifth month in February, reflecting mounting signs that a recession has begun, economists said before a report today.

    The Conference Board's gauge, which points to the direction of the economy over the next three to six months, fell 0.3 percent last month, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey. The last time the index dropped for as many months was in 1990, when the economy was shrinking.

    The leading index dropped as building permits, stock prices and consumer sentiment sank and first-time claims for jobless benefits jumped. Federal Reserve policy makers this week said risks to growth remain even after lowering the benchmark interest rate and making billions of dollars available to banks and securities firms to try to stabilize financial markets.

    ``A losing streak of five months is usually reserved for recessionary periods,'' said Jonathan Basile, an economist at Credit Suisse Holdings in New York. ``Once the labor market cracks, like it did last month, it shows the cycle is starting to turn down.''

    The Conference Board, a New York-based non-profit research group, is scheduled to issue the report at 10 a.m. local time. The 58 estimates in the Bloomberg News survey ranged from a 0.7 percent decline to an increase of 0.2 percent.

    Reports so far this month signal the leading index will keep falling. A report from the Labor Department due at 8:30 a.m. in Washington is forecast to show that initial jobless claims rose to 360,000 last week, according to the median survey projection.

    Rising Claims

    Applications for unemployment benefits last month averaged 359,200, compared with 326,500 in January, according to Labor Department figures.

    A 10:00 a.m. report from the Fed Bank of Philadelphia is forecast to show manufacturing in the region contracted for a fourth month in March.

    Seven of the 10 components of the leading index are known ahead of time: stock prices, jobless claims, building permits, consumer expectations, the yield curve, supplier delivery times and factory hours. The Conference Board estimates the remaining three: new orders for consumer goods, new orders for non-defense capital goods and the money supply.

    Building permits for February fell 7.8 percent to an annual pace of 707,000, the lowest level in more than 16 years, the Commerce Department said on March 18.

    The Reuters/University of Michigan index of consumer expectations dropped to the lowest level since 1992 last month and a preliminary reading for March, issued last week, showed the measure is still declining.

    Spending Cools

    Americans are spending less as pessimism grows. AnnTaylor Stores Corp., the clothing retailer geared toward women ages 25 to 55, last week reported a fourth-quarter loss and said same- store sales may decline in 2008.

    The deteriorating economy had a ``major impact'' on store traffic, Chief Executive Officer Kay Krill said in a March 14 conference call.

    ``Downside risks to the economy remain,'' Fed policy makers said in a March 18 statement announcing the central bank lowered its target for the benchmark rate by three-quarters of a point to 2.25 percent. The Fed has cut the rate by three percentage points since September.

    On March 16, the central bank also lowered the rate on direct loans to banks and said it will provide up to $30 billion to JPMorgan Chase & Co. to help finance the purchase of Bear Stearns Cos. after a run on the fifth-largest U.S. securities dealer.

    More Funding

    Less than a week earlier, the Fed said it would make up to $200 billion in Treasuries available through weekly auctions in exchange for other securities that for the first time will include those backed by mortgages issued by private lenders.

    Companies are counting on gains overseas as the U.S. economy slows. General Electric Co. Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt told investors on March 13 that demand for the company's products from infrastructure projects and growth in Europe, Asia and Africa is helping offset any drag from a slump in the U.S.

    ``I still believe in the strength of the global economy now, but the U.S. consumer is in a tougher patch,'' Immelt said in a forum on the company's Web site.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reuters

    Wall Street Jumps as Goldman Sachs and Lehman Brothers Beat Forecasts
    Caroline Valetkevitch
    Reuters
    New York, New York, U.S.
    10:25am U.S. ET


    Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange March 17, 2008. - Photo: Brendan McDermid, Reuters

    Stocks jumped on Tuesday as stronger-than-expected earnings from Goldman Sachs Group Inc's and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc provided some reassurance about the ailing financial sector.

    All three major indexes were up close to 2%.

    Investors also looked forward to what is expected to be a steep interest rate cut from the Federal Reserve's policy-setting committee around 2:15 pm U.S. Eastern Time on Tuesday.

    Goldman and Lehman shares jumped in early trading, leading a rebound in financial stocks, which tumbled on Monday after JPMorgan Chase & Co's deal to buy struggling brokerage Bear Stearns at a rock-bottom price. A broker dealer index surged 5.9%.

    "Today's a day for good news, with Goldman and Lehman results beating estimates. Right now the focus is that these earnings weren't as bad as they could have been," said Giri Cherukuri, head trader at OakBrook Investments LLC in Lisle, Illinois.

    The Dow Jones industrial average rose 231.78 points, or 1.94%, to 12,204.03. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 28.18 points, or 2.21%, to 1,304.78. The Nasdaq Composite Index jumped 44.25 points, or 2.03%, to 2,221.26.

    Shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rose on expectations their regulator will ease restrictions on the government-chartered companies and help them increase spending in the U.S. housing market. Fannie was up 11.8% at $24.86, while Freddie Mac was up 12.3% at $23.15.

    Shares of Goldman were up 8.5% at $163.70 while Lehman was up 17% at $37.12 after reporting results that beat Wall Street estimates.

    On the Nasdaq, Yahoo Inc shares rose 4.7% to $27.07 after the Internet search company affirmed its outlook for the first quarter and full year.

    Interest rate futures show investors are fully pricing in a one percentage-point cut in U.S. short-term rates, which would take the benchmark fed funds target rate down to 2%.

    Over the weekend, the Fed made an emergency quarter-point cut to its discount rate to 3.25% and expanded lending to a wider range of big financial firms, in the first such move since the Great Depression of nearly 80 years ago.

    Data before the opening on U.S. housing starts was stronger than expected, adding further support to the market.
    Goldman, Lehman and whatman!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered
    Goldman, Lehman and whatman!
    woooohahahaha

  13. #13
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    Default Re: D.11 Shelford Suites @ Shelford Road. Launching Soon! (+65-92993342)

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered
    woooohahahaha
    Good right?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by AP

    Morgan Stanley 1Q profit tops estimates
    Joe Bel Bruno
    Business Writer
    Associated Press
    Wednesday, 19 March 2008, 4:43 PM U.S. ET


    The Morgan Stanley headquarters is seen in New York 30 January 2008. - Photo: Shannon Stapleton, Reuters

    Morgan Stanley posted better-than-expected quarterly earnings on Wednesday, joining those from two of its rivals and indicating that Wall Street may be getting a better grip on the credit crisis.

    The nation's second-largest investment bank was able to parlay aggressive stock and bond trading into offsetting more losses linked to subprime mortgages. Morgan Stanley like Lehman Brothers and Goldman Sachs on Tuesday was also able to top Wall Street's reduced expectations by a wide margin.

    Morgan Stanley's results came during a tumultuous week. Just a few days earlier, rival Bear Stearns Cos. sold itself at a fire-sale $2 per share price to JPMorgan Chase & Co. in order to avoid declaring bankruptcy. That sent a shockwave through Wall Street as investors wondered if other investment banks might be in the same predicament.

