Travel takes top spot in S’pore consumers’ non-essential spending; more choose to buy now, pay later

SINGAPORE – Travel takes the top spot in Singaporeans’ spending priorities for non-essential items, with most willing to fund their expenses through instalment payment options such as buy now, pay later (BNPL) schemes, showed a recent survey.

BNPL services generally allow consumers to spread out their payments at zero interest, but charge late fees. They take a cut from merchants for each sale.

Analysts and industry players told The Straits Times that consumers are increasingly opting for such services because of their convenience. 

But some said safeguards need to be in place to protect users.

A recent survey by travel tech company Amadeus found that 46 per cent of consumers said international travel is a priority area for spending in the coming year, much more than fashion, eating out and big-ticket items such as a new car.

Eating out was important to 37 per cent of the 500 Singaporeans polled in June, while 29 per cent prioritised fashion purchases, and just 24 per cent wanted to spend on big-ticket items such as a new car or home furnishings.

The respondents were aged 18 and above and had a range of income levels.

The survey also found that Singaporeans have the most appetite for international travel, coming ahead of German, French and US consumers.

A total of 4,500 consumers in France, Germany, Britain, the United States and Singapore were polled for the survey.

Singaporean travellers are more likely to spread out their expenses to avoid high foreign exchange transaction fees and dip into loyalty points they previously collected, showed the survey.

About 95 per cent said they might choose instalment options such as BNPL services to fund their travel over the coming year, topping the global average of 75 per cent.

This figure also beats the 57 per cent of those polled here who said they might use a credit card.

Ms Barbara Crane, KPMG in Singapore’s financial services advisory partner, said the professional services firm is increasingly seeing companies offer BNPL options for travel purchases in addition to online or in-store ones.

“There is considerable pent-up demand for travel, and BNPL providers are also counting on this as an area where consumer demand is expected to persist for some time.”


Wall Street closes little changed on Fed policy fears

NEW YORK (REUTERS) – Wall Street closed mostly flat on Monday (Aug 8) after blockbuster jobs data last week reinforced expectations the Federal Reserve will crack down on inflation, while a revenue warning from chipmaker Nvidia reminded investors of a slowing US economy.

Stocks retreated from earlier highs as last week’s blowout labour market report was initially seen as a sign the economy could withstand aggressive interest rate hikes by the Fed to tame inflation running at four-decade highs.

Investors now await consumer price data on Wednesday to gauge whether the Fed might ease a bit in its inflation fight and provide better footing for the economy to grow.

“The CPI data will help to confirm if the Fed’s tightening efforts have been successful in starting to tame inflation or if continued Fed tightening is needed,” said Robert Schein, chief investment officer at Blanke Schein Wealth Management.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 29.07 points, or 0.09%, to 32,832.54, while the S&P 500 lost 5.13 points, or 0.12%, to 4,140.06 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 13.10 points, or 0.1%, to 12,644.46.

Volume on US exchanges was 11.01 billion shares. The S&P 500 has bounced back 14% from mid-June lows. But signs of inflation running too hot could cement the Fed’s case for aggressive monetary policy tightening.

Anthony Saglimbene, chief market strategist at Ameriprise in Troy, Michigan, said the market was due to pull back at some point as traders test the recent rebound.

“Maybe we can get a little bit higher by year end, but that’s if everything lines up perfectly,” he said, adding that the University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment survey for August on Friday also will be closely watched.

“That’s the tug of war between these data sets that tell the story about, ‘Hey, are we going to turn into a recession or avoid one?'”

US rate futures have priced in a 67.5% chance of a 75-basis-point hike at the Fed’s next meeting in September, up from about 41% before the labour market data beat market expectations.

The information technology sector fell 0.9% as chipmaker Nvidia Corp slid 6.3% after the company said it expects second-quarter revenue to decline 19% from the prior quarter to about $6.7 billion, due to weakness in gaming. The Philadelphia SE Semiconductor index slid 1.6%, while value stocks rose 0.1% to outpace a 0.4% drop in growth.

Tesla rose 0.8% as the US electric-car maker signed contracts worth about $5 billion to buy battery materials from nickel processing companies in Indonesia, according to a CNBC report.

Shares of US automakers jumped after the US Senate on Sunday passed a $430 billion bill to fight climate change that created a $4,000 tax credit for used electric vehicles and provides billions in funding for their production.

Rivian Automotive Inc rose 6.78%, Ford Motor Co gained 3.14%, General Motors Co added 4.16% and Lordstown Motors Corp advanced 3.17%.


Shipping success: Logistics company plays a key role in helping to write the Singapore story

In Singapore, one of the busiest trans-shipment hubs in the world, logistics companies do more than just transport goods from one place to another.

As one of the key pillars of Singapore’s economy, the logistics industry plays a vital role in the lives of many Singaporeans, such as making sure that we have an adequate supply of food and providing high-value jobs.

Pacific Logistics Group (PLG), one of the leading logistics companies here, is at the forefront of helping to drive the future of the industry, and in turn, playing a key role in building the future of Singapore.

A logistics company with Singapore in its heart

PLG is one of the top 10 homegrown logistics companies in Singapore. The firm, which provides integrated logistics solutions, ranks amongst the top in the industry in terms of annual revenue, company size, and the spectrum of services offered.

As a homegrown company, PLG has been helping to write the Singapore story and safeguard the nation’s interests. It is a role that the company is committed to and is actively contributing to in several ways.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, PLG assisted with the storage of the national food stockpile and lent its support to help deliveries to supermarkets when food resilience and safety were major concerns. PLG has continued to contribute its resources in a post-pandemic world. The company is now assisting with the long-term storage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in case of any national emergencies.

Connecting Singapore to Asia and the world

As an industry leader, PLG is also committed to promoting Singapore as a global trans-shipment hub and an attractive place to do business. The logistics company actively seeks out international brands with little or no presence in Singapore or the Asia region and encourages them to set up the regional distribution centres here.

By tapping into Singapore’s many benefits such as its status as a regional trading hub, connectivity, good infrastructure including Changi Airport and Tuas Mega Port, these international brands can easily build their local and regional presence.


A united vision of a sustainable future

About 200km away from Singapore lies a slice of paradise on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, home to Southeast Asia’s largest peatland forest.

The woodland, once ravaged by logging and agricultural activities, has transformed into over 150,000ha of pristine wilderness more than twice the size of Singapore. Sparkling waterways meander through thickets of green, providing a haven for endangered animals like the Sumatran tiger and sun bear.

The vast tract of land is part of the Riau Ecosystem Restoration (RER) initiative, a project started by the Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) Group. It has restored and conserved swathes of ecologically valuable Indonesian forests since 2013.

More than just being a precious home for wildlife, the RER today is also crucial for a healthy climate – vast reservoirs of carbon captured from the atmosphere are absorbed by the trees and ground. The area is also a symbol of the company’s sustainability efforts.



HONG KONG, Aug 9, 2022 – (亞太商訊 via – 近日,艾瑞諮詢發佈《同城即配平台C端用戶洞察研究報告》(「報告」)指出,順豐同城(9699.HK)憑藉創新科技、全場景業務覆蓋,以及精細化運營,在認知度、配送速度、服務質量等指標上表現優秀,在用戶調研中分別獲得美譽度、滿意度、推薦度三項第一,在最後一公里賽道領先業內其他品牌,備受用戶青睞。















Copyright 2022 亞太商訊. All rights reserved. (via SEAPRWire)


Ukrainian, EU leaders discuss situation at nuclear plant

This April 27, 2022 file photo shows a general view of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in the Russian-controlled area of Enerhodar, seen from Nikopol. (ED JONES / AFP)

KYIV/MOSCOW – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that he had discussed the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (NPP) in southern Ukraine with European Council President Charles Michel.

