Insights

The Implications of Negative Interest Rate In Singapore

By July 6, 2020 July 14th, 2020 No Comments

The Implications of Negative Interest Rate In Singapore

It is almost like an eerie Déjà vu. As reported by The Business Times on 21 May 2020, Singapore’s overnight borrowing rate has declined to near-zero last month, down from 1.68% during the beginning of 2020. Meanwhile, the 1-month swap-offer rate (“SOR”) turned negative on for the first time in almost 9 years since August 2011.

As with other international interest rates, domestic interest rates have been plunging since the beginning of the year due to the outset of the Covid-19 crisis. In what was originally a viral outbreak within China, it quickly escalated into a pandemic that crippled the global economy.

To cushion the economic fallout, the Singapore government has, to-date, deployed stimulus of $92.9 billion while the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) has promised to provide sufficient liquidity in the financial system. As MAS’s exchange rate policy is to oversee the Singapore dollar (“Singdollar”) against major trading partners but not set domestic interest rate, the falling domestic rates are largely a by-product of central bank’s money market operations.

Negative Rates: A Dual Edge Sword

As negative interest rates creep in with flush liquidity, questions about the impact have been surfacing.

Theoretically, negative interest rates should produce many of the same expansionary effects as lowering interest rates in normal positive rate environment. It should encourage spending and investments and help to support asset prices (and the stock market). However, there are also unintended consequences in reality.

One major consequence of prolonged period of low or negative interest rate is the impairment of the banking system. As banks’ profits are heavily dependent on net interest margin – that is the difference between the interest income generated on loans relative to the interest paid out on deposits. Due to political sensitivity and high competition for deposits, the interest rates they pay on deposits generally stays above zero. However, when new loans are made to borrowers, banks would charge lower interest rates in a falling rate environment. This means that net interest margins for banks would fall.

Not forgetting that in periods of high uncertainties, the situation can become trickier. Banks have make to larger provisions for non-performing loans (“NPLs”) and face rising impairment risks in their loan exposures. Overall, negative interest rates would be detrimental to banks’ profitability.

Supposedly, falling rates should mean that higher risk assets such as stocks are more attractive relative to fixed income assets. But, the benefits of low rates for the Singapore stock market can be limited. When trying to understand the impact of the new development on the stock market, it is highly important to consider context.

The outlook for lower profitability of local banks would weigh on the Singapore stock market especially since it is highly skewed towards the financial sector: According to Singapore Exchange’s latest (“SGX”) Market Statistic Report in April 2020, the market capitalization of just the three local banks (DBS, OCBC and UOB) amounted to $124.3 billion, accounted for more than 15% of the Singapore market’s total market capitalization of $802.2 billion.

The positive side of low interest rates may be for property stocks, and Real Estate Investment Trusts (“REITs”) which represents a significant size of 12% in Singapore’s overall listed stocks. Due to new measures to allow SREITs to expand gearing ratio from 45% to 50% to cope with the Covid-19 fallout, SREITs stand to benefit from the expanded debt headroom along with refinancing at lower interest rates.

That said, with the government packages having helped tenancies during the 2-month lockdown, the race to re-open the economy pose a major overhang and uncertainty for REIT operators. If containment poses to be an issue, potential for new waves of infections could keep business activities muted to the detriment of REITs. For now, though, SREITs are generally still trading at a discount to their book value of about 0.8 times, and cheap valuation strengthens the value proposition for investors.

For investors interested in S-REITs, you can find out more about Phillip Singapore Real Estate Income Fund or Lion-Phillip S-REIT ETF.

Impact On Money Market Funds

Questions about the impact of lower interest rates on money market funds have also resurfaced. Our Phillip Money Market Fund (“PMMF”) has seen its annualized monthly yield taper down from 1.183% in end-February 2020 to 0.489% as at end-May 2020.

As explained in a past article, we had expected maturing securities in PMMF to be rolled over to be more on par with the new state of yield in the marketplace. The Weighted Average Maturity (“WAM”) has also risen from 29.5 days to 40.2 days in the same period, due to “laddering” towards slightly longer duration assets.

