Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Photo of a Big Christmas Tree taken during my Hong Kong trip last month! at Tsuen Wan's City Walk Mall =) Seems like Hong Kong is a very popular destination...many of my fellow bloggers went there for holiday too! =)

Wishing all readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

May the stock market yield healthy returns in the year ahead!



p.s. Time to change the blog poll... seems like the majority of people (67%) started investing between the ages of 20-29 and 20% started investing between the ages of 10-19 with the rest above the age of 30

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Five Things Investors Have to Worry About in 2012

Five Things Investors Have to Worry About in 2012

Published: Wednesday, 21 Dec 2011 | 12:36 PM ET
By: Patti Domm
CNBC Executive News Editor

Investors can blame Europe for choking off stock market gains in 2011, but there’s a growing list of geopolitical flashpoints lurking in 2012—and any one of them could pose a risk to stocks.

Market guru Laszlo Birinyi said there already is a long list of “known unknowns” coming in 2012, and many of them involve elections in places like the France, Mexico, India and Russia.

Of course, the U.S. presidential election is also on the horizon in November, and there was plenty of domestic political squabbling that swamped the market this past year.

But looking outside the U.S., the geopolitical landscape has become a bigger source of focus for U.S. investors, who are starting to feel a bit better about the U.S. economy and the investing environment at home.

Fears about contagion from Europe’s sovereign debt crisis will continue to dominate in 2012, as will concerns about a hard landing in China, and slow down in other emerging markets. Beyond that there are other situations that could easily progress to a point where they become factors for markets.

Here are five areas to watch for 2012:

Conflict with Iran: The U.S. and other Western countries are moving to put economic sanctions on Iran for its nuclear weapons program. Tensions are rising and analysts worry about scenarios where Israel could take action against Iran, or that it could take some action to reduce the flow of world oil through the Straits of Hormuz, a key shipping channel between Iran and Oman. Either way, the worst case scenario drives oil prices higher, hurting the global economy and financial markets.

North Korea’s New Kim: Kim Jong-un, the youngest son of Kim Jong-il, took over after his father died last Saturday. There is little known about the 28-year-old leader, but he now heads a secretive and closed off country with an advanced nuclear weapons program. There are reports he will head a ruling group that includes his uncle and the military.

Iraq Civil War?: Just a day after the U.S. pulled out of Iraq, the country’s Shiite dominated government ordered the arrest of Sunni vice president Tariq al-Hashimi, accusing him of running death squads and assassinating public officials. The fragile coalition government is at risk of dissolving, creating more instability in the Middle East and an unknown for oil supplies.

Pakistan-U.S. alliance weakens: The bristly relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan worsened after U.S. and NATO troops accidentally killed Pakistani soldiers on the Afghanistan border. The relationship is critical to the U.S. efforts in the war on terror and in keeping balance in its relationship with neighboring India, a U.S. ally. Recent rumors of a coup were quashed when President Zardari returned from medical treatment in Dubai.

Russian Election Uncertainty: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s coalition lost its majority in parliamentary elections that were criticized for fraud. The question is does the Russian populace want the strong armed leader to return to his position as president in the March 4 election. A shift in the center of power in Russia, viewed as unlikely as of now, could have impact on its dealings with the rest of the world, and has implications for energy, as Russia is the world’s largest oil producer.

“I’m bullish, but I’m just picking my spots, recognizing the wind is going shift a lot," says Birinyi. "It’s not going to be at my back the whole time, and I don’t want to make a strong assertive bet or position on the entire market. I want to recognize that there’s going to be stocks, like the number one stock Apple, that doesn’t care who wins the election in Russia.”

Citigroup chief U.S. equity strategist Tobias Levkovich said the market is always pricing in some level of geopolitical risk, and right now it’s also pricing in negative U.S. corporate earnings growth.

“Geopolitical risk is always in place. We’re not really aware of it at the moment,” he said, blaming data overload. He has been watching the situation in Iran and says that North Korea is another area to watch, but for now the market is not focused on them.

“Your risk premiums are pretty substantial if they flare up,” he said.

Of the worrisome situations around the world, analysts see Europe as the number one focus for now, followed closely by worries about China, but they also put the tensions around Iran high on the list. Oil markets are sensitive to developments on Iran, but many traders say there would be a much higher premium in oil if the market thought the situation was coming to a head.

This past year has been affected by a series of surprising, exogenous events, like the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, and the flooding in Thailand that dealt a blow to the supply chain of technology companies when factories were literally underwater.

There was the surprising Arab spring uprisings, which toppled governments in Tunisia and Egypt. It sparked the revolution in Libya, which cut the flow of oil and caused a temporary spike in oil prices. Unrest continues in Syria which has been sanctioned by other Arab nations for its handling of protests.

Then there’s Europe, which stressed world markets regularly with market-moving headlines on its leaders’ slow and uneven efforts to contain the sovereign debt crisis, forcing investors to focus on developments there with a heightened intensity.

On top of that, one of the biggest bubbling concerns is that China is stumbling and that it could have a hard landing from its period of high growth, taking the rest of the world with it.

“The Chinese situation for me is a very big deal,” said Barry Knapp, head of equity portfolio strategy at Barclays. Knapp said China has now rolled its growth target to 7.5 percent from 9 percent. He also said the reversal of portfolio flows may also be signaling something bigger is going on there.

“The other big emerging market issue for me is Eastern Europe,” he said, noting the Hungarian Central Bank this week raised rates to 7 percent to stop the decline in its currency. “For me, Eastern Europe is the real canary in the coal mine for European bank deleveraging. All those places don’t have really developed banking systems so if Europe cuts them out, it’s a big problem.”

Oil Tight Rope

Topping the geopolitical concerns that could significantly impact oil markets is the difficult situation with Iran. While hoping to harm it enough economically to stop its progress towards nuclear weapons, Western governments are balancing the potential impact on the price of oil.

A spike in oil–and gasoline prices–could have a swift negative impact on the fragile economic recovery and on a European economy on the brink of recession. In the U.S. gasoline prices spiked above $4 a gallon this past summer, immediately hurting the U.S. consumers’ ability to spend.

As gasoline prices eased up, so did consumer attitudes and spending improved along with sentiment.

Trevor Houser, director of energy and climate practice at the Rhodium Group, follows Iran closely and he says oil markets could be in for a choppy year.

“You have legislation the president will sign by the end of the year as part of the Defense Authorization Act that will impose sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran. There is a relatively tight timeline on the implementation,” he said. The sanctions are a change in strategy for the U.S. which has previously tried to discourage the long term investment in Iranian oil production, not target near term exports.

“The view is that while the investment sanctions have been effective on long term production that’s not sufficient given the time line for Iran’s nuclear program,” he said.

Meanwhile, Europeans are debating an Iranian oil embargo with a decision expected by the end of the month.

Houser said under the U.S. sanctions, if an entity is involved in processing oil payments with the Central Bank of Iran, it would be precluded from doing business with the U.S. financial system. He also said there is some flexibility in the bill which would allow for the president to make the decision based on input from the Department of Energy on the oil market.

“We think that it has a potential to be meaningful in terms of impact,” he said. “The problem with this is it’s all opaque political risk. How exactly are the sanctions going to be implemented and on what time frame?”

“People are going to be trying to read the tea leaves…and it will make for a choppy year” (in the oil market), he said.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Jobless rate falls to over 2-year low of 8.6%

Jobless rate falls to over 2-year low of 8.6%
Unemployment at lowest level since 2009 as labor force shrinks

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — The U.S. economy created 120,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate fell to 8.6%, its lowest level in more than two and a half years, the Labor Department said Friday.

The big drop in the jobless rate, which stood at 9.0% in October, stemmed mainly from a decline in the size of the labor force. Some 315,000 people stopped looking for jobs last month, which is usually not a good sign.

Yet the decline in the labor force is belied by other evidence showing that companies continue to add workers at a modest pace. The increase in hiring in November was accompanied by revisions in the October and September data that show an additional 72,000 jobs were created.

What’s more, the labor force had increased by nearly 1 million people in the three months before November, suggesting that more jobs are available. People tend to reenter the labor force when they think they have a better chance of finding a job.

The latest employment report adds to a growing pile of data showing that the economy continues to strengthen after a early-summer letdown.

The economy has gained an average of 131,000 jobs over the past year, or an even higher 143,000 in the past three months. The employment figures are drawn for a survey of several hundred thousand business establishments.

“It was a better-than-expected report and continues the steady diet of positive data we’ve seen over the past few months,” said economist Neil Dutta of Bank of America/Merrill Lynch.

Investors reacted positively to the report. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped as much as 125 points to extend a recent rally. Read Market Snapshot.

The White House was also cheered by the news. Alan Krueger, president Obama’s chief economist, said the report shows that the economy remains on a “positive trajectory,” though he added that the White House would like to see the U.S. “recover more quickly.” Read reaction to jobs report.

The number of new jobs created, however, fell well short of what economists say is necessary to drive down the nation’s jobless rate, which had hovered around 9% since the beginning of 2011. The U.S. would need to add about 250,000 jobs a month for several years to bring the unemployment rate back down to its pre-recession level of about 6%.