Ukraine and Russia on Sunday exchanged accusations over a fresh strike on the Zaporizhzhia NPP, which is one of the largest atomic power complexes in Europe and generates a quarter of Ukraine's total electricity. 

ALSO READ: UN weighs conditions for probe into Donetsk prison attack

Energoatom said it's impossible to properly monitor the radiation situation at the power plant site because three radiation monitoring detectors around the facility were damaged

The plant has been under the control of Russian forces since March and has been the scene of military strikes in recent days.

During the talks, Zelensky informed Michel about the situation at the nuclear power plant, and urged the imposition of sanctions on the Russian nuclear industry and nuclear fuel in the wake of the attacks.

Earlier in the day, Ukraine's state-run nuclear energy operator Energoatom accused Russian forces of shelling the power plant, saying the latest rocket attacks on Saturday hit the area next to the plant's dry storage facility, where 174 containers with spent nuclear fuel were stored in the open air.

It is impossible to properly monitor the radiation situation at the site because three radiation monitoring detectors around the facility were damaged, said Energoatom.

On Sunday, the TASS news agency reported that the administration of Energodar city, which is home to the nuclear power plant, blamed the Ukrainian army for the overnight attacks.

READ MORE: EU tops up Ukraine military aid with 500 million euros

The city said Ukrainian troops launched a strike against the plant using the 220-mm Uragan multiple launch rocket system on Saturday night. The storage facility for spent nuclear fuel was in the affected area. The submunitions and the rocket engine fell within 400 meters of the operating power unit, it added.


Paribus: DeFi Protocol for Exotic Digital Assets

Virginia, USA, Aug 9, 2022 – (ACN Newswire via – DeFi protocol Paribus announces the launch of their testnet MVP, the beginning of a new approach to DeFi. Secure, trustless, and truly decentralized, Paribus users will be able to borrow against previously illiquid digital assets such as NFTs.

Put simply, Paribus is a cross-chain, DeFi borrowing and lending protocol. With the unique selling point of allowing exotic assets like NFTs, LP tokens, virtual lands and synthetics to be used as collateral for loans. The platform will also utilize standard crypto assets. Being cross-chain, Paribus will be on multiple chains but is building for the Cardano ecosystem, and will access their blockchain via side-chains.

Paribus focuses on evolving with new digital asset classes, and has recently launched the testnet MVP of their platform. Their testnet MVP will feature traditional borrowing and lending with standard crypto assets for members who participate in Paribus’ staking program.

Paribus currently offers staking in their gold staking pool. The gold pool, Aurum, allows users to stake from 1,000,000 to 6,000,000 PBX for 365 days (less than 5 months remaining) for a minimum of 30% APY reward level. Since the APY is dynamic, rewards can increase, and is currently at 31%.

There is a growing need for both interoperability and the ability to borrow against exotic assets like NFTs in DeFi. The NFT space is growing, institutional investors are becoming more interested in the potential of cryptocurrency, and the industry grows leaps and bounds every day. Paribus plans to be the platform for DeFi lending, leveraging their tech and security to bring users a well-rounded experience. Their full MVP launch will include APY boosts, and attractive rates and returns for users.

This is just the beginning of the Paribus roadmap. With a team that believes in steady growth, strong fundamentals, and providing a new level of security for users, Paribus will bring much-needed legitimacy to DeFi borrowing and lending.

Paribus’ token (PBX) is currently trading on KuCoin, Gateio, Uniswap, Orion Protocol and ZT Exchange.

Learn more about Paribus:

Source: Plato Data Intelligence:

Copyright 2022 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved. (via SEAPRWire)


Aurora IP 完成法律程序以迎接外國投資者

Aurora IP

Aurora IP
Aurora IP

越南河內, Aug. 09, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE via — 隨著越南經濟強勁復甦,外資不斷湧入市場,尤其是製造業,許多工業房地產發展商已準備好迎接新一波的外資浪潮。Aurora IP 是北方新興項目之一,擁有完整和清晰的法律程序,以及為投資者而準備的基礎設施。

根據規劃和投資部門的數據,越南在 2022 年第一季度獲得了 44.2 億美元的外國直接投資,同比增長 7.8%。根據副總理范平明 (Pham Binh Minh) 最近批准的對外投資合作十年國家策略,越南的目標是在 2021 年至 2025 年與 2026 年至 2030 年將註冊外國投資流量的比例分別提高至 70% 以上和 75%。

為了吸引更多外國資本,為該國的外商直接投資策略作出貢獻,越南領先的房地產發展商之一 Cat Tuong Group 將 Aurora IP 打造為建設與發展綠色清潔可持續紡織工業園區的先驅,同時在紡織行業上實現可持續增長。  

Aurora IP

深知法律程序對於在越南經營的外國企業非常重要,Aurora IP 已完成所有法律程序,確保為投資者提供安全的營商環境。

Aurora IP 已獲得完整的合法證書,例如投資登記證、企業登記證、環境影響評估、土地清拆補償、財務責任、每一地段的土地使用權證、地下水開採許可證、污水處理廠建設許可證等,證明其項目的法定能力和透明度。


Aurora IP 正為 519.6 公頃的整個區域實施土地平整,旨在在簽署土地租賃協議後立即向租戶移交乾淨的土地,以盡量縮短二級投資者的輪候時間。在 2021 年,Aurora IP 約 160 公頃的商業土地已完成平整工作。

人力方面,Aurora IP 由兩個來源提供,包括本地供應 10,000 名高中畢業生或 IP 基礎培訓的工人,而周邊地區有 130,000 名 21-35 歲的人口。

除了土地租賃外,Aurora IP 還提供度身定制的工廠解決方案,這無疑提高了二級投資者投資計劃的靈活性。

Cat Tuong Group 主席兼行政總裁 Tran Quoc Viet 先生表示:「要保持領先地位,我們認為可持續發展是關鍵。我們相信,我們有責任準備完備的法律文件與程序,以及完善的基礎設施,為選擇越南作為目的地的外國投資者提供一個安全及可持續的投資環境。」



電話:+84 228 885 6886


Is there too much optimism in the markets?

SINGAPORE – In the 1960s-themed movie Teen Beach Movie, the theme song Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’ urges you to run away and avoid harm.

Given how the market has been climbing a wall of worry over the past month, one has to wonder whether investors are cruising for a bruising.


Finding adaptable, resilient staff key for start-ups to remain agile

SINGAPORE – Resilience, cultural fit and a can-do attitude – these are some key qualities start-ups look for in new hires as they seek to build agile teams that can work in uncertain and fast-developing environments.

Identifying the right talent is crucial, start-up executives and mentors told The Straits Times, given that each employee plays an integral role in helping the business scale, and one wrong hire could have more severe repercussions than in a larger organisation.


Mixed hiring sentiments among start-ups as economic worries loom

SINGAPORE – Hiring sentiment in the tech sector has darkened in recent months with global companies tapping the brakes amid recession fears and a slowdown from the pandemic-fuelled boom.

Tech giants Amazon, Meta and Google are among those scaling back recruiting. At the same time, streaming service Netflix and e-commerce platform Shopify have laid off staff as have crypto players Coinbase and Gemini.


