DAILY MORNING NOTE | 24 June 2022

The S&P 500 Index may have another 24% to fall by year-end, if the past 150 years of financial-market history are any guide. That’s according to Societe Generale, which calculates the benchmark gauge may need to tumble as much as 40% from its January peak in the next six months to hit bottom. Overnight, US Treasuries rallied after another batch of economic data fell short of expectations, ratcheting up recession worries. The S&P 500 ended almost 1% higher as the decline in yields made stocks relatively more attractive. Equity futures signal cautious starts in Japan, Australia and Hong Kong.

Just three years after it started to accept advertising, TikTok is raking in the cash. In 2021 revenue almost hit $4 billion. This year it’s projected to hit $12 billion — make it bigger than Twitter and Snap combined. Its average user in the US now spends about 29 hours a month on the platform, compared to just 16 for Facebook and eight on Instagram. Advertisers are now making TikTok an integral part of their media strategy and budget — and Google and Meta taking notice.

 

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Singapore headline inflation hits 5.6% in May on broad-based increase in consumer prices. Singapore consumer prices continued to climb in May, with headline inflation hitting 5.6 per cent, up from 5.4 per cent in April, according to the latest data on Thursday (Jun 23). The consumer price index (CPI) reading now stands at its highest since late 2011, and beat the median forecast of 5.5 per cent in a private Bloomberg poll. “The increase reflected stronger inflation across the broad categories of food, services, retail and other goods, as well as electricity and gas,” the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a joint statement.

Canned food brand Del Monte Pacific on Thursday (Jun 23) posted earnings of US$20 million for the fourth quarter ended April, up 37.8 per cent from earnings of US$14.5 million in the corresponding year-ago period. A key contributing factor to the improved bottomline figures was a 14.4 per cent year-on-year increase in sales to US$569.5 million from US$497.8 million, which the group attributed to strong sales growth across major segments in the United States, as well as higher exports of its S&W branded premium fresh pineapples. For FY2022, Del Monte’s earnings were up 58.1 per cent to US$100 million, from US$63.3 million in FY2021. Sales for the year were up 8.3 per cent to US$2.3 billion.

Blackrock Inc is poised for a major expansion in Singapore as it follows other international firms looking to tap capital flows into South-east Asia. The world’s largest asset manager is in discussions to double its floorspace at an office block in the city-state’s central business district (CBD), according to people familiar with the matter. The US firm is expecting to add dozens of staff from local hiring and some relocations from Hong Kong, said one of the sources, who asked not to be identified as the matter is confidential. Currently, BlackRock — with almost US$10 trillion under management globally — has 3 floors at 20 Anson Road and is planning to add 3 more, the sources said.

Transactions have fallen dramatically in the Good Class Bungalow (GCB) market, amid a widening buyer-seller price gap, coupled with weak sentiment in recent months from the stock market, cryptocurrency, macroeconomic and geopolitical fronts. List Sotheby’s International Realty’s (List SIR) analysis of URA Realis caveats data downloaded on Jun 21 showed that so far this quarter, there have been 9 deals in GCB Areas totalling S$224.20 million (with the latest deal dated Jun 10). These figures are not even one-third of the 31 transactions that amounted to nearly S$900 million in Q2 last year.

US

Netflix is laying off around 300 employees across the company, CNBC confirmed Thursday. The cuts, which represent about 3% of total employees, come about a month after the streaming company eliminated about 150 positions in the wake of its first subscriber loss in a decade. Netflix had warned investors in April that it would be pulling back on some of its spending growth over the next two years. Spencer Neumann, the company’s chief financial officer, said during the company’s earnings call in April that Netflix is trying to be “prudent” about pulling back to reflect the realities of its business. However, it still plans to invest heavily, including around $17 billion on content.

Amazon said Thursday that it’s giving minority-led organizations $23 million to build and preserve more than 568 affordable homes in Seattle, a step to ease the local housing crisis. Amazon Housing Equity Fund, which emphasizes aiding households that earn 30% to 80% of an area’s median income, will support the investment. Launched in 2021, the fund has provided $1.2 billion for over 8,000 affordable homes across the Puget Sound region in Washington state, the Arlington, Virginia region and Nashville, Tennessee.

McDonald’s is making changes to how it awards franchises in the hopes of attracting more diverse candidates, the latest shakeup in how the burger chain’s management oversees its franchisees. Starting in 2023, the fast-food giant will evaluate every potential new operator equally. In the past, the spouses and children of current franchisees have been given preferential treatment. McDonald’s has about 13,000 franchised locations in the United States. More than 1,750 locations were sold last year, in part because some operators chose to exit the franchise, according to Restaurant Business Online. In December, McDonald’s pledged to recruit more franchisees from diverse backgrounds, committing $250 million over the next five years to help those candidates finance a franchise.

United Airlines will cut about 50 daily flights from Newark Liberty International Airport next month in an effort to reduce delays that have disrupted travellers’ plans this year. The cuts amount to about 12% of United’s schedule at its New Jersey hub and apply solely to domestic flights, starting July 1. The U.S. airline industry broadly has struggled with a higher rate of flight cancellations and delays this year compared with 2019. Routine issues like thunderstorms have led to extensive delays for travelers, and staffing shortages at some airlines have hampered a surge in air travel this year. Airlines have also cut flights and destinations, citing a pilot shortage.

Intel warns Ohio factory could be delayed because Congress is dragging its feet on funding. A large chip factory currently in the early stages of being built outside of Columbus, Ohio, could see its scope scaled back or construction delayed depending on what Congress does with the CHIPS Act, Intel said in a statement on Thursday. The facility was announced in January and would be the most significant expansion of U.S.-based semiconductor manufacturing in years. Intel estimated the plant could cost as much as $100 billion and committed an initial investment of $20 billion.

Source: SGX Masnet, The Business Times, Bloomberg, Channel NewsAsia, Reuters, CNBC, PSR

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