“It was nice to see the unemployment rate come down but if we are to see it continue to fall, firms will have to hire a lot more people than they did in November,” said Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors.

Economists surveyed by MarketWatch predicted a seasonally adjusted increase of 125,000 jobs, though some were forecasting as much as 175,000. No change was expected in the unemployment rate.

Retailers lead the way

The increase in hiring took place entirely in the private sector, with employment rising by 140,000.

Governments cut 20,000 jobs last month to put the total loss over the past two years at around 600,000. States and municipalities have been forced to reduce staff to balance their budgets as required by local law.

Hiring in October was revised up to 100,000 from 80,000 and the job gains in September were revised up to 210,00 from 158,000, — the highest number since April.

The retail sector posted the biggest increase in jobs as stores hired 50,000 employees, perhaps because Thanksgiving took place earlier than usual. Retailers always ramp up hiring before the holiday season begins.

In addition, the leisure and hospitality trade added 22,000 jobs, professional and business services gained 33,000 jobs and health care boosted hiring by 17,000.

The manufacturing and construction trades showed little change in employment.

Government data also showed that wages and hours worked were little changed in November. Hourly earnings fell by 2 cents to $23.18 and the average workweek was unchanged at 34.3 hours.

The MarketWatch survey expected a 0.2% increase in average hourly earnings.

While hourly earnings have risen 1.8% over the past 12 months, inflation was twice as high at 3.5% during the same span based on the consumer price index. The result: a declining standard of living for millions of Americans.

Some economists question whether the current trajectory of employment is sustainable absent a faster increase in wages or a sharp reversal in inflation. As much as 70% of economic activity is generated by consumer spending, but Americans still have high debts and more than 13.3 million people remain without work.

An alternative measure of unemployment puts the jobless rate much higher. The so-called U6 rate, which includes part-time workers and those who recently stopped looking for work, stood at 15.6% last month. It fell from 16.2% in October, however.

Another part of the Labor Department report offers more optimism, though. The household survey, used to calculate the jobless rate, posted another big increase in the number of people who say they found jobs: 278,000. That follows gains of 277,000 in October and 398,000 in September.

Although the household survey is not as accurate month to month as the Labor Department’s business survey, it’s often a good forward indicator of hiring trends. The household data captures the situation of workers who are undetected by traditional survey methods.

The U.S. economy has a long way to go, however, to get back to where it was before the 2007-2009 recession struck. The economy has 6 million fewer jobs now compared to November 2007.

As of last month, 5.7 million people have been without a job for more than six months. And the average length of unemployment rose to a record 40.9 weeks.

Source: MarketWatch

Saturday, October 22, 2011

STI - Oct 21

In the past week, STI managed to stay above the 20Day Moving Average, unlike previous occasions, where it fell below the 20DMA shortly after climbing above it. So, will it be different this time?

Fundamentally, we are still in a down trend (We are below 200DMA). GMMA is converging, the long-term (green) and short-term (red) moving averages are converging, meaning a potential change of trend. Volume has been rather low these few sessions --> an increase in stock prices with low volume suggest lack of broad base participation and may not be sustainable.

RSI is about 50, in neutral territory, meaning we are neither overbought nor oversold (50-50).

With DJIA having broke resistance last night. There may be a real change of trend and we might really have bottomed on 4/5 Oct.

Disclaimer applies. Trade/Invest with care! =)

On a personal note, I look forward to receiving dividends from Sabana REIT next month! =)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Singapore's Q3 GDP grows by 5.9% on-year, up by 1.3% quarter-on-quarter

SINGAPORE: Singapore's economy grew by 5.9 percent on a year-on-year basis in the third quarter of 2011.

On a quarter-on-quarter basis, the economy grew by 1.3 percent, a reversal from a contraction of 6.3 percent in the previous quarter.

Releasing the advance GDP estimates for the third quarter on Friday, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said that the Singapore economy is expected to grow by around 5.0 percent in 2011.

Commenting on sectoral performances, MTI said the improved economic performance in the third quarter was mainly due to a pick-up in growth in the biomedical manufacturing cluster.

It said the manufacturing sector expanded by 13.2 per cent in the third quarter on a year-on-year basis, after contracting by 5.8 per cent in the preceding quarter.

The construction sector grew marginally by 0.4 per cent on a year-on-year basis in the third quarter, following the growth of 1.5 per cent in the preceding quarter. On a sequential basis, the construction sector contracted by 11.5 per cent, following two consecutive quarters of expansion. This was largely due to a decline in private sector building activities.

Services-producing industries grew by 3.6 per cent on a year-on-year basis, compared to the 4.0 per cent growth in the preceding quarter. The transport & storage and financial services sectors saw relatively lower levels of activity compared to the preceding quarter.

MTI said for the rest of the year, growth could be weighed down by the softening global economic conditions. In particular, the electronics cluster is expected to remain weak due to the easing of global electronics demand.

It added that sentiment-sensitive activities within the financial services sector could also be dampened by heightened economic and financial uncertainties.

As pharmaceutical output is expected to be higher in the near term compared to a year ago, the biomedical manufacturing cluster could provide some support to growth.

Source: Channelnewsasia

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

STI - Oct 11

Background: In the past few weeks or even months, I have been quietly following the market. I must admit I haven't been posting my analysis of the market for quite a while now, primarily because I am rather "uncertain" about how the market will swing.

My view of the market:

From the chart, we can see that every time STI climbs above 20 day moving average(20DMA), it falls back below the 20DMA. And the recent rise in STI was accompanied by declining volume. So, will history repeat itself?

GMMA indicates that we are in a down-trend. And we are in indeed in a down-trend as 20DMA is below 200DMA. Smoothed RSI is about 50%, do notice that every time RSI hits 50% or thereabout, STI starts correcting itself.

Also, do note that earnings season is here. On Wall Street, Alcoa kicked off earnings season today and DJIA is off around 16 points today, a trading range for today was "small" - DJIA fluctuated between less than 100 points, an anomaly of late.

In Singapore, Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) will be reporting her earnings today. So, how will the market pan out? Time will tell I guess.

Interesting Chart patterns:

Bearish Engulfing - Wilmar
Shooting Star - Genting SP

Ok, will be signing off here. Trade/Invest wisely and stay safe (in this volatile market)!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Wall Street posts worst close in over a year; Dow down 2.36%

NEW YORK: Wall Street suffered another slump on Monday as concerns about the economy, contagion from the European debt crisis and rumours of an American Airlines bankruptcy dragged down markets.

Despite a brief rally on news that a key indicator of the health of the US manufacturing sector was better than expected, the main indexes ended the day firmly in the red.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 258.08 points (2.36 percent) at 10,655.30 at the close, its lowest level since September 2010.

The S&P 500 fell 32.19 (2.85 percent) to 1,099.23, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 79.57 points (3.29 percent) to 2,335.83.

"A new quarter brought more of the same on Wall Street," said Sameer Samana of Wells Fargo. "Worries about Europe drove the Dow sharply lower after Greece said it will miss its deficit targets for 2011 and 2012."

Banking stocks took much of the brunt.

Bank of America traded down 9.6 percent, Citigroup was down 9.8 percent, JPMorgan Chase was down 4.9 percent and Morgan Stanley was down 7.6 percent.

Also in the spotlight was American Airlines. Its shares ended the day down a whopping 33.1 percent, amid rumours that parent company AMR Corp would file for bankruptcy protection.

Morningstar analyst Basili Alukos said the selling comes after an "abnormal" number of pilot retirements in the past two months, with the pilots seeking to sell off their own stocks in the company out of fears it would fail.

That view was rejected by other analysts.

"While we view AMR as the financially weakest US airline, it had $5.0 billion in cash/investments at the end of Q2. Our Q3 forecast is for a loss of about $110 million, and we do not think the company has been burning through an unreasonable amount of cash," said Jim Corridore of Standard & Poor's Equity Research.

"For this reason, we would be surprised by a bankruptcy filing in the next 12 months."

The broader market had kicked-off the day amid a now-familiar sea of red - on news that Greece will not meet deficit-cutting targets - the focus on Wall Street turned to the domestic.

The Institute of Supply Management's purchasing managers index (PMI), a closely watched indicator of sentiment in the manufacturing sector, showed a surprise rise.

"The PMI registered 51.6 percent, an increase of one percentage point from August, indicating expansion in the manufacturing sector for the 26th consecutive month, at a slightly higher rate," said ISM's Bradley Holcomb.

Economists had expected the index to grow at a slower rate to 50.5 points.

The figure pushed the Dow to a modest rise of around 0.2 percent over the start of the day.

But news from Europe continued to weigh on US markets.

Bond prices rose significantly. The 10-year Treasury bond yield dropped to 1.75 percent from 1.92 percent on Friday, while the 30-year yield fell to 2.72 percent from 2.92 percent.

Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.


