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

  1. #141
    UnregIsered
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    Default Re: Buffett Sounds Note of Optimism

    Quote Originally Posted by WSJ

    Buffett Sounds Note of Optimism
    Karen Richardson
    The Wall Street Journal
    Monday, 5 May 2008


    All eyes were on Warren Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway's annual meeting at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S..

    Investors, take heart: Warren Buffett sees investment opportunities in the U.S. stock and bond markets, and believes widespread financial turmoil from the credit crunch is behind us.

    Speaking to reporters Sunday, a day after Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s annual fan-fest for shareholders at the Qwest Center in Omaha, Neb., both Mr. Buffett, 77 years old, and Vice Chairman Charlie Munger, 84, criticized regulators, politicians and accountants for lax oversight of financial institutions that are at the center of the subprime-mortgage crisis, and, according to Mr. Munger, were guilty of "deep conflicts of interest."

    "The regulators and the accountants have failed us terribly," Mr. Munger said, adding that mark-to-market accounting rules are necessary but can obscure other problems within a company.

    This year at Mr. Buffett's annual gathering for shareholders -- often called "Woodstock for Capitalists" -- 31,000 Buffett enthusiasts were serenaded by Fruit of the Loom minstrels, enjoyed samples of Berkshire portfolio companies such as Dilly Bars and watched artist Michael Israel speed-paint a Buffett portrait with Benjamin Moore paints.

    Mr. Buffett credited the Federal Reserve for helping to avert a more-widespread crisis on Wall Street by orchestrating a bailout of Bear Stearns Cos. that "prevented, in my opinion, the contagion where you're going to have runs on investment banks."

    Bank losses "aren't over by a long shot, but a lot of it has already been recognized," he said, adding that the depth of the housing crisis, unemployment and other economic factors would help determine how long the write-downs continue.

    "The idea of financial panic -- that has been pretty much taken care of," he said.

    As to buying opportunities, Mr. Buffett told shareholders, "We are happy to invest in businesses that earn their money in the euro, or in companies that derive their earnings in Germany, or from the sterling in the [United Kingdom], because I don't have a feeling that those currencies are going to depreciate in a big way against the dollar." Sunday he said a Berkshire unit is close to buying a midsize company in the U.K., but he didn't elaborate. This month, Mr. Buffett is scheduled to tour five European cities looking for more buying opportunities.

    What may not be an attractive buying opportunity? Berkshire itself, Mr. Buffett said on Saturday. "Anyone who expects us to come close to replicating the past should sell their stock. It's not gonna happen," he said. "You may have something better to do with your money than buy Berkshire."

    Mr. Buffett also said Berkshire Hathaway's four-month-old municipal-bond insurance business garnered more than $400 million of premiums in the first quarter, boasting that this made its new business bigger than that of its rival. "This whole company has been built in just a couple of months," Mr. Buffett said.

    Sunday he took a few jabs at rivals, saying he was confounded by the ability of his municipal-bond insurer's biggest rivals, MBIA Inc. and Ambac Financial Corp., to retain their triple-A ratings.

    "If you can find another illustration of a company whose stock that's gone down by 95% in one year and is still rated triple-A, I have yet to see it," Mr. Buffett said.


    No, his face isn't on the dollar bill. Yet. - Photo: Reuters
    Berkshire Hathaway Profit Falls 64% on Derivatives Loss

    By Reuters | 02 May 2008

    Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway said on Friday that first-quarter profit tumbled 64 percent, hurt by $1.6 billion of pre-tax losses tied to derivatives contracts.

    Net income fell to $940 million, or $607 per Class A share, from $2.6 billion, or $1,682, a year earlier.

    Operating profit fell 13 percent to $1.93 billion, or $1,247 per share, from $2.21 billion, or $1,434.


    Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire is a holding company with more than 70 operating units and a wide array of stock investments.

    It typically generates about half its business from insurance and reinsurance.

    The derivative losses stemmed from Berkshire's exposure to contracts designed to make money if junk bond stay out of default and stock indexes rise.

    In February, Buffett revealed that Berkshire ended 2007 with $40 billion of exposure to 94 of these contracts.


    Berkshire said it had a $1.2 billion unrealized loss on put options it wrote on the Standard & Poor's 500 and three foreign stock indexes.

