The tender for Horizon Towers - the first major en bloc exercise to close after July's property cooling measures - ended on Wednesday (12 Sept 2018) without a single bid. While strong interest was not expected given the tough measures introduced on July 6, the absence of any bids from developers added to the disquiet in the en bloc market, especially big estates eyeing billion-dollar tabs.
No bid came in when the tender period ended on Sept 12, which was extended from the original Aug 7 closing date. Owners of the Leonie Hill Road site, which has a S$1.1 billion reserve price, now have 10 weeks to seal a deal by private treaty. The 99-year leasehold project, which sits on a 1.9ha plot, launched its tender on July 5. That very night, the Government announced a fresh round of preemptive cooling measures for the housing market that took effect the following day. The unsuccessful sale of the 211-unit development - despite its prime location - puts other billiondollar en bloc candidates on notice. Among them are Laguna Park in the east, which is launching its tender on Sept 18 at a reserve price of S$1.48 billion, and the 623-unit Pandan Valley in the Holland area, whose owners have just agreed on a record asking price of S$2.6 billion.
More Singaporeans found jobs in the first half of this year than in the first six months of 2017, with local employment growth 1.5 times higher. However, the latest Manpower Ministry (MOM) statistics also showed that the long-term unemployment rate edged up. MOM said in its latest report that local employment, which rose by 6,500, was boosted mainly by expansion in the services sector - community, social and personal services; financial and insurance services; information and communications; and transportation and storage.
The long-term unemployment rate, which measures the proportion of the resident labour force that has been unemployed for at least 25 weeks, grew from 0.7 per cent in March to 0.8 per cent in June. This remains within the range observed in the last two years. At the same time, the resident unemployment rate rose from 2.8 per cent in March to 2.9 per cent in June, after a general downward trend since June 2017. Meanwhile, the number of retrenchments declined to 5,350 in the first half of the year, lower than the 7,640 lay-offs in the first half of last year.
Job vacancies rose to a three-year high of 56,700 in June, up from 53,900 in March. Overall labour productivity rose by 3.9 per cent, supported by the manufacturing, financial and insurance services, accommodation and food services, and wholesale and retail trade sectors.
Resale prices of private non-landed homes in Singapore took their first dip last month, breaking a 12-month climb to record highs, with the latest property cooling measures having taken effect in July. Flash estimates released showed that resale prices of condominiums and private apartments declined by 0.2 per cent in August from the previous month. The property curbs also had an effect on the volume of transactions, which went tumbling the month after the latest property curbs hit.
The number of private non-landed homes resold in August fell 35.3 per cent to an estimated 694 units, from 1,072 units in July. This was the fourth consecutive monthly fall in resale volumes, with volume now at the lowest since January 2017. Year on year, the number of resales last month was down 48.2 per cent from the 1,339 units moved in August 2017.
Retail sales in Singapore fell in July, weighed down by a slowdown in motor vehicle sales, according to the latest figures from the Department of Statistics. Overall takings were down by 2.6 per cent from last year, against the revised 2.2 per cent growth seen in June, on fewer vehicles being sold. The drop is the first since March, and ends three months of retail sales growth.
Motor vehicle sales tumbled by 15.2 per cent year-on-year. But, leaving auto sales out of the picture, turnover inched up by 0.2 per cent in July, down a tad from the 0.3 per cent growth in the month before. Month-on-month and seasonally adjusted, July retail sales slid 2.9 per cent from June, but rose by 1.1 per cent when motor vehicles were excluded.