The Week In Numbers: Oil’s Well, Again?

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has sad that it will slow the rate at which the Singapore dollar will rise. The move by the MAS, which was unexpected, sent the currency down by as much as 1% against the US dollar. The regulator said the adjustment to its policy of gradual appreciation of the Singapore dollar was consistent with more benign inflation.


A low currency could provide a boost to companies that generate revenue abroad. These could include SingTel (SGX: Z74) and Dairy Farm (SGX: D01).

But could predictions of benign inflation be premature, given that Brent oil futures rose above US$49 a barrel? Speculators are hoping that prices may rebound following better US jobless numbers and a more encouraging outlook for the US economy. However, sceptics reckon that prices might only be rising because traders are buying and putting the oil into storage. But that can only continue until land storage becomes filled, they argue.

It was not the best of Decembers for Singapore’s manufacturers. Output by Singapore’s factories fell 1.9% last month compared to a year ago. According to the Economic Development Board, a decline in engineering transport and general manufacturing were the main culprits. Whilst the numbers were disappointing, they were not nearly as bad as the market had expected. Economists had pencilled a fall of as much as 4%.

Economists managed to get the unemployment numbers wrong in the US of A too. America said it has seen the fewest number of people file for unemployment benefits for 15 years in the week ended 24 January. The number, which came in at 265,000 was significantly lower than the 300,000 that economists had predicted.

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