Seems like the bad is getting worse...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Soros: US Is Already in Double-Dip Recession

Billionaire investor George Soros said he believed the United States was already experiencing the pain of a double dip recession and that Republican opposition to Obama's fiscal stimulus plans was to blame for sluggish growth.

Asked by CNBC if he believed the US risks falling into a double-dip recession, Soros said: "I think we are in it already."

"We have a slowdown and basically a conflict about whether the rich ought to pay taxes to create jobs or not and there was a deal in the making which would have balanced the budget over the long term, but would have allowed short-term fiscal stimulus, which would have been the right policy," Soros said in an interview late Wednesday.

"That was rejected, it fell apart… so it will come to the electorate next year to decide what they want," he added.

Euro zone policymakers have repeatedly followed the wrong policy shifts, creating a situation in Europe "more dangerous" to the global financial system than the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, Soros said.

"It is a more dangerous situation [than Lehman Bros] and I think that the authorities, when push comes to shove, will do whatever it takes to hold the system together, because the alternative is just too terrible to contemplate," he added.

A number of smaller euro zone nations could default and leave the single currency area, Soros said, but he warned if it happened on an ad hoc basis, there would be considerable risk to the global economy.

"I think that you could have two or three of the small countries default or leave the euro provided it is prepared and done in an orderly way," Soros said.

"If it were to happen unprepared it could actually disrupt the global financial system, but that's why it's important to allow for it to happen and then those countries have a genuine choice it doesn't mean they are being pushed out."

Soros said he believed the so-called 'Troika' of the EU, ECB and IMF would release the next tranche of aid to heavily indebted Greece, but he stressed the creation of a European bailout fund would determine whether Greece received another bailout in December.


Wow! Soros vs Buffett. Who is right?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Americans worry about economy after job report

Americans worry about economy after job report

WASHINGTON: New worries about the economy gripped Americans Saturday after a government report showed no job growth last month amid sagging consumer confidence.

Economists raised new concerns about recession after the Labour Department said that private sector employment, previously the main engine for job growth as revenue-strapped governments shed workers, "changed little" in most major industries last month.

A meagre 17,000 private-sector jobs were added, down from a revised 156,000 in July. But that was offset by 17,000 jobs shed by the government.

"The job machine has ground to a halt," said Joel Naroff at Naroff Economic Advisors.

The report "clearly raises the spectre that the US has already entered or is at least close to enter another recession," said Harm Bandholz at UniCredit.

It was the first time in 10 months the world's largest economy has not produced net growth in non-farm payrolls.

"The stagnation in US payroll employment is an ominous sign," said Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics. "The broad message is that even if the US economy doesn't start to contract again, any expansion is going to be very, very modest and fall well short of what would be needed to drive the still elevated unemployment rate lower."

The Labour Department said the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.1 per cent from July. It was the 28th month the jobless rate has been at 9.0 per cent and above, except for two.

The number of unemployed people was essentially unchanged, at 14 million.

The jobs data for August were the worst since September 2010, when the economy destroyed more than twice the number of jobs it created. The pace of job growth remains far below the numbers needed to reduce the high unemployment rate.

"Wrangling in Congress and the eventual deficit deal underscored the inability of government to jump-start the labour market. Employers and consumers have lost confidence in the economy," said Sophia Koropecky at Moody's Analytics.

The report came amid political gridlock in Washington, as President Barack Obama's Democrats and their Republican foes battle over how to achieve long-term deficit reduction.

Confidence in the economy has taken a sharp hit as Americans watched politicians strike an 11th hour deal on August 2 to avert a sovereign debt default and Standard & Poor's downgraded the triple-A US credit rating for the first time in history.

The August employment data came ahead of Obama's much-awaited speech to a joint session of Congress next Thursday, in which he will lay out a plan to create jobs and stimulate the moribund economy, where growth fell below one per cent in the first half of the year.

The 9.1 per cent jobless rate is "a level that remains unacceptably high," Katharine Abraham, a member of the president's Council of Economic Advisors, said in a White House blog post.

Obama left the White House for a weekend at Camp David without commenting either on camera or on paper about the jobs number. He is due to give a speech on the economy on Monday, the Labour Day holiday, in the distressed hub of the auto industry, Detroit.

Other data in the August report were also troubling. The department sharply lowered its net new jobs for numbers June and July by a combined 58,000, and the average work-week and hourly earnings in the private sector declined.

Overall, the report raises the odds that the Federal Reserve's policymakers will announce fresh stimulus for the economy at a September 20-21 meeting, said Michael Gapen at Barclays Capital.

Sectors still adding jobs in August were health care, by 30,000, mining and professional and business services.

A two-week strike against Verizon Communications by about 45,000 employees subtracted from the payrolls number.

Governments continued to downsize their workforces, even after accounting for the return of about 22,000 workers from a partial state government shutdown in Minnesota, the department said.

Since employment peaked in September 2008, local governments have shed 550,000 jobs.


Source: Channelnewsasia

Friday, August 19, 2011

Recession scare sparks new plunge in US stocks

Recession scare sparks new plunge in US stocks
Posted: 19 August 2011 0502 hrs

NEW YORK: New worries about a second recession in the United States and Europe, prompted by an investment bank report, sent US stocks into a new sharp fall on Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 419.63 points (3.68 percent) to 10,990.58, following an earlier rout on Europe's bourses.

The broader S&P 500 sank 53.23 points (4.46 percent) to 1,140.65, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was hit harder by selling, tumbling 131.05 (5.22 percent) to 2,380.43.

The spark to the new fall was a Morgan Stanley report warning that global growth was slowing and that the United States and Europe were on the precipice of plunging into a new recession, two years after the end of the last one.

"A negative feedback loop between weak growth and soggy asset markets now appears to be in the making in Europe and the US. This should be aggravated by the prospect of fiscal tightening in the US and Europe," it said.

The report was reinforced by a handful of weekly and monthly data releases in the US that showed no improvement on jobs, falling housing sales, rising inflation, and deteriorating manufacturing conditions in the East Coast region centred on Philadelphia.

"The general consensus behind the decline seems to be concerns regarding global growth prospects, though the lingering eurozone debt crisis certainly remains on the minds of investors," said David Campione of

There was also a run on bank shares, driven in part by a Wall Street Journal report that said US regulators were examining the positions of US units of Europe's big banks, with concerns about their possible exposure to eurozone debt problems.

Bank of America lost 6.0 percent, Citigroup fell 6.3 percent and Wells Fargo shed 4.7 percent.

The Nasdaq was pulled down by an 8.3 percent drop in Oracle and a 5.4 percent fall in Google.

Hewlett-Packard, which said it was considering spinning off its personal computer business and confirmed that it was negotiating to buy British enterprise software firm Autonomy, fell 6.0 percent.

The sell-offs in the US and Europe sparked a new surge in bond prices, pushing the US 10-year Treasury down at one point in trade to an all-time record low yield of 1.974 percent, breaking the record of 2.007 percent set on December 18, 2008, at the height of the US recession.

By the end of the day, the 10-year Treasury yield was at 2.07 percent, compared to 2.17 percent late Wednesday, while the 30-year yield was at 3.42 percent, down from 3.57 percent.

Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions.

- AFP/de

Source: Channelnewsasia

Sounds like a new recession is coming? Time to short stocks, huh?

Friday, August 5, 2011

STI sinks 3.6% to 2,994.78 at closing

STI sinks 3.6% to 2,994.78 at closing

FRIDAY, 05 AUGUST 2011 17:47

Singapore’s Straits Times Index sank 3.6% to 2,994.78 at the close, the most since March 2009. All stocks in the index of 30 companies dropped. The measure slumped 6.1% this week, the biggest weekly drop since February 2009.

Shares on the measure trade at an average 13.7 times estimated earnings, compared with about 15.6 times at the end of 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.The following shares were among the most active in the market.

Commodity suppliers: The Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index, which tracks prices of 19 commodities from copper to corn, declined 2.8% in New York yesterday, extending its drop for a second day. Noble Group (NOBL SP), a Hong Kong- based supplier of energy, food and mining commodities, plunged 6.9% to $1.625. Olam International (OLAM SP), a Singapore-based supplier of agricultural commodities, fell 4.5% $2.53.

Hyflux (HYF SP), Singapore’s biggest water treatment company, slipped 3.6% to $1.88. The company said first- half net income dropped 35% from a year earlier to $21.9 million.

Tiger Airways Holdings (TGR SP), the budget carrier partly owned by Singapore Airlines (SIA SP), tumbled 7.8% to $1.06. The company said it had a first-quarter net loss of $20.6 million, compared with $1.9 million profit a year earlier. Separately, the resumption of the company’s flights in Australia has been delayed as court proceedings have been adjourned to Aug. 11, it said. Regulators grounded Tiger flights on July 1 because of safety concerns.

Venture Corp. (VMS SP), Singapore’s biggest publicly traded provider of electronics manufacturing services provider, lost 0.8% to $7.21. The company said second-quarter net income slid 8.4% from a year earlier to $42 million.

Source: The Edge

Wow! What a sight...I'm left with only high dividend stocks now.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Before you vote...

