Singapore retail sales fall 6.1% in January, decline in most industries


SINGAPORE: Retail sales in Singapore fell 6.1 per cent in January, compared with the 3.3 per cent year-on-year decline recorded in December last year.
The larger decline was due partly to a higher sales recorded in January last year, when Chinese New Year was celebrated, said the Singapore Department of Statistics (SingStat) on Friday (Mar 5).
Excluding motor vehicles, retail sales fell 8.4 per cent in January, compared with the 4.2 per cent decline last December.
Compared to the previous month, seasonally adjusted retail sales also decreased 1.8 per cent in January. Excluding motor vehicles, seasonally adjusted sales fell 2.4 per cent.
The estimated total retail sales value for January was S$3.8 billion. Online retail sales made up about 10.3 per cent of this, slightly lower than the 10.9 per cent recorded last December, said SingStat.
The retail sales value excluding motor vehicles was S$3.2 billion, with online sales making up 12.1 per cent.
Online retail sales made up 40.8 per cent of total receipts in the computer and telecommunications equipment industry, 23.2 per cent of sales in furniture and household equipment and 11.6 per cent of sales in supermarkets and hypermarkets.
On a year-on-year basis, most retail industries continued to see sales decline in January.
Sales fell across the department stores, cosmetics, toiletries, medical goods and apparel and footwear industries as they are still affected by low visitor arrivals, said SingStat.
The biggest dip was in food and alcohol, which saw a 43.6 per cent decline in sales compared to the same period last year.
Among the exceptions were the furniture and household equipment and computer and telecommunications equipment industries, where sales grew by 25.9 per cent and 24.8 per cent respectively.
This was mainly due to higher demand for household appliances and the launch of new mobile phones, said SingStat.
Sales in motor vehicles, supermarkets and hypermarkets and recreational goods also grew by 10.3 per cent, 7.8 per cent and 7.3 per cent respectively.
On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, however, only the food and alcohol, motor vehicles and petrol service stations industries experienced growth of 5.1 per cent, 2.2 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively.
Giving an overview of food and beverage services, SingStat said that sales fell 24.7 per cent in January on a year-on-year basis, deeper than the 16.3 per cent decline recorded last December.
Food caterers saw the largest decline, with sales plummeting 76 per cent year-on-year.
Sales in restaurants, fast food outlets and cafes, food courts as well as other eating outlets fell 30.2 per cent, 6.7 per cent and 6.8 per cent respectively.
All industries also registered declines of between 3.6 per cent and 10.1 per cent on a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, sales across food and beverage services fell 6.5 per cent over the previous month.
The total sales value of food and beverage services in January was estimated at S$720 million.
Of this, online sales made up about 22.1 per cent, slightly higher than 21.3 per cent last December.
Source: CNA

The Habit Burger Grill Continues International Expansion In Cambodia With Third Restaurant


Over 50 years ago, a coastal burger bungalow opened in Santa Barbara, California, and now the award-winning taste of The Habit Burger Grill is coming to the Ang Snuol District in Cambodia on March 7! The California-based restaurant company renowned for its famous Charburgers grilled over an open flame, signature sandwiches, fresh-cut salads and more will open this third restaurant in Kandal Province, Cambodia in partnership with Kampuchea Tela Company, LTD.
The Habit Burger Grill is California’s best-kept secret, as it’s been awarded various food-focused awards in the United States. At the center of The Habit’s menu is the signature Charburger, made with a fresh 100% ground beef patty, chargrilled over an open flame for unique smoky flavor, and topped with melted cheese, caramelized onions, hand-cut tomato slices, crisp lettuce, pickles and mayo served on a freshly toasted bun. The Habit has been serving their famous Charburger in America exactly this way since 1969.
“We are so excited to continue The Habit Burger Grill’s international expansion with our franchise partner Kampuchea Tela Company, LTD! We look forward to creating new Habit fans by inviting them to enjoy our handcrafted chargrilled food served with best-in-class hospitality in a welcoming Southern California environment,” said Iwona Alter, Chief Brand Officer at The Habit Burger Grill.
With its cooked-to-order mantra and creative culinary culture, The Habit Burger Grill’s open flame sears a distinctive smoky flavor into their already famous Charburgers, fresh marinated chicken, sushi-grade Ahi tuna and USDA Choice tri-tip steaks. The Habit also has an incredible selection of sides to choose from as well as delicious hand-spun frozen treats. Guests at The Habit Burger Grill can always count on freshly-made, handcrafted quality served up with genuine hospitality.