Singapore can weather energy shocks, says Senoko CEO

SINGAPORE – Singapore’s energy security is in good shape and the country can withstand further shocks to global supply chains already under pressure from the Russia-Ukraine war, said Senoko Energy president and chief executive Graeme York.

Mr York told The Straits Times that Singapore has flexibility built into its power generation system to allow companies like Senoko to burn alternative fuels if supplies of piped gas or liquefied natural gas (LNG) are disrupted.


Brazil police arrest 5 more in murders of journalist, Amazon expert

In this file photo taken on June 23, 2022, Brazilian indigenous people protest for the demarcation of indigenous land and over the murder of British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian Indigenous affairs specialist Bruno Pereira, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP)

BRASILIA – Brazil's federal police on Saturday arrested five more men in an investigation into the murder of British journalist Dom Phillips and indigenous expert Bruno Pereira in the Amazon rainforest in June.

Police said in a statement that seven arrest warrants were issued for illegal fishing in the Vale do Javari region, the remote area close to the border with Colombia and Peru where Phillips and Pereira disappeared on June 5.

Police said in a statement that seven arrest warrants were issued for illegal fishing in the Vale do Javari region, the remote area close to the border with Colombia and Peru where Phillips and Pereira disappeared on June 5

The region has been invaded by illegal fishermen, loggers and gold miners. Police say it is a key drug trafficking route.

ALSO READ: Brazilian police reconstruct murder of UK reporter, tribes expert

Phillips, a freelance reporter who wrote for the Guardian and the Washington Post, was doing research for a book on the trip with Pereira, a former head of isolated and recently contacted tribes at federal indigenous affairs agency Funai.

Two of the seven suspects were already under arrest: Ruben Dario da Silva Villar, known as "Colombia", and fisherman Amarildo Costa de Oliveira, known as "Pelado" who was arrested in June as the primary suspect in the murder.

According to the police, Colombia would be the leader and financier of an armed criminal gang involved in illegal fishing that was smuggled out to the neighboring countries.

Three of the newly arrested men, whose names were not revealed, are relatives of Amarildo and were involved in concealing the bodies of Phillips and Pereira, the police said.

READ MORE: Brazil police arrest second suspect in case of missing journalist

Pereira, the former senior official at the federal indigenous affairs agency Funai, had previously clashed with Amarildo over illegal fishing within the indigenous territory.

Federal prosecutors said that Phillips was killed so that he could not identify the killers.


Lab-Grown Diamond Facility in Singapore to Commence Commercial Production

Singapore, Aug 8, 2022 – (ACN Newswire via – SGX-listed Metech International Limited (“Metech” or the “Company”, and together with its subsidiaries, the “Group”), is pleased to announce that the lab-grown diamond facilities in Singapore of its joint venture company, Asian Eco Technology Pte. Ltd. (“Asian Eco”), can commence commercial production, following the receipt of the fire safety certificate issued by Singapore Civil Defence Force.

A pilot test of the lab-grown diamond facilities has been successfully completed.

As announced previously, Asian Eco entered into a 3-year lease agreement for an industrial property located at Kallang for the production of lab-grown diamonds.

A wholly-owned subsidiary, Zhongxin Minghua (Shanghai) International Trade Co., Ltd. (formerly known as Nolash (Shanghai) Pte Ltd.), is now a registered member of the Shanghai Diamond Exchange with effect from 13 July 2022.

Growing Industrial Applications of Lab-Growth Diamonds

Diamonds are more widely known to be used in jewellery but diamonds are also commonly used for industrial applications in oil & gas, medical equipment, aerospace, among others.

With an impressive combination of chemical, physical and mechanical properties that are ideal for a wide array of industrial applications, there is increasing commercialisation of scientific discoveries for the industrial applications of diamond in the next generation of semiconductors, aerospace, electric vehicles, medical equipment, among others.

To harness such opportunities, Asian Eco has previously entered in various memorandum of understandings and collaboration agreements with strategic partners and prominent institutions in the areas of research and development and commercialisation.

Commenting on the commencement of Asian Eco’s commercial production of lab-grown diamonds in Singapore, Ms. Samantha Hua, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Metech, said: “This is a major milestone in our business strategy, accelerating our growth ambitions within the global lab-grown diamond industry that continues to exhibit positive growth prospects with its sustainability features.

Aligned with the macro trends of the global lab-grown diamond market, we aim to progressively scale up our production capabilities in Singapore and harness new opportunities.”

About Metech International Limited
(Bloomberg: CENR:SP / Reuters: METE.SI / SGX Stock Code: V3M)

Listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange, Metech International Limited (“Metech”) has a multi-pronged business model that aligns with the macro trends in the area of environmental and sustainability.

While proactively evaluating new business opportunities to broaden its business model, Metech continues to build on its capabilities and extend the value propositions of its business units.

Media & Investor Contacts:
This announcement has been prepared by the Company and reviewed by the Company’s Sponsor, Novus Corporate Finance Pte. Ltd. (the “Sponsor”), in compliance with Rule 226(2)(b) of the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited (the “SGX-ST”) Listing Manual Section B: Rules of Catalist.

This announcement has not been examined or approved by the SGX-ST and the SGX-ST assumes no responsibility for the contents of this announcement, including the correctness of any of the statements or opinions made or reports contained in this announcement.

The contact person for the Sponsor is Mr. Pong Chen Yih, Chief Operating Officer, at 7 Temasek
Boulevard, #18-03B Suntec Tower 1, Singapore 038987, telephone (65) 6950 2188.

Issued on behalf of Metech International Limited by 8PR Asia Pte Ltd.
Mr. Alex TAN
Mobile: +65 9451 5252

Copyright 2022 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved. (via SEAPRWire)


Being selective key to passive income amid high inflation

With inflation at multi-year highs, investors are on the hunt for regular streams of passive income to supplement their take-home pay.

The most common choices are dividends from stocks and yield from fixed-income bonds, while some will swear on real estate and seek out rental income or try to hunt down inflation hedges.

But there is an inherent risk that people may not initially see.

There are nuances behind the passive income strategies that require further due diligence.

Not all investments that seem to provide an inflation hedge can deliver it in this environment of both slowing growth and high inflation.

Passive income portfolio strategies that suit others may not suit you. Investing is a deeply personal endeavour.

Hunt for passive income

Core inflation in Singapore in June rose to 4.4 per cent, breaching 4 per cent for the first time since the end of 2008.

Naturally, our first instinct is to find ways to protect and preserve our purchasing power and investors are already on the prowl for more income.

However, we are in a unique situation of not only higher inflation but also slowing global growth.

The International Monetary Fund expects global growth to further slow from 3.2 per cent this year to 2.9 per cent next year.

China’s economic slowdown is on investors’ minds while scorching inflation has been driven by cost pressures resulting from the persistent spread of Covid-19 around the world and the Russia-Ukraine war.

With recession looming, simple inflation protection strategies may not always work.

For example, high-flying commodities did well in the early stages of inflation spiking but growth concerns have seen prices collapse in recent months.


Citigroup plans to hire 500 over 3 years for new wealth division

(BLOOMBERG) – Citigroup Inc is planning a 500- person hiring spree over the next three years for a new wealth division catering to junior employees at private equity offices, consultancies and accounting firms, betting those clients will some day join the ranks of the ultra wealthy.

The bank started the unit, known as Wealth at Work, last year and tapped longtime private-banking executive Naz Vahid to oversee its development.