Many Singaporeans will be going to the polling booth come Saturday.

Just an important information that I think one should remember before one votes, as I have heard people telling me otherwise (even people who have voted many times):


Video courtesy of

On 7 May 11, Please vote wisely without fear or favour. Always remember your vote is secret, and no matter whether you are from the civil service, an NSF, a housewife, a retiree, or even a government minister you are free to vote for any party you wish to.

Disclaimer: The blog author wishes to stress his political neutrality.

General Election roundup - Election Issues

With less than 48 hours to the polling day, lets have a recap of the election issues in GE 2011.

Election Issues and suggestions by some opposition parties (I didnt include PAP's policies as we should already be aware of their policies):

Cost of living: Reduction of the GST (SDP,RP). Versus Ms Tin Pei Ling from PAP who asked Macpherson hawkers to keep their prices stable for 6 months...

HDB prices: Pegging housing prices to the median incomes of homebuyers. (WP)

Transport: Combining SMRT and SBS Transit into one company? And that we deprivatise them. (SPP)

Foreigners: Limiting the number of foreigners, have a Singaporean-first policy. (SDP)

Healthcare: Allowing use of Medisave for more illness like cancer etc.

GRCs: Abolish GRCs. (Most if not all opposition parties)

NCMPS: Abolish NCMPs, while some other candidates claim they would take up the NCMP scheme.

Political system: Need for more opposition members of parliament, more checks and balances. (Most if not all opposition parties) Moving towards a first-world parliament. (WP)

National Service: Reduce length of National Service (SDP, NSP, RP)

GIC/Temasek: Privatise GIC/Temasek and list in local stock exchange, give their shares to Singaporeans (RP)

Media/Press Freedom: Freedom of Information Act (SDP, WP, NSP)

Ministerial Salaries: Reduce salary of ministers. (Most if not all opposition parties) Pegging salaries of ministers to their of other first world nation's ministers. (WP)

MP Salaries: Donate a portion of their salaries (Many opposition parties)

MP Services: Hold more meet the people sessions, quit their job to become full time MPs. (Many oppposition parties)

Economy: Move away from manufacturing. (SDP)

Wages: Have a minimum wage policy (SDP, RP)

Government accountability: Ensure Government accountability and transparency (Most if not all opposition parties)

Education: Have more teachers (SDP). Reduce class sizes. (SDP, WP, SPP, NSP)

Political Freedom: Abolish ISA (SDP)

Voting Age: Reduction of Voting Age from 21 to 18 (WP)

Quality of candidates: Opposition parties have generally fielded better quality candidates, Chen Show Mao (WP), Nicole Seah (NSP), Vincent Wijeysingha (SDP), Benjamin Pwee (SPP), Kenneth Jeyerathnam (RP) just to name a few...

As usual, disclaimer applies. The parties that suggested these policies are not limited by the parties indicated in the brackets. In case any reader is unaware, there are six opposition parties contesting in this elections.

WP - Workers Party
SDP - Singapore Democratic Party
SPP - Singapore Peoples Party
RP - Reform Party
NSP - National Solidarity Party
SDA - Singapore Democratic Alliance

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter, STI and General Election.

A Happy Easter to all readers!

From the chart, we can see that there seem to be a diagonal? "double bottom" formation. STI seem to be consolidating? There is high above average volume at each of the bottoms and many days of strong buying volume on the days leading to the "breakout" from the channel as illustrated.

My take on the direction of STI? I think that STI is likely headed for more upside, with the general election around the corner. Perhaps the government would try to prop up the market to give people the feel good factor in the lead up to polling day? Last week, S&P gave a warning of US debt downgrade, which was like "old news"... I mean we all know (for a very long time) how bad US debt is...

For my own portfolio of stocks, I am looking foward to Sabana REIT annnouncing her results (and me finally getting some dividend from the REIT) this week. I am also looking foward to collecting some dividends from Golden Agri, SPH and STX OSV. =)

Moving on to other more exciting stuff. The general election is coming on may 7, with nomination day on apr 27. Although I am not eligible to vote, I am still very excited about the general election due to (not limited to) the following reasons:

1) All/ almost all of the constituences would likely be contested.
2) There are many good candidates from both sides of the political divide.
3) There are many hot-button issues on the ground, allowing for a robust political debate, policy suggestions like cost of living, issue of foreigners, housing etc.

All these factors, making this one of most hotly contested election in recent times.
And as one political commentator famously said: "I have never seen the ground is polarised as it is today" The political epic centre this time is likely to again be at the central and eastern part of singapore, namely at hougang, aljunied, potong pasir area, with much "spillover political fever" to the surrounding constituences, like tampines, east coast, punggol east etc.

This leads us to the next question...what will be the result of the general election. Will it be 85-2 again? or will a GRC fall to the opposition? what will the vote share of the PAP be this election... Well, I think it is still too early to tell, as there are still many unknowns as of now, like who the candidates will be be (they have not been fully announced yet) and the turnout at the political rallies etc... so till then, lets see tight and watch how it unfolds. =)

Monday, April 4, 2011

STI - Apr 1 and portfolio updates

It has been a few weeks since I last blogged and many things have changed with regards to the stock market. Most notably, it appears that a "double bottom" has formed, a bullish signal indeed. On top of that, the STI has been rallying for the past two weeks as seen from the many bullish white candles.

Whilst I believe that my fellow investors (including me) must have been delighted at the fact that their portfolio have increased in value, the "contrarian" me has been cautioning myself to be "in the famous words of warren buffett (I think), fearful when others are greedy". Nonetheless, my gut instinct has been that the rally has perhaps some more room to go, and that a correction, though imminent, is less likely, due to the upcoming earnings season and the fact that from the chart, the RSI has not yet hit 70. But I stand corrected... haha

As for my investment portfolio, I have added hutchinson port trust to my holdings. It is one of the not-so-good ipos I have gotten, but I guess I will hold it there since it the trust is credible and has substantial institutional backing (including our very own temasek holdings).

I guess the week ahead will be very interesting with the (in my opinion), "much exaggerated" japan nuclear fallout and the libya crisis still lingering in the background. The Singapore election is also coming very very soon and I must agree with our prime minister that the media is getting "breathless" over the election. haha =) Actually quite true what, this sunday's 10pm channelnewsasia singapore news two-thirds of it was about the election...

The earnings season is also fast approaching. SPH will be reporting their results in the middle of this month and there will be "prays hard" good dividend coming soon. Commodity prices have been rather high and I also expect good earning results from the commodity companies in my portfolio. Sabana Reit, the less-than-stellar company in my portfolio, will likely be giving out her first dividend (finally...). STX OSV has won some contracts recently and provided me pretty decent paper profits. is getting quite late already and I am yawning pretty badly already. Lets us wait and see and hopefully we will get a jolly-good april. HUAT AH! (lol). =)

P.s. I am still adjusting to my new samsung laptop, which I think is aesthetically pleasing but unfortunately functionally less user-friendly. So my post is a little shorter than average.. Sorry for the laziness. =( hahaha...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

STI - Mar 4 and others

From the chart, STI seem to have returned back to the 200dma support. A reversal might have occurred?... with the STI rebounding off 2975.

Looking back to May to June last year, we can see that STI showed a similar pattern of rebound, which brings us to the next question: is this rebound for real? If this rebound is confirmed, how much upside can we expect? (I would not be answering this question...)

Looking at other technical indicators, we see that MacD has made a bullish golden cross and the smoothed RSI has rebounded from oversold conditions (below 30).

Nonetheless, one must still we wary of the unstable macro-economic conditions. With the Libyan unrest and spiraling oil prices, it may be prudent to avoid stocks such as SIA, Tiger Airways and other companies whose bottomline may be hurt by the increase in oil prices. It may also be wise to invest in companies that benefit from higher oil prices like kepcorp, sembmar, stx osv, ezra, ezion, golden agri, wilmar etc... Or perhaps take advantage of the mini-sale in the stock market to build up one's component of blue chips by buying strong companies like Singtel? (which I am seriously considering doing...)

Moving away from the stock market to other interesting talk on the ground... The electoral boundaries report came out last week and during last saturday, opposition parties announced they would be contesting the all seats in the general election, which means more Singaporeans would get to vote! =) great news if this development materializes, and with that I eagerly anticipate the coming general election (I guess in May?)

On a more personal note, I have been rather busy the past few weeks, and would likely continue to be busy in the coming weeks too. I am looking forward to the PC Show coming this Thursday (I wanna get a new laptop!, any recommendations?) I am also going to be applying for University again...(No Medicine, perhaps Law or Business/Accounting?) All these on top of my driving lessons (which I must admit I am a really slow learner) and my other commitments... Till then, lets sit tight and let the market unfolds itself...

Friday, March 4, 2011

U.S. Payrolls Rose 192,000; Jobless Rate at 8.9% in February

U.S. Payrolls Rose 192,000; Jobless Rate at 8.9% in February

U.S. employers added 192,000 workers in February, amid an improving economy and more seasonable weather, and the unemployment rate unexpectedly declined to 8.9 percent, the lowest level since April 2009.

