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Asia stocks rise, markets ready for central bank parade

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Asian stocks pushed ahead on Monday with investors seemingly confident markets can weather whatever comes from a host of central bank meetings this week, including the likely early end to U.S. policy stimulus.

Omicron remained a concern with British Prime Minster Boris Johnson warning of a “tidal wave” of new cases of the variant, but again markets are counting on vaccines to limit the economic fallout.

The Federal Reserve is widely expected to signal a faster tapering of asset buying this week, and thus an earlier start to rate hikes. It will also update the dot plots for rates over the next couple of years.

The market is already well ahead, with a rise to 0.25% fully priced in by May and rates of 0.75% by year end.

Also meeting are the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan and all are heading toward normalising policy at their own, often glacial, pace.

The market’s measured reaction to Friday’s U.S. inflation report suggests much is already priced in on policy, though with so many meetings there is the risk of a surprise or two.

“The outlook of global monetary policy in transition across multiple geographies at varying speeds is a recipe for volatility, and one could argue so are increased risks around the virus,” said John Briggs, global head of desk strategy at NatWest Markets.

“All the noise and cross-currents means volatility is the most likely outcome.”

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.8%, after bouncing 1.7% last week.

Japan’s Nikkei rose 1.0%, as a survey of large manufacturers found sentiment was the best since late 2018.

Chinese stocks added 1.4% to last week’s 3.1% jump amid hopes for more stimulus after Beijing’s recent loosening of bank reserve requirements.

Wall Street also looked to extend its gains with Nasdaq futures and S&P 500 futures both up 0.4%. EUROSTOXX 50 futures rose 0.5% and FTSE futures 0.3%.

The Treasury market has taken the risk of earlier Fed hikes with equanimity, perhaps in the belief that it will mean lower inflation over the long run and a lower peak for the cash rate.

Yields on 10-year notes did rise 12 basis points last week, but at 1.49% remain well below the high for the year at 1.776%. [US/]

The prospect of a more aggressive Fed has been supportive of the U.S. dollar, though it has flattened out in recent days.

“We think the bar for a hawkish surprise from the Fed is set high, so unless it delivers a major revision to its forward guidance, the dollar rally looks due a pause,” said Jonathan Petersen, a market economist at Capital Economics.

“That said, there is scope for the greenback to appreciate further over the course of next year.”

On Monday, the dollar index was firm at 96.139, having held between 95.848 and 96.594 for the past week or so.

The dollar was a shade firmer on the yen at 113.54 but faced resistance at 113.95, while the euro dipped to $1.1305 having spent the last two weeks in a tight $1.1226/$1.1382 range. [USD/]

In commodity markets, gold was busy going nowhere at $1,786 an ounce after gaining only fleeting support from the lofty U.S. inflation reading.

Oil prices extended their bounce, having broken a six-week losing streak with gains of around 8% last week. [O/R]

Brent climbed 82 cents early Monday to $75.97 a barrel, while U.S. crude added 89 cents to $72.56.

 

(Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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Singapore REITs Double Their Overseas Investment to $12 Billion – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — Singapore’s property managers are accelerating their push abroad as a slow reopening and diminishing returns at home force them to look for growth opportunities elsewhere.

Foreign acquisitions by real estate investment trusts in the city-state jumped to an all-time high of 61 last year, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The total value of such deals also more than doubled from 2020 to $12.3 billion.

Property managers in Singapore — which boasts the most REITs in Asia outside of Japan — have long shown global ambitions, with overseas investments picking up during the pandemic. But a limited reopening coupled with the anticipated omicron surge is adding impetus to this drive, even as investor concerns over a slowing recovery grow.

“Singapore’s commercial REITs may continue to rely on overseas M&A to achieve income growth in 2022, especially if omicron brings more uncertainty on further easing of social and traveling curbs to boost retail and office leasing demand in the country,” said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Patrick Wong.  

A $3.1 billion merger of Mapletree Commercial Trust with Mapletree North Asia Commercial Trust proposed last month is the latest in a series of moves that have seen managers long comfortable with a domestic presence favor a more global footprint. Also in December, another REIT targeting retail outlets in the city-state, CapitaLand Integrated Commercial Trust, made a foray into its second overseas market with office acquisitions in Australia.

Investors like the stability a local focus can offer, Sharon Lim, the chief executive officer of the manager of Mapletree Commercial to told reporters last month, but her trust needs to be better placed to take on new opportunities overseas and achieve “meaningful long-term expansion.” Lim’s REIT, which she described as the “last of the Mohicans” with only Singapore-centric assets will see its domestic holdings shrink to 51% within the new merged entity.