The rationale being that, we are seeing that the yield of shorter duration assets falling by a larger quantum compared to longer duration ones. To illustrate the example, we look at fixed deposits rate of various durations:Source: MAS; Interest rates of Banks and Finance companies

Based on data compiled by MAS, the shorter term 3-month fixed deposit rates on average has declined from 0.25% per annum (“p.a.”) from January 2020 to 0.2% p.a. in May 2020, measuring a decline of 20%. Comparatively, 6-month fixed deposit rates on average declined from 0.3% p.a. to 0.25% p.a. during the same period, measuring a fall of 16.7%. Lastly, 12-month fixed deposit rates on average declined from 0.61% p.a. to 0.53% p.a., indicating a decline of 13.1%. As such, the sweet spot for fixed deposits are within the 6 to 12-month duration period.

In addition, PMMF is able to deliver slightly higher yield compared to marketplace because of the fund’s size (economies of scale) and ability to do private placements with other financial institutions at slightly favourable rates. There is also an element of lagging effect on portfolio yield when there is a quick sharp fall on interest rates. Nonetheless, our dedicated team of credit professionals constantly harness the power of our research-driven investment process on interest rates and credit risks.

The emphasis of PMMF, by nature of the product, is to provide investors a defensive vehicle to ride out periods of high volatility and market turbulence.  As at the end of May 2020, PMMF’s portfolio constitute fixed deposits of 50.0% and cash of 23.4%. The remaining 26.6% is allocated to short-term high-quality[1], investment grade money market securities. Click here to find out more about PMMF.

[1] “high quality” as defined in the Appendix 2 of the Code on Collective Investment Schemes (last revised on 16 April 2020).


Important Information

This publication and the information herein is provided by Phillip Capital Management (S) Ltd (“PCM”) for general information only and does not constitute a recommendation, an offer to sell, or a solicitation of any offer to invest in the exchange-traded fund (“ETF”) mentioned herein. It does not have any regard to your specific investment objectives, financial situation and any of your particular needs. You should read the Prospectus and the accompanying Product Highlights Sheet (“PHS”) for important information of the ETF and obtain advice from a financial adviser (“FA”) before making a commitment to invest in the ETF. A copy of the Prospectus and PHS for the ETF are available from PCM or any of its Participating Dealers (“PDs”).

Investments are subject to investment risks including the possible loss of the principal amount invested. The value of the units and the income accruing to the units may fall or rise. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of the future or likely performance of the Products. There can be no assurance that investment objectives will be achieved. Any use of financial derivative instruments will be for hedging and/or for efficient portfolio management. PCM reserves the discretion to determine if currency exposure should be hedged actively, passively or not at all, in the best interest of the ETF. The regular dividend distributions, either out of income and/or capital, are not guaranteed and subject to PCM’s discretion. Past payout yields and payments do not represent future payout yields and payments. Such dividend distributions will reduce the available capital for reinvestment and may result in an immediate decrease in the net asset value (“NAV”) of the ETF. Upon launch of the ETF, please refer to <www.phillipfunds.com> for more information in relation to the dividend distributions.

An ETF is not like a typical unit trust as the units of the ETF (the “Units”) will be listed and traded like any share on the Singapore Exchange Securities Trading Limited (“SGX-ST”). Listing on the SGX-ST does not guarantee a liquid market for the Units which may be traded at prices above or below its NAV or may be suspended or delisted. Investors may buy or sell the Units on SGX-ST when it is listed. Investors cannot create or redeem Units directly with PCM and have no rights to request PCM to redeem or purchase their Units. Creation and redemption of Units are through PDs if investors are clients of the PDs, who have no obligation to agree to create or redeem Units on behalf of any investor and may impose terms and conditions in connection with such creation or redemption orders. Please refer to the Prospectus of the ETF for more details.