    But the strong results from Morgan Stanley, Goldman and Lehman helped assuage fears of a wider meltdown in the financial system at least for now.

    "Fact is, like it or not, this is an inherently risky business where the returns will shift to those willing to take the most leverage," said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of Harris Private Bank. "Expectations had us in a tailspin."

    The earnings results not only helped shares of the investment banks recover from the lows they hit Monday in the aftermath of Bear's sale, but also backed claims by the companies' chief executives that they could take advantage of the market's dislocation.

    John Mack, Morgan Stanley's CEO, said the investment house known for its trading prowess "effectively capitalized on market opportunities and aggressively managed our positions." The company had about $2.3 billion worth of write-downs linked to the credit and housing market crisis, but one of its best trading performances in history.

    Morgan Stanley wrote down about $9.4 billion during last year's second half. Global banks and brokerages have so far claimed about $200 billion worth of write-downs since last year.

    "While many of our businesses are facing challenging market conditions that we expect to continue in the months ahead, we are satisfied with how Morgan Stanley navigated the ongoing market turbulence," Mack said in a statement.

    The company said it earned $1.53 billion after preferred dividends, or $1.45 per share, down 42% from $2.66 billion, or $2.17 per share, a year earlier. Revenue fell 17% to $8.3 billion from $10 billion a year earlier.

    But the lower results easily topped analysts' expectations for a profit of $1.03 per share on $7.19 billion of revenue, according to Thomson Financial.

    Its shares closed up 59 cents at $43.45, following a 17% gain in Tuesday's market rally.

    Morgan Stanley's institutional securities business which includes investment banking and trading posted $6.2 billion of revenue. The results marked the division's third-best quarter ever.

    Meanwhile, volatility in the bond market pushed fixed-income sales and trading revenue to their second-best showing with $2.9 billion of revenue.

    Though offset by mortgage write-downs, Morgan Stanley relied on robust commodities and currency markets to drive results.

    "We believe (Goldman and Morgan Stanley) have shown their ability to trade challenging markets this quarter," said Roger Freeman, an analyst with Lehman Brothers. "There is hope that the Federal Reserve's aggressiveness will begin to unclog the fixed-income markets. ... This could push the group still higher over the next few sessions."

    Goldman Sachs, Lehman and Morgan Stanley said they began to test a new program this week that allows them to borrow directly from the central bank to help improve the financial market's liquidity. On Sunday the Fed gave investment banks permission to borrow from its discount window, which had previously been restricted to commercial banks.

    The Fed also cut the rate at which financial institutions borrow at its "discount window" to 2.5 percent from 3.5 percent in two separate actions this week.

    Though all seemed to be positive steps for Wall Street, that doesn't mean the concerns about the rest of the year have been alleviated.

    The fiscal first-quarter for the three banks ended Feb. 29, before most of the market turbulence that rocked Bear Stearns last week. Investors are also still waiting for Merrill Lynch & Co. to finish its first quarter at the end of the month.

    And then there's the biggest worry on investors' minds.

    "We remain concerned with the deteriorating economy and its impact on the results at these firms, despite (the Fed's) aid with near-term funding," said Standard & Poor's equity analyst Matthew Albrecht.
    Modern and steady!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered
    Modern and steady!
    Fed Juggles Inflation, Sour Economy
    Thursday March 20, 3:44 am ET
    By Jeannine Aversa, AP Economics Writer
    Divisions in Federal Reserve Make Chairman Ben Bernanke's Juggling Act Harder

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ben Bernanke's juggling act has gotten harder. The Federal Reserve chairman has been taking extraordinary steps to prevent credit, financial and housing problems from driving the country into a deep recession. At the same time, he faces the danger that the very tonic to brace the sickly economy could bring about another dangerous ailment-- inflation.

    And, rare divisions have surfaced among Bernanke and his central bank colleagues about just how aggressive the Fed should be in lowering interest rates to treat the wobbly economy.

    Two of the Fed's members -- Charles Plosser, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas -- on Tuesday opposed cutting a key interest rate by a hefty three-quarters point. Instead, they favored a smaller reduction. It was a crack in the mostly unified front the Fed often shows the public. The last time there was a double dissent was in fall 2002 under chairman Alan Greenspan.

    The reasons for the Plosser's and Fisher's dissenting votes weren't laid out in the statement explaining the Fed's action, although both men have a reputation for being especially vigilant about fighting inflation.

    "Containing inflation is the purpose of the ship I crew for, and if a temporary economic slowdown is what we must endure while we achieve that purpose, then it is, in my opinion, a burden we must bear, however politically inconvenient," Fisher said in a speech earlier this month.

    In fact, the Fed as a whole expressed concern on Tuesday about higher inflation -- something it didn't mention in the statement issued after its previous meeting, which concluded on Jan. 30.

    "Inflation has been elevated, and some indicators of inflation expectations have risen," the Fed said Tuesday. Although policymakers were hopeful that prices would moderate in the coming quarters, they acknowledged that "uncertainty about the inflation outlook has increased."

    Rising inflation, fueled in large measure by skyrocketing energy prices, complicates Bernanke's job of trying to get the economy back on firm footing.


    The Fed started cutting rates last September and turned much more forceful this year. Those lower rates can aggravate inflation at a time when people and businesses already are smarting from high energy and food prices. The Fed's rate cuts also have weakened the dollar. That has raised the cost of imported goods coming into the U.S. and could lead American companies to raise their prices as foreign-made goods become more expensive.

    If treating inflation were the priority, the Fed would take the opposite action and raise rates.

    Fears have grown that the country could be headed for "stagflation," a toxic mix of stagnant economic activity and rising inflation not seen in three decades. "I don't anticipate stagflation," Bernanke told Congress last month. "I don't think we're anywhere near the situation that prevailed in the 1970s."

    Oil prices, which have galloped to record highs in recent weeks, have eased but still top $104 a barrel. Gasoline prices have marched upward and are expected to hit $4 a gallon nationwide this spring.

    "I think the threat of inflation is as high as it's been since the 1970s. Bernanke and the rest of them have a challenging task to navigate the economy away from recession and at the same time avoid inflation taking root," said Sean Snaith, economics professor at the University of Central Florida. "If Bernanke can do this, he'll look like a hero."

    Snaith and other economists said that Tuesday's double dissents and the Fed's talk about inflation concerns could make it more difficult for Bernanke to build consensus around the Fed's next move on interest rates. "One more dissent would be an open revolt," said Ken Mayland, economist at ClearView Economics.

    The Fed's next scheduled meeting on interest rates is April 29-30. Some believe the Fed might be more inclined to order a smaller rate cut at that time, depending on economic and financial conditions.

    "Bernanke will have a tougher juggling act to do in the future," Mayland said. "It is a fine line that they are walking here between two troubles."

    In slashing interest rates, the Fed has been squarely focused on rescuing the economy. At the same time, Bernanke has repeatedly said the Fed must be on guard for any inflation danger signs.