Ms Vahid has spent years leading the private bank’s law-firm group, which counts 50,000 lawyers and 1,000 firms as clients.

“We are already the undisputed No. 1 in the space, and we’re going to take that law-firm group model and apply it to these other verticals,” she said in an interview from Citigroup’s headquarters in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighbourhood.

Her division is a key component of chief executive Jane Fraser’s plans to remake Citigroup into a wealth-management powerhouse.

The business generated US$353 million (S$487.7 million) in revenue in the first six months of the year – a 3 per cent jump from a year earlier – and was the only one of Citigroup’s wealth operations that posted an increase for the period.

The law-firm group got its start more than 50 years ago with a simple strategy: offer wealth-management services to employees at the world’s biggest law firms, many of whom were already using the bank’s cash-management, financing and custody services.

The firm developed an expertise in salary policies and payment trends at top law firms, which it used to offer wealth products to meet those lawyers’ financial needs.

“We understand bonus payout structures, changes in income when our clients go from associates to partners, unique retirement needs,” Ms Vahid said. “We know when they’re likely to buy a house, when they’re likely to begin planning for college, and more. We know the career life cycle.”

Some of the most successful attorneys can earn as much as US$20 million a year. Before they get there, though, many junior employees are saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt, making them unlikely candidates for wealth-management businesses that typically cater to high-net-worth individuals.

At Citigroup, the average net worth of the firm’s private-bank customers is a whopping US$400 million. But her division is different. “We acquire clients when they have more debt than money,” Ms Vahid said.

“We get them when they’re early in their careers, when they’re not yet wealth clients and they’re extremely busy individuals,” she said, adding, “We get them young and we keep them.”

Citigroup’s wealth-management offerings have long paled in comparison to rivals. The firm finished 2021 with US$7.5 billion in wealth-management revenue, a 7.6 per cent increase from five years earlier. That compares with jumps of more than 11 per cent at Bank of America and 23 per cent at JPMorgan Chase.

For Ms Fraser, the decision to expand the bank’s wealth-management offerings was “blindingly obvious,” she said at Citigroup’s investor day earlier this year.


The crypto market crashed, but they are still buying Bitcoin

(NYTIMES) – Cory Klippsten started issuing warnings about the cryptocurrency market in March.

The digital coin Luna, Mr Klippsten tweeted, was a scam, run by an entrepreneur with “major Elizabeth Holmes vibes”. The newfangled crypto bank Celsius Network was a “massive blow-up risk”, he said.

When those crypto projects collapsed a few weeks later, causing a crash that has wiped out about US$1 trillion (S$1.38 trillion) in value, Mr Klippsten became a fixture on news shows, where he cast the industry as a morass of hucksters and hypocrites.

“Crypto is a scam,” he declared last month.

But Mr Klippsten differs from most crypto haters in one crucial respect – he runs a Bitcoin company.

In the crypto world, Mr Klippsten is known as a Bitcoin maximalist, or “maxi” – a hardcore evangelist who believes Bitcoin will transform the financial system even as fraud pervades the rest of the crypto ecosystem. The maxis are just a subset of the crypto industry, but their ranks include influential figures like Mr Jack Dorsey, a founder of Twitter and an early Bitcoin proponent.

The maxis continued buying Bitcoin even after its price plummeted to an 18-month low of about US$20,000 in June. And, as the market has melted, they have embarked on a public relations offensive, aiming to persuade investors and lawmakers that Bitcoin is different from the thousands of other digital currencies that proliferated in the last few years before tanking this spring.

“The only future for non-Bitcoin crypto is to seek to be co-opted by banks and governments and become part of the existing system,” Mr Klippsten, 44, said.

The debate being fuelled by the maxis has become a battle for crypto’s future.

The maxis say they are trying to steer crypto back to some of its original ideals at a pivotal moment, as new regulatory scrutiny and mounting consumer distrust pose an existential threat to the industry.

They also see an opportunity to profit from the downturn. As Celsius imploded in June, Mr Klippsten trumpeted a promotion giving its former customers a membership to his financial services firm, Swan Bitcoin, which provides financial planning for Bitcoin investors.

Bitcoin advocates have been courting new adopters ever since the digital currency was invented, in 2008, by a mysterious figure known only by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. At the time, Bitcoin backers were disillusioned with the mainstream finance system and wanted to create a form of virtual money that could be exchanged without a bank or another intermediary.

With a supply limit built into its underlying code, Bitcoin was supposed to offer a hedge against inflation, since no centralised authority would be able to print more of it.

Many subsequent cryptocurrencies have lacked those features. Often, new coins are issued by a group of founders who exert significant control over distribution – a dynamic that can replicate the centralised structure of traditional finance.

“Bitcoin is decentralised, digitally scarce money. Everything else is centralised,” said Mr Jimmy Song, a crypto podcaster and an outspoken Bitcoin maxi. “There’s a world of difference between a censorship-resistant, self-sovereign money versus a gambling vehicle.”


How geopolitics affect decisions on investment

There is no shortage of geopolitical concerns for investors these days, from Ukraine to Taiwan, inflation and plenty besides, but investors need to carefully weigh up when it is right to bail out and when it is right to hold on for dear life.

Mr Sani Hamid, director of economics and market strategy at financial advisory firm Financial Alliance, said there will be people who sell first in times of crisis and think about consequences later.


Are digital currency initiatives a potential game changer in the evolution of money?

A tap of your credit or debit card at the train gantry. A hover of your smartphone over the payment terminal. Just a few taps to transfer your share of the lunch bill to your friend.

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen more Singaporeans embrace digital payments, with PayNow transactions doubling in both volume and monetary value from 2019 to 2020. 

By last October, three-quarters of merchants across the island were using the Singapore Quick Response Code (SGQR) to accept payment. SGQR is a unified payment QR code launched by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in 2018.

Certainly, consumers still use cash, especially in the heartland. But MAS noted in a report last November that cash is “generally incompatible” with the digital economy. The demand for cash as a means of payment is set to decline further.

“As Singapore moves towards a fully digital financial system, we see central bank digital currencies (CBDC) as potentially the next step in the evolution of money,” says Mr Heng Koon How, executive director, head of markets strategy, global economics and markets research, UOB.


Putin bans ‘unfriendly’ investors from selling key energy stakes

This general view taken on July 8, 2018, shows the Kremlin and Moscow State University (back) in Moscow, Russia. (MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP)

MOSCOW – Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Friday banning "unfriendly" investors from making transactions with their shares in strategic Russian enterprises and projects until the end of the year.

The measures will be taken to protect Russia's national interests, and in response to the hostile actions of the United States and other foreign countries and organizations, according to the decree

The decree, published on the country's official portal for legal information, prohibits foreigners associated with "unfriendly countries" to carry out any kind of transactions with their shares and assets in strategic Russian enterprises and banks until Dec 31, 2022.

READ MORE: Russia vows retaliation against latest US sanctions

According to the decree, foreign investors are banned from carrying out transactions with shares in the Sakhalin-1 oil and gas project, and the Kharyaginskoye oil field project.

The Russian president has ordered the central bank and the government to compile a list of all banks, which would fall under the decree, within 10 days.

ALSO READ: Russia imposes sanctions on Biden, other top US officials

As an exception, certain transactions will be allowed only if this will be permitted by the Russian president, and the decree can be prolonged after its expiration date.

