The Week In Numbers – Retail Therapy

Retail sales in Singapore rose 6.5% last month compared to a year ago. According to the Department of Statistics, the rise was due to strong vehicle sales. That could bode well for Jardine Cycle & Carriage (SGX: C07), which distributes Mercedes-Benz, Citroen, Mitsubishi and Kia cars.

Hardly a week goes past without oil prices making the headlines. This week was no exception. Oil prices resumed their slide with Brent crude at US$47.20 a barrel. US crude dropped to US$47.60 a barrel. The fall in oil prices coincided with news on Thursday that Iraq plans to boost monthly crude oil exports next month.


In a separate development, BP said it will axe a few hundred jobs in Scotland because it does not expect oil prices to recover any time soon. The oil giant said it expects a barrel of oil could stay in the range of $50 to $60 for two to three years.

Meanwhile, Tullow Oil – another significant player in the oil sector – said it has slashed its exploration budget from US$1b to just US$200m, as a result of the oil-price collapse.

At the start of this week you could have bought one Swiss franc for S$1.30. Today the same Swiss franc would set you back S$1.58 – a jump of around 30%.

The surge in the value of the Swiss franc followed shock news that the Swiss National Bank has abandoned its minimum exchange rate against the euro. The central bank has also cut its interest rate from minus 0.25% to minus 0.75%.

The rise in the value of the Swiss franc had a dramatic impact on the Swiss stock market, which fell by as much as 10% at one stage. Worries that a high franc would make exports more expensive sent household names that include Nestle, Novartis and Roche Holdings down around 7%.

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