The gain in payrolls followed a 63,000 increase in January and compared with the 196,000 median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. Employment rose in manufacturing, construction and temporary help agencies, while state and local government payrolls slumped.

Bigger monthly job gains would substantiate Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s testimony to Congress this week that there are “grounds for optimism” about the labor market in coming months. Employment growth and increases in confidence are contributing to sales gains at companies like J.C. Penney Co. and Macy’s Inc. (M) as Americans continue to spend.

“The economy has been clawing its way back up the side of the mountain for the better part of a year and these numbers are consistent with that,” Paul O’Neill, a special advisor to the Blackstone Group LP and a former Treasury Secretary, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “Where we are is the process of natural healing of our economy.”

Stock-index futures were little changed after the report. The contract on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index expiring in March decreased less than 0.1 percent to 1,329.5 at 8:45 a.m. in New York. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose to 3.58 percent from 3.56 percent late yesterday.
Range of Estimates

Payroll estimates in the Bloomberg survey of 84 economists ranged from gains of 100,000 to 297,000. January employment was revised up from a previously reported gain of 36,000, while December payrolls increased 152,000 after a previously reported 121,000 rise.

A measure of the share of industries showing job gains last month rose to 68.2, the highest since May 1988.

The unemployment rate was projected to rise to 9.1 percent, according to the survey median. Estimates ranged from 8.9 percent to 9.4 percent. The jobless rate declined as the number of unemployed fell by 190,000 and number of employment rose by 250,000. The size of the labor force increased by 60,000.

Nationwide, temperatures during the week of the February employment survey were near normal, except for the central and southern Great Plains, according to National Weather Service. In contrast, economists said a snowstorm that spread from the Midwest and the South to New England during the prior month’s survey week likely depressed January numbers as businesses temporarily closed.
Private Hiring

Private hiring, which excludes government agencies, rose by 222,000 in February, exceeding the 200,000 median forecast in the Bloomberg survey. Private payroll gains averaged 145,000 during the first two months of the year, compared with 120,000 during the last half of 2010.

Factory payrolls increased by 33,000 last month, exceeding the survey forecast of a 25,000 gain.

Employment at service-providers rose 122,000. Construction payrolls rose 33,000 and transportation and warehousing jobs increased by 22,000. Retail trade employment declined 8,100.

Government payrolls decreased by 30,000 last month reflecting cuts at the state and local level. Federal government employment was unchanged.
Earnings, Hours

Average hourly earnings rose to $22.87 from $22.86 in the prior month, today’s report showed. The average work week for all workers held at 34.2 hours.

The so-called underemployment rate -- which includes part- time workers who’d prefer a full-time position and people who want work but have given up looking -- decreased to 15.9 percent from 16.1 percent.

The report also showed a decrease in long-term unemployed Americans. The number of people unemployed for 27 weeks or more was little changed as a percentage of all jobless, at 43.9 percent.

The labor market “has improved only slowly” and it may take “several years” for the unemployment rate to reach a “more normal level,” Bernanke said March 1 during testimony before the Senate Banking Committee.

Still, “we do see some grounds for optimism about the job market over the next few quarters, including notable declines in the unemployment rate in December and January, a drop in new claims for unemployment insurance, and an improvement in firms’ hiring plans,” Bernanke said.
Intel Hiring

Intel Corp. (INTC), the world’s largest chipmaker, is among U.S. companies such as Home Depot Inc. (HD) that announced plans last month to hire thousands of new workers.

Economic growth accelerated to a 2.8 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2010 as consumer spending climbed by the most in four years.

President Barack Obama last week told the first meeting of his panel of outside economic advisers that the U.S. must deal with stubbornly high unemployment even as the recovery is well under way.

J.C. Penney, Macy’s and Ross Stores Inc. (ROST) were among retailers yesterday reporting February same-store sales that topped analysts’ estimates. Purchases at stores open at least a year climbed 6.4 percent at J.C. Penney, 5.8 percent at Macy’s and 3 percent at Ross, company data showed.

“We are encouraged by our solid start to the year,” Michael Balmuth, chief executive officer of Pleasanton, California-based discounter Ross Stores, said in a statement. Even so, “the much more important March/April holiday selling period is still ahead.”

Source : Bloomerg

Sunday, February 20, 2011

STI - Feb 18 and the budget

STI has been rather bearish these few weeks. From the chart, it can be seen that it has fallen quite a bit from 3300 to now, which is around 3080. It can also be seen that STI has been resting nicely at support of 3080 (which is her first and most critical immediate support). After which would be next support of around 3040 (which is the more important one), as if STI falls below 3040 (where we find the 200dma support)... a level not seen since the middle of last year, STI would be really bearish.

I have little clue whether the supports would hold. But it would be prudent to cut one's investment if STI falls below her critical support. For me, I guess I will keep my long-term dividend yielding stock for now, and even if support is broken as there are afterall "long-term investments" after all.

Next week is also an important week for the Singapore stock market, as it would indicate how investors react to the budget announced on friday, which brings us to our next topic - our wonderful budget, filled with so many goodies. People call it a election budget, which is rather fitting because, under aged people (who have not yet attain "adulthood" and cannot vote), dont get the goodies. LOL.

Then again, congrats to those who got the goodies, namely (for those who are unaware - which I doubt there are any) the growth dividends, television license scrapping and refund of license fee (long overdue), income tax cut, medisave/medifund top-up (for those uncles and aunties), service and conservancy tax rebate (as always), utilities save (as always), edusave top-ups (for the school-going ones), workfare income supplements (for the lower-income), increase in CPF contribution from employers and so on.

Ok, what a nice laundry list of goodies for the households. Of course, there are goodies for businesses (albeit considerably lesser). But then, the government has announced policy to reduce foreign workers. (something that they should have done much earlier...)

All these lead me to believe that the general election is imminent, and sadly I am not of voting age...and would not get to vote. But I shall make an intelligent guess about the timing of our election, I say it will be held in May 2011, what say you?

P.S. this week also marked the first time I bought a lottery ticket, but alas the few dollars I spent didn't net me the 10 million TOTO grand prize. haha:)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

China's central bank raises interest rates

China's central bank raises interest rates
Posted: 08 February 2011 1905 hrs

BEIJING - China's central bank on Tuesday raised interest rates for the third time in four months, as authorities ramp up efforts to tame inflation amid fears it could trigger social unrest.

The People's Bank of China said in a brief statement that it would raise the one-year deposit and lending rates by 25 basis points each, taking the rates to 3.0 percent and 6.06 percent respectively.

In October, policymakers raised rates for the first time in nearly three years as they try to restrain a flood of liquidity which has been fanning inflation and hiking property prices. They raised them again on Christmas Day.

China's consumer price index (CPI), a key measure of inflation, rose 4.6 percent year-on-year in December, down from 5.1 percent in November, which was the fastest rate in more than two years.

The full-year CPI was up 3.3 percent, exceeding Beijing's official target of three percent. The government has raised its CPI target to four percent for 2011, as it is forced to acknowledge its limits in constraining prices.

Brian Jackson, senior strategist at the Royal Bank of Canada, said the latest rate hike highlighted the fact that inflation had become the government's key policy focus.

"Price pressures are building, they're at uncomfortably high levels already and there's a good chance that they could go further in the next few months," he told AFP.

"There is a greater sense of policy urgency now in Beijing to deal with that."

Ever fearful of inflation's historical potential to spark social unrest, authorities have already pulled on a variety of levers to try and rein in consumer prices and tame the red-hot real estate sector.

These include the three interest rate hikes and a number of bank reserve requirement ratio increases.

But last month, Zhou Xiaochuan, the central bank's governor, warned that inflation was still higher than expected and said authorities had to remain vigilant, suggesting a rate hike could be on the horizon.

Also last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, business leaders raised concerns over China's property prices, with some worrying that if the bubble burst it could hurt growth.

China's property prices last year defied cooling measures, climbing for four straight months to December and frustrating first-home buyers who feel apartment prices are out of their reach.

To try to remedy this, the government has launched a property tax trial on two of China's biggest cities and raised minimum downpayments. It has also ordered banks not to provide loans for third home purchases.

Jackson said he expected another two interest rate hikes in the second and third quarters of this year, as the government continues to try and battle inflation.

"Inflation has still got a little bit more to go in the first half of the year, but we would expect it to start to ease in the second half of the year," he said.

The latest interest rate rise was announced on the last day of a nationwide holiday marking the Lunar New Year, during which stock markets on the Chinese mainland were closed.

Source: Channelnewsasia

My Comments: China raised interest rates (AGAIN!). As expected, STI today tested the 100dma at around 3185 and remains supported at that level. STI would likely fall tomorrow (AGAIN!), although that is a chance that it may not due to recent selling (traders/investors might have already priced in the interest rate hike). So, till then, lets watch and see how the market performs tomorrow.