    It also reported a $490 million unrealized loss on contracts that require payouts if some high-yield bonds default between now and 2013.


    Other contracts brought the net loss derivatives down to $1.6 billion.

    Accounting rules require the company to regularly report unrealized gains and losses in earnings, Berkshire said.

    The exposure may at first seem odd given that, in his shareholder letter in 2003, Buffett called derivatives "financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal." But in his letter this year, Buffett said Berkshire had already been paid for its derivatives contracts, giving it cash to invest, and that "there is no counterparty risk," He also said shareholders should be prepared for gains and losses that could "easily" top $1 billion in a given quarter.

    In Friday trading, Berkshire's Class A shares Berkshire Hathaway Inc fell $300 to $133,600, while its Class B shares fell $12 to $4,448.

  2. #142
    Twinkle Star
    Guest

    Default Re: Buffett Sounds Note of Optimism

    Quote Originally Posted by UnregIsered
    Berkshire Hathaway Profit Falls 64% on Derivatives Loss

    By Reuters | 02 May 2008

    Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway said on Friday that first-quarter profit tumbled 64 percent, hurt by $1.6 billion of pre-tax losses tied to derivatives contracts.

    Net income fell to $940 million, or $607 per Class A share, from $2.6 billion, or $1,682, a year earlier.

    Operating profit fell 13 percent to $1.93 billion, or $1,247 per share, from $2.21 billion, or $1,434.


    Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire is a holding company with more than 70 operating units and a wide array of stock investments.

    It typically generates about half its business from insurance and reinsurance.

    The derivative losses stemmed from Berkshire's exposure to contracts designed to make money if junk bond stay out of default and stock indexes rise.

    In February, Buffett revealed that Berkshire ended 2007 with $40 billion of exposure to 94 of these contracts.


    Berkshire said it had a $1.2 billion unrealized loss on put options it wrote on the Standard & Poor's 500 and three foreign stock indexes.

    It also reported a $490 million unrealized loss on contracts that require payouts if some high-yield bonds default between now and 2013.


    Other contracts brought the net loss derivatives down to $1.6 billion.

    Accounting rules require the company to regularly report unrealized gains and losses in earnings, Berkshire said.

    The exposure may at first seem odd given that, in his shareholder letter in 2003, Buffett called derivatives "financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal." But in his letter this year, Buffett said Berkshire had already been paid for its derivatives contracts, giving it cash to invest, and that "there is no counterparty risk," He also said shareholders should be prepared for gains and losses that could "easily" top $1 billion in a given quarter.

    In Friday trading, Berkshire's Class A shares Berkshire Hathaway Inc fell $300 to $133,600, while its Class B shares fell $12 to $4,448.
    Ofcourse Buffet is not God. Berkshire could lose like any other company...

  3. #143
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    Default Re: Buffett Sounds Note of Optimism

    Quote Originally Posted by Twinkle Star
    Ofcourse Buffet is not God. Berkshire could lose like any other company...
    But we all choose to follow him.
    Let's see you win or we win.

  4. #144
    Unreg¡stered
    Guest

    Default Re: Buffett Sounds Note of Optimism

    Quote Originally Posted by Unreg¡stered
    But we all choose to follow him.
    Let's see you win or we win.
    smart move .. follow W. Buffett sure boleh .. follow Twinkle Star / maddog sure mati ..

  5. #145
    Cut Cut
    Guest

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

    Quote Originally Posted by unregistered
    Layoffs Loom at Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Lehman

    05 May 2008

    Wall Street is being hit by another wave layoffs, with Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and JPMorgan Chase all set to axe staff in the near future.

    Morgan Stanley is planning another round of layoffs in the coming days, finalizing a plan to slash another 5 percent from its securities-firm workforce, or 1,500 employees, CNBC has learned. And Lehman will announce another round of cuts in addition to those already begun as early as next week.

    People inside Morgan say the cuts will be across all business units, except brokers who make money largely on a commission basis and usually leave on their own when markets drop or business slumps. Morgan Stanley Morgan Stanley has 46,000 employees, including 8,000 brokers.

    "We are constantly evaluating business conditions to ensure we are right-sized and we continue to do that," a Morgan Stanley spokesperson said when asked for comment. A Lehman spokeswoman declined to comment.

