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Thread: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

  1. #1
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    Default S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/sub/...76616,00.html?

    April 25, 2008, 12.55 pm (Singapore time)

    S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1


    SINGAPORE - Singapore private home prices rose 3.7 per cent between January and March, the second straight quarter of slower growth as property sales slowed, government figures showed on Friday.

    Click here for URA's press release

    The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said the price index for private homes, an indicator of inflation that is already at 26-year highs, rose to 177.2 for the three months ended March, from 170.8 in the previous three-month period.

    Private home prices jumped 31 percent in 2007 for the largest increase in eight years, but growth has slowed since the final quarter of 2007 while the Jan-March sales volume slumped to the lowest since 2003.

    Moves by the government to cool the Singapore housing market, coupled with fears of a global economic downturn, have kept homebuyers away from showrooms and are expected to hit developers such as CapitaLand and City Developments. -- REUTERS

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    Default Home prices rise more slowly in quiet market

    http://www.straitstimes.com/Prime%2B...ry_231047.html

    April 26, 2008

    Home prices rise more slowly in quiet market

    Lower-than-forecast 3.7% growth could signal start of decline

    By Fiona Chan, Property Reporter


    THE property market may have gone quiet, but home prices continued their steady climb in the first three months of this year, albeit at a much weaker pace.

    Private home prices rose 3.7 per cent between January and March, down from the 6.8 per cent growth in the previous three months.

    It was also notably lower than the 4.2 per cent rise that had been predicted early this month, based on sales in the first 10 weeks.

    This suggests prices may have started declining last month, dragging down the whole quarter.

    'Price growth is starting to weaken severely and the volume of transactions has halved,' said Mr Chua Yang Liang, Jones Lang LaSalle's head of South-east Asia research.

    'The rate of increase in coming quarters is likely to be even slower and prices may peak in the third or fourth quarter.'

    Observers have suggested that private home prices could be holding partly because developers are putting off project launches, thus curbing the supply of new homes.

    Developers had 10,239 new units ready for sale in the first quarter that were not launched - that is a three-year high and 3,000 more than in the previous quarter.

    The number of units actually launched in the quarter - 1,343 - was the lowest in almost four years.

    'There's a lot of supply but it hasn't been released into the market yet, and that could be one reason why prices are still growing,' said Mr Nicholas Mak, director of research and consultancy at property firm Knight Frank.

    Almost half of these unlaunched units were in the core central region, comprising the prime districts 9 to 11, the Marina Bay area and Sentosa. The rest were evenly divided between the city-fringe and suburban regions.

    Mr Ku Swee Yong of Savills Singapore said developers may not be delaying launches to deliberately prop up prices but, rather, to wait out the weak market sentiment and uncertain global outlook.

    Whatever the reason, the lack of launches has forced buyers to turn to the secondary market, where they bought 2,304 homes in the quarter - three times what they bought directly from developers.

    This shows there is still an underlying demand for homes, and may also have helped sustain prices at current levels, analysts said.

    The slowdown affected private homes in all areas, from prime to suburban regions. Each region saw prices rise only 3 to 4 per cent, from 7 to 8 per cent the previous quarter.

    Sub-sales - this is when a person buys an uncompleted home and then sells it again before it is built - made up a tenth of all sales.

    In the case of public housing, resale prices rose 3.7 per cent in the first quarter, down from 5.7 per cent previously. But sales dropped 6 per cent to 6,360 transactions.

    The median cash-over-valuation amount - the portion of a flat's price that buyers have to pay in cash - dipped slightly to $21,000. This shows that buyers are starting to resist having to fork out too much cash for HDB flats, especially since valuations have climbed recently.

    All other types of properties also saw lower growth, with office prices logging the biggest slowdown. They rose only 1.1 per cent in the first quarter, down from 8 per cent in the previous three months.

    But office rentals stayed strong, as businesses continued to expand and space remained tight.

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    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    DJ MARKET TALK: Demand For Mass-Mkt Homes Firm Until 2009 -UOB-KH



    0412 GMT [Dow Jones] Demand for mass-market private homes in Singapore likely to outpace supply well into 2009, based on recently released 1Q08 URA data showing prices for this segment outperformed those in mid-tier market, says UOB-KayHian. Prices of mass-market homes +3.8% on-quarter vs 3.3% growth in rest of central region, a proxy for mid-tier segment. "This is in line with our expectations of the favorable demand-supply dynamics in the mass market segment," says house, noting strong demand from buyers priced out of mid-tier market, from foreigners who prefer to buy instead of rent, from cash-rich owners who opt to downgrade following collective sale of their previous homes. Likes diversified developers such as Keppel Land (K17.SG), CapitaLand (C31.SG) and those trading at deep discount to RNAV, including Ho Bee Investment (H13.SG), Allgreen Properties (A16.SG). Respective target prices at S$8.86, S$6.90, S$1.50, S$1.60. (FKH)

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    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    DJ MARKET TALK: CS Keeps Singapore Ppty Sector At Market-Weight

    0551 GMT [Dow Jones] Credit Suisse keeps Singapore property sector at Market-Weight after Friday release from URA and HDB of official 1Q08 data show growth slowed down across all segments: private residential, public housing (HDB), office, retail and industrial prices and rents; notes retail rents exception, growing slightly faster at 1%. Notes new private home take-up rates at 57%, marking lowest level since 1997, despite developers delaying launches. "Both developers and buyers continue to 'wait-and-see,' although we observe some developers and panic secondary sellers are already starting to drop prices." Notes 56,000 private homes, 8 million sq ft NLA of office space expected to be completed 2Q08-2011; says looks excessive vs average annual take-up of private homes and office space at 7,500, 1.6 million sq ft, respectively. "We remain cautious on the developers, especially those with substantial exposure to high end properties - Wing Tai (W05.sG). We prefer the retail REITs - CapitalMall Trust (C38U.SG) and Frasers Centrepoint Trust (J69U.SG) to play the still-buoyant retail sector, which should also be more resilient in a downturn." (LES)

    (END) Dow Jones Newswires
    April 28, 2008 01:51 ET (05:51 GMT)
    Copyright (c) 2008 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    No way mate. Property prices will NOT go up. This is the endgame for Singapore property already. All investors are grasping at straws.

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    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    No way mate. Property prices will NOT fall. This is no endgame for Singapore property already. All investors are resting and awaiting the next surge.

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    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    In fact I'm more concerned about inflation than anything else. Hence this lull period is a good time to reflect on our property investment strategy and how it can help to insulate us against the impact of inflation.