The measures will be taken to protect Russia's national interests, and in response to the hostile actions of the United States and other foreign countries and organizations, according to the decree.


After Griner gets jail, Russia ready to discuss swap with US

In this photo released by Russian Foreign Ministry Press Service, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov attends the 12th East Asia Summit foreign ministers' meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on Aug 5, 2022. (RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY PRESS VIA AP)

Russia and the United States said on Friday they were ready to discuss a prisoner swap, a day after a Russian court sentenced basketball star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison for a drug offense.

The case against Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) star, plunged her into a geopolitical maelstrom after the conflict in Ukraine began on Feb 24.

We are ready to discuss this topic, but within the framework of the channel that was agreed upon by presidents Putin and Biden … If the Americans decide to once again resort to public diplomacy…, that is their business and I would even say that it is their problem.

Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden had previously agreed on a diplomatic channel that should be used to discuss potential prisoner exchanges.

"We are ready to discuss this topic, but within the framework of the channel that was agreed upon by presidents Putin and Biden," Lavrov said during a visit to Cambodia.

ALSO READ: Russia sentences Griner to 9 years in prison, US govt calls for release

"If the Americans decide to once again resort to public diplomacy…, that is their business and I would even say that it is their problem."

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington was prepared to engage with Moscow through diplomatic channels established to handle the issue and Griner's conviction had further compounded the injustice that had been done to her.

Speaking also in Cambodia, Blinken said the sentence, "puts a spotlight on our very significant concerns about Russia's legal system and the Russian government's use of wrongful detentions to advance its own agenda, using individuals as political pawns."

The Kremlin had previously warned the United States against turning to "megaphone diplomacy" in the case of Griner, saying it could only derail efforts to secure a potential swap.

Griner's sentence – which Biden called "unacceptable" – could pave the way for a prisoner swap that would include the 31-year-old athlete and a prolific Russian arms dealer serving a 25-year prison term in the United States.

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted from a court room after her last words, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia on Aug 4, 2022. (ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO / AP)

Washington has offered to exchange Russian arms trafficker Bout for US basketball star Brittney Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan, sources familiar with the situation have told Reuters

The United States has already made what Blinken called a "substantial offer" to secure the release of Americans detained in Russia, including Griner and former Marine Paul Whelan.

ALSO READ: US, Russia swap prisoners Reed, Yaroshenko amid war tensions

'A serious proposal'

White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said after Griner's sentencing that the United States had made Russia a serious proposal.

"We urge them to accept it," he said. "They should have accepted it weeks ago when we first made it." 

Kirby did not provide further detail on the US proposal.

Washington has offered to exchange Russian arms trafficker Bout for Griner and Whelan, sources familiar with the situation have told Reuters.

Russia had tried to add convicted murderer Vadim Krasikov, imprisoned in Germany, to the proposed swap, a source familiar with the proceedings also told Reuters.

US basketball star Brittney Griner was arrested on Feb 17 at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport with vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage

Russia and the United States staged a prisoner swap in April, trading former Marine Trevor Reed for Russian pilot Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was serving a 20-year sentence in the United States. 

Griner was arrested on Feb 17 at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport with vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage.

The United States argued she was wrongly detained and being used as a political bargaining chip by Moscow. Russian officials dismissed the US claims, saying Griner had broken Russian law and should be judged accordingly.

READ MORE: Russia says US has not offered to resume nuclear treaty talks

Griner, who had been prescribed medical cannabis in the United States to relieve pain from chronic injuries, said she had made an honest mistake by inadvertently packing her vape cartridges as she rushed to make her flight.

She pled guilty to the changes against her but insisted that she did not intend to break Russian law.

Cannabis is illegal in Russia for both medicinal and recreational purposes.


S. Africa’s Ramaphosa on knife edge as crises spur leadership race

President of ruling African National Congress and South Africa President Ramaphosa addresses the 6th National Policy Conference in Johannesburg on July 29, 2022. (AP PHOTO)

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa is beset by crises that have cast doubt on his presidency and left him vulnerable to a leadership challenge as his party begins the process of selecting candidates for the next national election.

It's severely dented, but (South Africa Preisdent Cyril Ramaphosa) still retains more trust than the other alternative political leaders. The alternatives would have to show they've got credibility.

Susan Booysen,

director of research at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection

As clouds gather, analysts and party insiders say his best chance of survival is that many in the governing African National Congress see him as the least objectionable nominee – both to investors and voters – in the 2024 polls, which could see the party lose its parliamentary majority for the first time since white minority rule ended nearly three decades ago.

ANC members will choose their party leader, and hence presidential nominee, in December. But the battle lines are being drawn now, with power blocks coalescing around candidates at gatherings to elect provincial party officials, and at a national policy conference last weekend.

Challengers include former health minister Zweli Mkhize, Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Duduzane Zuma, son of the former president Jacob Zuma.

"It's severely dented, but (Ramaphosa) still retains more trust than the other alternative political leaders," Susan Booysen, director of research at the Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection, said. "The alternatives would have to show they've got credibility."

The ANC has never been so unpopular.

Struggling state power company Eskom has imposed its worst power cuts in more than two years. Poor service delivery saw the ANC's support in municipal polls in November drop below 50% for the first time. 

READ MORE: S.Africa's Ramaphosa retains Mboweni, Gordhan in cabinet

A looting spree a year ago and mass shootings in July highlighted police failures and yawning wealth inequalities. 

And a $4 million heist at Ramaphosa's private farm in June raised questions about his vast wealth – awkward for a leader who won his ticket on a promise to clean up endemic graft.

Four ANC insiders said Ramaphosa's rivals are to varying degrees allied with his predecessor Jacob Zuma's faction, whose victory would be seen as a setback by investors in Africa's most industrialized economy. A judicial corruption inquiry pointed to systemic graft during Zuma's tenure in 2009-2018; he denies wrongdoing. 

Zuma's faction recently captured the party leadership in the ANC strongholds of Mpumalanga and Kwazulu-Natal, shrinking Ramaphosa's provincial power base.

Some ANC members also favour Deputy President David Mabuza, who hasn't said he'll run but would automatically take over if Ramaphosa is forced out early.

Gathering clouds

Police are probing the origin of millions of dollars worth of foreign banknotes stolen from Ramaphosa's private farm for tax or exchange control irregularities. He says the funds are from game sales and has welcomed the investigation

Ramaphosa acted decisively against COVID-19 in 2020 – imposing some of the world's toughest restrictions and expanding social welfare to prevent hunger – but has prevaricated on other contentious policy issues. It took his government over two years to start implementing plans to buy more power from private producers and cut reliance on Eskom, a process fraught with delays.

"He's caught between paranoia and paralysis. There's that indecisiveness, lurching from thing to thing," Ebrahim Fakir of South Africa's Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute said.

Police are probing the origin of millions of dollars worth of foreign banknotes stolen from Ramaphosa's private farm for tax or exchange control irregularities. He says the funds are from game sales and has welcomed the investigation.

ALSO READ: South Africa formally ends national state of disaster

"Ramaphosa is in a very weak position because of this foreign currency found in his house," said Moeletsi Mbeki, deputy chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs and a brother of ex-president Thabo Mbeki. "He has to account for why (it) was … not in the bank."

At the policy conference, Ramaphosa faced down Zuma allies arguing that the party should suspend a rule that any officials charged with crimes must step down while they are being investigated.

