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The Week In Numbers: Malaysia Scraps Singapore-KL High-Speed Rail

The proposed 350-km long high-speed rail line aimed to reduce travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to around 90 minutes from the current 11 hours on existing train services is likely to be shelved. Malaysia Prime Minister, Dr Mahathir said that it was “not beneficial” to Malaysia and it would not make money from the deal.

Singapore and Malaysia had previously signed a legally-binding bilateral agreement on the project some two years ago. Construction on the project was estimated to cost around RM50 billion (S$16.8 billion) to RM60 billion and was intended to start this year. The project was also forecast to contribute RM21 billion (S$6.7 billion) in gross domestic product to Malaysia and Singapore, and create 111,000 jobs by 2060.

Meanwhile, bank lending in Singapore rose 0.8% in April from the previous month. Loans through the domestic banking unit were S$667 billion in April, up from S$662 billion in March. Despite the uptick, it was a slight deceleration in growth from March, which saw a 1.6% increase. The slowdown was largely due to slower growth in business lending of 1.2% in April, compared to 2.7% in March. Consumer lending increased 0.3% to S$265 billion. On an annual basis, bank lending rose 5.7%.

Still in Singapore, wages of workers in the private sector increased 3.8% in 2017. Real wages, which take into account inflation, rose 3.2%. Despite the improvement, this marked the slowest growth in real wages in four years. Of the 600,000 local employees surveyed, 78% reported an increase in salary.

The survey by the Ministry of Manpower also showed that 65% of companies surveyed increased total wages last year, 10% of employees saw wage cuts and 75% of companies were profitable. Notably, 62% of companies that hire low-wage workers (earning S$1,200 per month and below) increased the wages of employees in this income bracket in 2017.

The Singapore service sector grew 8.5% in the first quarter of 2018, compared to the same period last year. All sub-sectors of the industry saw growth with the financial and insurance sector leading the way at a 14.2% increase. Health and social services grew 13.2%. Information and communications services increased 9.9%, while recreation and personal services rose 8.9%.

The US-China trade dispute escalated this week as President Trump signalled his intention to impose tariffs on US$50 billion (S$6 billion) of “goods imported from China containing industrially significant technology”. The White House said duties of 25% would be applied to these Chinese imports, including those related to the “Made in China 2025” program.

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore contributor Jeremy Chia doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.