    What type of property will be a good hedge against future inflation? I remember back around the 1980's when the Government started talking about increasing ministerial salaries by benchmarking against private sector salaries, top lawyers in Singapore were earning only $800,000 p.a. Today that's no big deal anymore, and top lawyers now earn between $4 million to $5 million per year.

    The income at the top seems to be pulling away from the rest of the population.

    If you notice that Lasik Clinic at Paragon, they claim to perform more than 2000 Lasiks per month. At a price of around $1,400 per eye, that's $2.8 million per month, or $33.6 million a year!

    If I'm not wrong, they have only 3 doctors so each one earns more than $10 million a year! I don't know how much expenses they incur, but that's the sort of astronomical figures we're talking about.

    There are going to be more and more of these super-rich people. Last time, CEOs used to earn around $1 million a year and we thought that was a lot. Now they can rake in $5 million and above per year.

    What sort of houses will these people want to stay in? Good Class Bungalows or Luxury Condominiums? If we are able to pre-empt them by buying up the houses before there are more and more of them who are earning more and more, then we can hedge against asset inflation as well as other types of inflation.

    Good Class Bungalows and luxury condominiums cost around $10 million to $15 million each. This is tremendously underpriced relative to the earning power of the people who can afford them. Imagine, why would a doctor who earns $10 million a year stay in a house that costs him only one year of his salary. Hence I think such properties will one day reach $50 million to $100 million, like in Hong Kong.

    I feel GCBs are the best buys because there are only 1000 of them and unlike condos, their number will not increase. On the other hand, the number of people who can afford them is continously increasing, and the incomes of such people are increasing at an exponential rate.

    Problem is, the price of GCBs, even today, is so totally out of reach of ordinary folks. I am thinking very hard what sort of cheaper houses can be a good proxy for investing in a GCB.

    Any suggestions?
    Last edited by jlrx; 30-04-08 at 04:37.

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    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    Quote Originally Posted by jlrx
    In fact I'm more concerned about inflation than anything else. Hence this lull period is a good time to reflect on our property investment strategy and how it can help to insulate us against the impact of inflation.

    What type of property will be a good hedge against future inflation? I remember back around the 1980's when the Government started talking about increasing ministerial salaries by benchmarking against private sector salaries, top lawyers in Singapore were earning only $800,000 p.a. Today that's no big deal anymore, and top lawyers now earn between $4 million to $5 million per year.

    The income at the top seems to be pulling away from the rest of the population.

    If you notice that Lasik Clinic at Paragon, they claim to perform more than 2000 Lasiks per month. At a price of around $1,400 per eye, that's $2.8 million per month, or $33.6 million a year!

    If I'm not wrong, they have only 3 doctors so each one earns more than $10 million a year! I don't know how much expenses they incur, but that's the sort of astronomical figures we're talking about.

    There are going to be more and more of these super-rich people. Last time, CEOs used to earn around $1 million a year and we thought that was a lot. Now they can rake in $5 million and above per year.

    What sort of houses will these people want to stay in? Good Class Bungalows or Luxury Condominiums? If we are able to pre-empt them by buying up the houses before there are more and more of them who are earning more and more, then we can hedge against asset inflation as well as other types of inflation.

    Good Class Bungalows and luxury condominiums cost around $10 million to $15 million each. This is tremendously underpriced relative to the earning power of the people who can afford them. Imagine, why would a doctor who earns $10 million a year stay in a house that costs him only one year of his salary. Hence I think such properties will one day reach $50 million to $100 million, like in Hong Kong.

    I feel GCBs are the best buys because there are only 1000 of them and unlike condos, their number will not increase. On the other hand, the number of people who can afford them is continously increasing, and the incomes of such people are increasing at an exponential rate.

    Problem is, the price of GCBs, even today, is so totally out of reach of ordinary folks. I am thinking very hard what sort of cheaper houses can be a good proxy for investing in a GCB.

    Any suggestions?
    I think you went in the right direction by focusing on income.

    Quote Originally Posted by Business Times

    Income, not interest, led to property boom
    Business Times
    Wednesday, 30 April 2008

    The recent climb enjoyed by equity and property prices was driven more by strong economic growth than by low interest rates, according to a study by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

    Empirical research by MAS shows that economic activity exerts a larger influence on asset prices in Singapore than borrowing costs.

    'Asset price inflation reflects an underlying increase in income growth augmented in part by favourable sentiment towards domestic assets,' says the study, featured in the MAS macroeconomic review report released yesterday.

    The MAS report also says: 'This linkage has been misunderstood by some analysts, who expressed concern that the increase in domestic liquidity, in and of itself, has fuelled the run-up in asset prices.'

    Private housing prices increased by 31.2% for 2007 as a whole, and some market analysts had felt that the central bank should raise interest rates to rein in property inflation.

    This was because while overseas investors were driving property prices up, the inflow of foreign funds continued to add to domestic liquidity and kept borrowing costs low.

    But as the MAS report mentions, 'the factors behind the increase in liquidity are much more complex in view of Singapore's monetary policy framework'.

    Domestic interest rates have dropped since September last year as US interest rates fell and the Singapore dollar grew stronger.

    The benchmark 3-month domestic interbank rate fell by 144 basis points from August 2007 to 1.31% at the end of March 2008.

    As interbank rates fell, banks also started offering cheaper and more innovative mortgage packages.

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    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    Quote Originally Posted by 我报

    More attractive to buy home instead of renting
    Marcel Lee Pereira
    我报
    Tuesday, 29 April 2008

    With interest rates sliding, now could be a good time to move out of that rental apartment and get your own home.

    Taking a home loan at a lower interest rate could translate into paying less than what you fork out in rent now, and getting the property under your name too, said consumer moneylender GE Money, which offers a range of consumer finance products such as personal and car loans, but not home loans.

    Speaking to my paper on responsible borrowing in a climate of low interest rates and a strong Singapore dollar, GE Money's chief marketing officer, Mr Alok Kumar, said: 'It does make sense to buy property now because interest rates are low.'

    'If you haven't considered taking a housing loan, now is the time to consider that, because cash flow will make better sense today due to the lower interest rate and lower outflow.'

    This is an option because the Singapore Inter-bank Offered Rate (Sibor) is on a downward trend, he said. Sibor, the rate at which banks lend to one another, is a key component used in setting home loan rates. It tends to track the United States Federal Reserve funds rate, which has been slashed in recent weeks.

