Interest rates for latest Singapore Savings Bonds Dropped to 2.01%

Singapore Savings Bonds (SSB) was introduced to the financial markets in 2015.

The latest issue of SSB for August 2019 only offers average interest rate of 2.01% per annum if the bond is held to maturity. This was the lowest for this year.

The average interest rate (when held to maturity) started very promisingly at the start of issuance of SSB in 2015. The interest rate was 2.63% in October 2015 and then 2.78% in November 2015.

Data

When you hold the bonds to maturity in 10 years time, the annual interest rates paid to you are shown in the table below.

Issuance date Average annual rate of return (p.a) % if held to 10 years
Oct-15 2.63
Nov-15 2.78
Jan-16 2.58
Feb-17 2.44
May-18 2.39
   
Year 2019  
May-19 2.16
Jun-19 2.13
Jul-19 2.16
Aug-19 2.01

It shows that the global economy is slowing down and global interest rates are coming down including Singapore’s. Investments will be affected negatively as a result of slowing interest rates.

Copyright © 2019, limkimtong for Living Investment

The material presented is intended to be general and written in layman’s language as much as it is possible. The author shall not be liable for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of material written. Please seek professional advice from your financial advisor or financial institutions on material written covering financial matters.

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Posted in Financial Management

Asian stocks rose on back of truce between US and China

29 June Saturday, both Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping agreed to continue to negotiate a trade deal that was stalled. No new additional trade tariffs on China exports to US were on the cards during this period. The world sighed a relief.

As a consequence, most Asian stock markets rose on the first trading day (1 July) after the Saturday meeting.

Stock Indices One day change (%)
Shanghai Composite +2.22%
Nikkei 225 +2.13%
Taiwan Weighted +1.53%
STI +1.52%
Kospi Index -0.04%
Hang Seng Index Market closed because of public holiday

Shanghai Composite Index jumped 2.22%. Nikkei 225 jumped 2.13%. Taiwan Weighted Index and the Straits Times Index (STI) were up 1.53% ad 1.52% respectively.

The only exception was Korea, its Kospi index was negative (-0.04%).

Copyright © 2019, limkimtong for Living Investment

The material presented is intended to be general and written in layman’s language as much as it is possible. The author shall not be liable for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of material written. Please seek professional advice from your financial advisor or financial institutions on material written covering financial matters.

Posted in Financial Management

Biodiversity Walk at Jurong Lake Gardens

When NParks publicised this biodiversity walk at the Jurong Lake Gardens, we did not hesitate to sign up. The newly opened Lakeside Garden was in the news back on 27 April 2019. New attractions at Lakeside Garden include Neram Streams, Heron Island, Rasau Walk, Grasslands, “The Lone Tree”, Alstonia Island and ActiveSG Park.

This morning with weather being fine and sunny, a big group of about 20+ gathered for the walk conducted by Jeremy Yeo of NParks. We started at South Carpark alongside Yuan Ching Road.

The newer Lakeside Garden together with Chinese Garden, Japanese Garden and Garden Promenade form the Jurong Lake Gardens. This group of gardens is the third largest national gardens after Singapore Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay. It is 90 hectares in size.

After the conducted tour of one-and-a-half hours, the group then dispersed. We then explored the other gardens moving northward towards the Lakeside MRT Station.

We had not been to the Chinese Garden for many years. The iconic twin pagodas on the Jurong Lake stand the test of time. While we were there this morning, the urban scketchers were there to sketch the Chinese Garden! The calm water of the Jurong Lake brought tranquillity. There is a bridge above water for us to walk and not to get wet. The photo of this bridge above water is beautiful and deserves to be noticed (ie Instagram-able).

There is a map of the Jurong Lake Gardens and it tells you where to go to explore the old and newer attractions.

If you wish to walk these gardens, you can start the walk from the north with Lakeside MRT Station as the drop-off point. Then move south towards the newer Lakeside Garden.

It was a worthwhile time spent on this Biodiversity Walk. The guide was knowledgeable and we enjoyed it thoroughly.

“The Lone Tree” made from reinforced metal bars.

Twin pagodas at the Chinese Garden

Copyright © 2019, limkimtong for Living Investment

Posted in Travelogue

Stock Indices at halfway mark

2019 had been volatile for stock indices so far. In May 2019, there was a sell-off of stocks. The stock markets recovered in June 2019 in anticipation of a good outcome of trade talk between President Trump and President Xi Jinping today (29 June).

All stock indices were all positive at halfway mark with Nasdaq gaining 20.7% followed by Shanghai Composite index gaining 19.4%. Singapore STI was up 8.2%.

Stock Indices 31-Dec-18 28-Jun-19 YTD Change
Nasdaq (USA) 6,635.28 8,006.24 20.7%
Shanghai Composite 2,493.90 2,978.88 19.4%
Germany DAX 10,558.96 12,398.80 17.4%
S&P 500 (USA) 2,506.85 2,941.76 17.3%
Australia All Ordinaries 5,709.40 6,699.20 17.3%
CAC 40 (France) 4,730.69 5,538.97 17.1%
Dow Jones (USA) 23,327.46 26,599.96 14.0%
Hang Seng (HK) 25,845.70 28,542.62 10.4%
UK FTSE 100 6,728.13 7,425.63 10.4%
Mumbai BSESN 35,935.31 39,394.64 9.6%
STI (Singapore) 3,068.76 3,321.61 8.2%
Nikkei 225 (Japan) 20,014.77 21,275.92 6.3%

We have to bear in mind that 2018 was a particularly bad year for almost all stock indices. See table below. Shanghai Composite lost 24.6% last year. It had not recovered fully in 2019. Whereas, the three US stock indices did exceptionally well so far.

