Top News this Week (10 Mar)


Rounding up top investing articles from around the web, including articles shared on Twitter.

Singapore’s exclusive concert deal with Taylor Swift not ‘unfriendly’ to Asean neighbours: PM Lee (Straits Times)

Addressing the question regarding criticism that the agreement had undermined the spirit of cooperation within Asean, PM Lee said: “A deal was reached, and it turned out to be a very successful arrangement.”

“I don’t see that as being unfriendly. Sometimes, one country makes a deal. Sometimes, another country does,” he said, adding that the incentives provided to Swift were from a fund aimed at reviving the industry after the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If we had not made such an arrangement, would she have come to someplace else in South-east Asia, or more places in South-east Asia? Maybe, maybe not. These are things she will decide.”

$300 a month in rental vouchers for families awaiting BTO flats; lower deposit for young couples (Straits Times)

Eligible families waiting for their Build-To-Order (BTO) units will soon be able to tap $300 a month in rental vouchers to offset rent for an HDB flat or bedroom on the open market.

The initiative under the Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS) will run from July 2024 to June 2025, National Development Minister Desmond Lee said in Parliament during a debate on his ministry’s budget on March 5.

It aims to provide eligible families with more support as the Housing Board adds another 2,000 vacated flats in Tanglin Halt to the stock of temporary homes under the PPHS from the second half of 2025.

$300 vouchers for all HDB households to buy energy- and water-saving products (Straits Times)

From April 15, HDB households will receive $300 worth of e-vouchers that can be used to buy 10 types of energy- and water-saving appliances and fittings, such as air-conditioners, washing machines and refrigerators.

The distribution of these e-vouchers – valid until Dec 31, 2027 – is an expansion of the existing Climate Friendly Households Programme rolled out in November 2020.

Electric van leasing firm EVCo to shut after arrest of key executives (Straits Times)

EVCo, the joint venture company set up by the business arm of SMRT and a Chinese electric vehicle firm, is being wound up, several months after its two key executives were arrested in connection with a police investigation.

In a March 1 post on EVCo’s LinkedIn page, its chairwoman Judy Lee announced that the company – owned by Strides Holdings and Dishangtie Green Technology (Hong Kong) – would go into liquidation.

The “difficult decision” was made after “careful consideration, deliberation and thorough evaluation” of the company’s financial situation, she said.

“We understand that this news would be disappointing to our staff, customers, shareholders and partners. All staff have been informed, and we are committed to supporting them during this transition,” she added.

EVCo’s former chief executive officer Fuji Foo and former chief financial officer Janice Low were arrested late in 2023 in connection with a police probe after irregularities were detected, and an internal audit was started.

Jail for man linked to purchase of 3 houses worth over $6m, bought on Chinese national’s behalf (Straits Times)

A Singaporean man was involved in the purchase of three houses in East Coast Road worth more than $6 million in total and a Chinese national was the one who had paid for the landed properties, the court heard.

Each house was not “non-restricted residential property” and foreigners are normally not entitled to buy such homes.

On March 5, Tan Hui Meng, 57, was sentenced to two years, three months and three weeks’ jail.

The undischarged bankrupt and shareholder of local firm called Hwampoa, was also fined $3,000.

After a trial, District Judge Jasvender Kaur had convicted him of eight charges in January, including three under the Residential Property Act.

According to court documents, Chinese national Zhan Guotuan, 59, had paid for the three properties – identified in court documents as J1, P1 and M1 – and the Singapore permanent resident’s case is still pending.

The prosecution told the court that the plan was for him to buy all the houses along a certain row in East Coast Road and redevelop them into a condominium.

Singapore’s Sea Limited posts first profitable year amid efforts to defend market share against Lazada, TikTok (CNBC)

  • Sea Limited turned a full year of profit in 2023, a stark contrast to its earlier cash-burning days.
  • Net income in 2023 was $162.7 million, as compared to a net loss of $1.7 billion in 2022.
  • Sea’s New York-listed shares closed 5.58% higher on Monday as investors reacted positively to the results.

Gold rises above $2,100 to highest level ever as traders bet on interest rate cuts (CNBC)

  • Gold futures for April settled at $2,126.30 per ounce, the highest level dating back to the contract’s creation in 1974.
  • When adjusted for inflation, gold set an all-time high of about $3,200 in 1980, according to Peter Boockvar, chief investment officer at Bleakley Financial Group.
  • “We’re still a ways away, which then also points to the potential upside,” said Boockvar, who believes gold will also test the inflation-adjusted record.

Zuckerberg, Rihanna and Bill Gates were among guests at lavish bash for son of Asia’s richest man (CNBC)

Tech executives including Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates attended a lavish three-day pre-wedding celebration for the son of Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s richest man, over the weekend.

The bash was held to celebrate the upcoming marriage of Anant Ambani, the youngest of Mukesh Ambani’s sons, to Radhika Merchant, scheduled for later this year.

Mukesh Ambani is the world’s ninth-richest person with a net worth of $117.8 billion, according to Forbes. He is the chairman of Reliance Industries, a conglomerate that spans everything from oil and gas to telecommunications.

China sets sight on around 5% growth in 2024, defence spending to rise (Straits Times)

China is gunning for an expansion of around 5 per cent in 2024, as the world’s second-largest economy seeks to maintain its growth momentum after hitting its target for 2023.

The headline growth target contained in Premier Li Qiang’s maiden government work report, delivered at the opening of China’s annual legislature meeting on March 5, follows 2023’s target of around 5 per cent, after the country failed to hit its 2022 goal of about 5.5 per cent.

Official data showed that China’s economy grew by 5.2 per cent in 2023 – a feat helped by government spending on infrastructure, as well as easing measures including steps to boost liquidity in the market.

“In setting the growth rate at around 5 per cent, we have taken into account the need to boost employment and incomes, and prevent and defuse risks,” Mr Li said in delivering the work report at the Great Hall of the People.

In 2024, the government will aim to create 12 million new urban jobs, and the unemployment rate is projected to be about 5.5 per cent, the report showed. Policymakers also expect inflation to go up by 3 per cent.

The projected increases are similar to the previous year’s targets.

Military spending will rise to 1.67 trillion yuan (S$310.85 billion), an increase by 7.2 per cent, similar to the increase seen in 2023.

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