The "step-aside" rule is preventing the ANC's suspended secretary general Ace Magashule from challenging Ramaphosa after being charged with corruption. But it could come to haunt the president if he himself is charged.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa (left) looks on during a symbolic mass memorial service in East London on July 6, 2022. (PHILL MAGAKOE / AFP)

Ramaphosa’s challengers

Any one of his likely challengers would prompt fears from investors about "taking South Africa back to a more difficult place," Razia Khan, Standard Chartered's head of research for Africa and the Middle East, said.

Mkhize was suspended a year ago over allegations his department irregularly awarded COVID-19-related contracts to former associates. He did not respond to a request for comment, but denies wrongdoing.

Mabuza has struggled to shrug off allegations – which he denies – of irregular tenders for a 2010 World Cup stadium and links to political killings. His spokeswoman did not comment.

Sisulu supported Zuma throughout the graft inquiry. He "is a valued and respected leader of the ANC," her spokesman Steve Motale said.

Duduzane Zuma – known for his designer suits, partying on speed boats in Dubai and crashing his Porsche into a minibus taxi in 2014 – is being investigated alongside his father for alleged corruption.

ALSO READ: South Africa's president urged to testify in graft probe

"I've showed up every time and pleaded not-guilty," he told Reuters. "I'm young at heart. If I want to jump on a jet ski or quad bike or a private plane, that shouldn't be an issue. I've worked hard."

If the ANC loses its parliamentary majority, it could force the party into an uneasy coalition. Several conference delegates told Reuters they still see Ramaphosa as their best bet.

"I don't see any other person who can rival him," Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told Reuters.

Some analysts agree.

"Removing Ramaphosa would be a suicide mission. He is what has slowed down their decline," author and political analyst Ralph Mathekga said. "He's the most electable, and … can help the party to survive."


Kenya presidential wildcard vows to erase debt with ‘ganja solution’

Roots party presidential candidate George Wajackoyah gestures to his supporters during a campaign rally in Ruai, Nairobi on July 27, 2022, ahead of Kenya's August 2022 general election. (SIMON MAINA / AFP)

NAIROBI – Sexagenarian reggae aficionado and presidential candidate George Wajackoyah is convinced he has the right medicine for the ills troubling Kenya's voters: a dose of marijuana and some hyena testicles.

A tight race between the two leading presidential candidates – veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto – has thrust a spotlight on George Wajackoyah's small but committed band of followers, who could force a run-off if neither side gets more than 50 percent of the vote

East Africa's wealthiest country is holding elections on Aug 9. A tight race between the two leading presidential candidates – veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga and Deputy President William Ruto – has thrust a spotlight on Wajackoyah's small but committed band of followers, who could force a run-off if neither side gets more than 50 percent of the vote.

Voter registration among young people has fallen sharply, with many saying conventional politicians have failed to tackle rampant corruption, runaway inflation or joblessness.

Wajackoyah's bid for the presidency has caught the imagination of younger voters. The grave-digger-turned-adjunct-law-professor is trailing a distant third in the polls at around 2 percent but he could tip the balance if he endorses one candidate, or takes enough votes from another.

ALSO READ: Debt shadow may hang over Kenya's next president

His no-frills campaign promises to wipe out Kenya's debt of roughly $70 billion by establishing a medical cannabis industry and exporting animal parts, including hyena testicles.

"I've created a new tribe, known as the ganja tribe," he said, explaining his popularity. "These (politicians), they have helicopters, they have money, they have painted cars. I don't even have a single poster."

Roots party presidential candidate George Wajackoyah gestures to his supporters during a campaign rally in Ruai, Nairobi on July 27, 2022, ahead of Kenya's August 2022 general election. (SIMON MAINA / AFP)

Wajackoyah's no-frills campaign promises to wipe out Kenya's debt of roughly $70 billion by establishing a medical cannabis industry and exporting animal parts, including hyena testicles

The Kenyan media's infatuation with colouful Wajackoyah, also a well-known figure from Nairobi's club scene, has prompted speculation that he is backed by a bigger campaign to try to peel away some of the youth vote – a prospect he airily dismisses.

Many candidates have offered him cash for support, he said, but he has turned them all down. Instead, he said he dreams of lighting up in the president's office.

"We shall go to state house and smoke it around to remove the colonial impurities," 62-year-old Wajackoyah said in his wood-paneled office, sporting a du-rag bandanna and listening to a Hare Krishna prayer.

ALSO READ: Kenya president: Eastern Congo needs regional force deployment

He checked his phone to recall the other points on his manifesto, which veer from federalizing government and renegotiating the country's debts to hanging the corrup.

Wajackoyah is bucking the trend by running on a shoestring budget, with supporters creating their own posters featuring his snow-white beard and the slogan "Wajackoyah the 5th," in reference to his bid to be the nation's fifth president

"We've come in with the ganja solution," he said.

By his latest count, Wajackoyah said he has picked up 14 law degrees and certificates from England, where fled as a refugee, the United States, where he met his wife, and back in Kenya where he runs a law firm specialising in migration.

Getting elected in Kenya is an expensive business, costing an estimated $31,000 to sit on a county assembly, up to $390,000 to sit in the senate, based on a study by the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Nairobi.

Wajackoyah is bucking the trend by running on a shoestring budget, with supporters creating their own posters featuring his snow-white beard and the slogan "Wajackoyah the 5th," in reference to his bid to be the nation's fifth president.

A billboard of Kenya's Presidential candidate George Wajackoyah (right) and his running mate Justina Wamae of the Roots party is displayed along a road in Nairobi, Kenya, on July 21, 2022. (YASUYOSHI CHIBA / AFP)

With no donors or war-chest to draw on, Wajackoyah's rallies consist of him arriving at markets unannounced, popping his head through the sunroof of his car to blaring reggae music, and making his pitch to startled onlookers

"If I showed you the amount of money I have, you would laugh," Wajackoyah said.

With no donors or war-chest to draw on, his rallies consist of him arriving at markets unannounced, popping his head through the sunroof of his car to blaring reggae music, and making his pitch to startled onlookers.

READ MORE: Six killed in al-Shabab attack in Kenya

On Wednesday, with six days to go until the election, Wajakoyah's small convoy rolled into Gatundu, around 30 km north of the capital Nairobi. A smiling crowd of around 400 quickly gathered, waving smart phones and jostling for selfies.

"Every election cycle everybody just comes here with their propaganda," said Jeff Mwangi, a labourer. "If this man can do what he's actually saying… we will go very far as a country."


US stocks end mostly down as market weighs Fed, jobs data

NEW YORK (AFP) – Wall Street stocks finished mostly lower on Friday (Aug 5) after better-than-expected US jobs data raised expectations for more aggressive Federal Reserve actions to tighten monetary supply.

The US economy added 528,000 jobs in July, more than twice the expected number, while the unemployment rate dipped to the pre-pandemic low of 3.5 per cent, Labour Department data showed.

But while strong hiring is an unmistakable indicator of economic robustness, stocks’ initial reaction to the report was decisively negative, as investors bet that the Fed would extend a run of supersized interest rate hikes to dampen inflation.

But stocks came back somewhat, lifting the Dow into positive territory by the session’s end and lessening losses on the other two indices.

“Stocks really did hold up today all things considered, given the perspective going into the report,” said analyst Patrick O’Hare, who added that investors may have interpreted the data as showing the economy can withstand the Fed’s actions.

The Dow Jones Industrial finished up 0.2 per cent at 32,803.47.

