The Week In Numbers: Is Anyone Out There?

Gold has slumped to a five-year low. Currently, we can buy an ounce of the yellow metal for around US$1,100, if we want to. That is a far cry from the US$1,920 that an ounce of gold would have fetched only two years ago. Since the start of 2015, Gold (SGX: O87), which tracks the price of gold, has fallen around 8%.

If memory serves us right, it wasn’t that long ago when gold bugs were predicting that gold could hit US$5,000 a ounce. But now experts at Goldman Sachs think that the precious metal could fall below US$1,000 an ounce. Pick a number, any number.

Staying with number-picking, OCBC Investment Research believes that Singapore Real Estate Investment Trusts could deliver near-zero total returns until the end of next year.

They reckon that returns from distribution units could be 9.53%. But capital depreciation of S-REITs could come in at minus 9.51%, which could result in a total return of just 0.02%. But the number-crunchers are keen to stress that their predictions are dependent on their assumptions being right. Doesn’t it always?

Accounting scandals rarely get much bigger than this. Toshiba fessed up to overstating its operating profits by S$1.6b over several years. The embarrassing confession of accounting irregularities has resulted in boss, Hisao Tanaka, losing his job. A number of other high-ranking executives have been shown the door too.

But the news barely made a dent in Japanese shares. The Lyxor ETF Japan (Topix) (SGX: CW4), which tracks the Japan market, has risen 14% this year.

The International Monetary Fund said Greece has repaid an outstanding debt of about €2b. The IMF said the embattled Mediterranean country is now no longer in arrears. The repayment was made possible thanks to a lifeline of €7b from the European Union. Easy come, easy go.

And finally, what can you do with US$100m. You invest it in a project called Breakthrough Listen, of course. The project which is being funded by Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner, and backed by renowned Cambridge cosmologist, Stephen Hawkins, aims to look for alien life in outer space. Is anyone out there? And what are they going to do if they find it?

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