Stock Indices Change in 2018
Nasdaq (USA) -3.9%
Shanghai Composite -24.6%
Germany DAX -18.3%
S&P 500 (USA) -6.7%
Australia All Ordinaries -7.5%
CAC 40 (France) -11.0%
Dow Jones (USA) -5.6%
Hang Seng (HK) -13.6%
UK FTSE 100 -11.8%
Mumbai BSESN 5.5%
STI (Singapore) -9.8%
Nikkei 225 (Japan) -12.1%

The truce on trade tariffs between US and China today would provide some calm to the stock markets in the near term. However, I am not too excited with the stock markets till the end of this year.

Copyright © 2019, limkimtong for Living Investment

The material presented is intended to be general and written in layman’s language as much as it is possible. The author shall not be liable for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of material written. Please seek professional advice from your financial advisor or financial institutions on material written covering financial matters.

Posted in Financial Management

Returns on Life Insurance Participating Fund 2018

2018 was a bad year for investment returns. All three insurers did worse than 2017. 2017 was a year of very good returns when compared to 2018. See table below for the comparisons.

Investment return for Prudential was the lowest at -2.12% for its Singapore dollar fund. This was followed by Great Eastern Life with a return of -1.24%. NTUC Income had 0.82% investment return.

Investment Returns (in %)

Insurance Co 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
Great Eastern Life -1.24 9.63 3.81 2.24 7.08 3.62
NTUC Income 0.82 9.04 4.49 1.79 5.45 1.63
Prudential * -2.12 10.63 8.32 0.2 5.9 5.2

Note:
* Figures for Prudential Assurance are for Singapore dollar products. It also has US dollar product with investment return of -6.78% (2017: 12.44%).

The following table shows the asset mix of the Participating Funds.

Asset Type Great Eastern Life NTUC Income Prudential
Equities 29.0% 27.0% 29.7%
Bonds/Fixed Income 54.0% 63.0% 54.6%
Properties 11.0% 4.0% 6.8%
Cash & Equivalent 1.0% 2.0% Not available
Others 5.0% 3.0% 8.9%

In terms of asset mix for participating funds, Prudential had the highest allocation to equities (29.7%) as compared to the rest. NTUC Income had a highest proportion in bonds/fixed income (63%). Investment returns in equities were poor in 2018. Prudential and Great Eastern Life were affected more than NTUC Income because their participating funds had higher allocations into equities.

Copyright © 2019, limkimtong for Living Investment

The material presented is intended to be general and written in layman’s language as much as it is possible. The author shall not be liable for any direct or consequential loss arising from any use of material written. Please seek professional advice from your financial advisor or financial institutions on material written covering financial matters.

Posted in Financial Management

Just Enough

In life, I subscribe to the philosophy of middle way or a balanced approach to life. The Swedish people understand this approach through their internalization of Lagom1 in their psyche. Lagom translates roughly to: “not too little, not too much”. By adopting the middle way, one could be less stressed compared to one that goes for the extremes at both ends of the spectrum.

Let me share three examples.

Relationships

Sometimes when I am too close to a person, meeting up often on a daily basis such as in the workplace, that kind of familiarity can result in a stale relationship overtime. We could take each other for granted and be less courteous with each other in our interactions.

I can extend this to relationships with my wife and my daughter. It is important that they be given space to be on their own and to do their own things. It would be terrible if we were to factor every single moment together.

Travelling

Are you one that plans an overseas travel down the minutest details? When the actual trip did not go according to your plan, will you be upset? It is human nature to be disappointed when our trip was disrupted due to circumstances beyond our control.

I found that when our travel plan was broad enough, we enjoyed ourselves more by stumbling onto interesting places and experiences along the journey. We adjusted with input from the local people who told us what we could do. We would not be upset if our original plan was not fulfilled.

Eating

As a family, we do not go for buffet meals, the kind that allows one to eat all one wants to at a fixed price. It always leads to over-eating and after that we felt bloated because we ate too much.

When you are eating a meal, eat just enough and not to over-indulge. All our bodies need is just a balanced diet. Most time, when we are faced with so many choices, greed takes over for us to eat a bit of various varieties of food choices. By the time we know it we have eaten too much.

The Swedish people understand this balanced approach to life. We too can adopt this and lead a less stressful lives.

1 Lagom is the Swedish word for a lifestyle choice that is Just Enough written by author Clara Olsson.

Copyright © 2019, limkimtong for Living Investment

Posted in Living Tips

Affairs of the hearts

In the past, I heard how some marrying couples described how they met up and about their courtships leading to marriage. They shared these intimate details during their wedding receptions. In the recent wedding, the couple met in the work place. Some couples started even earlier when they were still studying.

Common understanding is that there must be chemistry between two persons for the relationship to be sustained. We do hear of breakups after marriage after some times for various reasons. Some people choose to remain single and unattached. The affairs of the hearts are indeed complex.

To be married to another person is the most important decision to be made in this lifetime. It is scary because a wrong choice can be damaging. The person has to decide for himself/herself. It cannot be left to external parties and even parents to advise on marriage. We should not play matchmakers.

You will know in your heart when your partner is right for you. Somehow, you will feel most comfortable to be with her/him. You will be connected at the emotional and intimate level. After marriage, it is not the end. It is just the beginning of making the marriage works for both persons. This is a life-long journey and you should not take the relationship for granted. There must be still love for each other and a willingness to work out differences amicably. This is reality.

Copyright © 2019, limkimtong for Living Investment

Posted in Life Journey