Property prices remain stable despite the disruption of Covid-19


By: Vattanak
Phnom Penh: Property prices in Cambodia are seen to remain stable in both land and housing, although in 2020 and 2021, Cambodia continue to face the disruption of Covid-19.
Mr. Lim Ratha, a real estate agent in Kampot province, said by phone this morning, March 5, that although Cambodia is facing a crisis due to Covid-19 in 2021, the price of land and housing in provinces Kampot and Kep generally do not decline, but prices remain the same. In particular, for some land that people rush to solve financial problems also sold a little below market price.
“Good, potential land is still for sale at the market price without any discount, and even at this stage, many visitors come to find land in Kampot and Kep and buy. Wealthy people have the opportunity in this stage, the opportunity to find a good land location and a lower price than the market, if the landlord encounters financial problems.”
Mr. Ngin Phirum, a real estate agent in Kep province, also said that the sale of small and large land is still active, his group received visitors to visit land for sale and decided to buy immediately, expecting to develop a project for tourism in the future, especially after the end of the Covid-19.
President of Cambodia Valuers and Estate Agents Association Mr. Chrek Soknim, said that in general real estate prices do not fall in Cambodia, but some properties are declining because property owners need to sell urgently; therefore, there was a drop in prices, but not a sharp drop.

Demand for tourism land surges despite Covid-19


By: Mr. Bee
Phnom Penh: Demand for tourism-type real estate in potential tourism provinces is currently on the rise, prompting some investors to start moving to develop resorts with land subdivision projects for the construction of leisure homes.
Mam Sereypanha, president of Easy Property Investment, told on March 4, 2021 that the demand for tourism land in potential provinces is currently on the rise as investors in these provinces are beginning to change their investment attitudes from selling large plots of land to developing resorts or resorts, with land subdivision plots for the construction of leisure homes.
He said that when buyers go to visit some tourist sites, they always have a dream to have a house and land in that area, and now they already have a house in Phnom Penh, and because of their work is stress, they went to visit the provinces; they no longer want to rent hotels and guesthouses, wanting their own land as plantations or land in tourist areas.
Consequently, many investors are now turning their investment from large-scale sales to resort development, with lots being sold at the project and buyers being able to buy the land in the project to the size they wants for building a leisure home, he added.
“Investment in this resort-type land subdivision project has seen an increase in some tourist provinces, such as Kampot, Koh Kong and Mondulkiri,” he said.
When both local and foreign investors start a resort project in a tourist province, for example in Kampot, and in Kampot, it haas mountain, water and plantation views, it will benefit the local community.
“What benefits the people is that we can help the community by creating jobs and income through mixed development in the resort project,” Mr. Sereypanha said.
Regarding the Covid-19 crisis, he said, “In the current situation, the world is facing the problem and we are also facing the same problem because of the Covid-19. I can say it has an impact, but we cannot wait and see without trying to do anything, because if we do not do anything, we will all fall.”
“So we are trying to push cash flow and we see that some investors are still working hard and buyers are still buying, which is a good opportunity to get a good price at this time,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Sereypanha called on all investors not to be intimidated by current investments and to continue to develop and invest in accordance with their development plan and scheme, but to comply with government’s guidelines through the guidelines of the Ministry of Health.
Mr. Dith Channa, CEO of Lucky Realty, also said that the flow of tourists to search for real estate has increased, especially in potential tourist provinces such as Kampot, Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri.
He said investment in such a real estate type was increasing because investors could buy land in tourist areas for the construction of leisure homes as well as expect the profit in the future.

