Asia traders wait and watch as US jobs data report looms, STI closes 9 points down

A closely-watched United States jobs data report kept risk appetite in check as Asian traders waited and watched.
A closely-watched United States jobs data report kept risk appetite in check as Asian traders waited and watched.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - Traders in Asia mostly stood on the sidelines on Friday, ahead of a closely-watched United States jobs data report that could spell more clarity on the timing of the Federal Reserve interest rate hikes.

All eyes were back on the US, with the Chinese markets set to remain closed until Oct 7.

Concerns about slowing growth globally in the new quarter kept risk appetite in check at Wall Street, which dipped 0.08 per cent overnight after a choppy session.

As the Singapore market looked to the US for direction, the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) slipped back into the red, losing 8.7 points or 0.31 per cent to 2,793.15.

Elsewhere in the region, Korea shaved 0.49 per cent, Malaysia shed 0.31 per cent and Indonesia dropped 1.11 per cent.

Hong Kong was an outlier with a strong 3.16 per cent gain, as investors lapped up measures announced by China to shore up its sluggish property market and slowing economy, while Japan ticked up 0.02 per cent.

"The jobs report is definitely front and center," Michael Cuggino, a San Francisco-based fund manager at Pacific Heights Asset Management, told Bloomberg TV.

"After that, people are going to quickly pivot to corporate earnings and the Fed once again."

Here, the STI was dragged down by the three local lenders, led by United Overseas Bank, which fell 32 cents or 1.7 per cent to $18.28.

DBS Group slid 14 cents or 0.86 per cent to $16.13, while OCBC Bank lost three cents or 0.34 per cent to $8.77.

Commodity trader Noble Group also had a poor showing, sinking 1.5 cents or 3.7 per cent to 39.5 cents.

On the other side of the ledger, real estate group CapitaLand jumped 10 cents or 3.7 per cent to $2.81, while warehouse operator Global Logistic Properties grew one cent or 0.49 per cent to $2.04.

New Silkroutes Group, the former Digiland International, was the day's most active counter, with 160.5 million shares changing hands. The stock surged two-fold, adding 0.1 cents to 0.2 cents.

Overall trade across the exchange came in at 1.38 million shares worth $888.8 million.

tsjwoo@sph.com.sg