    The three-month Sibor has declined by more than one percentage point, from 2.38% at the start of the year to 1.31% at end-March. It dipped even further to just 1.25% last week. Said Dr Chua Hak Bin, a strategist at Deutsche Bank's Private Wealth Management: 'It's an attractive time to borrow. There is still a chance that the interbank rates might move lower because the market expects the Fed to continue cutting rates.'

    But GE Money's Mr Kumar said that consumers should also take a long-term view and understand the long-term risks.

    He said: 'You can afford a loan today but, if the interest rate goes up four years later, do you see your earnings also going up' Will you be able to service the loan then?'

    A DBS spokesman said that with lower interest rates now, customers would benefit from home loan packages that are pegged to benchmarks like Sibor, where it truly reflects the movements in interbank rates.

    'However, one would also need to consider the purpose of the purchase,' said the spokesman.

    'For example, if the property is meant for owner occupation, then the consumer should take a longer-term view on the housing loan.'

    Besides, one does not buy a property just because of low interest rates, said UOB economist Ho Woei Chen.

    'You also have to consider other things like housing prices now, and what you think the property market will be like going forward,' she said.

    Mrs Lynn Ong, 32, who lives with her husband and three children in a rented house in Upper Thomson, is hoping to buy a house within the next 6 months, as her rent has just gone up from $3,000 to $5,000 a month.

    'Lower interest rates mean I can get the most out of my money. Instead of paying rent, you service a mortgage,' said Mrs Ong, a contract adviser.

    'It makes more sense that you put money into something that belongs to you.'

    On the stronger Singapore dollar, Mr Kumar believes that investment in shares and funds traded in US dollars would provide higher returns.

    'There are no clear low-hanging fruits that you can grab unless it's US dollar-denominated investments,' he said.

    'But general prudence about spending and borrowing still prevails even in this environment.'
    With the U-turn in March, now is the best time to buy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CNA

    More jobs created in early 2008
    Channel NewsAsia
    Wednesday, 30 April 2008, 1145 hrs



    More jobs were available in the Singapore's services sector in the past few months, contributing to a growth in employment figures.

    Preliminary estimates show that employment grew by 68,400 in the first quarter of 2008 as the economy picked up pace. This growth in jobs is higher than the increase of 62,500 in the previous quarter and 49,400 in the first quarter of 2007.

    According to the Manpower Ministry, the services industry added 42,900 workers, while construction increased its workforce by 13,400 driven by the growth in building activities.

    As for the manufacturing sector, it was the main source of retrenchments, with the largest numbers coming from the electronics industry.

    Out of the 2,000 workers retrenched in the first quarter of the year, 1500 had been working in the manufacturing sector. The rest came from the services sector.

    The MOM estimates however show that the number retrenched in Q1 08 is similar to the previous quarter and in Q1 07.

    Overall, unemployment was up to 2.0% in March 08 from a seasonally adjusted 1.7% in December 2007, but this remains lower than a year ago.
    The market will continue to stay healthy as long as we continue to create more jobs.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reuter

    Asia growth resilient, but FX rises to slow: S&P
    Reuters
    Mumbai, India
    Wednesday, 20 April 2008

    Asia's economy will be resilient in the face of a US recession thanks to the regional locomotives of China and India, but the pace of currency appreciation will slow, Standard & Poor's said on Wednesday.

    Asia's exports would take a hit as the world's largest economy slips into a recession, reducing the amount of dollars entering these economies that would fuel rises in their currencies, said Subir Gokarn, Standard & Poor's (S&P) chief Asia-Pacific economist.

    Still, Asia-Pacific ex-Japan would still grow 8% or more in 2008 and 2009, he said.

    S&P forecast the U.S. economy would shrink 0.5% in the first quarter and 0.9% in the second.

    The United States is due to report first-quarter GDP figures later on Wednesday.

    'What we are arguing is that the Asian region has developed within itself very strong drivers for growth, which tends to offset the influence of the weakening US economy,' Mr Gokarn told reporters on a conference call.

    Chinese and Indian demand for goods from the rest of Asia would offset some of the impact from weaker US demand.

    Intra-regional trade would also be boosted by a spate of free trade pacts that have been signed, he said.

    He forecast China's economy was likely to grow between 9.5% and 10% in 2008, supported by solid consumption and investment, before slowing to a range of 9% to 9.5% in 2009.

    China's economy grew 11.9% in 2007.

    He forecast India's economy will grow between 8.2% and 8.7 per cent in 2008 and 7.9% to 8.4% in 2009, from growth of 9.4% in 2007.

    Inflation

    But inflation risks pose a threat to the region, with some Asian central banks facing limited room to ease policy to spur economic growth at the time of slowing exports, he said.

    Elevated inflation pressures in some countries, namely China and Singapore, have put pressure on policy makers to allow currencies to rise to help curb import costs, but Gokarn said the picture may change next year due to the credit crisis.

    'I think we're moving back to the pre-2007 arrangement, where essentially all currencies will appreciate but moderately over the next year or two,' he said.

    The amount of dollar flows to most Asian countries would moderate as slowing exports led to narrowing current-account surpluses countries while investment flows may also be affected by the heightened global uncertainty, he said.

    'We do see moderate, controlled appreciation in the face of persistent current account surpluses and capital inflows, but not as large and not as much pressure as there was in 2006 and 2007.'

    Most Asian currencies have risen against the dollar in recent years, but central banks still intervene frequently to prevent abrupt currency rises and help maintain export competitiveness.

    The Thai baht has gained 6% so far this year after appreciating 7% in 2007 and 14% in 2006.

    The Philippine peso gained 8% in 2006 and 19% in 2007, but has fallen 2% so far this year.

    The Malaysian ringgit is up 4.7% so far in 2008, after rising 6.7% in 2007 and 7% in 2006.
    Asia should be fine with China and India.
    Let's see how US do tonight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reuters

    U.S. Q1 GDP Growth Stronger Than Forecast
    Glenn Somerville
    Reuters
    Washington, D.C., U.S.
    Wednesday, 30 April 2008, 10.00am U.S. EDT


    Shoppers cross Seventh Avenue in New York in a file photo. The economy grew at a slightly stronger pace than forecast as 2008 began, helped by inventory-building that tempered a steadily deteriorating housing sector and less vigorous consumer spending. - Photo: Ray Stubblebine, Reuters

    A buildup in inventories kept the economy afloat in the first quarter despite the weakest consumer spending since 2001 and the biggest drop in home building in more than 26 years, a government report showed on Wednesday.

