SIBOR shot past 0.9% - highest in 7 years!

By The Folks @PropTalk - March 13, 2015 No Comments

Homeowners servicing mortgages will need to tighten their purse strings further: The three-month Singapore interbank offered rate (SIBOR) on Wednesday (Mar 11) charged past 0.9% — a level not seen since 2008 — amid widespread expectations that the United States Federal Reserve will raise benchmark borrowing costs by mid-year.
The local interest rate, widely used to price home loans here, closed at 0.87943% Wednesday, figures published on the Association of Banks in Singapore website showed. SIBOR continued to rise on Thursday to above 0.9%, banking sources said, doubling the level seen at the beginning of this year.
Analysts whom TODAY spoke to said SIBOR’s climb followed the weakening of the Singapore dollar against the greenback in January, but took on added momentum after a very strong February job market in the US raised the likelihood that the Fed will normalise interest rates come June.
Following the US job report on Friday — showing the world’s biggest economy created 295,000 net new jobs last month to drive the unemployment rate to a seven-year low of 5.5% — the US dollar rose to its highest versus the Singapore dollar since 2010.
“The rise in SIBOR has a lot to do with what we saw last Friday in the US, which caused the US dollar to move to a level we have not seen in a while. For a short time it touched S$1.39, which is very close to many people’s year-end forecast of S$1.40,” said UOB economist Francis Tan.
The other mortgage-pricing benchmark, the Singapore Swap Offer Rate (SOR), which is even more dependent on the US dollar-Singapore dollar exchange rate, soared above the 1% level on Thursday, the highest since 2009.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) surprise move in January to ease policy ahead of its scheduled April meeting had given rise to greater expectations of a weakening local currency, analysts said.
“I think there is rising expectations for the exchange rate to depreciate, not necessarily against the US dollar but also against the basket of currencies that the Singapore dollar is weighed against. That will put some upward pressure on interest rates,” said Credit Suisse economist Michael Wan.
“What this means is mortgage rates will rise, so households that have over-leveraged over the past years will be hit quite a bit and there may be some downward pressure on consumption spending. If domestic demand disappoints, it leaves more of the burden on external demand, or global growth, to drive the economy,” he added.
The recent rise in domestic interest rates have led to some economists re-looking their exchange rate projections for the year, but they said MAS’ policy decision come April will very much determine how things will pan out.
UOB’s Mr Tan said another easing by the central bank could push the US dollar to S$1.44, which will see the three-month SIBOR ending the year at around 1.3%, up from his previous forecast of 1%.
Source: CNA
It was a mere 3 days ago when we reported that SIBOR has breached the 0.8% mark. And right now we are staring at 0.9%!

Some may say that we are being马后炮 (literally translated into English as "a cannon behind the horse") but for those are regular followers of our blog, the wife and I have been cautioning about the impending rise of interest rate and its adverse effects for the past year and half at the least. And we are not overly surprised by the fast and furious manner in which the SIBOR rates have been rising over the recent months. 
Others may argue that since we are rebounding from a very low interest rate environment to begin with, the recent increases in SIBOR rates should not pose excessive hardship to those serving a mortgage. But precisely because many of the current generation of homeowners (especially first-time buyers) are so used to the low interest rates prevailing over the past many years, they may be the ones that are most vulnerable to the recent pace of increase in SIBOR rates.

The wife and I certainly hope that mortgage rate will not hit the 2% level by end of the year. But if SIBOR continues on its warpath as per what we have seen over the past months, it could well become a reality...

P/S: In case anyone is wondering about the meaning of “马后炮”, the link may provide some enlightenment.

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