Singapore, a one-time swampy naval base with a colourful nightlife, has been the toast of investors for years.
The go-go business hub boasts first-world standards of living and fulfilled long ago the ambition of its founder, Lee Kuan Yew, that it be the first developed city in the tropics.
More recently, Singapore has been much talked about in the UK, with some seeing its free-trading model as an example for the post-Brexit world.
Stable across five years
So, how have stocks been faring in this dynamic city-state?
A look at the chart for the MSCI Singapore 25 index over the past year would suggest a fairly jagged progress of sharp ups and downs, but this may not be the whole story.
The index stood at 352.83 on 10th September last year, headed to 369.87 on 3th October, then declined to 336.26 by 30th October. A big rally in the Spring of this year saw the index climb to 386.71 by 29th April, and between 23th January and 29th May it never fell below 354.86.
Hitting a trough of 348.79 on 3rd June, it started a second upswing, reaching 385.04 on July 25th before declining again. It currently trades at 361.63.
Behind these numbers is, in fact, a less volatile picture than may have been thought. From the high point of 386.71 to the low point of 336.26 is a top-to-bottom decline of 13%.
On 1 September 2014, it stood at 370.16, little different from today.
“Impressive” economic performance
The index itself contains both names familiar beyond south-east Asia and those with a more regional identity. According to MSCI, which manages the index, it “is designed to measure the performance of the large and mid-cap segments of the Singapore market. With 25 constituents, the index covers approximately 85% of the free float-adjusted market capitalisation of the Singapore equity universe.”
Keppel Corporation, the property, infrastructure and asset management group, is listed, as is the stock-market operator Singapore Exchange and Jardine C&C, whose interests are in automotive and other activities.
In its most recent Article IV economic health check, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) wrote: “Singapore’s macro-economic performance has been impressive. GDP [gross domestic product] per capita more than doubled in the last 20 years.”
But it added: “Singapore’s growth is expected to continue to moderate as export momentum slows and growth drivers shift back to domestic demand.” However, it noted: “Inflationary pressures remain modest.”
Alongside financial services, Singapore, which broke from neighbouring Malaysia in 1965 and became independent, has a well-regarded manufacturing sector, exporting chemical, pharmaceutical and electronic goods.
Its port is one of the busiest in the world, and as the population has grown, the country has turned to land reclamation to provide extra space. With nearly six million people, Singapore is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.