The broad-based S&P 500 dipped 0.2 per cent to 4,145.19, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index shed 0.5 per cent to 12,657.55.

Among individual companies, Warner Brothers Discovery plunged 16.5 per cent after reporting a US$3.4 billion (S$4.7 billion) loss, much of it due to merger-related costs.

But Lyft surged 16.6 per cent, as the ride-hailing company reported better-than-expected results on a 30 per cent jump in revenues to US$990.7 million.


Alibaba sales better than feared despite economic turmoil

HONG KONG (BLOOMBERG) – Alibaba Group Holding posted better results than many investors feared, avoiding a sharp sales contraction while signalling an improvement in Chinese consumer sentiment in recent months.

Its shares rose more than 6 per cent in New York. Alibaba’s revenue slid for the first time on record in the June quarter, albeit by a fractional amount that was less than analysts projected. The contraction marked an official end to a decade of sizzling growth for China’s Internet giants, which began to wind down in 2021 when regulators slapped curbs on a range of sectors from e-commerce to social media.

China’s e-commerce leader reported revenue of 205.6 billion yuan (S$41.9 billion) in the June quarter, enough to beat projections for 204 billion yuan. Net income fell 50 per cent to 22.7 billion yuan, although Alibaba trimmed losses at newer businesses like local services and the cloud.

Alibaba is still grappling with the economic fallout from nationwide Covid-19-related lockdowns and a near-economic contraction in China. Smaller rival, which escaped the worst of the crackdown, is overtaking Alibaba in sales growth, while up-and-coming competitors such as ByteDance and Pinduoduo are drawing more users away.

But consumption began recovering from June and quickened in July, Alibaba chief executive officer Daniel Zhang said. This outlook helped drive gains in Chinese Internet peers from JD to Baidu and Pinduoduo, which are heavily reliant on the health of the domestic consumer.

“Starting in July, we are seeing a gradual recovery of business performance compared with June, especially in the relatively more impacted categories in the past few months such as fashion and electronics,” Mr Zhang told analysts on a conference call.

Alibaba is also managing a series of run-ins with regulators. These range from antitrust fines to tax evasion probes, but have culminated in China’s largest recorded cyber-security breach, which experts linked to Alibaba’s cloud business. That division grew sales by 10 per cent in the quarter, the slowest pace on record.

Abroad, the United States added Alibaba to a growing roster of companies facing removal from US stock exchanges amid Beijing’s refusal to permit American officials to review their auditors’ work. The company is seeking a primary listing in Hong Kong that would enable it to tap more mainland investors, while also maintaining its listing status on the New York Stock Exchange.

Once the most valuable company in China, Alibaba has seen its market value tumble after Beijing launched its sweeping crackdown on the private sector more than a year ago. The government forced Alibaba’s finance affiliate, Ant Group, to call off what would have been the world’s largest initial public offering in 2020, and then launched reforms that have undercut Alibaba’s business model.

Following a ferocious crackdown on the country’s most prominent billionaires, Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma has made significant concessions to appease Beijing. Last week, Ant said in a filing that Mr Ma will cede control over the fintech arm and reduce his Ant shareholding over time to a percentage that does not exceed 8.8 per cent. He currently holds 50.52 per cent of voting rights in Ant.

The move, likely to reduce some of Alibaba’s and Ant’s regulatory headwinds, has weighed on Alibaba shares, on fears that a leadership change could further delay Ant’s initial public offering. Mr Ma’s retreat also raises questions about his Internet empire just as China enters a period of unprecedented uncertainty.

Revenue from Alibaba’s core China commerce division slid 1 per cent during the quarter – the first contraction on record.

In response to slowing growth, Alibaba said in May it will take a “more disciplined” approach to spending and scale back expenses in areas that are not generating long-term value. This shift – in line with Beijing’s incentives – marks a major shift from the aggressive and wide-ranging market share grab that characterised the e-commerce giant in the past.

Adjusted earnings per American depository share of 11.73 yuan beat estimates for 10.33 yuan, reflecting those efforts.


Cooling semiconductor sales heighten fears of a global recession

SEOUL (BLOOMBERG) – World chip sales growth has decelerated for six straight months – yet another sign the global economy is straining under the weight of rising interest rates and mounting geopolitical risks.

Semiconductor sales rose 13.3 per cent in June from a year earlier, down from 18 per cent in May, data from the global peak industry body showed. The current slowdown is the longest since the US-China trade war in 2018.

The three-month moving average in chip sales has correlated with the global economy’s performance in recent decades. The latest weakness comes as concern about a worldwide recession has prompted chipmakers like Samsung Electronics to consider winding back investment plans.

Semiconductors are key components in a world that is increasingly reliant on digital products and services, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic when a lot of work and schooling was conducted remotely.

Chip sales started to cool as central banks began scrambling to raise interest rates to combat spiralling inflation, and Russia’s war on Ukraine and prolonged Covid-19 lockdowns in China prompted a rapid reversal in the international outlook.

A Bloomberg Economics global tracker shows that the prospects for the world economy have deteriorated rapidly this year, coinciding with chip sales beginning to slow.

Signs of an international downturn are also observed in trade data from South Korea, the world’s biggest producer of memory chips. Growth in chip exports eased to 2.1 per cent in July from 10.7 per cent in June, the fourth straight monthly slowing. In June, semiconductor stockpiles rose by the most in more than six years.

It is a similar story in Taiwan, which is another key player in electronics supply chains. Latest data indicate that manufacturing on the island contracted in June and July, while production and demand slumped, with new export orders registering the biggest fall.

The weakening momentum in these two canaries in the global coal mine is partly due to a slowing economy in China, which continues to impose lockdowns under its zero-Covid-19 policy. China’s factory activity unexpectedly contracted in July, and property sales continue to shrink.

In the United States, gross domestic product has fallen for two straight quarters, though the National Bureau of Economic Research refuses to call it a recession. In Europe, factory activity plunged in June, further darkening the outlook for both the continent and the wider world.

Nonetheless, the International Monetary Fund still sees a global expansion this year, and slowing chip sales do not automatically indicate that a recession is imminent.

But they offer a glimpse into the health of an international economy that relies heavily on the tiny components to manufacture everything from cars to smartphones to computers.

The peak world body – the Washington-based Semiconductor Industry Association – says it represents 99 per cent of the US chip industry by revenue and almost two-thirds of non-US chip firms. The sales it releases are compiled by World Semiconductor Trade Statistics.


Wall Street ends mixed as investors eye jobs data

NEW YORK (REUTERS) – Wall Street’s main indexes ended mixed in a dull session on Thursday (Aug 4) as gains in high-growth stocks offset losses in energy shares, with investors looking ahead to monthly jobs report for clues on the pace of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq hit a fresh three-month high led by and Advanced Micro Devices, while losses in energy stocks including Exxon Mobil and Chevron Corp weighed on the S&P 500.

Worries about a slowing global economy pushed oil prices to their lowest since before Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine and US bond yields slipped after the Bank of England warned of a long recession.

Strong earnings reports and a surprise pick-up in services sector activity had sent the main indexes sharply higher in the previous session.

“The market is looking for direction after a strong bounce that relieved the deep pessimism that had permeated the markets,” Yung-Yu Ma, chief investment strategist at BMO Wealth Management.

“Many signs indicate that inflation has peaked and the question now turns to how quickly it will come down or whether stickier components will keep it higher than the Fed is comfortable with.”