    The Commerce Department said gross domestic product or GDP expanded at a 0.6% annual rate in the first quarter, matching the fourth quarter's advance and handily topping a forecast for 0.2% growth in an advance poll of economists by Reuters.

    Some economists said the report suggested the U.S. economy was on a bit firmer ground than had been thought, but others were still bracing for worse times ahead as businesses ratchet back production further to try to sell off inventories.

    "We expect that the coming inventory correction will send growth into negative territory, save a truly heroic effort by the U.S. consumer to spend their way out of the current malaise with their $600 rebates," said Joseph Brusuelas, U.S. chief economist at IDEAglobal in New York.

    Tax rebate checks that are part of a government economic stimulus program began to flow this week to upwards of 100 million Americans.

    Government bond prices initially dipped on the stronger-than-expected growth figure but later recovered as investors focused on weakening consumer spending. Stocks opened higher.

    Separately, ADP Employer Services said U.S. private-sector employers added 10,000 jobs in April, another surprise on the upside since forecasts had been for 60,000 jobs to be lost.

    The reports were issued just before Fed policy-makers began a second day of deliberations that is expected to result in a decision to trim official interest rates another quarter percentage point to try to keep expansion going.

    Analysts said they still expected a rate reduction.

    "This is not going to disrupt things at the Fed today," said economist Pierre Ellis of Decision Economics in New York.

    GDP is the broadest measure of total economic activity within U.S. borders and, despite a better-than-expected first-quarter performance, details of the report reflect widespread weakening that many analysts fear will lead to a recession.

    The GDP figures are an initial measure of first-quarter performance and will be revised twice in coming months.

    The Fed has cut its benchmark federal funds rate by 3 percentage points since mid-September to shore up the economy and calm unsettled financial markets. But many believe the Fed may send a signal at Wednesday's meeting that its rate-cutting campaign is at an end amid signs of persistent rises in food and energy prices.

    Consumer spending that fuels two-thirds of economic activity through consumption of goods and services, grew at the weakest rate since the second quarter of 2001, when the economy was last in recession. It rose at a 1% rate after growing 2.3% in the fourth quarter.

    The weakening in an already distressed housing sector was even more striking. Spending on residential construction plunged at a 26.7% rate - a ninth straight quarterly decline and the biggest for any three months since the end of 1981.

    A buildup in business inventories, which bolsters growth in the period in which it occurs, helped the economy keep growing in the first quarter. Stocks of unsold goods rose at a $1.8-billion annual rate in the first quarter after shrinking at an $18.3-billion rate in the final quarter of last year.

    There was a slight moderation in the rate of price rises. Personal consumption expenditures excluding food and energy items - a key gauge of core inflation that is favored by the Fed - rose at a 2.2% rate after increasing 2.5% in the fourth quarter.

    A separate report suggested the weakening labor market was keeping labor costs under wraps. The Labor Department said U.S. employment costs grew at a 0.7% annual rate in the first quarter, marking a slight slowdown from the fourth quarter.

    The deep housing slump and a related tightening in credit has put the U.S. economy on the ropes and data from the Mortgage Bankers Association on Wednesday suggested the housing market was far from recovery.

    The MBA said its index of mortgage application activity dropped 11.1% last week to its lowest level since late December.
    US seems OK at the moment. Let's see what happen in Q2.

  13. #13
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    Default Singapore Housing Strength To Last Until 2010-Lehman Brothers


    DJ Market Talk: Singapore Housing Strength To Last Until 2010-Lehman Brothers
    Dow Jones
    Singapore
    Wednesday, 30 April 2008, 12.01pm Singapore Time

    Upcycle in Singapore's housing market likely to last until 2010, although sector currently taking a breather, says Lehman Brothers.

    Expects below-average public housing completion to create deficit of up to 4,300 homes by 2010, pushing homebuyers to private housing market. Says current low transaction volume for private homes has more to do with sentiment than fundamentals; "the concern of the market should be potential housing undersupply and not oversupply, in our view."

    Forecasts net supply of 11,000 private homes for 2009, 16,000 for 2010 vs yearly historical average of 7,000 since 1988; "even if we are to take into account a lower net migration rate this year as the economy slows, we think the overall housing supply is still likely to miss the population needs."

    Top stock picks include CityDev, Bukit Sembawang, CapitaLand, Keppel Land, SC Global. Respective target prices at S$16.90, S$15.40, S$8.20, S$10.40, S$3.80.

  14. #14
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    Default Market Adds To Gains After PMI Data


    Market adds to gains after PMI data
    Caroline Valetkevitch
    Reuters
    New York, New York, U.S.
    Wednesday, 30 April 2008, 10.10am U.S. EDT


    Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, 29 April 2008. - Photo: Brendan McDermid, Reuters

    Stocks extended gains on Wednesday after a report showing business activity in the Midwest in April was slightly stronger than expected, helping to ease worries about the economy.

    The Dow Jones industrial average was up 47.06 points, or 0.37%, at 12,879.00. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index (.SPX) was up 3.60 points, or 0.26%, at 1,394.54. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 5.01 points, or 0.21%, at 2,431.11.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Singapore Housing Strength To Last Until 2010-Lehman Brothers

    Quote Originally Posted by Dow Jones

    DJ Market Talk: Singapore Housing Strength To Last Until 2010-Lehman Brothers
    Dow Jones
    Singapore
    Wednesday, 30 April 2008, 12.01pm Singapore Time

    Upcycle in Singapore's housing market likely to last until 2010, although sector currently taking a breather, says Lehman Brothers.

    Expects below-average public housing completion to create deficit of up to 4,300 homes by 2010, pushing homebuyers to private housing market. Says current low transaction volume for private homes has more to do with sentiment than fundamentals; "the concern of the market should be potential housing undersupply and not oversupply, in our view."

    Forecasts net supply of 11,000 private homes for 2009, 16,000 for 2010 vs yearly historical average of 7,000 since 1988; "even if we are to take into account a lower net migration rate this year as the economy slows, we think the overall housing supply is still likely to miss the population needs."

    Top stock picks include CityDev, Bukit Sembawang, CapitaLand, Keppel Land, SC Global. Respective target prices at S$16.90, S$15.40, S$8.20, S$10.40, S$3.80.
    That's what I suspect too ... the market is taking a breather and ready to surge again.

    It's very stressful when the market surges because I'll be running around like a mad dog selling this property and grabbing that property. Property investment is very tiring, emotionally and physically.