    Why? Because once inflation gets a grip on the economy, it can be hard to break. A rapid rise in price erodes the purchasing power of people. It squeezes companies' profits, too, and can make them more reluctant to hire and expand. It eats into returns on investments. As people and companies hunker down, that further restrains overall economic growth.

    Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker ratcheted rates up to the highest levels since the Civil War to break inflation's hold. That jolt, however, plunged the country into the painful 1981-82 recession.

    "There is increasing concern among some on the (Fed) that freewheeling rate cuts are creating a significant problem with the Fed's goal of anchoring inflation expectations," said Scott Anderson, senior economist at Wells Fargo Economics. If people, companies and investors believe inflation will pick up, he said, they will act in ways that can make inflation worse.

    "It is important that inflation expectations remain stable. If those expectations become unhinged, they could rapidly fuel inflation," Plosser said in February. "Moreover, as we learned from the experience of the 1970s, once the public loses confidence in the Fed's commitment to price stability, it is very costly to the economy for the Fed to regain that confidence."

  16. #16
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    Emerging markets in Asia to stay resilient despite US slowdown

    By Timothy Ouyang, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 18 March 2008 2112 hrs


    SINGAPORE : Despite the US economic slowdown, emerging markets in Asia are expected to remain resilient.

    And while China's economy is expected to continue booming along, some say India provides a good investment alternative.

    Analysts say growing domestic demand and strong investment and consumption rates across Asia are helping to keep emerging markets buoyant. Of these, India and China's economies are expected to lead the region's growth.

    But according to some analysts, India enjoys an important edge.

    Glenn Maguire, Chief Economist - Asia Pacific, Societe Generale, said: "Economies in Asia that have a low export ratio to GDP and a relatively higher domestic demand share to GDP are probably economies that are likely to either display resilience or outperform in 2008 and 2009. And one of those economies is clearly India."

    Currently, exports make up only 15 per cent of India's GDP, while exports account for between 35 and 40 percent of China's GDP.

    The Indian economy is seen growing 7.5 percent in 2009, down from an estimated 8.5 per cent this year.

    Mr Maguire said: "But those growth rates can be sustained... over the medium term. So, from a medium-term investment perspective, India is likely to remain one of the high growth economies in the globe."

    Come 28 March, investors in Singapore will have greater access to the Indian market through an Indian ETF, or exchange traded fund, listed on the Singapore Exchange. The ETF tracks 50 of the largest stocks in India. - CNA/ch

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    Published March 19, 2008

    The contrarian strategy

    Going against the crowd does lead to long-term results, GENEVIEVE CUA finds out


    A VALUE investor who makes a call to pick up stocks now may be ridiculed as a fool - even if he or she has had a long track record of success.

    Portfolio manager Mary Chris Gay of Legg Mason Capital Management, who works with legendary investor Bill Miller, says the time to buy is at the point of 'maximum pessimism' - and that applies particularly to financial stocks in which the fund is currently overweight.

    This is a time, however, when bank strategists are calling an underweight in equities, even as the market is expecting the US Federal Reserve to cut interest rates by 100 basis points.

    Ms Gay says: 'What we try to do is to maximise the discount between the underlying value of companies and what we believe they're worth on a risk adjusted basis. The potential upside of our portfolio today is as great as it has ever been.'

    Ms Gay is referring to the firm's flagship Value Fund, run by Mr Miller himself, with US$40 billion in assets. Mr Miller has been variously described in the US media as one of the world's greatest investors. BusinessWeek, for instance, named him as one of the heroes of value investing, thanks to a 15-year winning streak by the Value Fund against the S&P500, after fees.

    The fund, however, suffered a rout in 2006 and 2007, underperforming the S&P500 by about 2,000 basis points. This, as Mr Miller himself wrote in his fourth quarter commentary published last month, was the worst showing since 1989 and 1990, when the fund underperformed by 2,500 basis points.

    The current rout, blamed partly on having missed out on commodities' meteoric rise, has spurred redemptions of some US$3 billion, according to Fortune magazine.

    Ms Gay says: 'No manager has been able to avoid underperforming. Being contrarian means to go against the crowd. The crowd now wants commodities and things that have been going up. But we believe with fairly strong evidence that a strategy of going against the crowd does lead to long-term returns.

    'Right now the contrarian view would be to sell energy and buy financials. . . Whether we're at the bottom, we're not smart enough to know. We're trying to populate the portfolio with things that reflect a very very difficult environment. We're definitely going to see more writedowns, but the changes in management in some of the big firms, their willingness to take the pain now - we think that's very healthy and may help set up a recovery at a faster rate.'

    She says the firm passed on commodities in 2003, which was a mistake. But she likens buying resources now to buying Internet stocks in 1998 and 1999. 'There is a long term fundamental case for commodities, but their prices reflect and carry substantial risk. Overall, buying cheap assets and getting out of expensive ones is the way to go.'

    But here's some background. The Value Fund invests in US large cap equities. It is a concentrated portfolio - as at end-December, it had less than 50 stocks. Its holdings may defy what many believe to be value, with names like Amazon.com, Google, Yahoo and Exxon Mobil.

    Says Ms Gay: 'What we try to do is to buy at the point of maximum pessimism which is where we believe we're at for financials today. And if we truly believe in the underlying value and the price falls further, it increases the future rate of return and we average down.'

    The fund's largest allocations are to consumer discretionary stocks (23 per cent); IT (22 per cent) and financials (18 per cent). She adds: 'Maybe we are in a recession; if we are it's too late to be defensive. The time to be offensive is when there is uncertainty, which is the time when the greatest opportunity presents itself.'

    One of the metrics the group's analysts scrutinise is a stock's return on invested capital. To be considered attractive, a company must generate earnings above its cost of capital. Otherwise, it is destroying value. After all, the market is a discounting mechanism; and the snapback can be swift. Those who stay out of the market in troubled times may find that they are unable to get back in.

    Ms Gay cites the record of financial stocks, which also slumped in the early 1990s with the savings and loan crisis. 'If you bought Citi stock in 1991, at that same year the stock was up 74 per cent. The market was up 30 per cent, but JP Morgan rose 100 per cent. Over a five-year period from 1991, financial stocks were up five times as much as the market.

    'The bottom line is that for long-term investors, buying at a point of great uncertainty - especially for financials, buying at book value or below - has proven historically to be a very good strategy.' US financial stocks are trading at five to seven times earnings, and the S&P 500 at about 18 times. Based on consensus estimates for next year's earnings, the latter's multiple falls to about 11 times.

    She tells investors to keep their eyes on their objectives, which typically comprises a long-term savings goal spanning 10 or even 20 years. And tune out the noise. 'Aligning yourself with someone who has an investment process that is also long-term oriented and focused on value leads to good returns over a long period. But the price of that is the willingness to withstand the volatility.

    'Sometimes a good process leads to a bad outcome. That doesn't mean you have done anything wrong. Sometimes a bad process leads to a good outcome, and that's what you often see in trends and momentum. But over a long period of time a good process does lead to a good outcome.'

