|17 August 2015 Highlight Not right time yet to adjust property restrictions: minister SINGAPORE (Aug 17): Property-cooling measures will stay for now and the right time to adjust or even lift some of the temporary initiatives is when the market equilibrium is a lot more certain and sustainable, local media reported National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan as saying.
Private-home prices fell 0.9% between April and June, extending a slide for the seventh straight quarter — their longest streak in 13 years.
However, Khaw said that while the property market is “a lot less hot” and price adjustment in certain sub-sectors of the private market, for example, has been drastic, there is “some distance to go” in other segments.
While the authorities are monitoring the sales and purchase data in both private- and public-housing markets, they are also scrutinising the trends and price movements in sub-sectors, he added. “So it’s not a straightforward (matter of) looking for a figure or a statistic, then you say, ‘Aha, we have arrived’, because the various moving parts are actually interlinked.”
Khaw noted that structural and temporary initiatives, such as Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty and loan-to-value limits, were among the several rounds of cooling measures rolled out by the government.
“Measures have to be adjusted and perhaps even lifted, when it’s the right time. The right time is when the equilibrium is a lot more certain, more sustainable. And I don’t think we are at that point yet,” he said.
The external environment would also have an impact on Singapore’s economy and property market, he noted. A major factor is interest rates, and Khaw pointed out that central banks all over the world had been talking about normalisation of interest rates for a long time. “It’s almost certain that the process towards normal will take a long time too.”
Adding that policymakers have been “lucky” with a property market that is “softening nicely”, Khaw said: “It’s a complex system that we are part and parcel of. That’s why we have to watch carefully and, at various points, make some judgment calls.”
The lacklustre housing market has prompted developers to call for the property-cooling measures to be relaxed.
Last month, Monetary Authority of Singapore’s managing director Ravi Menon said it was premature to remove the cooling measures as the price correction had been modest, in the context of a 60% increase in property prices over three years to reach their peak in 2013.
17 August 2015 Yuan likely to move in both directions: PBOC economist BEIJING (Aug 17): China's move to weaken the yuan last week could head off further similar "adjustments", and the yuan is likely to move in both directions as the economy stabilizes, Ma Jun, chief economist at the central bank said on Sunday.
The People's Bank of China (PBOC) shocked global markets by devaluing the yuan by nearly 2% on Aug 11. The PBOC called it a free-market reform but some saw it as the start of a long-term yuan depreciation to spur exports.
The yuan's drop last week and its increased flexibility could help "sharply reduce the possibility" of similar adjustments in future, Ma said.
In the near term, it is more likely there will be "two way volatility," or appreciation and depreciation of the yuan, Ma said in a question-and-answer statement sent by email.
The central bank would move only in "exceptional circumstances" to iron out "excessive volatility" in the exchange rate, Ma said.
Ma played down market fears that a "currency war" could be triggered by China's devaluation, which dragged some other Asian currencies to multi-year lows.
"China has no intention or need to participate in a 'currency war'," Ma said in the statement.
"There is no need to worry" that the central bank will continue to intervene in the market to support the yuan as China's economy stabilizes, Ma said.
"In the future, even if the central bank needed to intervene in the market, it may be in either direction," he added.
Ma also said that he expected the economy to grow around 7% this year - in line with the government's targe