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 85.68 points, or 0.26 per cent, to 32,726.82, the S&P 500 lost 3.23 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 4,151.94 and the Nasdaq Composite added 52.42 points, or 0.41 per cent, to 12,720.58.

Focus on Friday will be on closely watched US employment report, which is expected to show nonfarm payrolls increased by 250,000 jobs last month, after rising by 372,000 jobs in June.

Any signs of strength in the labour market could feed into fears of aggressive steps by the Fed to curb inflation.

Cleveland Fed president Loretta Mester, a voting member of the rate-setting panel, reiterated the need to see several months of inflation coming down toward the Fed’s 2 per cent target before policymakers can let up on tightening monetary policy.

The S&P 500 has gained about 14 per cent from its mid-June lows, but is still down about 13 per cent for the year on concerns around the fallout of the Ukraine war, soaring inflation, Covid-19 flare-ups in China and an aggressive rise in interest rates.

Among individual stocks, crypto exchange Coinbase Global jumped 10 per cent after it announced a tie-up with BlackRock to provide its institutional clients access to crypto trading and custody services.

Health insurer Cigna Corp gained 3.1 per cent after raising its annual profit forecast.


Why Asian equities and fixed income may be worth looking at

In the first half of the year, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sharply exacerbated the inflation pressures that are depressing economic sentiment and raising expectations of more aggressive monetary policy tightening. That, in turn, is driving rising recession concerns that are weighing on global financial markets. 

On the flip side, a weaker growth outlook also means fewer rate hikes and less restrictive monetary policy. We would need to see a more sustained market rebound, and a turnaround in inflation, to lead to a pause in the rate-hike cycle and fading risks of recession. China is the only major economy cutting rates. But the Covid-19 pandemic and continuing woes in the property sector are complicating attempts to use traditional stimulus tools such as increasing credit supply or cutting interest rates. 

Asia ex-Japan Equity: cautious positioning

Key to market stabilisation in Asia is the region’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. We believe this hinges on three interlinked phases. The first is reaching high rates of vaccination to protect populations from severe illness. This, in turn, feeds into the second phase, in which the level of confidence about living with the virus rises, as demonstrated in Singapore. In the third phase, as the virus becomes endemic, economies would return to normal. That said, we expect a multi-track return to normal in Asia, with countries like Singapore ahead of the pack, while Hong Kong and mainland China continue to follow dynamic zero-Covid-19 policies.

While China has lifted some restrictions, the pressures on energy and commodities arising from the Ukraine conflict have not eased. We remain cautious, expecting volatility to persist for the rest of the year. Yet, we also anticipate attractive opportunities to arise from the bottoming of the cycle. 

China equity valuations are attractive again

China’s policy easing is supportive of equities, adding to the reasons China cannot be ignored in global allocations when most of the rest of the world is tightening. We remain overweight on Hong Kong and China, as we have been since the start of the pandemic, as we see signs of a bottoming of the cycle. Some of our investments in manufacturing have not been left unscathed by the lockdowns in China, but because these companies have diversified their locations across China and Asia, the downsides to their business have not been as significant as those for their competitors. Therefore, we continue to focus on the fundamentals of individual companies in making our investment decisions.

We are cautiously optimistic about China equities into the second half and beyond. Current valuations offer reasonably attractive opportunities despite challenges to find the bottom of the market. Hence, investors could look beyond the near-term uncertainties and position for mid- to long-term recovery. That said, however, we do not expect China equities to rebound to the valuations seen at the beginning of 2021, as the Covid-19 outbreak may have structurally changed China’s growth trajectory. We believe investors should not lose sight of the underlying secular trends that could drive future earnings, such as digitalisation, ESG-related imperatives, and rising middle-class consumption.


Making a positive impact: How employees at this global semiconductor firm give back to the community in every possible way

Until today, Mr Demin George still remembers his first volunteering experience delivering food to the elderly.

He had just joined Micron Singapore as a process engineer, and a colleague had told him about a volunteering opportunity with TOUCH Home Care’s Meals-on-Wheels. That foray into volunteering had him hooked, and he is now an active member in Micron’s corporate social responsibility efforts.


Synchronoss 將協助 Telkomsigma 在印尼推出兩個新的高級個人雲端解決方案

將入讀印尼大學的學生將獲得一個免費的 Floudrive 個人雲端帳戶;而 Premium Floudrive 帳戶也將提供給 1.7 億位 Telkomsel 流動客戶

新澤西州布里奇沃特, Aug. 05, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE via — 雲端、訊息、數碼產品及平台的全球領導者和創新者 Synchronoss Technologies, Inc. (「Synchronoss」或「公司」) (Nasdaq: SNCR) 今天宣佈正式推出由印尼最大電訊營運商 Telkom Indonesia 的子公司 Telkomsigma 提供兩個新的高級個人雲端解決方案。在 11 月簽訂協議後,Telkomsigma 現在藉著 Synchronoss Personal Cloud 提供技術支援推出 Floudrive 服務,以供大學生和 Telkomsel 流動客戶使用。

作為 Telkomsel 的資訊服務和數據中心分支,Telkomsigma 目前利用 Synchronoss Personal Cloud 平台供應 Floudrive 服務,提供可靠和直觀的雲端儲存體驗,能夠備份和還原數碼內容,包括照片、影片、文字和其他檔案。為確保符合印尼的數據儲存法律,Synchronoss 已與阿里巴巴 (Alibaba) 合作,善用其國內的資訊科技基礎設施。

從 9 月開始,Telkomsigma 將為入學的大學生提供一個免費的 Floudrive 賬戶,其中包括 50 GB 的雲端儲存空間,可用於備份所有數碼內容,以及分享檔案和照片。免費套裝是同類首創,透過印尼精選大學提供。此外,Telkomsigma 將為 1.7 億位 Telkomsel 流動客戶提供 Floudrive 的高級版本。高級服務將包括 100 GB 的儲存空間。

Telkomsigma 業務及銷售總監 Tanto Suratno 表示:「我們很高興推出這兩個新的高級個人雲端解決方案,善用 Synchronoss 個人雲端平台,特別是在大學中。Synchronoss 和 Alibaba 的合作將使我們能夠與數百萬用戶保持同步,好好利用我們的免費和高級 Floudrive 服務。」

Synchronoss 技術總監 Patrick Doran 表示:「 Telkomsigma、Telkomsel 和 Telkom Indonesia 深明提供個人雲端解決方案的獨特市場機會,將可為遍佈印尼各地的用戶提供廣泛的數碼服務。我們明白當地數據主權是重要的客戶需求,因此我們已在阿里巴巴雲端 (Alibaba Cloud) 平台上認證技術平台,致力提供安全、可靠、可擴展和國內的白標個人雲端解決方案。」

領先的一級服務供應商利用 Synchronoss Personal Cloud、Synchronoss Email Suite 或兩者來管理全球超過 2.5 億彍訂戶、儲存和管理超過 142 PB 的數據。

關於 Synchronoss
Synchronoss Technologies (Nasdaq: SNCR) 構建軟件,旨在讓全球公司以值得信賴和有意義的方式與其訂戶建立連繫。公司的產品系列有助精簡網絡、簡化入職和吸引訂戶進行互動,以推動新收入來源、降低成本並提高上市速度。至今已有數億位用戶信任 Synchronoss 產品,與其喜愛的人們、服務及內容保持同步。如欲了解更多詳情,請瀏覽

Domenick Cilea

Matt Glover / Tom Colton
Gateway Group, Inc.