STI - Feb 7

Today, the STI market fell about 0.6% to end at around 3190. A large ugly black bearish candlestick is seen. From the chart, STI immediate support is given by the 100dma at around 3185, which would likely be tested tomorrow. Trading volume was 1.39bil, a rather low figure...

Personally, I think that the Singapore market still has much upside and there may be positive spillover from the US and European markets which (at the moment) are doing very well - DJIA up 80 points.

Oh well... enough said. Time will tell and lets see how the market performs this week. =)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Job Creation at Anemic 36,000, but Rate Drops to 9.0 Percent

Job Creation at Anemic 36,000, but Rate Drops to 9.0 Percent

Published: Friday, 4 Feb 2011 | 9:43 AM ET

U.S. employment rose far less than expected in January, partly the result of severe snow storms that slammed large parts of the nation, but the unemployment rate fell to its lowest level since April 2009.

Nonfarm payrolls grew just 36,000, the Labor Department said on Friday, far less than the 145,000 increase that economists had expected.

The government noted that severe weather could have affected construction payrolls, which dropped 32,000 last month. There were also large declines in the employment of couriers and messengers.

"My view is that the storms interrupted the hiring process. They have not diminished the demand for labor, but made it that much more difficult for both the job seekers and employers to consummate the hiring transaction," said Patrick O'Keefe, head of economic research at J.H. Cohn in Roseland, New Jersey, before the data was released.

The modest jobs gains are at odds with other data for January, which had suggested employment growth was picking up and had raised hopes that the manufacturing-driven recovery was now spreading to other sectors of the economy.

Despite the small increase in payrolls, the jobless rate, which is calculated from a separate survey, fell to 9.0 percent from 9.4 percent in December. The decline is unlikely to discourage the Federal Reserve from completing its $600 billion government bond-buying program to support the economy.

The government revised November and December payrolls to show 40,000 more jobs created that previously estimated.

The labor market has lagged the broader economy, which grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke on Thursday acknowledged the pick-up in
the recovery, but said "it will be several years before the unemployment rate has returned to a more normal level."

The payrolls data comes from a survey of businesses, while the jobless rate is determined by a survey of households. The January household survey also reflects population changes, which makes it difficult to determine why the jobless rate fell.

A department official also said 886,000 people in the survey said they did not work in January because of severe weather.

The Labor Department also finalized its annual benchmark revisions to its payroll series, which showed the level of employment for March 2010 was revised down by 378,000.

Last month, the private services sector added only 32,000 jobs after increasing 146,000 in December. The sector accounts for more than 80 percent of jobs in the United States.

Payroll increases in goods-producing sectors rose 18,000, as manufacturing employment grew 49,000, the largest increase August 1998, after rising 14,000 in December.

Government payrolls dropped 14,000 in January, marking a third straight month of declines, pulled down state and local governments.

Source: Reuters

My Comments: The US Jobs situation has been "conflicting" albeit exhibiting a general slight increasing trend. So how come the unemployment dropped so much with so little jobs created? Blame the weather they say... well, till then lets await next month report. =)

Friday, February 4, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year and many more...

I know this is kinda of late... but I still want to wish all a happy chinese new year!!!

Lets hope that the year of the rabbit a.k.a. bunny presents good investment opportunities and the stock market "hops" higher like a bunny. =)

Sidetracking a little, next week would be an interesting week and there may be buying opportunities. But yes again, lets be cautious and patient... do wait for friday's US employment report before making any buying decisions. And of late the weekly jobless claims report from the US has been very, very volatile. One week up 40k, the other week down 40k... So beware of that, too...

Over to the non-economic news front, the Egypt crisis may implode (ok, this sounds a little exaggerating)... as there is gonna be another "million-man march". So, till then lets see how the situation unfolds... Do also note that the Suez Canal is located in Egypt and it is one of the most important shipping routes in the world, so how would it affect shipping companies and world trade that ply that route? Again, that remains to be seen and I would not try to speculate ( as I wanna enjoy my CNY in peace).

On a personal front, I have cleared most of my positions less my dividend stock holdings to enjoy my CNY in peace... If the market is encouraging, I may enter some positions on Monday.

Ok, enough said. I would need to go continue my CNY visiting. Till then, Happy Chinese New Year once again! =)

Monday, January 31, 2011

Investors Worry That Mideast Will Be Market's Next Crisis

Investors Worry That Mideast Will Be Market's Next Crisis

Posted By: Jeff Cox | Staff Writer
| 28 Jan 2011 | 03:33 PM ET

Like the European debt crisis in 2010, the uprising in Egypt and other Middle East nations in recent weeks has raised the fear among investors that the markets could be in big danger if the crisis spreads.

After being generally immune to the uprisings in Tunisia, Lebanon and elsewhere, markets sold off aggressively Friday, with investors looking for safety in gold, oil and US government bonds.

It was part of what one strategist called "a typical flight-to-quality market" in which investor fear is rekindled over geopolitical risks—seemingly the only major obstacle for red-hot stocks these days.

"What the markets are fearful of is further spillover into other authoritarian nations," said Christian Hviid, chief market strategist at Genworth Financial Management in Pleasant Hill, Calif. "Syria, Saudi Arabia and Yemen ought to be very concerned about this considering their government structure and potential for similar flare-ups."

Investors in US markets also felt the need for concern in light of the strategic importance the area holds.

While Egypt itself is not a major oil producer—its primary export is cotton, also an important good—the Suez Canal is used to transport much of the world's petroleum and other materials. In addition, President Hosni Mubarak, whom protesters want to see ousted, has long been a US ally.

"There is the importance of Egypt in it being a very close ally to the Western world and an anchor of stability for the region," Hviid said. "The importance of Egypt has to do with the Suez Canal. That's the major link between Europe and Asia trade flows. It's real critical that the canal remains open, that the tension doesn't escalate to the point where trade may be impaired."

As for the nearer-term threat to the 21-month stock market rally in the US, how well Middle Eastern governments manage the uprisings could be key to whether Friday's sell-off is an isolated event. Markets went through the same hand-wringing last April, when Greece appeared to be in danger of being the first domino in a series of European debt defaults, leading to a steep selloff over the summer.

"It will be a one-off only if it's a one-off in Egypt," said Andre Julian, market strategist at OpVest Wealth Management in Irvine, Calif. "If the uncertainty doesn't go away you're going to see continued correction in the market...There is going to be some sensitivity in the market if this problem in Egypt spills into some other regions."

Both Julian and Hviid advise investors to examine the situation and consider sector rotation into areas that didn't participate fully in the market rally. Julian mentioned pharmaceutical and defense specifically.

In addition, Hviid said investors may want to start hedging against higher oil prices and expect some increase in the US dollar as investors look for safety.

A weak dollar, in fact, has been key to the Middle Eastern unrest.

The cheaper greenback, which has been held lower as the Federal Reserve continues its easing programs, has resulted in higher commodity prices, which are priced in dollars and thus cheaper to buy with foreign currencies. The cheap dollar also has boosted spending in the US.

"While the FOMC noted 'measures of underlying inflation have been trending downward' in the US on Wednesday, persistent financial stimulus can lead to increased consumer spending in the US, which can spill over and drive up prices in other less stable markets," analysts at Boston-based Canaccord Adams said in a note to clients. "Uncertainty in the region creates concern surrounding the price of oil."

While conventional wisdom has it that global central banks are unlikely to ease in efforts to keep rates low, the Mideast unrest could push policy to a more hawkish stance.

"Inflation has accelerated to a degree in raw materials much swifter than in consumer prices," said Jessica Hoversen, fixed income and foreign currency analyst for MF Global in New York. "Central banks are going to be forced to hike interest rates in order to fight pressure in commodity markets."

Hoversen said the process toward raising rates likely would be a slow one but it could nevertheless signal some easing for price inflation that is squeezing the large poverty-level population in Egypt and throughout the region.

Inflation in the US, in fact, is likely to double this year, Deutsche Bank chief economist Joe LaVorgna said in a note to clients Friday.

That trend is likely to keep the unrest fires alive in the Middle East and create at least a volatile environment for US stocks.

"We started to witness even before today somewhat of a slowing down of price appreciation" in stocks, Hviid said. "The argument there was the market was getting a little bit tired and needed a little bit of a pause if not a slight correction just to absorb a lot of the news and earnings that have come out. This might have accelerated some of that."

Source: CNBC

My Comments: It seems likely markets will "gap-down" tomorrow... however, there may be good buying opportunities lurking after this crisis resolves. Investors are often wary of uncertainties (including me) and I would likely close my positions before CNY to "enjoy" my CNY without having to "worry incessantly" about my investments over the CNY holiday period. =)

Sunday, January 30, 2011

NOL - Jan 30

NOL looks like a good buying opportunity to me... immediate support at 2.22 (50dma) is seen with an even stronger support at 2.16 (100dma)...

MacD is en route to making a nice golden cross and stochastic has just recently rebounded from oversold condition. There was huge buying volume on Thursday, with a small sell down on Friday... NOL is on an uptrend and there is currently no indication of any trend reversal at sight. It would perhaps be a great buying opportunity and I might place buy orders near those two moving average support on Monday.

