While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Dec 16

S’pore raises ABSD, tightens HDB loan limit to cool market

A sustained rise in property prices despite the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted the authorities to introduce cooling measures, in a surprise move that will lead to property buyers paying higher stamp duties.

From Thursday, the additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) that must be paid for purchases of additional properties will be raised.

The total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) for borrowers will also be tightened, while Housing Board loans will be lowered from 90 per cent to 85 per cent of a property’s purchase price.

The ABSD rate will go up from 12 per cent to 17 per cent for citizens buying their second residential property, and from 15 per cent to 25 per cent for those buying their third and subsequent properties.

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Tesla told France there was no sign of technical fault in Paris crash

Tesla has told the French government there is no indication that a fatal accident in Paris involving a Tesla Model 3 taxi was caused by a technical fault, a government spokesman said on Wednesday.

Paris taxi company G7 has suspended the use of the 37 Model 3 cars in its fleet after the accident on Saturday evening, which involved one of its drivers.

BFM TV reported that the driver had been placed under formal investigation for suspected manslaughter. One person was killed in the crash and 20 injured, three of them seriously.

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Fed doubles taper, signals three 2022 hikes in inflation pivot


PHOTO: AFP

Federal Reserve officials intensified their battle against the hottest inflation in a generation by shifting to end their asset-buying programme earlier and signalling they favour raising interest rates in 2022 at a faster pace than economists were expecting.

Heralding one of the most hawkish policy pivots in years, the central bank said on Wednesday it will double the pace at which it’s scaling back purchases of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities to US$30 billion a month, putting it on track to conclude the programme in early 2022, rather than mid-year as initially planned.

The faster pullback puts Fed chairman Jerome Powell (above) in position to raise rates earlier than previously anticipated to counter price pressures if necessary, even as the pandemic poses an ongoing challenge to the economic recovery.

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No need for Omicron-specific boosters currently, US’ Fauci says


PHOTO: NYTIMES

Booster doses of currently available Covid-19 vaccines work against the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and there appears to be no need for variant-specific boosters, top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Wednesday (Dec 15).

He said the neutralising activity of two doses of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine is “substantially low” against Omicron, citing data from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, of which he is director.

“However, if you look at two weeks post the third dose, note the substantial degree of elevation of the neutralising title; well within the range of neutralising Omicron,” he said of the study’s findings, on which Moderna collaborated with the NIAID.

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Arsenal thrive despite Aubameyang row as EPL Covid crisis deepens


PHOTO: AFP

Arsenal showed they can thrive without axed star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as the Gunners moved into fourth place in the Premier League with a 2-0 win against West Ham, while the top-flight’s coronavirus crisis deepened on Wednesday.

Gabriel Martinelli and Emile Smith Rowe netted in the second half of a fiery London derby at the Emirates Stadium that saw West Ham’s Vladimir Coufal sent off.

Arsenal are one point above fifth-placed West Ham after a second successive victory eased the drama surrounding Mikel Arteta’s decision to strip Gabon forward Aubameyang of the club captaincy.

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