ENERGY & OFFSHORE, RETAIL | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Daily Briefing: Struggling retailers tap into vending machines; Noble braces for first bond default

And here's why economists are split on MAS tightening.

From Bloomberg:

Four of seven Singaporean economists think the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will tighten its policy stance in April amidst subdued inflation pressure. This indicates a split amongst economists' opinions.

"Four of seven economists see the central bank shifting to a tightening stance next month, according to a Bloomberg survey conducted March 13-16. The MAS opened the door to a possible move in its October policy meeting, after easing three times between January 2015 and April of last year.

The MAS is the only central bank in a major developed nation to use the exchange rate as its main tool. All four economists who projected an April tightening in the latest survey see the central bank adjusting the slope, rather than the width or centre, of the currency band, which it doesn’t disclose."

Read more here.

From Reuters:

The number of vending machine sales in Singapore is rapidly growing at a rate that is one of the fastest worldwide. This is despite signs of saturation in major markets like Japan, which at 5.5 million has the world’s highest number of vending machines per capita.

"Since the launch of its first vending machine in late 2016, Kalms says it has recorded month-on-month growth of 15 percent for 16 consecutive months.

The firm is now partnering with other companies to sell food, clothing and electronic products on its machines, which it says will allow it to roll out hundreds more across the island-state in the coming year."

Read more here.

From Bloomberg:

Noble is approaching a default as it has yet to get enough votes for a debt restructuring plan after it decided not to pay a $379m bond due Tuesday.

"The failed payment is set to prompt an 'event of default' under the terms of its bond documents. The company has opted for non-payment to preserve assets 'for the benefit of all stakeholders during the implementation of the proposed restructuring,' it said in a filing Friday. The move will likely trigger payouts on credit default swap contracts tied to Noble and cross-defaults on its other debts too, according to lawfirm Eversheds Sutherland.

The upcoming default caps a closely-watched drama that began in 2015 when then-unknown Iceberg Research started publishing critiques of the Hong Kong-based trading house’s accounting. Diminished to a shadow of its former self-battered by trading losses and massive write-downs, the commodities trader is working on a $3.5 billion restructuring deal to ensure survival. A default could set in motion legal proceedings against it.

Read more here.

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