Asian markets mixed, Singapore stocks slide, as focus remains on Yellen testimony

SINGAPORE - Singapore equities dropped further on Wednesday, racking up its second straight day in negative territory.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) lost 9.89 points, or 0.31 per cent, to 3,208.91, as a total of 1.42 billion shares worth S$1.09 billion changed hands across the bourse.

CMC Markets Singapore market analyst Margaret Yang noted that the STI has been hovering within a well-defined range of 3,200 to 3,270 for over two months.

"Investors are probably waiting for the release of the earnings season which might provide fresh catalysts to drive market movements," she said.

Blue chip heavyweight Singtel was a drag on the index as it slid 0.3 per cent or one cent to S$3.87, along with DBS Group Holdings, which fell 0.8 per cent or 17 cents to S$20.60.

Warehouse operator Global Logistic Properties was flat S$2.70 in heavy trade, following a Financial Times report that said only two bidders had submitted offers for the company last week, citing unnamed sources.

One of them, Warburg Pincus, submitted a non-binding bid and may withdraw if concerns about the China operation cannot be allayed, it added.

The spotlight was also back on the potential sale of OCBC Bank and Great Eastern Holdings' combined stakes in property group United Engineers and its subsidiary WBL Corp, which they said are in the final stages of discussions with a shortlisted bidder.

OCBC climbed 0.1 per cent or one cent to S$10.80 while Great Eastern put on 0.4 per cent or 10 cents to S$24.60. United Engineers last closed at S$2.71 on Tuesday before trading was halted.

Markets elsewhere in Asia were broadly mixed. Tokyo dropped 0.48 per cent, Shanghai eased 0.17 per cent, and Sydney took a 0.97 per cent hit. Hong Kong was an outlier as it advanced 0.64 per cent to clock its third consecutive day of gains.

Wall Street was flat overnight following a choppy session, as investors fretted over the release of an email chain that unveiled exchanges between United States President Donald Trump's eldest son and Russia.

But the focus remained squarely on US Federal Reserve Janet Yellen's testimony in Congress last night, which is expected to offer clues on the impending interest rate hike and the Fed's plans to cut its balance sheet.