    On the other hand, this lull period is very peaceful and I can go about concentrating on doing my job, at the same time watching my bank "reserves" grow everyday. It's more relaxing grooming "reserve" troops than sending them out to fight a war.

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    Default Re: Singapore Housing Strength To Last Until 2010-Lehman Brothers

    Quote Originally Posted by jlrx
    That's what I suspect too ... the market is taking a breather and ready to surge again.

    It's very stressful when the market surges because I'll be running around like a mad dog selling this property and grabbing that property. Property investment is very tiring, emotionally and physically.

    On the other hand, this lull period is very peaceful and I can go about concentrating on doing my job, at the same time watching my bank "reserves" grow everyday. It's more relaxing grooming "reserve" troops than sending them out to fight a war.
    The best is stress, rest, stress, rest, ....

    There is no free lunch in the world. You have to work or get stressed for your lunch. Of course, too much is no good.

  17. #17
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    Default US Stocks Rally On Stronger Dollar, Falling Oil Prices


    US stocks rally on stronger dollar, falling oil prices
    Agence France-Presse
    New York, New York
    Thursday, 1 May 2008, U.S. EDT

    US stocks rallied sharply on Thursday amid a strengthening dollar, falling oil prices and as investors looked forward to an apparent pause in the Federal Reserve's aggressive rate-cutting campaign.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average shot up 189.87 points or 1.48% to close at 13,010.00.

    It was the first time the blue-chip index ended a session above 13,000 since January 3.

    The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 67.91 points or 2.81% to 2,480.71 and the broad-market Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500 index advanced a hefty 23.75 points or 1.71% to close at 1,409.34, above the 1,400-mark for the first time since January 14.

    'May is off to a strong start,' Briefing.com analysts wrote in a note to clients.

    Despite the Federal Reserve's quarter-point interest rate cut on Wednesday, taking its benchmark rate to 2.0%, the dollar gained ground against the euro, trading around US$1.54 (S$2.01) to a euro.

    The stronger dollar in turn helped pressure oil prices, which fell to US$112 a barrel in New York, easing concerns about rising inflationary pressures.

    The greenback also was lifted by the Fed's statement explaining the rate decision, which many analysts said signaled a halt in its rate cutting and prospects that the worst of a global credit crisis may be ending.

    'The Fed's decision should bolster confidence that the worst of the credit crisis is finally passing, although it is still far from finished,' said Frederic Dickson, analyst at DA Davidson & Co.

    Economic reports offered a mixed outlook on the economy's direction amid fears the economy is heading into recession, generally defined two consecutive quarters of contraction.

    The Commerce Department on Wednesday reported the economy sputtered at a meager 0.6% pace in the first quarter, for the second quarter in a row.

    Consumer spending in March rose much more sharply than expected, but most of the gain was due to higher prices, particularly for food and energy, the Commerce Department said.

    Economists closely watch consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of economic growth, as a bellwether on GDP growth.

    Among stocks in focus, ExxonMobil slid 3.62% to US$89.70 after reporting its first-quarter profit rose 17% from a year ago to US$10.89 billion, below Wall Street forecasts.

    Home improvement retailer Home Depot, hit hard by the housing slump, jumped 3.72% to US$29.87 after it said it was scaling back its chain of stores in the United States.

    Ford Motor shares gained 2.66% at 8.48 despite reporting a steep decline in US sales. Rival General Motors, which also saw sales slide, slipped 0.04 per cent to 23.19.

  18. #18
    AFP
    Guest

    Default US Consumer Spending Rises 0.4% In March


    US consumer spending rises 0.4% in March
    Agence France-Presse
    Washington, D.C., U.S.
    Thursday, 1 May 2008, U.S. EDT


    A customer scans dairy products at a grocery store in Washington.

    US consumer spending rose 0.4% in March from the prior month, while household income climbed 0.3%, the Commerce Department said.

    The March spending increase was the strongest since January and double analysts' consensus forecast of a 0.2% gain. The income increase was slightly below market expectations of 0.4%.

    Consumer spending, the driver of growth in the world's biggest economy, sharply accelerated from February's meagre 0.1% gain. Household income in February had climbed 0.5% from January.

    However, after adjusting for higher prices, real consumer spending was up 0.1% compared with no change in the preceding month.

    And adjusted for inflation and taxes, real disposable income fell slightly - less than one tenth of a percentage point - which the Commerce Department reports as zero change, after a 0.3% increase in February real incomes.

    "Consumer spending is moving sideways - but at least it hasn't yet shown the sharp declines one might have expected given the recessionary readings for consumer sentiment," said Nigel Gault, analyst at Global Insight.

    Consumer confidence is declining in the face of ever-climbing food and energy prices, a slowing labour market, tightening credit and eroding household wealth as house prices drop.

    On Wednesday the Commerce Department reported the economy grew at a 0.6% annual pace in the January-March period, matching the pace of the fourth quarter of 2007.

    The first estimate of gross domestic product was slightly better than expected and came amid fears that the world's biggest economy is headed for recession, generally defined as two consecutive quarters of declining activity.

    An inflation gauge in Thursday's consumer spending report, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index, showed consumer prices rose 0.3% in March, after 0.1% in February.

    The core PCE reading, which excludes volatile food and energy costs, rose 0.2% March, after 0.1% in the prior month, exceeding expectations of a 0.1% rise.

    The headline and core PCE increases were the largest since January.

    On a 12-month basis, inflation was up 3.2% in March, after 3.4%, while core inflation edged up to 2.1%, from 2.0%.

    Spending on non-durables such as gasoline was up 0.4% while services rose 0.6%.

    Purchases of durable goods, big-ticket items like refrigerators and televisions, on the other hand, fell 0.4%.

    After inflation adjustments, spending on non-durables and services rose 0.2% and spending on durable goods fell 0.5%.

    The personal savings rate fell back to 0.2% from 0.4% in February.

  19. #19
    AFP
    Guest

    Default Bank Of England Says Credit Crunch Concerns Overstated


    Bank of England says credit crunch concerns overstated
    Agence France-Presse
    London, U.K.
    Thursday, 1 May 2008, EET


    The Bank of England in London.

    The Bank of England said on Thursday that British commercial banks had overestimated their exposure to the collapsed US sub-prime home loan sector and the subsequent global squeeze on credit.

    The bank did not quantify the overestimation, which it said could be a factor in a loss of confidence that has afflicted certain financial institutions.

    A large number of global banks have declared heavy losses from US mortgage-backed securities, which were effectively bets placed on high-risk American borrowers repaying their mortgages.

