Beijing to clamp down on property market irregularities as rents soar

Rental companies are capitalizing on Beijing’s campaign to develop a viable urban rental market. (Reuters)
Updated 17 August 2018
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Beijing to clamp down on property market irregularities as rents soar

BEIJING: Beijing’s housing authority said on Friday it will clamp down on market irregularities that have fueled a spike in rental prices, telling major apartment rental service providers, including Ziroom, to correct their behavior.
In a statement on its website, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-rural Development said it had held talks with major rental companies on Friday after media reports of surging rents.
Since last year, authorities have been looking favorably on real estate companies that have robust plans to develop their rental businesses as this fit with President Xi Jinping’s pledge to reduce the speculative nature of the property market and help provide affordable housing for those who can not afford to buy.
Policymakers have appealed to banks and insurers to facilitate funding and help accelerate the development of rental markets.
Rental companies are capitalizing on Beijing’s campaign to develop a viable urban rental market. In January, Ziroom — a variation on Airbnb — landed a fresh investment of about $620 million led by private equity firm Warburg Pincus.
The housing authority told the rental companies they should not grab rental listings with above market price offers using funds they procured from banks and other financial channels, which has fueled a “vicious competition.”
It also warned they should not tempt landlords to terminate leasing contracts early with promises of higher prices.
The bureau said it had launched a joint inspection with the Beijing banking regulator and the finance and tax bureaus on rental companies to crack down on such behavior that had rattled the market.


Egypt stock market plunges as retail investors take flight

Updated 19 September 2018
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Egypt stock market plunges as retail investors take flight

  • Biggest index drop in Egypt since mid-2016
  • Saudi Arabia outperforms in Gulf

LONDON: Egyptian stocks tumbled to their lowest level this year on Wednesday as retail investors took flight.
A sharp rise in Suez Canal revenues, a major foreign exchange earner for the country, was not enough to quell investors concerns about the strength of the currency.
The main Egyptian stock index lost 3.8 percent which some fund managers blamed on generally negative sentiment toward emerging markets worldwide as well as more local speculation about possible currency devaluation.
“Our channel checks suggest the sell-off in the Egyptian market is local retail and institutions driven, on currency fears and speculation over a further round of devaluation,” said Vrajesh Bhandari, portfolio manager at Al Mal in Dubai, Reuters reported.
“Selling is further intensified as margin calls are triggered and technical support levels break down. The country canceled three consecutive Treasury auctions, citing investors’ unrealistic yield demands.”
Egypt’s Suez Canal revenues rose to $502.2 million in August up 6.7 percent from a year earlier according to official data released on Wednesday.
Elsewhere regional stock markets closed mostly lower with the exceptions of Abu Dhabi which edged 0.2 percent higher and Saudi Arabia, the best regional performer, which rose by 1.1 percent.
Saudi stocks are benefiting from the strong oil price which eased slightly yesterday but still hovered just under $79.
OPEC and some other oil producers including Russia will meet in Algeria on Sept. 23 to discuss how to allocate supply increases within their quota framework to offset the loss of oil exports from Iran following the introduction of sanctions by the US.
Those measures will come into force on Nov. 4 and data suggests that buyers are already retreating from Iranian crude purchases.
A key question for the oil price as well as regional stock markets in the weeks ahead will be the extent to which other Gulf oil exporters can compenaste for the loss of Iranian supplies by pumping more.