    The cutbacks reflect the souring business environment on Wall Street. Morgan Stanley has already announced a $9 billion writedown stemming from a wrong-way bet on the mortgage-bond market, and has announced losses due to the bad trades.

    Morgan rebounded in the first quarter of 2008, reporting net income of $1.5 billion. But business conditions remain weak, and profit margins are being squeezed across the securities business. By comparison, Morgan’s first quarter profits of $2.5 billion for the first quarter of 2007 were nearly twice as large as its first quarter 2008 results.

    People inside Morgan say CEO John Mack believes the 5 percent cut, which will begin any day now and continue through the end of June, may be the last round of job cuts at the company this year, which has already announced job reductions of 5 percent, or around 2,800 employees.

    Mack’s plan, these people say, is to slash 10 percent of the firm’s workforce during 2008, though he is leaving his options open to cut more if business conditions don’t improve. “Hopefully this is it for 2008, but you never know,” a Morgan executive told CNBC.

    Widespread Wall Street Layoffs

    Elsewhere on Wall Street, JPMorgan Chase JPMorgan Chase & Co is cutting its own staff to make room for incoming Bear Stearns Bear Stearns Cos Inc executives it's hired as part of its purchase of that firm. According to one senior executive at JPMorgan, the firm also wants to "right size" the business.

    JPMorgan is expected to cut more than half of Bear Stearns' 14,000 former employees, though CNBC has learned that JPMorgan has already offered jobs to around 4,000 former Bear workers. Senior people inside JPMorgan say the firm has no hard figure for the size of the layoffs.

    Meanwhile, CNBC has learned that Lehman Brothers Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc next week also is expected to add to the 4,900 layoffs it has already announced.

    Chief executives of major wall street firms tell CNBC that the unofficial head-count reduction on Wall Street overall is 10 percent per firm as a result of losses and declining business stemming from the disappearance, at least for now, of the once-lucrative structured finance business.
    AND WE ALL THOUGHT THAT IT IS OVER.

  6. #146
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    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    Fed Survey Shows More U.S. Banks Tighten Loan Terms

    By Scott Lanman

    May 5 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve said the share of banks making it tougher for companies and consumers to borrow approached a record after the subprime-mortgage collapse made them more reluctant to lend.

    The quarterly Senior Loan Officers' Survey, published in Washington today, underscores the Fed's concern that $318 billion of credit losses and writedowns among financial firms is causing a credit crunch. The survey, conducted last month, also indicates that the Fed's interest-rate cuts and loans to banks have failed so far to defuse the threat to the six-year economic expansion.

    ``It's going to be a headwind to growth,'' said Keith Hembre, chief economist at Minneapolis-based FAF Advisors Inc., which oversees $107 billion. ``The change from being readily available and cheap to less available and more expensive is going to deter a lot of borrowing activity.''

    Most banks increased loan rates over their cost of funds for commercial and industrial borrowing, according to the central bank's quarterly survey of senior loan officers released today in Washington. The proportion of banks raising such rates rose to a net of 70 percent compared to 45 percent in a January report.

    The survey data were available to central bank policy makers last week when they cut interest rates by a quarter percentage point.

    The report covered 56 domestic banks and 21 foreign institutions. The American banks together have $6.1 trillion in assets, representing about 64 percent of the country's $9.5 trillion total for all domestically chartered, federally insured commercial banks.

    `Downside' Risks

    Policy makers last week signaled they are ready to hold off on further rate cuts as they assess the impact of the 3.25 percentage points of reductions since September. They dropped a reference to ``downside'' risks to growth from their previous statement.

    At the same time, officials acknowledged in their April 30 statement that ``tight credit conditions and the deepening housing contraction are likely to weigh on economic growth over the next few quarters.''

    Traders anticipate that the Fed will leave its main interest rate unchanged at 2 percent through October, based on futures prices on the Chicago Board of Trade.

    ``The net fractions of domestic banks reporting tighter lending standards were close to, or above, historical highs for nearly all loan categories in the survey,'' today's Fed report said.

    Commercial Property

    In commercial real estate, a net 80 percent of U.S. banks said they tightened lending standards, about the same as the January survey. The results of both surveys are about the highest since the central bank began seeking information on the subject in 1990. A net 35 percent of U.S. banks reported slower demand, less than January's 47 percent.