The information herein is not for any person in any jurisdiction or country where such distribution or availability for use would contravene any applicable law or regulation or would subject PCM to any registration or licensing requirement in such jurisdiction or country. The Products is not offered to U.S. Persons. PhillipCapital Group of Companies, including PCM, their affiliates and/or their officers, directors and/or employees may own or have positions in the ETF or related thereto.

This publication has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Leave a Reply

FATCA NOTICE

With effect from 1st July 2014, this FATCA Notice (the “Notice”) forms part of the terms and conditions of our products and services (the “Terms and Conditions”) governing your relationship (“you”, “your”, “yours” referred to herein include joint-account holders and beneficiary holders of an entity who are a natural person) with Phillip Capital Management (S) Ltd and its related corporations (collectively referred to herein as “PCM”, “us”, “we” or “our”) and should be read in conjunction with those Terms and Conditions, including those under our Personal Data Protection Notice.The existing terms and conditions of any contractual agreement entered into between PCM a nd you (the “Existing Terms and Conditions”) remain in full force and effect. In the event of any conflict or inconsistency between the provisions of this Notice and those of the Existing Terms and Conditions, the provisions of this Notice shall prevail.

We may from time to time update the Terms and Conditions listed here to ensure their consistency with our future developments,industry trends and/or any changes in legal or regulatory requirements. Such updates will be published at https://www.phillipfunds.com/ .

On March 18, 2010, the United States of America’s (“U.S.”) Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act of 2010 (Pub.L.111-147H.R.2847)) (the “Act”) was enacted into law. Section 501(a) of the Act added a new chapter 4 (sections 1471-1474) to Subtitle A of the U.S.’s Internal Revenue Code (Code).Chapter 4 expands the information reporting requirements imposed on foreign financial institutions (as defined in section 1471(d)(4)) (FFIs) with respect to certain U.S. accounts (as defined in section 1471(d)(1)) of specified U.S. person, and imposes withholding, documentation, and reporting requirements with respect to certain payments made to certain foreign entities.

PCM will be obliged to comply with the provisions of FATCA under the terms of the inter-governmental agreement (“IGA”) Model I between the U.S. and Singapore and under the terms of Singapore’s subsidiary legislation which will be issued pursuant to Singapore's Income Tax Act (Cap. 134) to implement the IGA. “FATCA” or “Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act” means Chapter 4 (sections 1471 to 1474) to Subtitle A of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

“FATCA” or “Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act” means Chapter 4 (sections 1471 to 1474) to Subtitle A of the U.S.Internal Revenue Code.

“U.S. person” means a U.S. citizen or resident individual, a partnership or corporation organised in the U.S. or under the laws of the U.S. or any state of the U.S. thereof, a trust if: (i) a court within the U.S.would have authority under the applicable law to render orders or judgments concerning substantially all issues regarding the administration of the trust; and (ii) one or more U.S. persons have the authority to control all substantial decisions of the trust, or an estate of a decedent that is a citizen or resident of the U.S..This definition shall be interpreted in accordance with the provisions of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code.