Singapore regulator tells banks to monitor Myanmar fund flows after coup


SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s central bank has told financial firms to be vigilant to any suspicious transactions or fund flows between the city-state and Myanmar, a circular seen by Reuters showed, citing concerns over the potential for financial crimes.
In the Feb 25th circular, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) reminded all chief executives of financial institutions of the need for robust customer due diligence and appropriate risk mitigation measures in higher risk situations.
The move comes amid weeks of mass demonstrations in Myanmar after the military seized power.
The pro-democracy activists pledged on Thursday to hold more demonstrations in the Southeast Asian nation after the United Nations said 38 people had been killed in the most violent day of unrest since last month’s military coup.
Singapore’s position as one of the world’s leading financial centres and a trade hub makes it particularly vulnerable to money laundering due to large cross-border flows. Singapore has close ties with Myanmar and is one of its biggest investors.
In the circular, the MAS urged financial institutions to keep timely tabs on the fast developing situation in Myanmar, including unilateral sanctions imposed by other jurisdictions.
It said the situation in Myanmar could give rise to money laundering, terrorism financing and other financial crimes.
“Given the developments in Myanmar, FIs are reminded to take appropriate measures to manage any risks arising from their business activities and customer relationships, including reputational, legal and operational risks,” the MAS said.
The MAS said that financial institutions should file any suspicious transaction reports and inform it promptly, adding that such reports should be labelled “Myanmar 2021”.
In response to a Reuters query, the MAS confirmed that it had issued a circular on Feb 25 relating to the developments in Myanmar.
The circular was issued two days after the central bank said in a media release that its regular surveillance of the banking system had not found significant funds from Myanmar companies and individuals in banks in Singapore.
Singapore police uses suspicious transaction reports and other financial information and analyses them to detect money laundering, terrorism financing and other serious crimes, according to an advisory on its website.
Source: Reuters

Tealive to venture into Cambodia


KUALA LUMPUR: Leading lifestyle tea brand in South East Asia, Tealive is poised to enter the Cambodian market and set up 25 outlets in five years.

To this end, brand owner, Loob Holding Sdn Bhd has signed a master franchise agreement with HSC Group, Cambodia’s largest food and beverage (F&B) player.

In a statement, the company said Cambodia would be the eighth market after Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Brunei, the Philippines, Australia and the United Kingdom.
Loob Holding founder and chief executive officer Bryan Loo said HSC was a good fit for the Tealive brand as it has been custodian of various international brands in the F&B industry.

“On our part, we’re bringing in the latest Tealive 3.0 format that meets new normal requirements and more, like contactless ordering and payment, drive-through and drive-in models, coupled up with the full range of Tealive Eats snacks,” he said.

Loob Holding added that Tealive’s first Cambodian outlet, over 3,000sf filled with dine-in facilities complete with a live entertainment section, will be set up at a Phnom Penh choice location.

HSC Group owner, Oknha Sok Hong said the timing was ideal as Cambodians were now ready to accept modern tea culture, where various international brands have entered the market over the years, with much room to grow.

“We’re both proud and excited to introduce Tealive to Cambodians as the brand’s positioning of affordable luxury and innovative products are exactly what young Cambodians want.

“With HSC’s local experience, we make a great team to bring this leading lifestyle tea brand for Cambodians to enjoy,” he said.

The Cambodian company currently manages international F&B brands like Paris Baguette, Crystal Jade Restaurant, Burger King, 100 Plus and others in the republic, besides retail brands and cosmetics. – Bernama
Source: The Star

Large construction project investment may recover depending on global economic growth, experts say


By: Ra neth
Phnom Penh: The construction sector and the construction of large commercial buildings that are affected by the current Covid-19 crisis can be restored, depending on the economic factors in Cambodia, whether it can save the economy to be able to recover at any time.
Cambodian real estate expert Mr. Long Kimsour, CEO of Century21 Advance, said the real estate sector is divided into different categories and sections and each section also suffers from different effects.
“There are different parts and the impact is different,” he said. “There are some areas that are severely affected that take a long time to recover, while others are less affected and may be able to recover in a short period of time.”
Mr. Long Kimsour said that the land market on a small scale or for housing construction and for development in the form of small business are similar to the market for affordable real estate, which is less affected. “Demand is high from locals, so even if no foreign investors come to Cambodia, these two markets can continue to run smoothly, as long as the current situation is prevented and people can leave. The more you walk, the more the market moves,” he added.
In particular, asking when the investment and development of large projects with millions of dollars can be improved for sure, experts said it is not sure yet even if Cambodia brings free vaccines to Cambodians in the early stages now, because large investment projects worth millions of dollars are often the investment of foreign companies, so while in a large number of countries, there does not seem to see any relief yet.
“Even though our country can end the epidemic and other countries will start using the vaccine by 2021, it will not be able to encourage international investors to invest in Cambodia immediately,” Mr. Long Kimsour said.
He added that they also need time to recover their economic situation after more than a year of crisis. Now we see only in Cambodia, there are a lot of business people and investors who are facing financial problems due to the impact of this global crisis.
“I think the multimillion-dollar investment project in Cambodia could recover in at least another two to three years as the global economy begins to recover as the global economy starts recovering,” he said.
Mrs. Ann Sothida, Managing Director of CBRE Cambodia, similarly said that the big investors are not ready to invest abroad as well as in Cambodia due to the situation of Covid-19 is uncertain, especially, the specific efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine.
“Their safety is a big concern for big investors, so the arrival of big foreign investors takes more time,” she said.