    The credit crunch erupted last August, as many sub-prime US borrowers failed to keep up with their home loan repayments, forcing major commercial banks to tighten up their lending criteria.

    "Estimates of the ultimate losses to the financial system and real economy implied by current market prices are a significant overestimate," the Bank of England (BoE) said in a half-yearly report on financial stability.

    "Over-pessimism about these losses may itself be denting confidence and may be delaying the return of investor risk appetite and the recovery of asset prices."

    Furthermore, the BoE said that commercial banks were becoming too cautious in their lending criteria.

    "The pricing of risk in credit markets seems to have swung from being unsustainably low last summer to being temporarily too high relative to fundamentals," said John Gieve, BoE deputy governor for financial stability.

    Last week, the central bank had unveiled a 100-billion-dollar plan to get banks lending again in the latest attempt to combat the global credit crunch.

    Under the plan, the BoE will allow high street banks to swap British mortgage-backed securities for government bonds in a bid to boost their liquidity amid stubborn and widespread fears of sub-prime exposure.

    "Rising US sub-prime defaults were the trigger for a broad-based repricing of risk and de-leveraging in credit markets," the BoE said in its report.

    "An adjustment was needed after the credit boom and will inevitably have costs, but it is proving even more prolonged and difficult than anticipated.

    "Prices in some credit markets are likely to overstate the losses that will ultimately be felt by the financial system and the economy as a whole, as they appear to include large discounts for illiquidity and uncertainty," said the British central bank.

    With some assets undervalued, investment should soon flow back into the financial sector, helping companies' balance sheets, the BoE added.

    However it noted that such improvements are likely to be only gradual as uncertainty persists.

    "The disruption in markets reflects, in part, structural factors such as information and incentive problems, ... (and) while this adjustment takes place, risks to financial stability remain high," the BoE warned.

  20. #20
    Reuters
    Guest

    Default S&P Affirms 'AAA' Rating On Singapore With Stable Outlook


    S&P affirms 'AAA' rating on Singapore with stable outlook
    Reuters
    Singapore
    Friday, 2 May 2008, Singapore Time

    Standard & Poor's Ratings Services (S&P) said on Friday it affirmed its 'AAA/A-1+' sovereign credit ratings on the Republic of Singapore. The outlook is stable.

    The ratings reflect Singapore's enduring fiscal and external strengths and competitive economy, while taking into account the challenges it faces as a small and open economy.

    Singapore's general government surplus is estimated at 8.8% of GDP in fiscal 2007 (ended March 31, 2008) and averaged 8.0% of GDP between 2003 and 2007.

    'This level of surplus, one of the highest in the world, provides strong fiscal flexibility, which is needed for structural reforms, such as the ongoing efforts to diversify the economy to be less reliant on electronics exports and to enhance cost competitiveness,' said S&P's credit analyst YeeFarn Phua.

    'The ratings on Singapore are also supported by its strong record of political stability and prudent macroeconomic management,' Mr Phua said.

    'The government has consistently embraced a responsible, pragmatic, and forward-looking approach to policy making.'

    Given its small and open economy, Singapore is more exposed to exogenous shocks than some of its peers, albeit its medium-term growth prospects remain favorable compared with other mature developed economies.

    The sound and stable financial system, which has ample liquidity, good capitalisation levels, and effective regulation, helps mitigate the potential risks from exogenous shocks.

  21. #21
    Newbie
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    72

    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    Ratings has nothing to do with investment outlook for properties and very little connection to the investment prospects of assets such as stocks and properties (that's why when a financial advisor promotes a fund by saying its good because it has a AAA rating, it is totally wrong and in fact, misleading).

  22. #22
    Unreglstered
    Guest

    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    Quote Originally Posted by Boon
    Ratings has nothing to do with investment outlook for properties and very little connection to the investment prospects of assets such as stocks and properties (that's why when a financial advisor promotes a fund by saying its good because it has a AAA rating, it is totally wrong and in fact, misleading).
    So ... which stock market which we short?
    DJI, STI or ....?
    Thanks.

  23. #23
    Please!
    Guest

    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    Quote Originally Posted by Unreglstered
    So ... which stock market should we short?
    DJI, STI or ....?
    Thanks.
    u asked the wrong person
    boon's no longer a bear since march
    he's been busy buying lately

  24. #24
    Forbes
    Guest

    Default A Bet On Manufacturing In The U.S.


    A Bet On Manufacturing In The U.S.
    Jean Shu-Ching Chen
    Forbes
    Hong Kong
    Friday, 2 May 2008, 2:11 PM Hong Kong Time

    Canon reckons now is the right time to expand manufacturing in the U.S., riding on the cost savings it would reap from a weak dollar.

    Japan’s biggest office equipment maker said Thursday it would invest more than $600 million to expand production in the state of Virginia, adding more than 1,000 jobs to its current U.S. workforce of nearly 1,500.

    Canon will build a 700,000-sqft factory in Hampton Roads, Virginia, to produce cartridges for laser printers using its proprietary high-speed, automated technology, as well as expand its repair and refurbishing facilities for digital consumer products and open a new center to develop automated and robotic manufacturing technologies.

    Canon will also expand the recycling and reclaiming of toner cartridges and related materials at Industrial Resource Technologies, a Canon subsidiary in Gloucester County.

    For 23 years, Canon has maintained its sole U.S. manufacturing operations in Virginia, which is close to major rail, air and port transportation on the East Coast.

    The U.S. has steadily lost manufacturing jobs to overseas for decades, as evidenced by Canon’s closing of an ink-jet printing plant in 2002 in Costa Mesa, Calif. At the time, it had decided to centralize overseas ink-jet printer manufacturing in Thailand and Vietnam.

    However, the sharp decline in the value of the dollar over the past few years has improved the cost-effectiveness of manufacturing in the U.S.

    Canon, one of Japan's biggest exporters, has felt the pinch of a rising yen, which eats into profits repatriated from overseas. Citing the impact of a stronger yen and slowing demand from the U.S., Canon last month posted an 18% decline in net profit for the first quarter. The yen's strength also led its domestic rival Ricoh to report a 26% fall in net profit for the same period.

    With nearly 80% of its sales in fiscal 2007 coming from overseas--with the U.S. and Europe contributing more than 63%-- Canon is positioned to benefit from expanding local production.

    “Today’s announcement symbolizes a significant investment in manufacturing in the U.S.,” Tsuneji Uchida, Canon’s president and chief operating officer, said in a statement. “The combination of producing, selling, collecting and recycling cartridges locally, and eliminating the need to transport products around the world, will allow us to have a positive environmental impact by helping to reduce CO2 emissions worldwide.” He said Canon will benefit from local cost competitiveness, better management of labor costs and timely delivery of products.