    For home loans, the proportion of U.S. banks making it tougher for prime borrowers, those with the best credit, rose to about 60 percent from 53 percent. About one-fourth of U.S. banks reported slower borrowing for prime mortgages and 30 percent said nontraditional loans were weaker, both ``significantly smaller'' numbers of banks than in the January survey.

    ``I think we're back to 1980s lending'' in terms of acceptable credit records and down payments, David Kittle, the chairman-elect of the Mortgage Bankers Association, said today. Kittle, chief executive officer of Principle Wholesale Lending Inc. in Louisville, Kentucky, spoke at a conference hosted by the trade group in Boston.

    Middle Market

    The Fed's rate reductions since September have failed to put much of a dent in the cost of a mortgage. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 6.06 percent last week, down from 6.46 percent at the start of September though up from 5.45 percent in January, according to Freddie Mac.

    A net 15 percent of large U.S. banks said demand increased from large and middle-market companies for commercial and industrial loans. The respondents attributed the rise to borrowing that ``shifted to their banks from other bank or nonbank sources,'' which became ``less attractive.''

    At the same time, a similar proportion said demand from small companies slowed, citing a drop in ``customers' needs to finance investment in plant and equipment,'' the Fed said.

    In response to special survey questions on home-equity lines of credit, about half of U.S. banks said they tightened terms on existing loans, mainly because of declines in home values below appraised values, as well as increased defaults and changes in borrowers' finances.

    Services Growth

    Today's report comes amid signs the U.S. economy is weathering the housing and credit contractions. A report today showed service industries unexpectedly grew for the first time since December, while the economy as a whole expanded at a 0.6 percent annual pace in the first quarter, matching the pace of the last three months of 2007.

    Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is scheduled later today to speak in New York on mortgage foreclosures, his first public comments since last week's Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

    Bernanke's speech coincides with the advance of legislation backed by Democrats that would create a program at the Federal Housing Administration insuring as much as $300 billion in refinanced mortgages. The House is scheduled to consider the bill on Wednesday.

    Foreclosure filings rose 57 percent in March from a year earlier, according to Irvine, California-based RealtyTrac Inc.

  7. #147
    Remove
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    Default Re: Semiconductor Industry Expected To See Positive Growth This Year

    Quote Originally Posted by CNA

    Semiconductor industry expected to see positive growth this year
    Rachel Kelly
    Channel NewsAsia
    Monday, 5 May 2008, 2232 hrs



    The semiconductor industry in Southeast Asia is expected to see as much as ....................
    ...............................................................
    ...............................................................
    This is another unrelated post which needs to be removed. We don't work in the semiconductor industry.

  8. #148
    Telegraph
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    Default Worst Of Credit Crunch May Be Over, Says BoE


    Worst of credit crunch may be over, says BoE
    The worst of the credit crisis may now be over and markets could soon be on the road to recovery, the Bank of England believes.

    Edmund Conway
    Economics Editor
    Telegraph
    London, U.K.
    Friday, 2 May 2008, 2:26AM Singapore Time



    In a report likely to reassure families struggling with soaring mortgage bills and falling house prices, the Bank's deputy governor, Sir John Gieve, said London's troubled money markets could soon recover from what is widely regarded as the worst crisis since the Great Depression.

    He said: "The most likely path ahead is that confidence and risk appetite will return gradually in the coming months."

    He indicated that Britain is now on a knife-edge. In one direction lies an eventual recovery; in the other six months or more of even deeper financial turmoil.

    However, even if there is a swift recovery, it would take months, and possibly years, before many households feel the benefit, the Bank warned. It said highly-indebted families and buy-to-let investors are at significant risk in the coming months.

    It also refused to rule out further falls in house prices in the coming months, after Nationwide declared that home values are now falling year-on-year.

    In its Financial Stability Report, published today, the Bank said that the mood had darkened to such a degree in the City and on Wall Street that the reality was now significantly brighter than many had feared.

    It said the prices of the stricken financial investments at the heart of the crisis had fallen so dramatically that they may now represent a bargain for long-term investors.

    The credit crisis originated in the American housing market, where many homeowners defaulted on their mortgages, causing millions of pounds of losses at banks and investors around the world.