Increased Risks

Overseas diversification may alienate some investors, however, with Mapletree Commercial’s shares having declined more than 8% since the merger was announced. “Investors whose mandate demands only Singapore exposure may look at other counters,” said Krishna Guha, a senior analyst at Jefferies Financial Group Inc, adding that execution and foreign exchange risks may rise.

Still, while the CEO of Singapore’s tourism board Keith Tan has warned that a full recovery in visitor numbers is unlikely until 2025, a reopening dividend might yet emerge. Officials in the financial center have affirmed their determination to live with the virus and keep its borders open, while easing some restrictions, including allowing some workers back into offices.

Singapore’s latest property investment manager Capitaland Investment Ltd. — a spinoff of one of the country’s largest developers — said it will remain committed to local investments despite a growing foreign portfolio.

Singapore will continue to be a “core market” and is attracting strong interest from wealthy individuals, including a growing number of family offices, said CEO Lee Chee Koon in an emailed response to questions about its plans. “But given the physical growth constraints, the relative size of our Singapore business within our portfolio will become smaller over time, as we expand and deepen our interests in overseas markets.”

Investors have validated this strategy so far, with Capitaland Investment emerging as the second-best performer on the benchmark Straits Times Index since its trading debut in September last year, having advanced by over 21%.

The overseas growth fervor is unlikely to dim. A limited pool of good quality assets as well as increasing competition from global funds have also pushed yields lower, said Vijay Natarajan, a real estate analyst at RHB Research Institute. Capitaland’s Lee also expects stronger Asian-based competition to emerge over time.

Instead, deep liquidity pools in overseas markets like the U.K., U.S. and Australia, as well as more alluring freehold and longer lease terms will maintain the draw of markets abroad, said Natarajan. “We expect this trend of overseas acquisitions to continue.”

Footnotes to second chart: 

  • Chart displays % of foreign AUM of top eight REITs by market capitalization
  • Excluded names are Capitaland Integrated Commercial Trust, created through a merger in 2020, while Mapletree Commercial Trust and Frasers Logistics & Commercial Trust are pure geographical plays
  • Mapletree REITs’ financial years end in March (E.g. For FY 2020: March 2021 rather than Dec. 2020)

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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Ontario investment to add 300 student, 88 child care spaces in London, Ont. – Globalnews.ca

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The Ontario government says it’s investing nearly $10 million to build and improve two London, Ont., schools.

In a release issued Saturday, the provincial government said the investment will aim to support the creation of 300 student spaces and 88 licensed child care spaces.

Read more:

COVID-19: TVDSB families rallying to buy additional HEPA filters for schools

The first project involves $7.2 million in improvements to Eagle Heights Public School at 284 Oxford St. W. It will add 300 new elementary student spaces.

The other project will see the government provide $2.7 million for a new child care centre at Northeast London Elementary School at a London site to be acquired.

This project includes adding 88 child care spaces, an infant room, two toddler rooms and two preschool rooms.

Read more:

COVID-19: London rapid test site will no longer test school-aged children, TVFHT says

“The projects are part of a provincewide investment of more than $600 million to support new school and child care spaces,” the statement read. “The overall investment will support 78 school and child care related projects.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Disclosures Show Dr. Fauci’s Household Made $1.7 Million In 2020, Including Income, Royalties, Travel Perks And Investment Gains – Forbes

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Last night, U.S. Senator Roger Marshall received Dr. Anthony Fauci’s unredacted FY2020 financial disclosures. The release following a heated Senate exchange between Fauci and Marshall which concluded with Fauci called the senator a “moron.”

The financial disclosures contain a wealth of previously unknown information. For example, the Fauci household’s net worth exceeds $10.4 million.

During the pandemic year of 2020, their household income, perks and benefits, and unrealized gains totaled $1,782,807 — including federal income and benefits of $868,812; outside royalties and travel perks totaling $119,626; and investment accounts increasing by $794,369.

Here are the numbers as compiled by the auditors at OpenTheBooks.com, an organization I lead. This analysis used previously known information plus the newly released disclosures.

Investment Income: $794,369

Disclosures show $794,369 in gains in the Fauci stock, bond, and money market portfolio during 2020. The total value of Dr. Fauci’s investment account was $8.4 million and his wife’s investments totaled another $2.1 million.

These funds were held in a mix of trust, retirement, and college education accounts. Fauci has an IRA worth $638,519 (up $42,291); a defined benefit brokerage account totaling $2,403,522 (up $241,418); and a revocable trust worth $5,295,898 (up $342,694). His wife’s revocable trust is worth $1,962,819 (up $156,123) and an IRA totaling $120,277 (up $11,843).