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    Published March 20, 2008

    Macquarie to start wealth business here

    The private bank will be targeting ultra-high net worth individuals in Asia

    By CHOW PENN NEE


    PRIVATE banks are still bullish on Singapore and the region, with many of them continuing to hire or set up shop operations here.

    Australia's Macquarie Group said yesterday it will launch an Asian private wealth business with its first office in Singapore - the private bank's first step outside Australia. The local operation will be headed by Joseph Poon, former head of South Asia at JP Morgan Private Bank.

    Rather than capitalising on its Australian parentage and gunning for Australian expatriates living in Singapore, the bank will be looking at ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWI) all over Asia.

    Only those with more than US$30 million need apply. 'We will focus on UHNWI as we still see this segment growing strongly,' Guy Hedley, head of Macquarie Private Bank in Australia, said yesterday. 'They are not immune from the current market volatility but are less susceptible.'

    Mr Poon said that there are also fewer players in the UHNWI space.

    As for headcount, the operation will be staffed by 'experienced local advisers', said Mr Hedley, who did not give figures on how many will be hired. 'Hiring is fluid and driven by client needs, but we don't intend to be a big player, to have 100 or 1,000 relationship managers,' he said.

    Macquarie's private bank niche, Mr Poon said, will come from leveraging on the bank's corporate finance advisory division. 'Our clients will have access to advice and deal flows. We can provide corporate advisory on infrastructure, real estate and commodities.'

    The great majority of Asian UHNWIs run private or public businesses, and their wealth is derived from these businesses, he said. 'The links between private and business wealth are very close, so we can mobilise our institutional capabilities to help.'

    The bank's corporate finance advisory business in Singapore is its largest in Asia, and it has 500 advisory staff across the Asian region.

    Singapore, as the world's fastest growing private banking and wealth management centre, is set to become a regional hub for Macquarie private bank, Mr Hedley said. 'We intend to house our Australian back office for the private bank here.'

    Singapore has experienced one of the greatest increases in high net worth individuals in the region, with their estimated wealth standing at US$323.73 billion, according to the Capgemini/Merrill Lynch 2007 Asia-Pacific Wealth Report.

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    Published March 20, 2008

    Housing boom still alive in some places in US

    There are exclusive, desirable pockets with scarce land and robust demand


    (ROSS, California) Even in the worst storms, there are pockets of calm, and the housing crisis gripping the US is no different.

    While prices are falling and owners are losing their homes to foreclosure around the country, places like Ross, a wealthy, woodsy town 28 km north of San Francisco, still enjoy robust demand.

    That demand is explained by the town's sleepy feel - the 2,300 residents have to collect their own mail from the post office - and its exclusivity. Actor Sean Penn and Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh live here.

    'It's doing very well,' said real estate agent Tracy McLaughlin, whose offerings include a US$10 million estate. 'It's supply constrained. I can't think of one buildable lot in Ross.'

    While Ross and surrounding Marin County may be a special case, a report last month by S&P/Case-Shiller showed that three metropolitan areas posted modest gains in home prices last year - Seattle; Portland, Oregon; and Charlotte, North Carolina.

    Both Charlotte, a major financial centre, and Seattle, a high-tech hub, have low unemployment rates and all three are seen as desirable places to live.

    But even in those three markets, average home prices declined in December from November, leading home owners and real estate agents to hope declines will be small.

    Seattle's home prices may give up some gains - but not much, because 'they weren't as far out of kilter as in other places', said Glenn Crellin, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate.

    Charlotte's home prices should hold much of their gains or only lose a bit of ground for the same reason, said real estate agent Mike Sposato of Carolina Realty Advisors.

    'Maybe one year we had 10 to 12 per cent appreciation, but over the five-year period we had on average about 7 per cent,' he said.

    Mark Jenkins and Linda Baker hope that Portland, like Seattle and Charlotte, holds relatively steady. They are looking to sell their home in Portland and buy a new one there.

    'We are a little worried, but not terrified,' Baker said. 'We have been told by our broker that we have a good chance to sell at a reasonable price and in a reasonable amount of time.'

    Similar sentiments hold in San Francisco, where real estate agents report that demand for homes still exceeds supply, especially for luxury properties, even though average prices fell there last year.

    'There is a lot of wealth here . . . If they (buyers) want something better, they'll go for it,' Realtor Richard Weil said while showing a 10,000 square-foot home listed for sale at US$14.5 million in San Francisco's Presidio Heights neighbourhood.

    Demand remains strong in San Francisco and nearby cities for less expensive homes, too.

    Where home builders in many other markets have shelved blueprints, builders in the San Francisco Bay area's urban centres remain busy thanks to the region's wealth, scarce land for building and persistent demand.

    'Would I like to sell more units at better prices in San Francisco, Oakland, Silicon Valley? Sure. But it's very insulated from what's going on in many places,' said Mike Ghielmetti, president of home builder Signature Properties.

    By comparison, the median home price in Las Vegas, up at double-digit rates during the boom years, fell 5.6 per cent in January from December and 16.4 per cent from a year earlier, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

    And the worst of the US housing slump is playing out just a two-hour drive east of the San Francisco Bay area in California's Central Valley, where affordable land, strong demand and easy credit fuelled a boom in construction.

    As interest rates on adjustable-rate loans reset to higher levels, an increasing number of borrowers defaulted, sending foreclosures soaring. -- Reuters

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    Published March 20, 2008

    Stress test for builders as steel price soars

    It has almost doubled in 15 months and is poised to keep rising this year

    By UMA SHANKARI


    (SINGAPORE) The price of steel has almost doubled since January 2007 and this could come in the way of the construction industry's quest to reduce its dependence on concrete.

    In Singapore, industry players report that the price of both steel reinforcement bars (rebars) and structural steel has gone up by around 80-100 per cent over the past 15 months. This comes on the back of higher global demand and hikes in the costs of the raw materials used to make the metal.

    The development is a setback for the construction industry, which was veering towards using more steel to reduce dependence on concrete, which is more prone to supply-side shocks.

    'In the last 15 months, steel prices (steel rebars and structural steel) have gone up by about 80 per cent,' said Jackson Yap, chief executive of United Engineers.

    Brandon Lye, assistant vice-president for Sembawang Engineers and Constructors, similarly said that steel prices have doubled over the past 18 months.

    Data provided by industry regulator Building and Construction Authority (BCA) shows that the price of 20mm-high tensile steel was $752.50 a tonne in January 2007.

    But by January 2008, the price had climbed to $1,235.46 a tonne - a rise of some 64 per cent. The price continued to climb in February and March, industry players said.

    On the back of this, the proportion of steel cost against total construction cost has gone up from about 10 per cent to 15 per cent over the same period, Mr Yap said.

    One reason for the steel price hike is increasing global demand, said Bernard Chung, second vice-president of the Singapore Structural Steel Society.

    Macquarie Research's data shows that global steel consumption rose from 1.24 billion tonnes in 2006 to 1.33 billion tonnes in 2007. Demand is expected to continue growing in 2008 - Macquarie Research forecasts global steel demand of 1.43 billion tonnes for this year.