Then again, on a more cautious note, the counter may face "irrational bearishness" on Monday due to the Egypt crisis and the support may or may not hold...lets see how things unfold on Monday. =)

Stock Portfolio Updates - Jan 30

Last week, I decided to take profit / cut loss on some of my counters after some consideration... From this episode, I realised that I still have not been able to remain completely emotionless in my trading decisions and would need to improve on it.

After spending much time reflecting on what went wrong, I have decided to invest in a stop-loss system (philips protrader) so as to protect my profits and minimise my losses and to swear to strictly follow my trading plan and not deviate from it by getting emotional when making trading decisions.

On a separate note, despite me being rather busy with work, cny preparation, driving lessons, socialising, reading etc, I still found time to try to spot some buying opportunities. I placed a buy order for NOL at 2.22 (50dma) but it was sadly not processed. Other counters on my radar include Swiber, Golden Agri, Biosensors, Ho Bee, Ezra, Ezion and many more.

Moving on to IPOS, I sadly and unfortunately was too busy to apply for any of the IPOS on offer last week. Sri Trang IPO looks rather appetizing and should yield a decent first-day gain if market sentiments are not too bad. Till then, lets see how these IPOs perform. =)

However, trading volume on STI remains low and the market is, in my opinion, still weak and rather directionless and with US markets down significantly last fri, it is still prudent to be cautious when placing that buy order.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

U.S. Economy Quickens on Gains in Spending, Exports

U.S. Economy Quickens on Gains in Spending, Exports
By Bob Willis - Jan 29, 2011 6:07 AM GMT+0800

The U.S. economy accelerated in the fourth quarter of 2010 as consumer spending climbed by the most in more than four years.

Gross domestic product grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington, falling short of the 3.5 percent median forecast of 85 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News because of a slowdown in inventories. Excluding stockpiles, the economy rose at a 7.1 percent pace, the most since 1984.

“The consumer really drove the economy in the fourth quarter,” said Guy LeBas, chief fixed-income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Philadelphia, who accurately forecast the rate of growth. “The economy has moved beyond recovery to a stable state of growth.”

The dollar advanced on expectations the revival in demand will extend into this year, boosting sales at companies including General Electric Co. and Apple Inc. At the same time, the report showed the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation climbed at the slowest pace on record, bolstering forecasts the central bank won’t raise borrowing costs until 2012.

Stocks dropped on growing concern over the unrest in Egypt and as shares of Ford Motor Co. and Inc. retreated. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index fell 1.8 percent to 1,276.34 at the 4 p.m. close in New York. The dollar advanced against the euro for the first time in nine days, strengthening to $1.3611 per euro from 1.3734 late yesterday.

New High

For all of 2010, the world’s largest economy expanded 2.9 percent, the most in five years, after shrinking 2.6 percent in 2009. The volume of all goods and services produced rose to $13.38 trillion, for the first time surpassing the pre-recession peak reached in the fourth quarter of 2007.

“The environment continues to improve,” GE Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt said on a Jan. 21 conference call. “The economy can get a little bit stronger every day.”

GE this month posted its third straight quarter of profit growth, beating analysts’ estimates, driven by a rebound in its finance unit, health-care and transportation divisions.

A separate report today showed consumer confidence fell less than expected in January, a signal the biggest part of the economy may extend the gains in spending.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment decreased to 74.2 from 74.5 in December. The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey called for a reading of 73.3, up from a preliminary figure of 72.7 issued earlier this month.

Spending Outlook

A 10 percent gain in the S&P 500 in the fourth quarter boosted household wealth and confidence. The government’s extension last month of Bush-era tax cuts, renewal of emergency jobless benefits and cuts to payroll taxes prompted economists such as Bruce Kasman at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York to raise forecasts for 2011.

Household purchases, about 70 percent of the economy, rose at a 4.4 percent pace last quarter, the most since the first three months of 2006. The increase added 3 percentage points to growth.

Retailers’ holiday sales jumped 5.5 percent for the best performance in five years, data from MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse showed last month, as customers snapped up jewelry and clothing at stores like Macy’s Inc. and Tiffany & Co.

Apple’s iPad

Apple posted record quarterly sales as customers snapped up 7.33 million iPad tablet computers in the first holiday season for the device, the company said last week.

As spending picks up, Ford is among companies planning to increase payrolls this year, pointing to gains in employment that may further underpin the recovery. The company today said fourth-quarter profit fell 79 percent as its European operations reported an unexpected loss.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker plans to hire more than 7,000 workers in the next two years, including engineers with expertise in battery-powered cars, Mark Truby, a company spokesman, said in an interview in Detroit on Jan. 10.

Still, Fed policy makers indicated this week that growth isn’t strong enough to reduce the jobless rate as fast as they would like, opting to maintain plans to pump $600 billion into the financial system through June. Unemployment has been stuck at 9.4 percent or higher since the recession ended in June 2009.

CEO’s Concern

“The terrible issues of the last two years have been somewhat contained,” Indra Nooyi, chief executive officer of PepsiCo. Inc, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “But GDP recovery alone doesn’t mean we have started to climb out of the recession. We have to address the unemployment.”

The Fed’s preferred price gauge, which is tied to consumer spending and strips out food and energy costs, climbed at a 0.4 percent annual pace, the smallest gain in data going back to 1959.

The economy also got a lift from a narrowing trade deficit as exports climbed, which added 3.4 points to growth last quarter, the most since 1980.

The Obama administration highlighted export deals with China worth $45 billion during talks with visiting President Hu Jintao last week, including purchases of GE locomotives.

Tax measures allowing firms to depreciate 100 percent of capital expenditures over the course of 2011 will also help sustain demand for equipment, which has fueled the factory-led recovery that began in June 2009.

Inventories last quarter were stocked at a $7.2 billion pace, down from a $121.4 billion rate in the third quarter. The slowdown subtracted 3.7 points from growth, the most since 1988. Leaner stockpiles may help set the stage for faster growth in the first half of this year.

“The mix of growth in the fourth quarter was very healthy, strong consumption and not much in inventories, and that implies production will likely be stronger than expected going forward,” said Chris Low, chief economist at FTN Financial in New York.

Source : Bloomberg

My Comments : What a pity, despite a decent GDP number, DJIA fell over 166 points... Although I have not read the DJIA chart yet, but I do expect that the 12k resistance to be very strong, and would be unlikely to break in the immediate future... However, in the long run, I still am bullish and expect the 12k resistance to be taken out after being tested many times... :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Stock Portfolio Updates - Jan 24

My thoughts about the stock market and my stock portfolio are summed up in one word.


After reviewing my portfolio today, I noticed that some of my counters broke their moving average support with low / high volume and I was seriously contemplating whether to cut loss / take profit on my counters.

Then again, I also note that US and European markets are up strongly (as of now) and wonder if there will be spillover effects to the Singapore market tomorrow. Coupled with the fact that the Singapore market experienced rather low trading volume today and with the earnings season in full swing in both Singapore and US markets and with companies like Keppel Land reporting great profits...

Hiaz... I am so, so undecided...lets see if I get any inspiration during sleep. :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

STI - Jan 21

This week, STI went down considerably, especially in the last two days. Next immediate support is seen at the 100dma of 3160. Regional markets also fell considerably except the DJIA. DJIA reached new highs and this has made me optimistic that this downturn in prices is likely a temporary correction rather than a correction from a "market peak".

As for my portfolio, it has similarly went down in line with STI, albeit with small volume. As none of my stocks has reached my stop-loss limit, I am still cautiously optimistic (albeit a little worried) about my holdings especially those companies in my "growth portfolio".

However, amidst the sea of red, there remains buying opportunities. But one must always be very careful... always wait for the selling pressure to subside before entering! Among the stock that are on my radar include Golden Agri, Ezra Holdings. I am also eyeing the ipo for Sri Trang Agro-Industry Company and Malaysian Smelting Corp Berhad.

Next week shall be an interesting week. I would like to think that this week, the stock market over-reacted to news of China good GDP figures by worrying about an impending interest rate hike... and a bullish divergence is seen (good economic news yet stock prices go down). Then again, only time will tell and lets just fasten our seatbelts and see how the market unfolds next week! :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Buying opportunities for property counters?

Would the recent property cooling measures present some buying opportunities? Having sold some shares recently, I am sitting on some spare cash that could be used to "capitalise" on this development.

Lets see...



Ho Bee

Wing Tai

From the charts above of Allgreen, Capitaland, Ho Bee and Wing Tai, we can see that the last time (August 2010) property cooling measures were announced, most counters took only about two to five trading days to recover from the sell-down...

On further comparison, we can also see that most property counters "gap-down" this time... compared to last august, when share prices made a dark bearish marubozu candlestick.

During this round of property cooling measures, there may be good property counters to snap up. However, one must always be cautious and wait for the selling pressure to dissolve first... many of the property counters have not reached oversold condition as seen from RSI and Stochastic indicators...lets see what happens on monday. :)

Note: I have left out other property counters like City Dev, Guocoland, Kepland, SP land, UOL etc. owing to various reasons like high share price and not within my budget, low daily trading volume etc.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

More property market measures announced

SINGAPORE: The government has announced more measures to maintain a stable and sustainable property market.