Econpile kicks off Cambodian project


KUALA LUMPUR: Piling and foundation specialist Econpile Holdings Bhd has begun works for its recently-awarded US$87.5 million (RM347.6 million) project in Cambodia.
Econpile said its core machineries consisting of piling rigs and crawler cranes had arrived at Sihanoukville port in the middle of January and were fully mobilized at the project site along with a strong senior project team in Phnom Penh.
Executive director and group chief executive officer Raymond Pang said the company had commissioned the team and machinery soon after the contract was awarded in December 2020.
Pang said the preparation works were now in full force on site, and the project would begin contributing revenue in the third quarter of the year ending June 30, 2021.
“At the same time, our local ongoing projects are also progressing well. Works have not been affected by the latest Movement Control Order (MCO) since the middle of January 2021, as construction activities could commence with standard operating procedures in place,” he said.
Pang said the Cambodian job had made up a substantial portion of the company’s RM500 million target job wins for financial year 2021.
“Over the longer term, we are open to expanding our foothold in Cambodia given that we have a portion of our machineries and resources on the ground.
“As Cambodia is beginning to plan for major infrastructure in line with increasing urbanization, the demand for piling and basement works will only increase in due time and we want to be prepared to capitalise on this opportunity when it arises,” he said.
As at December 31 last year, Econpile boasted a robust orderbook of RM900 million, providing earnings visibility over the next three years.
This includes piling and substructure works for notable developments such as Phase 2 of Pavilion Damansara Heights, TNB mixed development in Bangsar and Terra mixed development in Putrajaya.
For the first half ended December 31, 2020 (1H21), the group recorded a net profit of RM7.4 million on revenue of RM196.9 million.
Econpile achieved RM17.5 million net profit on RM273.1 million revenue in the previous corresponding period.
The weaker performance year-on-year (yoy) was mainly attributed to lower billings as certain major property development projects are at tail end stage and also slower-than-expected site activities.
Of total 1H21 revenue, contributions from piling and foundation works for property development projects decreased 20.1 per cent to RM152.8 million from RM191.2 million a year ago.
Contributions from similar works for infrastructure and other segments declined 46.2 per cent to RM44.1 million from RM81.9 million previously. Source:

US senators scurry to refine Biden’s US$1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid ahead of vote