    Mr Chung said the demand is being driven by developing economies such as Brazil, Russia, India and China. He said that these four countries alone accounted for about three-quarters of demand growth between 1997 and 2006.

    Similarly, Macquarie Research said that China accounted for 62 per cent of world demand growth from 2000 to 2007.

    Steel prices have also been pushed up by large rises in the costs of raw materials, industry players said.

    'The cost of components used to make steel - iron ore, scrap, coking coal, coke, freight and electricity - have also gone up,' Mr Chung said.

    Macquarie Research said that steel mills are expected to pass through large rises in raw material costs in 2008, which could add around US$150 per tonne to steel costs. Add this to price increases brought on by surging demand, and the overall price of steel could climb even more this year, analysts said.

    In Singapore, increases in the price of steel could impact the industry's move towards using more steel for building.

    BCA, for example, has been encouraging more extensive use of steel for construction since Indonesia banned the export of concreting sand in January 2007. Land sand is used to make concrete.

    'Rising steel prices will slow down the drive towards the use of more steel for sustainable construction,' said United Engineers' Mr Yap.

    BCA, however, pointed out that the prices for both ready-mixed concrete and steel have increased by about 60 per cent, which means that the situation has not changed that much in terms of cost competitiveness.

    'However, steel is more readily available from many sources as compared to sand and granite,' a BCA spokeswoman said.

    And where faster 'time-to-market' is required, developers will still continue to use steel, Mr Yap said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered
    Fed Juggles Inflation, Sour Economy
    Thursday March 20, 3:44 am ET
    By Jeannine Aversa, AP Economics Writer
    Divisions in Federal Reserve Make Chairman Ben Bernanke's Juggling Act Harder

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ben Bernanke's juggling act has gotten harder. The Federal Reserve chairman has been taking extraordinary steps to prevent credit, financial and housing problems from driving the country into a deep recession. At the same time, he faces the danger that the very tonic to brace the sickly economy could bring about another dangerous ailment-- inflation.

    And, rare divisions have surfaced among Bernanke and his central bank colleagues about just how aggressive the Fed should be in lowering interest rates to treat the wobbly economy.

    Two of the Fed's members -- Charles Plosser, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, and Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas -- on Tuesday opposed cutting a key interest rate by a hefty three-quarters point. Instead, they favored a smaller reduction. It was a crack in the mostly unified front the Fed often shows the public. The last time there was a double dissent was in fall 2002 under chairman Alan Greenspan.

    The reasons for the Plosser's and Fisher's dissenting votes weren't laid out in the statement explaining the Fed's action, although both men have a reputation for being especially vigilant about fighting inflation.

    "Containing inflation is the purpose of the ship I crew for, and if a temporary economic slowdown is what we must endure while we achieve that purpose, then it is, in my opinion, a burden we must bear, however politically inconvenient," Fisher said in a speech earlier this month.

    In fact, the Fed as a whole expressed concern on Tuesday about higher inflation -- something it didn't mention in the statement issued after its previous meeting, which concluded on Jan. 30.

    "Inflation has been elevated, and some indicators of inflation expectations have risen," the Fed said Tuesday. Although policymakers were hopeful that prices would moderate in the coming quarters, they acknowledged that "uncertainty about the inflation outlook has increased."

    Rising inflation, fueled in large measure by skyrocketing energy prices, complicates Bernanke's job of trying to get the economy back on firm footing.


    The Fed started cutting rates last September and turned much more forceful this year. Those lower rates can aggravate inflation at a time when people and businesses already are smarting from high energy and food prices. The Fed's rate cuts also have weakened the dollar. That has raised the cost of imported goods coming into the U.S. and could lead American companies to raise their prices as foreign-made goods become more expensive.

    If treating inflation were the priority, the Fed would take the opposite action and raise rates.

    Fears have grown that the country could be headed for "stagflation," a toxic mix of stagnant economic activity and rising inflation not seen in three decades. "I don't anticipate stagflation," Bernanke told Congress last month. "I don't think we're anywhere near the situation that prevailed in the 1970s."

    Oil prices, which have galloped to record highs in recent weeks, have eased but still top $104 a barrel. Gasoline prices have marched upward and are expected to hit $4 a gallon nationwide this spring.

    "I think the threat of inflation is as high as it's been since the 1970s. Bernanke and the rest of them have a challenging task to navigate the economy away from recession and at the same time avoid inflation taking root," said Sean Snaith, economics professor at the University of Central Florida. "If Bernanke can do this, he'll look like a hero."

    Snaith and other economists said that Tuesday's double dissents and the Fed's talk about inflation concerns could make it more difficult for Bernanke to build consensus around the Fed's next move on interest rates. "One more dissent would be an open revolt," said Ken Mayland, economist at ClearView Economics.

    The Fed's next scheduled meeting on interest rates is April 29-30. Some believe the Fed might be more inclined to order a smaller rate cut at that time, depending on economic and financial conditions.

    "Bernanke will have a tougher juggling act to do in the future," Mayland said. "It is a fine line that they are walking here between two troubles."

    In slashing interest rates, the Fed has been squarely focused on rescuing the economy. At the same time, Bernanke has repeatedly said the Fed must be on guard for any inflation danger signs.

    Why? Because once inflation gets a grip on the economy, it can be hard to break. A rapid rise in price erodes the purchasing power of people. It squeezes companies' profits, too, and can make them more reluctant to hire and expand. It eats into returns on investments. As people and companies hunker down, that further restrains overall economic growth.

    Former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker ratcheted rates up to the highest levels since the Civil War to break inflation's hold. That jolt, however, plunged the country into the painful 1981-82 recession.

    "There is increasing concern among some on the (Fed) that freewheeling rate cuts are creating a significant problem with the Fed's goal of anchoring inflation expectations," said Scott Anderson, senior economist at Wells Fargo Economics. If people, companies and investors believe inflation will pick up, he said, they will act in ways that can make inflation worse.

    "It is important that inflation expectations remain stable. If those expectations become unhinged, they could rapidly fuel inflation," Plosser said in February. "Moreover, as we learned from the experience of the 1970s, once the public loses confidence in the Fed's commitment to price stability, it is very costly to the economy for the Fed to regain that confidence."
    OH THE BOTTOM IS NOWHERE IN SIGHT. IT IS JUST BEGINNING THE SLIDE. LONG WAY TO GO. BE PRUDENT. BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY. BLOOD EVERYWHERE.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered
    OH THE BOTTOM IS NOWHERE IN SIGHT. IT IS JUST BEGINNING THE SLIDE. LONG WAY TO GO. BE PRUDENT. BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY. BLOOD EVERYWHERE.
    OH THE BOTTOM IS HERE NOW AS SUPPORTED BY VIEW OF DAN FUSS, VICE CHAIRMAN OF LOOMIS SAYLES. IT IS JUST BEGINNING THE RISE. LONG WAY TO GO. BE FAST. BETTER NOT MISS THE BOAT AGAIN. PROFIT EVERYWHERE.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Straits Times

    West Coast condo plot draws whopping 12 bids
    Joyce Teo
    The Straits Times
    Thursday, 20 March 2008

    Competitionwas brisk for a 99-year leasehold condominium site in West Coast Crescent, with 12 firms defying signs of a property slowdown to lodge bids.