    Newport News Mayor Joe Frank lauded Canon’s expansion as “the most significant economic development project” for his city in the past two decades.

    Canon’s investors were also pleased, pushing its shares up 3.2% to ¥5,410 (US$51.83) in late afternoon trading in Tokyo on Friday.

  25. #25
    Junior
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    1,286

    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    Quote Originally Posted by Boon
    Ratings has nothing to do with investment outlook for properties and very little connection to the investment prospects of assets such as stocks and properties (that's why when a financial advisor promotes a fund by saying its good because it has a AAA rating, it is totally wrong and in fact, misleading).
    These funds are given AAA because they have good words in them.

    For example, the Bear Stearns High-Grade Structured Credit Strategies Enhanced Leverage fund.

    Don't you think it's worth AAA?

    It's got good words in it ... it's got words like "High". Don't you think "High" is good? Better than "Low" anyway.

    And "Structured" is not a good word?

    And "Enhanced"? Won't you buy anything if it said "Enhanced"?

    You can watch the "experts" explaining here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJ_qK4g6ntM

  26. #26
    MarketWatch
    Guest

    Default Nearly Half Of U.S. Stocks Are Undervalued, Research Firm Says


    Nearly half of U.S. stocks are undervalued, research firm says
    Mark Hulbert
    MarketWatch
    Annandale, Virginia, U.S.
    Thursday, 1 May 2008, 11.53pm U.S. EDT


    Mark Hulbert
    Hulbert Financial Digest


    We're likely in the weeks and months ahead to see more of the strength that the stock market exhibited on Thursday, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 190 points to close above the 13,000 level for the first time since Jan. 3.

    That is the implication I draw from research conducted by Ford Equity Research of San Diego. I am familiar with that firm because it also publishes the Ford Equity Research Investment Review, one of the newsletters that is tracked by the Hulbert Financial Digest. The newsletter has an impressive track record this decade, according to the HFD's calculations, having produced a 7.8% annualized return through April 30, in contrast to just 1.7% annualized for the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 index.

    For each of several thousand issues, Ford calculates a so-called price-to-value ratio, or PVA for short, which "is computed by dividing the price of a company's stock by the value derived from a proprietary intrinsic value model." According to Ford, "A PVA greater than 1.00 indicates that a company is overpriced while a PVA less than 1.00 implies that a stock is trading below the level justified by its earnings, quality rating, dividends, projected growth rate, and prevailing interest rates."

    When a stock's PVA drops to a level of at or below 0.70, furthermore, Ford considers it to be "underpriced."

    This is the context in which we can understand Ford's latest findings, which were sent to subscribers on Thursday morning: As of the end of April, the firm calculates that 1,783 publicly-traded U.S. stocks are underpriced according to this definition. That works out to 40% of the universe of stocks on which Ford concentrates.

    That struck me as a high number, which in turn led me to wonder how the current percentage of underpriced stocks compares to other periods in stock market history. Andrew North, an equity analyst at Ford, kindly supplied me with the comparable percentages for each month-end back to the end of 1970, more than 37 years ago.

    Over this nearly four-decade period, the average percentage of stocks deemed to be underpriced, by virtue of having PVAs no higher than 0.70, is 19%. That's less than half the current percentage.
    That alone puts the market's current valuation in a positive light, but there's more.

    It turns out that there have been only two other occasions since 1980 in which the percentage of underpriced stocks was higher than where it is today. The higher of those two points occurred at the end of the 2000-2002 bear market, when the percentage rose to 48%. The second came at the end of September 1998, in the wake of the demise of Long Term Capital Management.

    Both of these prior periods came immediately before strong stock market performance, needless to say.

  27. #27
    Newbie
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    72

    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    Quote Originally Posted by Please!
    u asked the wrong person
    boon's no longer a bear since march
    he's been busy buying lately
    (1) here we go again. some nonsensical remark. i'm still very much a bear and judging from comments i;ve read in this forum, so are many others these days

    (2) my remark on ratings is merely to highlight a fact - the majority might think that just because s&p reaffirmed Singapore's AAA ratings, it means that things are all bright and rosy..a common misperception of what ratings really stand for.

  28. #28
    CNA
    Guest

    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    PM Lee cautions S'poreans to prepare for economic slowdown
    By Dominique Loh, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 01 May 2008 1808 hrs


    PM Lee cautions S'poreans to prepare for economic slowdown

    SINGAPORE : Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has cautioned Singaporeans to be prepared for a slowing economy in the next few quarters.

    Speaking in Malay, Mandarin and English at the May Day Rally, Mr Lee told workers that Singapore's economy may have done well so far in 2008, but developments in the US economy may still have an impact on the country.

    Mr Lee gave the stark reminder when he joined more than 1,500 workers at Labour Day celebrations.

    Mr Lee said the US sub-prime crisis has spread through its banking system and beyond. While the immediate danger is over, there is still the ripple effect.

    He painted three scenarios of how the US economy might affect Singapore.

    The first scenario is a mild recession but with growth at the end of the year.

    Second, if the US problems persist, it'll slow Singapore's growth as well, even going into 2009.

    The third scenario is a severe US downturn which most analysts agree is unlikely to happen.

    Mr Lee believes the first two scenarios are more likely.

    "For this year, we can still achieve a 4-6 percent growth which MTI (Ministry of Trade and Industry) has projected. But remember, the 4-6 percent (growth) is for the whole year. The first quarter was good, (but for the) second, third and fourth quarters, prepare for a slowdown (which) may last into next year. This is one major uncertainty affecting our economy," said the prime minister.

    "Employers and workers have to bear this in mind when you negotiate your CAs (collective agreements) this year. You have to ensure that any built-in wage increases are sustainable and if the companies are still doing well, reward the workers with higher variable bonuses, and keep it flexible," he added.

    Another concern is the rising cost of living.

    Mr Lee said the government had just given out the first instalment of Growth Dividends to some 2.4 million Singaporeans. The second payment is due in October.

    Overall, each household can expect some S$5,000 to cope with the rising costs.

    On the issue of foreign labour, PM Lee said foreign workers are willing to work longer hours to keep the airport, factories and hotels open 24 hours a day throughout the year. That gives Singapore a more competitive edge, he said, adding that keeping foreign workers away is not the answer.

