Record low interest rates are tempting some retail investors in Singapore to load up on debt to buy shares, just as the coronavirus outbreak creates the most volatile markets since the global financial crisis.
Earlier this year, 31-year-old insurance agent Heng Kai Sheng got advances on three separate credit cards to the tune of S$150,000 ($105,000). With the money, he opened a share-financing account at a local bank and pledged the lot as collateral. He was granted leverage of around 3.5 times, a S$500,000 kitty Heng’s plowing into the stock market.
“As Asians, our parents always tell us ‘Don’t borrow money, repay your mortgage as soon as possible’,” said Heng, whose initial S$170,000 share portfolio now totals about S$135,000. “But money is so cheap.”
According to preliminary data from the Monetary Authority of Singapore, bank financing for stock purchases by retail investors rebounded in February after three consecutive months of declines. Individuals pumped around S$2 billion into equities in March, 50% more than the previous month, Singapore Exchange Ltd. data show.
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