    The bidders included major and mid-sized developers and contractors, with a Hong Kong-linked firm emerging with the highest tender - but only just. Billion Rise, which is linked to the Cheung Kong group, bid $110.44 million for the site - $305 psf of gross floor area - to pip its nearest rival by 1 per cent.

    Tian Hock Properties, which has Far East Organization chief executive Philip Ng as a shareholder, tendered $108.9 million or $301 psf. MCL Land was next with $103.5 million or $286 psf.

    The response was strong, in contrast to the weak property market sentiment. One sign of that came on Tuesday when the Government decided not to award a leasehold landed plot in Westwood Avenue in Jurong West as the bids were too low.

    Consultants pointed to differences between the two sites. They said the West Coast Crescent site's prime location had sparked the keen interest.


    Graphics: Tang Wee Cheow, ST.
    Source: LTA


    It suits a mass market condo project, which would be able to better weather any sector weakness, said Knight Frank director Nicholas Mak.

    The Jurong West landed plot was in a less favourable spot and would have accommodated 99-year leasehold landed homes, which typically do not sell as well, he added.

    The West Coast Crescent site can be built up to about 36 storeys. Some high-floor units would enjoy good views of the ocean and West Coast Park as surrounding buildings are mostly low- to medium-rise, he said.

    This tender also reflects the current market situation as some bids came in relatively low. Industry sources say a few developers were trying their luck with opportunistic bids.

    The lowest bid of $50 million, from Teambuild Construction's Scantech Development, works out to just $138 psf.

    Other bidders included Sim Lian Land ($236 psf), Hoi Hup Realty ($235 psf), Frasers Centrepoint ($210 psf) and Allgreen Properties ($186 psf). City Developments' Sunny Vista Developments and TID also put in a bid of $180 psf.

    Consultants said the top bid of $305 psf will translate into an estimated break-even price of $680 psf to $720 psf for new condos. Units could be sold at between $750 and $800 psf.

    Units at nearby Blue Horizon were sold at about $750 psf in the resale market in January and February, while sub-sales of units in Varsity Park and Clementi Woods were done at $680 psf to $750 psf, according to CBRE Research.

    Oh no! CK is eating into our industry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fortune

    Fannie and Freddie bounce back
    Investors pile into the stocks after the government frees the companies to load up on cheap triple-A mortgage bonds.

    Colin Barr
    Senior writer
    Fortune
    New York, New York, U.S.
    Thursday, 20 March 2008: 12:55 AM Singapore Time


    Shares in both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are subject to wide market swings.

    The government's efforts to thaw fearful credit markets are lighting a fire under Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    Shares in the government-sponsored mortgage companies rose sharply for the second straight day Wednesday. Investors rushed to buy the stock after the firms' regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, eased some capital constraints on Fannie and Freddie in hopes of getting the market for mortgage-backed securities back on its feet. Wednesday's rally - which adds to a sharp run-up tied to Tuesday's Federal Reserve interest-rate cuts - puts the shares up more than 60% from their lows of last week.

    After long keeping a tight rein on Fannie and Freddie following accounting scandals earlier this decade, Ofheo has now effectively allowed the firms to plow $200 billion into mortgage securities. Investors fled that market last month amid worries about the toll that falling U.S. house prices and rising mortgage defaults might exact on Fannie and Freddie. Widespread selling of triple-A-rated mortgage bonds, including those backed by Fannie and Freddie, helped lead to the collapse of Carlyle Capital, a heavily leveraged Amsterdam-listed fund that held some $21 billion of the bonds, and the near implosion of jumbo mortgage lender Thornburg Mortgage (TMA).

    "This is an effort to prevent further Thornburgs and Carlyles," says Gary Gordon, an analyst at Portales Partners in New York.

    The Ofheo decision isn't just good for the bond market. It's good for shareholders in Fannie (FNM) and Freddie (FRE, Fortune 500) because it gives the companies the power to scoop up highly rated mortgage-backed securities that have been trading at a discount. Gordon, who has a buy rating on Fannie and Freddie, says Wednesday's rally shows that investors are starting to appreciate the companies' growth prospects - which are bolstered by improving pricing in both its credit guarantee and mortgage investment businesses - after months of focusing solely on their credit risks.

    "There are two issues with Fannie and Freddie," he says: the risk of credit losses, and the reward of strong revenue growth. "The market seems to focus on one or the other, which is why you get these big swings."

    The swings in these stocks have been very large indeed. Fannie and Freddie traded in the high $60s last summer, before the full extent of the mortgage meltdown became apparent. Since then they have traded as low as the high teens amid concerns about their exposure to losses tied to the deteriorating U.S. housing market.

    Those worries spiked over the past month after both firms reported multibillion-dollar losses for the fourth quarter, and President Bush signed into law a measure giving Fannie and Freddie ability to buy much bigger loans. That move aimed to support slipping house prices in high-cost areas where many mortgages were above Fannie and Freddie limits - but it caused investors to flee the stocks amid worries that bigger loans would mean hefty losses.

    But Wednesday's statement from James Lockhart, Ofheo's director, is clearly intended to soothe those fears. Lockhart said Wednesday's decision will allow the companies to bolster the mortgage markets without causing undue strain on their balance sheets.

    "Let me be clear - both companies have prudent cushions above the OFHEO-directed capital requirements and have increased their reserves," Lockhart said in a statement. "We believe they can play an even more positive role in providing the stability and liquidity the markets need right now."

    Indeed, additional bond purchases by Fannie and Freddie should support prices in the mortgage bond market - which is good for institutions that hold Fannie and Freddie-backed bonds. Higher prices could also help Fannie and Freddie, which must mark-to-market the value of their mortgage portfolios each quarter. Gordon says a sustained rise in mortgage bond prices could allow Fannie and Freddie to reverse some of the hefty writedowns that contributed to their steep fourth-quarter losses.

    Gordon also takes heart in Ofheo's stance on the companies' capital needs. "As a key part of this initiative," the Ofheo statement says, "both companies announced that they will begin the process to raise significant capital." Saying you'll begin the process of raising capital is very different from saying you're going to raise capital now, Gordon points out. He believes that if the markets for mortgage securities return to health, Fannie and Freddie may find their balance sheets bolstered by reversals of earlier mark-to-market writedowns.

    If that happens, he says, "They just won't need to raise new capital."
    Funny and funnier.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reuters

    Bottoming process begins with Bear Sterns, not bear market
    Jennifer Ablan
    Reuters
    New York, New York, U.S.
    Wednesday, 19 March 2008, 9:20 pm U.S. EDT


    The Bear Stearns building in New York

    Less than a week ago, it seemed like the sky was falling on Wall Street when the spectacular unravelling of investment bank Bear Stearns sent financial markets, in the United States and elsewhere, into panic mode.

