Top Reads this Week (27 Dec)


Rounding up top reads from around the web, including articles shared by fellow investors in the Financial Horse Facebook Group.

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Singapore confirms first case of new Covid-19 strain from UK, a 17-year-old student who recently returned from Britain (Straits Times)

ne case of a new coronavirus strain reported in the United Kingdom to be potentially more contagious has been detected here, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday (Dec 23). The patient is a 17-year-old Singaporean girl who had studied in the UK. The Health Ministry said that with the B117 strain circulating in the UK, the National Public Health Laboratory is performing viral genomic sequencing for confirmed Covid-19 cases who arrived from Europe recently. A total of 31 imported cases from Europe, who arrived in Singapore between Nov 17 and Dec 17, were confirmed to have Covid-19 infection this month.

Arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t signal a quick return to normality: Experts (CNA)

While the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine in Singapore is good news, it will probably still take months for life to return to normal as the country builds herd immunity and the effects of the vaccine are studied more, said experts. 

DHL ranked as best workplace in Singapore in 2020 (Straits Times)

Logistics service provider DHL Express (Singapore) is the best workplace in Singapore this year, as ranked by global institute Great Place to Work. Taking swift action to protect workers at the start of the coronavirus outbreak and constantly engaging employees are two reasons DHL bagged this award, said managing director and senior vice-president Christopher Ong.

Singapore’s love affair with property resumes amid coronavirus optimism (SCMP)

  • Property prices are expected to rise by 4 per cent next year as vaccines and an economic recovery help the city state put the worst of the pandemic behind it
  • Despite worst recession since independence, buyers’ confidence is already bouncing back. Even so, prudence is urged for households taking on debt

Singapore investors remain cautious on cryptocurrencies, but more firms seeing benefits: Experts (CNA)

Bitcoin hit all-time highs just a few days ago, topping US$24,000 for the first time ever. But not everyone in Singapore is eagerly cashing in on the meteoric rise of various cryptocurrencies. Experts say it’s mostly institutional players and firms that see the benefits of such digital assets beyond their price. 

Singapore malls packed with shoppers despite call for caution in lead-up to phase 3 (Straits Times)

The Government has warned against complacency during the festive season, with Education Minister Lawrence Wong noting last Monday the concern that “there will be groups of people who let their guard down. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also said this was “absolutely not the time to relax” or imagine “that the problem has disappeared”. On Saturday afternoon, even as it was revealed that 13 people on stay-home notice at the Mandarin Orchard Singapore hotel might have been infected there, malls in the area were packed.

A ‘long-term top’ is taking shape in the market, and these stocks could bear the brunt, investor warns (Market Watch)

“Renewable froth” is a prevalent theme in the current equity bubble, he explained, considering the wild performance of highfliers Plug Power PLUG, +1.26%, Nio NIO, -1.20%, Enphase Energy ENPH, +1.72% and, of course, Tesla TSLA, +0.88%. “Not only are renewables trading at sky-high valuations, but price-to-sales ratios in growth stocks as a whole are now above their 2000 peak,” Palmer wrote.

And it’s not just top-heavy renewable energy stocks that have Palmer concerned. He warned that S&P 500 index’s Relative Strength Index, an technical indicator of momentum used to determine overbought or oversold conditions, suggests trouble ahead for the bulls.

“Just like the dot-com peak, the quarterly RSI in the Index has been fading lower for a few years (loss of momentum), while the S&P 500’s price has hit new highs, this is MEANINGFUL bearish divergence,” he wrote. “In our view, we are close to a long-term top.”

No sign of a top in Wednesday’s upbeat trading session though, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.38%, tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite COMP, -0.29% and S&P 500 SPX, +0.07% all moving nicely higher ahead of the Christmas holiday.

Treasury yields rise amid mixed economic data, Brexit deal optimism (CNBC)

Treasury yields held steady on Wednesday as investors digested a mixed bag of economic data as well as signs of an imminent Brexit trade deal between the U.K. and the European Union.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose 3 basis points to 0.956%, while the yield on the 30-year Treasury bond traded 4 basis points higher at 1.696%. Bond yields move inversely to prices.

U.S. Jobless claims totaled 803,000 in the week ending Dec. 19, the Labor Department said on Wednesday. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected initial claims to rise to 888,000. However, Personal income declined 1.1% in November, compared to an estimate for a 0.3% decline, according to Dow Jones.

Dr. bitcoin? Goldman says cryptocurrency’s meteoric rise is tracking a key proxy for global growth (CNBC)

  • Bitcoin and copper prices have both been on a tear for most of this year, hitting record-highs amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
  • Copper — sometimes dubbed Dr. Copper — has a reputation among market watchers as a barometer for the global economy.
  • The base metal is viewed in this way because of its broad range of end-uses — both in construction and in consumer products such as cars and consumer appliances.

