It was yet another North Korea-triggered sell-off on the US bourses on 3 September when they announced the successful test of a hydrogen bomb, which is even more powerful than last year’s nuclear test bomb. This resulted in a sell-off on 5 September – a day after the 4 September holiday – when a bottom was found. A rebound ensued on 6 September but stocks fell again the following day although the low created on 5 September was never retested.
It is an open secret that the North Koreans will never start a nuclear war, and are unlikely to attack South Korea, Japan and the US as its primary motive is to “seek attention”. On the other hand, investors are more concerned about President Trump and the possibility of him waging war against North Korea so much so that stock markets rebounded the moment he downplayed the possibility of open violence.
The United Nations’ decision to impose economic sanctions on North Korea sparked off a rally on 11 September. The S&P 500 set a new record while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) was merely 0.5 percent away from its historical high. The sanction, intentionally designed to make it as docile as possible, was drawn up by the Americans and supported by China and Russia.
A full-scale war is made unlikely when a country is armed with nuclear weapons because having such weapons would ensure total annihilation. The South Koreans would do its utmost best to prevent the Americans from waging a war with North Korea, which would surely cost Trump his presidency if he was to make this decision. Trump waging war? Unlikely.
President Trump does not endear himself to the western media, with the latter secretly hoping that Trump would stake the South Koreans’ lives in a war that would ultimately result in the president’s downfall. Similarly, the western media have also painted Kim Jong Un as a maniac – one who is particularly smart in realising that possessing nuclear weapons is the only avenue for North Korea to survive without which the communist regime would go the way of Iraq and Libya.
The stock market has been dancing to the tune of the Korean Peninsular tension, which is a total waste of time in trying to analyze the situation. My take on this matter is that there is no possibility of a nuclear war as it would lead to the end of mankind. I am sure that Hiroshima and Nagasaki are the last two times that nuclear weapons will be used.
Why would we need money and the stock market if the world was to end? It is inevitable that the situation has been exploited so as to create fear and uncertainties. Be on the sidelines if you can; place small bets if you must take a position because everyone knows that a nuclear war is not going to happen, which is why the volatility and the magnitude of corrections is low and small.
The ninth BRICS Summit was held in Xiamen, China, from 3 to 5 September which is the second high-level meeting between leaders after the one-belt, one-road summit in May this year. The BRICS Summit was held at Xiamen as it is President Xi’s intention to promote the city. As there are many Singaporeans who were Xiamen natives, there will be plenty of opportunities for development so look out for Xiamen-related stocks.
Prime Minister Lee, during his National Day Rally speech, spoke about promoting the digital economy, fighting diabetes and supporting pre-school education hence these are themes that investors can look out for. Singapore’s stock market has risen by quite a fair bit so a welcomed correction is needed. Its economy is on the mend so investors need not be worried about short-term gyrations.
In the US, tech stocks are back in favour as stocks such as Apple are about to launch the iPhone 8. Do pay attention to biomedical stocks; increased affluence will boost the consumption power of new medical technology.
Apart from this, investors are wondering if Trump’s new tax policies will be all-encompassing. Will it include tax breaks for the tech sector? Should the tech sector be included in such tax breaks, I believe it will spark off another huge rally for the tech sector. Overall, it is likely that Trump may use the media as a test bed before submitting it to the Congress for approval.
Hurricane Harvey has taken lives and caused massive destruction in Texas, hitting the oil refineries badly. However, destruction brings short-term pain but reconstruction will bring about longer-term opportunities that can last for years.
Hong Kong has officially set up a land supply task force lasting for 18 months to study and present a land-use plan to the Hong Kong SAR government. Earlier, Chief Executive Carrie Lam had hinted that Hong Kong’s land use pattern has to change; there will be a massive discussion on Hong Kong’s land use, which will also be aimed at convincing stakeholders that housing needs are her priority while land supply needs to also grow through reclamation.
In short, we can expect land supply to increase in Hong Kong – a place where there is land but land use and zoning has to improve. Land in Hong Kong has been used for different purposes: residential, industrial, warehousing, commercial, healthcare, education and gardens. There are also plenty of land in the rural areas as well as farmland and land occupied by village squatters.
Carrie Lam visited Singapore shortly after she assumed her new position, which was primarily to study Singapore’s experience with 52 years of land reclamation. Her visit was followed by Secretary for Transport and Housing Bureau Frank Chan’s visit to learn about public housing. Singapore is more densely populated than Hong Kong but its quality of housing is superior to that of Hong Kong hence there are valid reasons for Carrie Lam to use the Singapore model in developing Hong Kong’s public housing.
Hong Kong’s increase in land supply will invariably lead to lower housing prices, which will impact Hong Kong developers in years to come. Before supply outpaces demand, developers are primed to benefit from selling more properties. Do not be bearish about Hong Kong property stocks, especially those that own huge land banks. In the near-term, the Hong Kong government can work with developers to acquire agricultural land for the purpose of building new homes. This will benefit developers who have huge agricultural land banks.