Some on the right have speculated that Fauci may have profited off the pandemic. The disclosures show that he’s invested in fairly broadly targeted mutual funds, with no reported holdings of individual stocks.

Fauci’s disclosures show that he owns a stake in a San Francisco restaurant, Jackson Fillmore, worth between $1,000 and $15,000: but received no income from the restaurant in FY2020 (or in FY2019).

Previously, NIH had released heavily redacted financial disclosures of Dr. Fauci. Redactions included the fund balances, so a net worth analysis was impossible until now.

Salaries: $668,312

Dr. Fauci is the director of the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases and his wife Christine Grady is the chief bio-ethicist at the National Institutes of Health.  

Background: Fauci earned $434,312 in cash compensation (FY2020) outearning all 4.3 million federal employees including the president and four-star generals in the U.S. military. Between 2010 and 2020, Dr. Fauci earned cash compensation of $3.7 million from his federal employer. Review Fauci’s ten-year salary history in my previous column published at Forbes.

Fauci’s wife, Christine Grady is the chief bio-ethicist at the National Institutes of Health and made $234,284 in FY2020, as disclosed by FOIA to OpenTheBooks.com in August 2021. Grady’s FY2019 pay was also $234,284 and since 2015, Grady made $1.3 million in cash compensation.

However, Fauci’s financial disclosures only show that Grady made $176,000 for FY2020.

NIH does still not disclose Fauci’s current salary (FY2022) or last year’s salary (FY2021), despite comment requests for the information. Therefore, Fauci earned an estimated total of roughly $900,000 during the period.

Perks And Pension Benefits: Est. $200,500

Federal employees have a lucrative amount of paid time off, subsidized healthcare, pension benefits and a myriad of other perquisites. For example, after just three-years, a rank-and-file federal employee receives 44 days of paid time off. Dr. Fauci has held a federal job for 55 years.

A good faith estimate of the taxpayer cost of those benefits is 30-percent multiplied by the salary amount for Dr. Fauci and his wife.

Background: In December, published at Forbes, Fauci stands to reap a golden parachute retirement pension estimated at $350,000 per year, the highest in federal history. With cost of living increases, Fauci would receive over $1 million during his first three years of retirement.

Royalties And Professional Reimbursements: $106,328

Disclosures show that Dr. Fauci edits the medical textbook, Harrison’s Principals of Internal Medicine and serves on the board of the publisher, McGraw Hill. In 2020, Fauci received $100,000 as an editor of the publication. In July 2020, Fauci also received $6,328 for a six-day trip to La Jolla, CA to attend a board meeting of McGraw Hill, the publisher.

Background: OpenTheBooks filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to get a copy of all royalties paid to current and retired NIH scientists since 2005. When NIH would not release the information, a federal lawsuit was filed in October with Judicial Watch and production is scheduled to start on February 1st.

Gifts And Travel Reimbursements: $13,298

Galas: Fauci and his wife collected $8,100 to attend three virtual galas.

Here is the breakdown: $5,000 in for the Robert F. Kennedy (RFK) “Ripple of Hope” gala in December 2020. $1,600 to attend “An Evening Of Hope” virtual event in April 2020 and $1,500 to attend a “Prepared For Life” virtual gala in October 2020.

When Fauci was named Federal Employee Of The Year at the 2020 Samuael J. Heyman Service To America Medals awards program he was paid $5,198 for the virtual star-studded event.

Background: Fauci’s FY2021 disclosure is scheduled for release in May. The disclosure should contain interesting information. For example, in January 2021, as reported by NPR, Fauci received a $1 million prize for the prestigious Dan David Prize affiliated with Tel Aviv University for “speaking truth to power.”

Most likely Fauci kept $900,000 of that prize with 10-percent awarded to Fauci-picked scholarship winners.

Comment was requested from Dr. Fauci and NIH; updates forthcoming with any response.

Further Reading:

No, Fauci’s Records Aren’t Available. Why Won’t NIH Immediately Release Them? Published January 12, 2022 | Forbes

Dr. Anthony Fauci’s Golden Parachute Will Exceed $350,000 Per Year – The Largest in U.S. Federal Government History Published December 28, 2021 | Forbes

Dr. Anthony Fauci’s Little Known Biodefense Work. It’s How He Became The Highest Paid Federal Employee. Published October 20, 2021 | Forbes

Dr. Anthony Fauci: The Highest Paid Employee In The Entire U.S. Federal Government Published January 21, 2021 | Forbes

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