JPMorgan closes bullish call on base metals as Chinese credit cycle slows (CNBC)

  • JPMorgan has turned “neutral” on base metals, which include copper, aluminum, nickel and zinc, and now forecasts that copper will deteriorate from an average of $7,700 per ton in the first quarter of 2021 down to around a $6,500 per ton average in the fourth quarter.
  • “Our analysis shows that a slowing in Chinese credit over the course of 2021 will turn into a drag on base metals prices that will likely outweigh continued recovery in the rest of the world,” JPMorgan commodities analysts said in a quarterly outlook report.

Hang Seng Indexes is considering wide-ranging changes to Hong Kong’s stock benchmark that would dilute the influence of its largest companies. The five proposals include maintaining “a certain number of constituents classified as Hong Kong companies”, according to a 16-page consultation paper released Tuesday (Dec 22). Hang Seng is also considering increasing the number of members to between 65 and 80, as well as capping weightings at 8 per cent and fast tracking new listings. The index currently has 52 stocks with weights limited to 10 per cent. Secondary listings or shares with unequal voting rights are capped at 5 per cent. The sweeping proposal comes amid significant changes within the city’s stock market, as a wave of Chinese megacaps choose the financial hub as a preferred venue to sell shares.

Hong Kong stocks end losing streak as Xiaomi hits record high, investors weigh US stimulus outlook (SCMP)

  • Hang Seng Index ended a three-day losing streak with Xiaomi closing at a record high, while Covid-19 cases continued to rattle investors
  • Trump signaled opposition to US$900 billion economic stimulus package approved by bipartisan lawmakers in a tweet

Alibaba shares fall after reports of anti-monopoly probe by China (CNBC)

  • Shares of Alibaba fell as reports surfaced that the Chinese government is conducting an anti-monopoly probe into the tech giant.
  • China’s State Administration for Market Regulation said through official online channels Thursday it has opened an investigation into Alibaba over monopolistic practices.
  • The news comes on the heels of an increasing — and largely unexpected — push by Chinese authorities to rein in their biggest tech firms through regulatory action.

A Very COVID Christmas: The Pandemic’s Impact on Festive Spending (Visual Capitalist)

Given consumers’ concerns over the future of the economy, they are expected to reduce spending during the festive season. In the U.S. for example, spending will decline by 7% to $1,387 per household. When it comes to how consumers plan to spend their hard-earned cash, some interesting insights emerge. As many have saved significantly on socializing and travel—which is down 34% year-on-year—they plan to put this money towards items for themselves instead of gifts and gift cards for others. These items include clothes, at-home entertainment, and home furnishings. It therefore comes as little surprise that the global online home decor market is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of almost 13% between 2020-2024 with revenue of over $80 billion. Almost 60% of UK consumers said that they will be shopping online more this Christmas.

Driving the news: The report comes a day after President Trump suggested he may not sign Congress’ $900 billion coronavirus relief bill, potentially delaying desperately needed aid for millions of Americans.

  • The bill includes an extension of two pandemic-related unemployment programs, used by 14 million Americans, that expire on Dec. 26.
  • 397,511 people filed for benefits last week under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which provides subsidies to those who aren’t normally eligible for unemployment benefits.
  • Trump’s threat runs the risk of worsening the country’s economic recovery and increases the chances of a government shutdown during the pandemic.

The bottom line: Although the number of unemployment claims was less than expected, it is another sign that the country’s job recovery still has a long way to go to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

Adelson’s Singapore Casino Paid a Price for Courting China’s ‘Whales’ (Bloomberg)

When Chinese businessman Wang Xi first gambled at Sheldon Adelson’s Marina Bay Sands casino in Singapore, he hit the jackpot, winning $3.7 million. After more wins in later trips, his luck turned sour and he racked up millions in losses. After one particularly tough day in the high-roller room, he threw a water glass at a staff member, and brought his father in to review his accounts, according to documents seen by Bloomberg.

The family probe yielded a windfall of a different sort. In a 2019 lawsuit, Wang claimed the Marina Bay Sands had transferred S$9.1 million ($6.9 million) of his money to third parties in 22 separate transactions without his authorization. The forms for wiring his money weren’t signed by him and appear to have been forged, the originals destroyed, according to the lawsuit. The casino settled the case in June and repaid Wang, without admitting wrongdoing.

Netflix Song Celebrates Users Who ‘Watched It All’ (Nerdist)

Netflix is celebrating its subscribers who “finished” the streaming giant’s entire catalogue, with a catchy Broadway-style show tune. And once you watch “We Watched It All.” you can sleep in until 2021.


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