Top News this Week (16 June)


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

Economists keep Singapore’s 2024 growth forecast at 2.4% but manufacturing outlook hit: MAS survey (Straits Times)

Private-sector economists maintained their 2024 outlook for Singapore, but switched the main drivers of growth from manufacturing and exports to finance and insurance.

Professional forecasters in the quarterly survey released by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on June 12 forecast gross domestic product (GDP) expanding at 2.4 per cent this year, unchanged from their forecast in the March survey.

However, they slashed their forecast for growth in the key manufacturing sector to 1.6 per cent, from 4 per cent in the previous survey. With manufacturing outlook reduced, the pace of growth in non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) was cut to 4 per cent from 6 per cent.

Conversely, the finance and insurance sector was tipped to grow at 5.1 per cent, up from 3.4 per cent in the March survey.

Asia’s family office frenzy comes with plenty of imposters (Straits Times)

A rapidly growing wealth management industry is spurring a rise in allegations of fake family offices from Singapore to Hong Kong.

As Mr Edoardo Collevecchio was getting ready to speak at a conference in Singapore, he recognised the family office that employed a fellow panellist. But as they exchanged small talk, Mr Collevecchio noticed something was off – the executive could not answer basic questions about his firm and did not even recognise the name of an owner.

It soon became clear the “executive” had never worked for the family office directly, and had misrepresented his status. An awkward snip later, the panel went ahead – minus one speaker.

Singapore and Brunei have stood by each other over the decades, and will continue to be natural partners as two small countries navigating an increasingly dangerous and turbulent world, said Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on June 11.

Affirming the special relationship between both sides, he said the close neighbours are firmly committed to extending cooperation into new areas as they mark 40 years of diplomatic ties this year.

These include fields under sustainability such as carbon markets and renewable energy, as well as urban planning, the digital economy and food security, PM Wong said in a toast speech at a lunch hosted by Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.

Construction of S’pore’s largest floating solar farm at Kranji Reservoir to begin in 2025 (Straits Times)

Construction work for a new mega floating solar farm is expected to begin at Kranji Reservoir in 2025, now that an environmental study has found that the installation of solar panels is unlikely to have a major impact on the biodiversity there. 

The project – which will be the country’s largest solar farm to date – will be a major boost to Singapore’s efforts to harness more renewable energy.

The solar farm is expected to be able to produce 141 MW-peak (MWp) of clean energy, or 112.5MWp when converted to AC, which is the voltage used by the electricity grid and most of Singapore’s electrical appliances. 

Singapore’s first satellite to orbit closest to Earth unveiled; set for launch in mid-2025 (Straits Times)

The Republic’s first satellite to fly closest to the Earth – carrying novel technologies and capturing high-quality pictures – has been built by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and will be ready for take-off in mid-2025.

Most satellites in space are found at least 500km to 800km from Earth. The new 1.3m-tall satellite – named Extremely Low Earth Imaging Technology Explorer (Elite) – will soar just 250km above the globe.

This altitude is a relatively unexplored part of space with a harsher environment for machines since they are surrounded by highly reactive gases and atmospheric friction. Only a handful of such satellites are in very low orbit currently.

As a research satellite, Elite is expected to spend about 1½ years in space to test some novel, home-grown devices and see if it is possible for more Singapore satellites to fly closer to Earth.

The size of a small fridge, Elite is NTU’s 14th satellite, and its largest and most complex to date. To top it off, the spacecraft will be launched during a period of heightened solar activity between 2024 and 2025.

Customer refunds, business suspension send Cordlife $11.6m into the red in Q1 (Straits Times)

Beleaguered private cord blood bank Cordlife Group reported a net loss of $11.6 million for the three months ended March 31, reversing a net profit of $1.2 million in the corresponding quarter the year before.

The group announced in a bourse filing on June 11 that its revenue was recorded as minus $240,000 in the first quarter of 2024. In the first quarter of 2023, it was $14.1 million in the black.

The reversal in revenue was attributed to the financial impact of Cordlife handing out refunds to its customers whose stored cord blood samples were compromised as a result of not having been stored at the correct freezing temperature.

SIA offers compensation to passengers of turbulence-hit SQ321; US$10k for those with minor injuries (Straits Times)

 Singapore Airlines (SIA) has sent out offers of compensation to passengers on board the turbulence-hit SQ321, with those who suffered minor injuries being offered US$10,000 (S$13,500).

The national carrier said in a Facebook post on June 11 that those who had more serious injuries were invited to discuss compensation offers that would “meet their specific circumstances”.

It added that it has offered US$25,000 as an advance payment for passengers who suffered serious injuries that require long-term medical care and are requesting financial help.

Apple shares close at record high after company unveils AI software (CNBC)

  • Apple shares notched a new record high of around $207 per share on Tuesday, besting the previous record from December.
  • The company unveiled its long-awaited push into AI at its annual developer conference on Monday.
  • Analysts believe the new AI features will drive consumers to upgrade their devices since the tools are only available on newer models.

Norway discovers Europe’s largest deposit of rare earth metals (CNBC)

  • Mining firm Rare Earths Norway says it has discovered Europe’s largest proven deposit of highly prized rare earth elements.
  • One of the few deposits not owned or controlled by China, the discovery of continental Europe’s largest rare earths deposit is considered a welcome boost in Europe’s bid to break China’s rare earths dominance.
  • Alf Reistad, CEO of Rare Earths Norway, told CNBC that the discovery represents a “great milestone” for the company.

Singapore is set to lead the gold market as ‘center of gravity’ shifts east, World Gold Council says (CNBC)

  • Singapore is set to become a leading gold hub as trading shifts east, said the World Gold Council’s Head of Asia-Pacific and Global Head of Central Banks, Shaokai Fan.
  • The country’s proximity to these central banks which are actively snapping up gold, is a key reason for that, Fan said.
  • This is on top of the rise in gold consumption from major emerging market economies, a majority of which are concentrated in Asia.

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