WASHINGTON: Negotiations over Democratic President Joe Biden’s US$1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill go into overdrive this week as the US Senate begins debate over the sweeping legislation and lawmakers jockey to include pet projects such as broadband connectivity.
Senator Angus King, an independent aligned with Democrats, has been pushing for billions of dollars to expand high-speed broadband service in rural areas – an idea that could attract Republican support.
But Democrats should not expect much, if any, Republican backing for the entire bill.
“It is my hope that at the end, Senate Republicans will unanimously oppose it, just like House Republicans did,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, complaining that the measure was filled with provisions he said were unrelated to the pandemic.
Nonetheless, Democrats are bolstered by public opinion polls indicating a majority of Americans back Biden’s aid plan.
The Senate was due to take up as early as Wednesday the measure passed last weekend by the House of Representatives.
Democratic senators were privately discussing among themselves and with Biden reallocating at least some of the huge pot of money.
The version of the bill approved by the House would pay for vaccines and medical supplies and send a new round of emergency financial aid to households, small businesses and state and local governments.
It includes US$1,400 direct payments to individuals, a US$400-per-week federal unemployment benefit through Aug 29, and help for those having difficulty paying rents and home mortgages during the pandemic.
The Senate version is likely to include at least one major change: eliminating a minimum wage increase to US$15 per hour over five years from its current US$7.25. Late last week the effort was blocked under special rules designed to ease passage of this legislation in the Senate.
Democrats are expected to resuscitate their minimum wage initiative sometime after the COVID-19 bill is enacted.
Congress is trying to give final approval to Biden’s top legislative priority as the pandemic already has taken the lives of more than 515,000 Americans.
“Millions of jobs and trillions of dollars have been taken out of our economy,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor on Tuesday. He said the bill “is designed to finish the job, to patch up the holes in our economy and lay a foundation for our recovery”.
Schumer will need the support of all 48 Democrats and the two independents who caucus with them, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote to pass the measure before some jobless benefits expire on Mar 14.
Three centrist House members, Democrats Josh Gottheimer and Abigail Spanberger and Republican Tom Reed, on Tuesday urged congressional leadership to devote US$45 billion to help local communities connect to the internet.
They want the money to come out of the US$350 billion for state and local aid included in the bill.
Their argument is that those with poor or no broadband access are stymied in accessing medical services, including registering for vaccines, and getting their children plugged in to remote learning during the pandemic.
A Senate aide familiar with negotiations said there also were discussions of tightening income qualifications for people receiving the US$1,400 direct payments.
Moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said he wants the House’s US$400-per-week temporary federal unemployment benefit reduced to US$300. The Senate aide said there also were moves to “turn the spigot off” on the payments as state jobless rates sink below a certain threshold.
If the Senate passes the bill, possibly by the end of this week, the House would then have to sign off one last time before sending it to Biden for enacting into law. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said that final vote would come next week. CNA
Source: Reuters

Asian shares fall amid China’s asset-bubble warning


European markets appeared set for a lower open with Euro Stoxx 50 futures down 0.38% and London’s FTSE dropping 0.4%. Those of Germany’s DAX fell 0.49%.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.33%, giving up early gains. Japan’s Nikkei was down 0.85% as some investors booked profits on defensive energy and utility shares before the end of the fiscal year this month.
Australian shares ended marginally lower on Tuesday as the market appeared to show a muted response towards the central bank’s decision to stand pat on interest rates, as expected.
The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.4% to 6,762.3 at the close of trade, having risen as much as 1% during the session.
Shares in mainland China and Hong Kong reversed course to trade lower in the afternoon session after a top regulatory official expressed concerns about the risk of bubbles bursting in foreign markets, and said Beijing is studying effective measures to manage capital inflows to prevent turbulence in the domestic market.
“Financial markets are trading at high levels in Europe, the U.S. and other developed countries, which runs counter to the real economy,” Guo Shuqing, head of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, told a news conference.
Chinese blue-chips dipped 1.78% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 1.45%.
Investors now eye China’s annual session of parliament beginning on Friday, which is expected to chart a course for economic recovery and unveil a five-year plan to fend off stagnation.
U.S. stocks rallied overnight, with the S&P 500 posting its best day in nearly nine months, as bond markets calmed after a month-long selloff.
“Risk appetite returned to markets as investors shook off worries of higher interest rates and focused on the recent strength in the manufacturing data,” wrote ANZ analysts in a research note.
U.S. stocks were roiled last week when a sell-off in Treasuries pushed the 10-year Treasury yield to a one-year high of 1.614%. The 10-year yield was edging lower in after trade at 1.4119%.
Bitcoin fell 1.93% to $48,669 after rising nearly 7% on Monday after last week’s bond rout cooled, with Citi saying the most popular cryptocurrency was at a “tipping point” and could become the preferred currency for international trade.
However, demand for riskier assets did not slug the dollar, usually regarded as a safe-haven currency, as investors bet on fast growth and inflation in the United States. The U.S. dollar index gained 0.207% in afternoon trade against a basket of currencies to stand at 91.205, within sight of a three-week high hit overnight.
The Australian dollar was down 0.14% at $0.7758 after the RBA meeting.
A stronger greenback weighed on gold, and the precious metal was on the defensive at $1,715.8400 an ounce on Tuesday.
The exuberance in risk assets did not help energy markets. Oil prices fell more than 1% overnight after data showed China’s factory activity growth slipped to a nine-month low in February, owing in part to disruptions over the Lunar New Year holiday. There were also fears among energy investors that OPEC may increase global supply following a meeting this week.
Brent crude fell 1.35% to $62.83 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude lost 1.34% to $59.83.