The Week In Five Numbers: Gold Fever

The US Federal Open Market Committee has had another bout of the yips. It has left US interest rates unchanged at 0.5%. This time it said the United States continues to face risks from an uncertain global economy. It also said it remains to be seen whether a recent firming in US core inflation would be sustained. It’s one excuse after another.

Retail sales in Singapore were still buoyant in January, thanks to some robust pre-Chinese New Year shopping and strong demand for cars. In the first month of 2016, retail sales climbed 7.5%. Some of the best performing sectors included motor vehicles, which should delight Jardine Cycle & Carriage (SGX: C07), and department stores, which should please Metro Holdings (SGX: M01). And let’s not forget the Bak Kwa sellers too.

Gold bugs are over the moon with the surge in the price of the yellow metal. Fans of the precious metal point to the 15% jump in price to US$1,250 since the end of last year. The demand for gold is believed to be an unintended consequence of negative interest rates and the falling dollar. But it wasn’t so long ago when gold was changing hands at over US$1,900 an ounce, which many seem to have conveniently forgotten.

Economists have taken a red pen to Singapore’s growth estimates for 2016. They think that the Lion City might only expand 1.9% this year. That is down from an earlier estimate of 2.2%. But it’s not all doom and gloom. The experts expect the Singapore economy to expand by 2.5% next year. Every cloud has a silver lining.

And finally, Sony has revealed the price of its virtual-reality headset. However, the device won’t be available until October. It also said it expects more than 50 games to be developed in readiness for the launch. And as for the price…it will set you back US$399 a pop, which doesn’t get any better even when viewed in virtual reality.

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