Singapore recession warnings: Weekly recap and what to watch in the week ahead

By Beansprout • 15 Apr 2023 • 0 min read

Singapore's economy unexpectedly contracted in the first quarter.

Weekly Sprout 15 April 2023

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The scorecard for Singapore’s economy in the first quarter came out this week, and the results are not pretty. 

The economy unexpectedly contracted in the first three months of the year, leading economists to warn of the possibility of a ‘technical recession’ if output contracts again this quarter. 

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Stock Market Update
Source: Bloomberg. Price as of market close on 14 April

 

🔔 Singapore recession warnings

What happened? 

Singapore’s economy contracted by 0.7% in the first quarter of 2023, surprising economists who were expecting growth.

What does this mean?

The weaker than expected performance of Singapore’s economy sounded alarm bells about a potential technical recession, which is defined as two consecutive quarters of contraction. 

Economists were quick to lower their forecasts for the rest of the year, as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) warned that “the drag on global investment and manufacturing from tighter financial conditions will intensify in the quarters ahead”.

With slowing growth, the MAS also made a decision to keep its monetary policy unchanged, once again surprising economists who were expecting further tightening. 

Why should I care? 

The Singapore dollar weakened against the US dollar following the announcement that the MAS will pause its tightening. 

Looking ahead, the MAS further expects Singapore’s GDP growth to “moderate significantly” this year, while inflation will “remain elevated in the next few months”. 

 

🚗 WHAT'S MOVING

  • JPMorgan (JPM) reported record revenue that exceeded analyst expectations, driven by higher interest rates. Citigroup (Citi) also reported revenue that exceeded analyst expectations. 

  • Tencent share price came under pressure after it was reported that Prosus planned to deposit an additional 96 million shares into the city’s stock clearing system, typically a pre-cursor to selling. 

  • Softbank Group is moving to sell the majority of its stake in Alibaba, according to the Financial Times. SoftBank has sold more than $7 billion in Alibaba shares this year through prepaid forward contracts which give it the option to buy the shares back, but the group has settled previous deals by handing over the stock, the Financial Times reported. 

  • Lian Beng’s Ong family, through investment holding company OSC Capital, has made a privatisation offer for Lian Beng at $0.62 per share. The offer price is 8.8% higher than its last transacted price of S$0.57 on 6 April, but below the company’s net asset value of S$1.54 per share at end-November 2022.

  • Manulife US REIT announced that it has completed the divestment of a property in the US for US$33.5 million (S$44.6 million). The REIT manager is seeking to maximise liquidity as the REIT’s aggregate leverage was 48.8% at end December 2022. Separately, the Manager is in the process of negotiating a transaction with Mirae Asset Global Investments and no binding definitive agreements have been entered into at this point. 

Source: Bloomberg, CNBC, Financial Times, Business Times, Edge Singapore

 

💡 THE BIG IMPORTANT STORY

T-bill yield falls to 3.75% p.a. Did OCBC online applications drive higher demand?

The total amount of applications for the latest Singapore 6-month T-bill rose to S$12.3 billion.

Singapore T-bill auction 13 Apr.jpg

 

🤓 WHAT WE’RE LOOKING OUT FOR THIS WEEK

  • Tuesday, 18 April: Keppel DC REIT operational update, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs earnings
  • Wednesday, 19 April: Morgan Stanley earnings
  • Thursday, 20 April: Singapore 1-Year T-Bill auction, Keppel Corp earnings

Source: Bloomberg, SGX 

 

🍭 THAT’S INTERESTING

According to a Bloomberg report, ultra-rich Chinese entrepreneurs moving to Singapore have spent their money on luxury houses, cars, and golf club memberships. High-end residential rents were up 28% in the fourth quarter of 2022 compared to a year earlier. This propelled Singapore to be the top city for rental growth globally according to the Knight Frank Prime Global Rental Index. However, it appears that there has been less money flowing into the local capital markets and charities.

Source: Bloomberg

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