    Then the Federal Reserve swooped in. Its liquidity action and its brokering of a deal for JPMorgan Chase & Co. to take over Bear Stearns made investors less fearful about the probable crippling of the American banking system that could have occurred.

    Bear Stearns' fall to the brink of bankruptcy and the aggressive moves by US policy makers have led many investors to believe that these events mark the beginning of a bottoming process.

    For everyone who still thinks that stocks won't hit a bottom until the Standard & Poor's 500 falls into the bear market's grasp, never mind.

    'We are in a bottoming process, but it will really be a 'process' because healing of this credit crisis does take time,' said Dan Fuss, vice chairman of Loomis Sayles, an investment company that oversees more than US$100 billion (S$139 billion) in fixed-income securities.

    What gives Mr Fuss and other major investors reason to believe that a bottom is in the making is that in nearly every previous one, there typically has been a huge failure of an institution that has led to extreme policy responses.

    Think Enron and WorldCom, Long-Term Capital Management and Orange County.

    'It usually took a big entity to fall over for aggressive, creative regulatory policy to develop,' said Bob Doll, vice chairman and global chief investment officer of equities at BlackRock, which manages more than US$1.1 trillion in assets.

    'That's what we saw with Bear Stearns collapsing and the Fed's extraordinary response to it. And that's why confidence is improving,' he added.

    An avalanche of fear
    Bear Stearns, which had been heavily exposed to the faltering mortgage market, faced a classic 'run on the bank' as the firm burned through cash and lost access to funding when clients furiously yanked assets and unwound trades.

    To make matters worse, fears abounded that Lehman Brothers, the fourth-largest US investment bank, could suffer a similar fate as Bear, the fifth-largest.

    'The Fed was trying to blunt what could have been a snowballing effect of a lack of faith in the financial system,' said Keith Wirtz, president and chief investment officer at Fifth Third Asset Management, which manages US$22.5 billion.

    'The Fed saw that they had to do something absolute to stifle what could have been a developing crisis of a full-fledged lack of faith in the investment banking sector, which could have eventually crept into the commercial money banks as well,' Mr Wirtz said.

    Before Monday, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and even venerable Goldman Sachs watched their stocks get 'killed' last week, he added.

    In fact, from the end of June 2007, which was the start of the credit turmoil, to March 14, 2008, before the Fed stepped in, Goldman's stock was down 28%, Lehman lost 48%, and Merrill also dropped 48 per cent.

    Moreover, the Amex Securities Broker-Dealer Index was down 48%.

    Pushing open the discount window
    On Tuesday, the Fed cut interest rates by three-quarters of a percentage point, the sixth time it has slashed its fed funds rate target for overnight bank loans, to 2.25%.

    It wasn't, however, what prevented a near meltdown in stock markets.

    The Fed dusted off a Depression-era rule to let securities firms borrow directly from the Fed through its 'discount window' - and that helped restore investors' confidence. That decision was announced along with the Fed's promise to underwrite JPMorgan's takeover of Bear for the 'fire sale' price of US$2 a share. It helped turn the mood around on Wall Street.

    From now on, any bank in a liquidity jam will be able to go directly to the Fed's discount window and trade in its hard-to-sell assets, such as mortgage bonds, as collateral for highly liquid government bonds or cash, which it can in turn use to fund its short-term liabilities and keep trading.

    'The big news this week was not the Fed's 75 basis points on Tuesday,' Mr Doll said. 'It was what they did with opening the discount window .... that's a huge change.' This week, the Fed cut the discount rate twice - in an emergency move on Sunday night, when it unveiled JPMorgan's deal to buy Bear Stearns at the almost unthinkable price of US$2 a share and again on Tuesday at its regular meeting.

    On Wednesday, the federal government came up with another tonic for troubled times. The regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two biggest US home financing arrangement, relaxed their capital rules and gave them permission to pump US$200 billion more into the struggling US mortgage market.

    Goldman shares are trading at US$166.49 per share, up from Friday's close of US$156.86, while Lehman is trading at US$42.23 per share, up from its Friday close of US$39.26.

    As for Merrill, its shares closed at US$41.45, down from US$43.51 on Friday.

    Letting some air out of oil and gold
    Investors also believe the bottom has arrived for technical reasons. The Dow Jones industrial average and the S&P 500's have seen valuations that are much more subdued than when the markets had capitulated in the past.

    'Everyone has been looking for the capitulation in the stock market, but they are looking at the wrong place,' Mr Wirtz said.

    'Last week was very much a capitulation moment' in the financial sector, the root of the liquidity crisis, he added.

    That's not all, folks.

    Soon after the last bubble burst in technology and telecommunications stocks in March 2000, investors diversified away from US equities.

    'They've been buying foreign stocks and hard assets like commodities and real estate,' Mr Wirtz added.

    Now everything from oil to gold to wheat are suffering from what looks like the beginning of a huge downdraft in those leveraged assets. US crude for April delivery dropped nearly US$5 to US$104.48 a barrel, while gold tumbled 6% to a three-week low, under the US$1000 mark to US$940.40 an ounce.

    'That's where all the leverage is coming out now, commodities,' Mr Fuss said. 'I think stocks and bonds have gone through their worst beating.' 'Down the road, last week will be looked at as an important moment in time for equity investors,' added Mr Wirtz of Fifth Third, who said the bottom is here.
    Going up from here?

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    Jobless Claims Up 22,000, More Than Expected
    By Reuters | 20 Mar 2008 | 08:35 AM ET

    The number of US workers applying for unemployment benefits climbed 22,000 last week to 378,000, government data showed on Thursday, but part of the larger-than-expected increase may have been due to layoffs caused by an auto industry strike.

    Economists polled by Reuters had forecast initial jobless claims would increase to 360,000 in the week ending March 15, compared with a revised 356,000 the prior week. This initially had been estimated at 353,000 claims.

    The four-week moving average of initial claims, which gives a better underlying signal on the state of the labor market, rose to 365,250, the highest level since October 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.


    The number of workers remaining on jobless benefits increased 32,000 to 2.865 million in the week ending March 8, the most recent week for which the data was available, notching the highest reading since August 2004.

    Economists had forecast these so-called continued claims to mount to 2.85 million.

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    Citigroup Plans More Job Cuts in Securities Business
    Reuters | 20 Mar 2008 | 08:20 AM ET

    Citigroup, the largest US bank, plans further job cuts in its securities operations in a bid to cut costs after subprime mortgage and credit problems led to a record quarterly loss.

    Any job losses would be on top of 4,200 cuts companywide announced in January by Chief Executive Vikram Pandit, and 17,000 announced last April by predecessor Charles Prince.

    "Each year we identify the bottom 5 percent of performers in the institutional clients group, and some number of these people leave the firm," spokesman Adam Castellani said Thursday. "This year, we will have a larger number of reductions as we continue to strengthen the business and lower our expense base."

    The institutional clients group includes investment banking and trading operations, as well as alternative investments, which offers hedge fund and private equity services.