    "It's because we have the foreign workers here, that's why our economy has grown, that's why the employers, ...companies are here, and that's why Singaporeans have jobs. You send away the foreign workers,... a few hundred thousand (of them), Singaporeans (won't) go into those jobs, the companies will close or leave. I think the Singaporeans unemployment will go up, and hardship will go up," said PM Lee.

    For those who have difficulty finding jobs, Mr Lee said there are many schemes to help them get employed. For example, the Workfare Income Supplement gave out S$300 million this year, benefiting some 300,000 low-wage workers.

    More jobs are also on the horizon, with some 10,000 available at the Marina Bay Integrated Resort. - CNA /ls

  29. #29
    CNBC
    Guest

    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    Friday's Jobs Report Likely To Bring More Bad News
    By CNBC.com With Wires | 01 May 2008 | 04:44 PM ET

    Investors are anticipating another gloomy reading on U.S. employment on Friday, though market reaction may be somewhat muted.

    The Labor Department's report is expected to show a 75,000 net loss in payrolls for April--which would be the fourth straight month of losses--and a rise in unemployment to 5.2 percent from 5.1 percent in March.

    In a negative sign ahead of that data, the government said Thursday the number of newly laid off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits soared by a greater-than-expected 35,000 last week.

    However, stock market participants appear to believe they have already taken into account current economic weakness.

    With the government sending stimulus checks out to taxpayers and Federal Reserve rate cuts still working their way through the financial system, many investors are confident the economy will rebound in the second half of the year.

    "What we're seeing is that maybe the economy is not falling off a cliff, but perhaps leveling off," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at New York-based brokerage house Avalon Partners. "I think the Fed (rate-cutting campaign) is over with, even though the Fed's statement didn't say that."

    The Fed lowered key interest rates by a quarter-point on Wednesday but suggested inflation is a growing concern and that the economy should keep growing moderately. The statement accompanying the Fed's rate decision was unclear about its policy going forward, but it has been widely believed that the central bank would pause following a string of cuts that lowered rates by 3 percentage points since last summer.

    The dollar rose to a five-week high on Thursday on speculation the Fed may pause in cutting rates further. That pushed oil and other commodities prices sharply lower and helped stocks rally.

    The rally by the dollar and stocks came despite Thursday's report that the number of workers remaining on jobless benefits climbed to a four-year high.

    "After seeing an improvement trend much of April, the sudden deterioration at the end of the month is certainly disappointing," said Richard DeKaser, chief economist at National City in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Initial claims for jobless benefits increased to a seasonally adjusted 380,000 in the week ended April 26, from a revised 345,000 the previous week. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected claims to rise to 360,000 from an initially reported 342,000.

    The four-week moving average of new claims, a more reliable guide to underlying labor trends that irons out weekly fluctuations, fell last week to 363,750 from 370,250.

    But the number of workers remaining on jobless benefits jumped to a bigger-than-expected 3.019 million in the week ended April 19. That was the highest level since April 2004.

    Analysts were expecting continuing claims to rise to 2.95 million.

    "The report certainly does indicate the job market is weaker, though that is not much of a surprise. There have been mass layoffs, especially on Wall Street," said Andrew Richman at Suntrust's personal asset management unit.

    Adding to the gloomy jobs picture, a report from the Chicago-based Challenger Gray and Christmas showed a 19-month high in the number of planned job cuts during April and a 68 percent rise from March.

    "This is the biggest job-cut month we have seen since the onset of the housing collapse," said John Challenger, who heads the job outplacement tracking firm.

  30. #30
    Bow Wow
    Guest

    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    Quote Originally Posted by CNBC
    Friday's Jobs Report Likely To Bring More Bad News
    By CNBC.com With Wires | 01 May 2008 | 04:44 PM ET

    Investors are anticipating another gloomy reading on U.S. employment on Friday, though market reaction may be somewhat muted.

    The Labor Department's report is expected to show a 75,000 net loss in payrolls for April--which would be the fourth straight month of losses--and a rise in unemployment to 5.2 percent from 5.1 percent in March.

    In a negative sign ahead of that data, the government said Thursday the number of newly laid off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits soared by a greater-than-expected 35,000 last week.

    However, stock market participants appear to believe they have already taken into account current economic weakness.

    With the government sending stimulus checks out to taxpayers and Federal Reserve rate cuts still working their way through the financial system, many investors are confident the economy will rebound in the second half of the year.

    "What we're seeing is that maybe the economy is not falling off a cliff, but perhaps leveling off," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at New York-based brokerage house Avalon Partners. "I think the Fed (rate-cutting campaign) is over with, even though the Fed's statement didn't say that."

    The Fed lowered key interest rates by a quarter-point on Wednesday but suggested inflation is a growing concern and that the economy should keep growing moderately. The statement accompanying the Fed's rate decision was unclear about its policy going forward, but it has been widely believed that the central bank would pause following a string of cuts that lowered rates by 3 percentage points since last summer.

    The dollar rose to a five-week high on Thursday on speculation the Fed may pause in cutting rates further. That pushed oil and other commodities prices sharply lower and helped stocks rally.

    The rally by the dollar and stocks came despite Thursday's report that the number of workers remaining on jobless benefits climbed to a four-year high.

    "After seeing an improvement trend much of April, the sudden deterioration at the end of the month is certainly disappointing," said Richard DeKaser, chief economist at National City in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Initial claims for jobless benefits increased to a seasonally adjusted 380,000 in the week ended April 26, from a revised 345,000 the previous week. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected claims to rise to 360,000 from an initially reported 342,000.

    The four-week moving average of new claims, a more reliable guide to underlying labor trends that irons out weekly fluctuations, fell last week to 363,750 from 370,250.

    But the number of workers remaining on jobless benefits jumped to a bigger-than-expected 3.019 million in the week ended April 19. That was the highest level since April 2004.

    Analysts were expecting continuing claims to rise to 2.95 million.

    "The report certainly does indicate the job market is weaker, though that is not much of a surprise. There have been mass layoffs, especially on Wall Street," said Andrew Richman at Suntrust's personal asset management unit.

    Adding to the gloomy jobs picture, a report from the Chicago-based Challenger Gray and Christmas showed a 19-month high in the number of planned job cuts during April and a 68 percent rise from March.

    "This is the biggest job-cut month we have seen since the onset of the housing collapse," said John Challenger, who heads the job outplacement tracking firm.
    Yes and the danger is not only from weak numbers but also food prices that could create social and political instability worldwide. It is not going to get better anytime soon. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to tell that.

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