  • You shall provide all required documentation or information, including but not limited to your date of birth, countries of citizenship, countries of permanent residence, countries of tax residency and associated taxpayer identification numbers, which may be required to enable PCM to ascertain your U.S. tax status and share information and /or documents relating to you and/or your account(s) with domestic and international authorities for the purpose of complying with all the requirements of FATCA, the IGA between Singapore and U.S or other countries,any applicable Singapore or international laws or regulations.
  • You represent and warrant that you have provided to PCM all documentation or information in relation to change in your tax status or as required by PCM for compliance with all the requirements of FATCA, the IGA between Singapore and U.S or other countries,any applicable Singapore or international laws or regulations. You shall provide all required documentation or information within seven (7) days of a request from PCM in writing or otherwise.
  • You shall notify PCM in writing immediately in the event of any change that affects your tax status for the purpose of complying with the requirements of FATCA, the IGA between Singapore and U.S or other countries,any applicable Singapore or international laws or regulations. Such change that affects your tax status may include any change of the country or territory of your domicile or residence or any change of your nationality or obtaining of any new nationality. In these instances, you shall provide all information and/or documents as required or requested by PCM.
  • You acknowledge and agree that when you fail to provide accurate and timely information pursuant to this Notice, for the purpose of complying with the FATCA, the IGA between Singapore and U.S or other countries, any applicable Singapore or international laws or regulations, PCM may deem you as a recalcitrant and/or a reportable person and report this information to the Singapore Inland Revenue Authority, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, which will in turn report to the IRS.
  • It is the existing policy of PCM that investment products and investment accounts managed by PCM (“PCM Products and Services”) are not being offered or sold to U.S. Persons and that subsequent transfer of PCM Products and/or Services to a U.S.Persons are prohibited.
  • If investment accounts or products managed by PCM are beneficially owned by a U.S. Person or if PCM deemed you as a recalcitrant and/or a reportable person,PCM may compulsorily cancel your pending subscription order or capital injection,terminate the contractual relationship with you and withhold an amount for transferring to the relevant tax authorities as required under the FATCA, the IGA between Singapore and U.S or other countries, any applicable Singapore or international laws or regulations. PCM shall have no liability for losses,fees, costs, expense, damages, liabilities of any kind which you may have suffered in connection with such cancellation, termination, withholding amount and/or as a result of our complying with the requirements of FATCA, the IGA between Singapore and U.S or othercountries,any applicable Singapore or international laws or regulations,even if we make an incorrect assessment and decision.

PDPA

PERSONAL DATA PROTECTION NOTICE

With effect from 1st July 2014, this Personal Data Protection Notice (the “Notice”) forms part of the terms and conditions of our products and services (the “Terms and Conditions”) governing your relationship (“you”, “your”, “yours” referred to herein include joint-account holders and beneficiary holders of an entity who are a natural person) with Phillip Capital Management (S) Ltd and its related corporations (collectively referred to herein as “PCM”, “us”, “we” or “our”). Without prejudice to the existing terms and conditions of any contractual agreement entered into between PCM and you (the “Existing Terms and Conditions”), which remain in full force and effect, this Notice shall be read in conjunction with the Existing Terms and Conditions. In the event of any conflict or inconsistency between the provisions of this Notice and those of the Existing Terms and Conditions, the provisions of this Notice shall prevail.

We are required under the Personal Data Protection Act (“PDPA”) to put in place the necessary arrangements to protect personal data and comply with the PDPA. Personal data includes any data and information, whether true or not, about an individual (a natural person) who can be identified from that data or information, such as your name, NRIC, passport or other identification number, telephone numbers, address, email address and any other information relating to individuals which you or your authorized representative have provided to us or we are likely to have access to (“Personal Data”).

This Notice outlines the purposes for the collection, use and/or disclosure of your Personal Data by PCM, how we protect your Personal Data and your rights with respect to the collection, use and/or disclosure of your Personal Data. This Notice supplements but does not supersede nor replace any other consents which you may have previously provided to us in respect of your Personal Data, and your consents herein are additional to any rights which we may have at law to collect, use and/or disclose your Personal Data. We may from time to time update the Terms and Conditions listed here to ensure their consistency with our future developments, industry trends and/or any changes in legal or regulatory requirements. Such updates will be published at https://www.phillipfunds.com/.

1. PCM may collect, use and/or disclose your personal data for any of the following purposes listed below (collectively “Permitted Purposes”):-

i) carrying out activities, duties and obligations in connection with our products and services which you have applied for, including evaluating your eligibility and credit profile, verifying the identity or authority of your representatives, administration of your account and/or managing our overall relationship with you (including but not limited to the outsourcing of any of our functions to service providers or vendors, due diligence checks, accounting and portfolio valuation, billing and collections, business continuity and print management);

(ii) developing new services and/or products;

(iii) providing you with marketing, advertising and promotional information, materials and/or documents related to financial products and/or services that we may be selling, marketing, offering or promoting, whether such financial products or services exist now or are created in the future;

(iv) marketing and promotional events, including but not limited to images, photographs or videos of you during the events;

