Top News this Week (24 Dec)


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

HDB, URA to temporarily raise rental occupancy cap to meet demand; up to 8 unrelated tenants allowed (Straits Times)

The number of tenants allowed in larger Housing Board flats and private residential properties will be temporarily increased for about three years, to better meet rental demand and support households that intend to rent.

From Jan 22, 2024, to Dec 31, 2026, owners of four-room or larger flats and private homes of at least 90 sq m will be allowed to house up to eight unrelated people who are not from the same family unit, up from the current cap of six, said HDB and the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in a joint statement on Dec 20.

“We will review the need to extend this temporary measure depending on the rental situation in end-2026,” said National Development Minister Desmond Lee in a Facebook post.

He noted that since the pandemic, there has been a sharp increase in residential rents due to strong demand amid construction delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix hailed as ‘best race of 2023’ by international media (Straits Times)

Max Verstappen and his Red Bull team left the competition in their wake en route to their drivers’ and constructors’ title double in 2023. Of the 22 races, they only failed to win at the Marina Bay Street Circuit as Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz triumphed.

Sky Sports, ESPN, the UK’s Metro, and online racing news site WTF1 named Singapore as the best race of 2023, while Motorsport Magazine nominated the night race for their own accolade.

Sky Sports said: “We are not saying this because it’s the only one Red Bull didn’t win, it was genuinely a thriller to the end as Sainz, Lando Norris, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton had a big four-way scrap for the lead in the closing stages.”

Companies, including Ikea, warn of possible product shortages and delays from Red Sea attacks (Straits Times)

Global shipping rates rose sharply and companies scrambled to avoid disruption to shipments after attacks on vessels in the Red Sea stymied traffic through the key Suez Canal trade artery.

Recent attacks by Iran-aligned Yemeni Houthi militant group on vessels forced leading shipping companies including Maersk to reroute around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the Suez Canal, the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

The attacks have stirred memories of 2021 when container ship Ever Given ran aground in the canal, blocking dozens of container ships for six days.

The current disruption has caused container shipping costs to rise sharply, but those rates are still far below peak pandemic levels.

Electrolux, the world’s largest appliance company, has set up a task force to find alternative routes or identify priority deliveries, while Inter Ikea warned of potential product shortages.

CPF interest rates for Special, MediSave and Retirement accounts to go up to 4.08% in Q1 2024 (Straits Times)

The interest rate for the Special and MediSave accounts of Central Provident Fund (CPF) members will increase to 4.08 per cent per annum, from 4.04 per cent, for the period from Jan 1 to March 31, 2024.

The rate hike is due to an increase in the 12-month average yield of 10-year Singapore Government Securities, which the interest rate is pegged to, said the CPF Board, Housing Board and Health Ministry in a joint statement on Dec 6. 

The interest rate for the Retirement Account (RA) will also increase to 4.08 per cent, from 4 per cent, for the same period. 

From 2024, the RA interest rate peg will be aligned to that of the Special and MediSave accounts and computed quarterly instead of annually.

“This change will allow the RA interest rate to be more responsive to the prevailing interest rate environment,” said the statement. 

The Ordinary Account (OA) interest rate will remain unchanged at 2.5 per cent for the same period.

Decathlon secretly supplying Russia through Dubai shell company and S’pore-based subsidiary: Report (Straits Times)

French sports retail giant Decathlon has secretly continued selling clothes in Russia despite officially pulling out in protest at Russia’s war in Ukraine, a media report published on Dec 19 said.

The multinational retailer, which posted sales of €15.4 billion (S$22.5 billion) in 2022, announced within weeks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that it would withdraw from the Russian market.

In October 2023, it sold its 60 local Russian outlets to Desport, the report in investigative media site Disclose said, a move that was presented as marking the end of its Russian presence.

“Except it wasn’t,” the report said.

In recent weeks, “very discreetly”, Decathlon had continued to supply Desport with products carrying its flagship brands Quechua, Wedze and Kalenji, Disclose said.

Year of the Dragon brings new hope for Singapore economy, but outlook remains clouded (Straits Times)

With the end of the biggest global inflationary surge in decades and a turn in the electronics cycle in sight, Singapore’s economy looks set to stage a comeback in 2024 – the Year of the Dragon on the Chinese calendar.

But the much-anticipated export-driven recovery is likely to be modest, amid subdued demand from consumers in key markets such as the United States, European Union and China, where economic growth will remain subpar for most of the year.

Alibaba CEO Eddie Wu to lead Taobao and Tmall e-commerce business in latest reshuffle (CNBC)

  • Alibaba Group CEO Eddie Wu is taking over the top role at the company’s Taobao and Tmall e-commerce business, replacing Trudy Dai in the Chinese internet tech giant’s latest management shakeup this year.
  • Wu replaced Daniel Zhang as the group’s CEO in September.
  • Wu also became acting chairman and CEO of Alibaba’s Cloud Intelligence Group in September after Zhang abruptly left the business unit.

Tesla drivers had highest accident rate, BMW drivers most DUIs study finds (CNBC)

  • With 24 accidents per 1,000 drivers during the period from mid-November 2022 to mid-November 2023, Tesla drivers clocked in with the worst accident rate in the U.S., according to a study by Lending Tree, ahead of Ram and Subaru drivers.
  • BMW drivers were the most likely to engage in driving under the influence, the researchers found, with 3 DUIs per 1,000 drivers in a year, about twice the rate of DUIs among Ram drivers, who were the second worst drivers in this regard.
  • Accidents, DUIs, speeding and other citations can all lead to higher insurance rates for drivers.

Online shopping for holidays exceeds 2020 pandemic high, CNBC economic survey shows (CNBC)

After a two-year slump below its pandemic high, online shopping made a comeback this holiday season. The CNBC All-America Economic Survey finds 57% of Americans naming online shopping as their top one or two destinations for Christmas gifts.

In 2006, online shopping accounted for just 18% of responses. It hit an all-time high in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, when 55% responded it was the top destination. It scaled back to 51% last year, holding on to some but not all of its pandemic gains. But this year, hit yet another all-time high.

The survey of 1,002 Americans throughout the country was conducted Dec. 8 through 12 and has a margin of error of +/-3.1%.

“We know from the rest of the data that inflation is a major factor in why people are spending less and more,″ said Micah Roberts of Public Opinion Strategies, the Republican pollster for the survey.  “Everything costs more, so you’re going to have to spend more to buy it.”

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