    However, in recent months a wider sense of fear and paranoia has intensified as the crunch caused the collapse of Northern Rock and US investment bank Bear Stearns.

    The Bank's report also warns that many "high-risk borrowers" will face mortgage rate increases of around 2.5% as they move off cheap fixed rate deals onto their lenders' standard variable rate deal. It says that buy-to-let investors are struggling to keep their investments afloat.

    Chief Secretary to the Treasury Yvette Cooper said: "No matter how strong the long term fundamentals, the housing market will face pressures while the credit squeeze continues. The most important thing to help home owners and home buyers now is to get credit markets moving again."

  9. #149
    AFP
    Guest

    Default Asian Nations Agree To Set Up Crisis Fund


    Asian nations agree to set up crisis fund
    Daniel Silva
    Agence France-Presse
    Madrid, Spain
    Monday, 5 May 2008, 3:20AM Singapore Time


    Economic Ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) pose during the opening ceremony of The 14th ASEAN economic ministers retreat and related meetings in Nusa Dua, on the island of Bali on 3 May 2008. Finance ministers of 13 Asian nations agreed to set up a foreign exchange pool of at least US$80 billion (€52 billion) to be used in the event of another regional crisis. - Photo: Sonny Tumbelaka, AFP

    Finance ministers of 13 Asian nations agreed here on Sunday to set up a foreign exchange pool of at least US$80 billion (€52 billion) to be used in the event of another regional financial crisis.

    China, Japan and South Korea will provide 80% of the funds, with the rest coming from the 10 members of ASEAN, they said in a joint statement issued after talks on the sidelines of an Asian Development Bank meeting in Madrid.

    The 13 nations agreed after the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis to set up a mainly bilateral currency swap scheme known as the Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI) to protect their currencies from turmoil in the future.

    At the ADB's last annual meeting in Japan in May 2007, they decided to set aside part of their foreign reserves for a multi-nation system of reserves for use in emergencies, but did not decide on the size of the pool.

    "We are committed to further accelerate our work in order to reach consensus on all of the elements which include concrete conditions eligible for borrowing and contents of convenants specified in borrowing arrangements," the statement said.

    The foreign exchange pool would be self-managed and be governed by a single contract that will be legally binding, it added.

    Vietnam's Finance Minister Vu Van Ninh, who co-chaired the Madrid meeting, said the 13 nations would now work to develop a way of monitoring the fund.

    "We think it is very important to have a rigorous surveillance system, especially in the context that regional economies have made an important and big integration into the world economy," he told reporters.

    Japanese Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga, the other meeting co-chair, did not give a timeline for the the creation of the fund when asked, saying only that it "should be achievable in terms of its objectives."

    The creation of the pool is a big step towards the creation af an Asian equivalent of the Washington-based International Monetary Fund (IMF).

    During the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis Indonesia, Thailand and South Korea had to borrow heavily from the IMF to boost their finances as investors sold their currencies.

    The IMF forced the governments of the three nations to make unpopular spending cuts, sell state-owned firms and raise interest rates in exchange for the loans of over US$100 billion.

    Asian economies are being challenged by rising energy and commodity prices as well as the vulnerability of financial markets, the finance ministers said in the statement.

    "The regional economy has continued its strong growth and is forecast to remain robust although somewhat weaker," it said.

    "We confirmed the importance of taking appropriate actions to ensure that economic activity continues at a sustained pace by balancing policies to deal with these risks," it added.

    The ADB predicts Asia's developing economies will expand by 7.6% in 2008, its lowest level in five years, after surging ahead 8.7% last year.

    Inflation in the region should hit 5.1% this year, its highest level since the 1997-1998 financial crisis.

    The 13 countries are China, Japan, South Korea and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), made up of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

  10. #150
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    Default Re: S'pore private home prices rise 3.7% in Q1

    This place is no longer a forum but a "who can cut and paste plus highlight the most in different font size and colours" area.
    Maybe there should be a news area where people can post news instead of needlessly pasting articles after articles of news. Honestly speaking, econ data comes out almost everyday + stks indices change everyday, so there is no end to this cut & paste mentality...I'd like to hear constructive arguments from both sides and not have to scroll down 10 pages to find one comment (minus away 9 pages of other comments which argue over the articles being posted).

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