(v) meeting or complying with PCM’s internal policies and procedures and any applicable rules, law, regulations, codes of practice or guidelines, orders or requests issued by any court, legal or regulatory bodies (both national and international) (including but not limited to disclosures to regulatory authorities or financial industry self-regulatory bodies; conducting audit checks (internal/external), surveillance and investigation; handling of customer feedback or complaint; dispute resolutions; recording of telephone conversations and/or electronic communications with you; conducting checks or investigations for prevention and/or detection of financial crimes such as money-laundering, financing of terrorism, fraud and/or bribery etc.);

(vi) legal purposes, including but not limited to obtaining legal advice and enforcing or defending our legal and/or contractual rights against you;

(vii) risk management, statistical and trend analysis;

(viii) processing and/or storing data and/or information related to your relationship with PCM.

2. PCM, in order to facilitate the discharge of its duties and obligations to you, may be required to disclose your Personal Data for the Permitted Purposes and/or for processing of the Permitted Purposes on a need-to-know basis, to any of the following entities and the directors, officers, staff, employees and agents of any such entities, whether located within or outside Singapore (“Relevant Persons”):-

(i) any associate or related company of PCM and the directors, officers, staff, employees and agents of any such person;

(ii) any actual or proposed assignee or transferee of any of PCM’s rights and obligations or any actual or proposed delegate of any of PCM’s functions and duties under its contractual relationship with you;

(iii) any relevant governmental, supervisory or regulatory authority or court of law, including the Monetary Authority of Singapore, to which PCM is or may be subject;

(ix) any person in order to give effect to any instruction from you or any person acting or purporting to be acting on behalf of you;

(x) any person as PCM may consider necessary in order to comply with any order, directive or policy of any court or governmental or regulatory authority in any jurisdiction;

(xi) any person when required to do so in accordance with the laws of any applicable jurisdiction or rules of any professional self-regulatory bodies or securities exchanges;

(xii) any agent, contractor or third party service provider who provides their services in connection with the operation of PCM’s fund management business, including but not limited to the custodians, trustees, fund administrators, registrars, banks, legal firms, accounting and auditing firms, printing firms, IT service providers, credit reference agencies, credit bureaus, data screening entities for the purpose of due diligence checks and the prevention and detection of financial crimes.

3. PCM’s related companies and third party service providers shall be bound by the same provisions as set out in this Notice and we will require them to ensure that your Personal Data are kept confidential and secure.

4. You represent and warrant that your Personal Data provided to us is accurate and complete for us to make a decision that affects you or to disclose your Personal Data to the above-mentioned Relevant Persons on a need-to-know basis. Where applicable, when you provided Personal Data relating to another individual (e.g. your dependent, spouse, children and/or parents) to us, you represent and warrant that such Personal Data is accurate and complete and the consent of that individual has been obtained for the collection, use and disclosure of his/her Personal Data in accordance with the provisions listed in this Notice.

5. We will retain your Personal Data to the extent that one or more of the Purposes for which your Personal Data was collected, used and/or disclosed is/are still valid and for legal, regulatory reporting or regulatory investigations purposes for which retention may be necessary.

6. PCM may terminate any contractual relationship which you may have with us, if any information provided to us is insufficient, misleading or erroneous or if any information that is required to be disclosed to any regulatory authority for compliance with any law or regulation is not provided by you.

7. You may request access to or make corrections to your Personal Data records. Depending on the information requested PCM may charge a small fee when you request access to your Personal Data. Upon your request and subject to the provisions under the PDPA, PCM will respond accordingly within reasonably possible time. Please submit your request to our Data Protection Officer via pcm@phillip.com.sg.

8. You may withdraw your consent to any use or disclosure of your Personal Data for any or all of the Purposes as set out in this Notice by giving written notice to us. If you withdraw your consent(s), depending on the nature of your request, we may not be in a position to continue to provide our products or services to you or administer any contractual relationship in place. Such withdrawal may be considered a termination by you of any agreement you may have with us. Where there is any breach of your contractual obligations or undertakings, PCM’s legal rights and remedies are expressly reserved in such event.