From Friday, the holding period for imposition of Seller's Stamp Duty (SSD) will be raised to four years from the current three.

The SSD rates would also be raised while the Loan-To-Value (LTV) limit would be lowered to 50 per cent on housing loans for property buyers who are not individuals.

The LTV limit would also be lowered to 60 per cent for individual property buyers with one or more outstanding housing loans.

The government said its objective is to ensure a stable and sustainable property market where prices move in line with economic fundamentals.

Analysts said they believe the measures could further curb speculation in the market.

Research Consultancy SLP International executive director Nicholas Mak said: "This is going to basically drive another nail into the coffin of anybody who has thoughts of short-term investments -- in other words speculation in the property market.

"This is quite a drastic measure to try to drive out short-term investors because by raising the Seller's Stamp Duty to a very punitive rate of eight per cent and above basically creams off all the profits that a short-term investor hopes to gain".

Chesterton Suntec International head of research and consultancy Colin Tan said he was surprised at the timing of the new measures.

"I think everyone recognises that the liquidity problem is a global one and that the measures are meant to inject some sanity at certain points in time," he said.

"I think everybody (had) never expected them to last very long but apparently it's so strong that they feel that maybe quite soon, after August 30, they need to act again.

"The message sent here is pretty strong. I think for a while the market should cool down."

Previous measures have, to some extent, moderated the market, but sentiments remain buoyant.

It said low interest rates plus excessive liquidity in the financial system, both in Singapore and globally, could cause prices to rise beyond sustainable levels based on economic fundamentals.

Moreover, when interest rates eventually rise, it could strain purchasers who have overextended themselves financially.

Therefore, the government said it has decided to introduce additional targeted measures to cool the property market and encourage greater financial prudence among property purchasers.

It said there's an ample supply of private residential units, and buyers need not rush to buy now.

It added it would continue to ensure an adequate supply of housing to meet demand.

The government also said it would continue to monitor the property market closely and take further steps to promote a stable and sustainable property market if necessary.

Source: Channelnewsasia

My Comments : Would these property measures work this time? Or would they fail to cool the "irrational exuberance" like last year's measures? Only time will tell. Buying opportunities may be present for property counters, but one must be patient and wait for the selling pressure on property counters to dissipate first. Happy trading!

Singapore Press Holdings posts 29% fall in 1Q net profit to $102.3m

Singapore Press Holdings posts 29% fall in 1Q net profit to $102.3m

Singapore Press Holdings today reported net profit attributable to shareholders for the first quarter ended 30 November 2010 (1Q 2011) fell 29.3% y-o-y to $102.3 million.

Profit from the Newspaper and Magazine segment improved by 10.0%, driven by the increase in print advertisement revenue.

Group recurring earnings of $116.3 million fell by $43.0 million (27.0%) compared to the corresponding quarter last year which included $50.3 million profit from the Group’s completed property development project, Sky@eleven.

Group operating revenue at $318.7 million was 12.3% higher than that of 1Q 2010, excluding Sky@eleven revenue of $70.1 million in the comparative period last year.

The Newspaper and Magazine segment turned in a creditable performance with revenue for 1Q 2011 at $265.5 million, an increase of $9.2% against 1Q 2010. Print advertisement revenue grew 13.1% to $206.3 million driven by Display and Recruitment advertisements. Circulation revenue decreased 2.1% due to lower copies sold.

Rental income from Paragon increased 26.1% partly from rental revisions and increased floor area as a result of the façade enhancement Materials, consumables and broadcasting costs increased by 15.1%, as a result of higher newsprint and other production costs. Staff costs increased by $11.7 million 15.6% largely attributable to higher variable bonus provision and partial wage restorations.

Investment income of $6.1 million for 1Q 2011 comprised dividend and interest income and profit on sale of investments. The decrease of $4.1 million as compared to 1Q 2010 was mainly due to lower fair value gains.

On the outlook for FY 2011, Alan Chan, Chief Executive Officer of SPH, says: “The Singapore economy is expected to grow at a modest pace supported by sturdy regional demand and domestic activities. The Group’s advertisement revenue will continue to track the Singapore domestic economy. The opening of Clementi Mall marks a new milestone for the Group. Stores in the lower levels have commenced trading and full tenancy commitment is expected when the mall officially opens in April 2011.”

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the directors expect the recurring earnings of the media and property businesses for the current financial year to be satisfactory.

Source : The Edge

My Comments: I think I would hold SPH for the time being as the decline in profits is due to the fact that SPH received lower property revenue compared to last year. The drop in profits is not due poor fundamentals or any other compelling (fundamental and technical) reasons.

Stock Portfolio Updates - Jan 15

Recently, I made a few changes to my portfolio...

And after thinking for a really long time last night, I sold my shares in Ezra Holdings, for a nice gain of 7% (including brokerage costs and other misc costs) considering my short holding period of less than one month. I am still interested in the Ezra due to her strong fundamentals and good growth outlook, but would only consider re-entering Ezra when she successfully and convincingly break the strong and important resistance of 1.85 or retest the similarly strong and important support of 1.65.

Besides selling Ezra, I have also sold my shares in Ascendas Reit for a small profit. In my previous post on Ascendas Reit, I have detailed the reasons (mainly fundamental) that make the Reit unattractive to me. In my humble opinion, the share price of Ascendas Reit may go up or down (in the short term), but it would likely moderate or go down in the long run, due to the factors listed in my previous post on Ascendas Reit - like NAV, dividend yield, gearing etc.

I have also bought shares of STX OSV and GLP. I bought shares of STX OSV due to her strong outlook for both the company and the industry and it having broken the 1.2 resistance convincingly. Also, STX OSV is about to make a bullish "golden cross". For GLP, my purchase was mainly based on technical reasons. Her support at 2.1 to 2.12 is likely to be strong and there seems to be overall accumulation of her shares by the BBs given the strong buying volume and relatively weak selling volume seen in recent weeks.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ezra Holdings - Jan 13

Ezra Holdings reports decline in net profit

SINGAPORE: Mainboard-listed Ezra Holdings, a services and vessels provider to the offshore oil industry, reported a 28 per cent decline in its net profit for the first quarter, ended Nov 30, of the financial year 2011.

The company's income statement showed a net profit of US$13.3 million (S$17.2 million), down from US$18.5 million in the year-ago quarter.

The lower net profit was due to financial expenses which surged 180 per cent to US$5.5 million and profits from associated and joint venture companies which fell 97 per cent and 90 per cent to US$149 million and US$196 million, respectively.

However, group revenue rose 25 per cent to about US$76 million and operating profit increased by 40 per cent to US$18.2 million.

Ezra said revenues were mainly driven by its deepwater subsea services arm.

Ezra also announced winning of fresh charters worth a total of about US$73 million for three of its offshore support vessels, including two of its recently added multi-purpose platform supply vessels.

Its managing director Lionel Lee said the fixtures reflect the strong and growing demand for offshore support vessels as development and production activities pick up.

Source: Channelnewsasia

Looking at Ezra Holdings, I must admit I was sorely disappointed at her results, although still quietly upbeat/optimistic about her future prospects (especially since it won some contracts recently).

Looking at her technicals, Ezra Holdings, the stock price has moved out the overbought region. Furthermore, Ezra Holdings closed at 1.79 today and a large bearish black candlestick was seen, accompanied by high selling volume. MacD has crossed below the signal line. Nonetheless, we can see support at 200dma at 1.79 and support at 20dma at 1.78, and I expect them to be tested tomorrow. Besides those two support, a stronger support is seen at 50dma and 100dma at 1.74. I am still undecided on whether to keep or sell as I dont think the super strong resistance of 1.85 would likely be broken in the near future.

However, I would like to state that despite my short-term bearish view on Ezra Holdings, I am still long-term bullish on this counter and other companies involved in the offshore and marine industry. The fundamentals of Ezra Holdings is sound and strong.

Quote from previous post on STX OSV: "Finally, I am still long-term bullish on this counter. STX OSV is involved in the oil and gas industry and in particular the building of drillships to extract oil from deepwater. I believe that much growth could be seen in this sector as oil prices would likely rise in the future, due to strong demand from BRIC and other developing countries. And as the industrial saying "the easy oil has been extracted" is likely that the oil we drill in the future would come from deepwaters... and firms like STX OSV would likely benefit heavily from this future development. "

Lastly, I am also haunted of the painful lesson learnt of not taking profit/cut loss fast as exemplified by Wilmar after she announced her terrible results in November last year. I guess I will be contemplating deeply in bed tonight whether to take profit or not tomorrow.

P.S. Update on STX OSV: STX OSV rose strongly recently after my profit-taking...perhaps I have taken profit too early? I guess so. Another lesson learnt on volume analysis: what constitute strong selling volume? apparently the selling pressure experience by STX OSV was not strong enough to warrant a profit taking...