STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Retail rents to fall 1-2 pct in 2013-DTZ

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 12, 2012 08:10 hrs

Retail rents in Singapore are expected to fall by about 1-2 percent next year, amid slowing retail sales, labour cost pressures and large supply coming onstream, said property consultant DTZ.

This year, only rents in suburban areas showed positive growth of 0.2 percent, while those in Singapore's main shopping belt on Orchard Road fell by 0.2 percent and by 1.5 percent in other city areas, DTZ said in a report.

Retail property landlords in Singapore include CapitaMalls Asia, CapitaMall Trust and Frasers Centrepoint Trust.

"With the difficulty in recruiting staff and the strong Singapore dollar, retailers are increasingly finding Singapore a less cost-effective place to set up presence in the region," said Anna Lee, DTZ's director of retail.

"Some of them have begun exploring options to expand operations in other countries which offer cheaper labour and rents, and a huge domestic demand base," Lee said.

However, DTZ said prices of retail properties continued to rise as lower interest rates attract investment. This year, the average capital value of prime resale retail units in Orchard and Scotts Road and the suburban areas rose 11.2 percent and 9.6 percent respectively. The divergence in rents and prices is expected to continue next year.

1545 (0745 GMT) (Reporting by Charmian Kok in Singapore; Editing by G.Ram Mohan;


14:37 STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-Singapore stocks at 16-month high; banks lead

Singapore shares climbed to a 16-month high, with United Overseas Bank Ltd and commodities firm Noble Group Ltd among the biggest gainers.

The Straits Times index rose as much as 1 percent to 3,145, the highest intra-day level since early August 2011. The bourse has gained 18 percent so far this year.

Shares of United Overseas Bank gained 2 percent, while Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd and DBS Group Holdings advanced 1 percent.

The banks have beaten earnings expectations in their recently reported results. Some analysts have said valuations of the banks were attractive, with Citigroup upgrading its rating on UOB and OCBC last month.

Petra Foods Ltd jumped 22 percent on Wednesday after it agreed to sell its cocoa ingredients unit for $950 million to Zurich-based cocoa and chocolate products manufacturer Barry Callebaut AG.

For a story on Singapore economy, see

1425 (0625 GMT) (Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi in Singapore; Editing by Anand Basu;


10:29 STOCKS NEWS SINGAPORE-OCBC upgrades ComfortDelGro to 'buy'

OCBC Investment Research upgraded ComfortDelGro Corp Ltd to 'buy' from 'hold' and raised its target price to S$1.90 from S$1.60, citing better prospects for the transport operator in 2013.

ComfortDelGro shares were up 1.15 percent at S$1.76 on Wednesday. The stock has gained 24 percent this year, outperforming the 18 percent gain in the broader Straits Times Index.

ComfortDelGro's bus operations in Singapore are seen turning around gradually in fiscal year 2013 on the back of the Bus Services Enhancement Programme (BSEP) and its related subsidies, as well as the likelihood of a fare hike, OCBC said.

Under BSEP, the Singapore government is partnering with bus operators to increase bus capacity and improve services.

Fuel prices are likely to remain subdued in 2013 and with substantial hedges in place, ComfortDelGro is well-positioned to benefit from any additional dips, OCBC said.

The Downtown Line project in Singapore is expected to boost ComfortDelGro's ridership, OCBC said, adding that acquisitions and strategic moves overseas will allow the company to continue enjoying stable revenue and operating profit contributions.

1020 (0220 GMT)

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