    According to the New York Times, citing people close to the situation, Citigroup plans to lay off 2,000 investment bankers and traders before the end of March. Most cuts will be in New York and London, though other markets in Europe and Asia will be affected, the newspaper said. Traders are more at risk given market conditions, the newspaper said.

    The bank declined to confirm the report. Published reports have said Citigroup might cut tens of thousands of jobs. Pandit has been reviewing the bank's businesses worldwide to explore ways to boost profitability and efficiency.

    In the fourth quarter, New York-based Citigroup suffered a $9.83 billion loss, hurt by $18.1 billion of write-downs largely tied to subprime mortgages and related securities.

    Speaking on a Jan. 15 conference call discussing results, Chief Financial Officer Gary Crittenden called the 4,200 job cuts a "first installment" in what would likely be "a continual stream of efforts that we are making to reduce headcounts in nonproductive areas" and invest in stronger businesses.

    Citigroup shares closed Wednesday at $20.41 on the New York Stock Exchange. They closed one year ago at $50.64. Citi shares gained less than 1 percent in premarket trading.

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    Ebay Restructuring Worldwide, Cuts Jobs
    By Reuters | 20 Mar 2008 | 08:19 AM ET
    EBay is restructuring its operations worldwide which will lead to a small cut in global staffing levels but with some countries hit harder than others, a company spokeswoman said on Thursday.

    "It's less than 1 percent globally," Sravanthi Agrawal told Reuters, adding the main regions and countries affected by the online auctioneer's job cuts were in North America, Belgium, Spain and Austria.

    "We shared the news with the employees internally," she said, adding the company had not yet made an announcement to the media. "It's a globalisation and centralisation effort." restructuring was aimed at refocusing on its core business, Agrawal said.

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    Mortgage war breaks out as DBS and UOB offer new rates

    Banks focusing on specific targets, waging battles without fanfare

    By Grace Ng, Finance Correspondent


    THE mortgage war finally erupted, as Singapore banks responded to a dramatic rate cut by Maybank three weeks ago - with one even offering a zero per cent package.

    That attractive deal comes from United Overseas Bank (UOB), which has relaunched a package with a teaser first-year rate at rock-bottom.

    DBS Group Holdings has also rolled out new rates on several packages, including a fixed-rate deal that claims to be the lowest of its type here in Singapore.

    Unlike the fanfare that marked the rate war in 2003, though, the battle now is focused on specific targets and is being kept under the radar.

    Banks are quietly offering promotional rates on a case-by-case basis and tend to target clients with loans of well over $300,000. While the market for new mortgages has softened, banks are still busy.

    'A lot of customers are looking to refinance their loans taken less than a year ago, when interest rates were much higher,' Mr Bryan Ong of mortgage consultancy bcgroup.com.sg said.

    Maybank sparked the war with an aggressive three-year, fixed-rate package at 1.68 per cent for the first year. This promo, which ends on Monday, has sent customers 'rushing to submit loan applications', said Maybank consumer banking head Helen Neo.

    About 80 per cent of the applications were for buying private properties with an average loan size of about $675,000. Maybank is now 'reviewing the rates'.

    Other banks have not taken the move lying down. Most have tacitly matched - or undercut - Maybank's rates.

    DBS has a new three-year, fixed-rate package with an aggregate rate of 7.64 per cent - lower than Maybank's 7.74 per cent. It offers a 1 per cent cash rebate in the first year.

    UOB has revived its FirstZero Home Loan - a three-year, fixed-rate package available 'only for a limited period'. The bank launched this in 2003, but it was quietly taken off the market last year amid interest rate volatility.

    FirstZero is now back with a zero per cent rate on the first year, 3.6 per cent on the second and 4.5 per cent on the third, making a three-year aggregate rate of 8.1 per cent.

    It has hefty penalty charges and a three-year lock-in period.

    Standard Chartered Bank (Stanchart) actually moved before Maybank, cutting its three-year, fixed-rate package from 3.58 per cent to 2.98 per cent in January. It also cut its two-year package by 0.55 of a percentage point to 2.88 per cent.

    DBS countered this week with a 2.88 per cent average annual rate for a three-year package and a 1 per cent cash rebate on the first year.

    This three-week promotion is only for customers with loan quantums of at least $300,000.

    OCBC Bank had not joined the fray, with chief executive David Conner saying last month that a mortgage rate war was unlikely.

    OCBC said 'from time to time, it offers loan packages with promotional rates that are highly competitive compared to other players'.

    The most popular packages now are those linked to transparent rates, like the Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (Sibor) or swap offered rate (SOR), comprising the Sibor plus a bank's lending costs.

    These are official, regularly published industry rates customers can check to see how their packages are structured.

    Riding on this interest, DBS has just cut by half its rate for its 12-month, two-year, Sibor-linked loans to 0.5 per cent for the first year.

    Nearly 80 per cent of Stanchart's new customers in recent months have taken up its package offering SOR plus 0.5 per cent for the first year.

    The SOR has dropped from about 3 per cent last year to about 1.5 per cent currently.

    Stanchart's head of consumer banking, Mr Ajay Kanwal, said: 'With the interest rate environment expected to soften further, customers of SOR-linked packages will benefit even more.'

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    Published March 19, 2008

    MGPA's Marina View project to cost $5b

    Devt to have over 2.6m sq ft in two towers of more than 40 storeys each

    By ARTHUR SIM


    MACQUARIE Global Property Advisors (MGPA) will spend about $2 billion building a commercial complex on two development sites at Marina View that it clinched last year.


    On the drawing board: Artist's impression of MGPA's Marina View project which will have a 250-room hotel

    With the sites having cost close to $3 billion, the total investment will be around $5 billion.

    MGPA bid for the two sites at separate public tenders just three months apart. It paid $1,409 per square foot per plot ratio (ppr) for the first parcel in September 2007 and $952.90 psf ppr for the second in November that year.

    The second parcel does come with a requirement to provide a hotel component.

    Speaking at the building agreement signing ceremony yesterday, MGPA CEO (Asia Investments) Simon Treacy said that there could be more bargains in the offing here.

    'The next six to nine months will have even better pricing available,' he said.

    Mr Treacy did not give details of future acquisitions here but was bullish on the office sector, where he believes rents can rise between 10 and 25 per cent this year.

    MGPA's Marina View development is expected to have a total gross floor area (GFA) of more than 2.6 million sq ft in two 40-storey-plus towers with a 20-metre-high podium.

    According to the conditions of the tender, at least 70 per cent of the GFA of the first site must be developed as office space. The second site must have at least 60 per cent office space.

    Also speaking at yesterday's ceremony was MGPA CEO (Asia Developments) Michael Wilkinson, who revealed that there will be a 250-room luxury hotel. He also said that the retail podium is likely to have a significant number of F&B outlets to support the offices.

    While a residential component is allowed, Mr Wilkinson said that this is not likely at the moment. However, he said that the design has not been finalised and MGPA is having 'extensive discussions' with the authorities to settle this.

    MGPA has invested about $4.5 billion in Singapore over the last 15 months. Other major acquisitions include Temasek Tower, which it bought for $1.04 billion in March 2007.

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