Bears ruled regional markets, STI down 43 points

Asia Pacific shares lost more than 4 per cent overall this week, their worst five-day streak in four years.
Asia Pacific shares lost more than 4 per cent overall this week, their worst five-day streak in four years.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The bear continued its chokehold on regional markets on Friday with investors selling down to offset any bad news in a new United States jobs report.

At least mainland Chinese markets were closed for a holiday on Friday so investors had a brief respite from any further shocks from that direction although Asia Pacific shares still ended in the red.

Hong Kong lost 0.45 per cent, Kuala Lumpur pared 0.85 per cent and Tokyo ended 2.15 per cent lower. At home, the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed 42.62 points or 1.47 per cent down at 2,863.81 and down 3.12 per cent for the week.

Excluding Japan, Asia Pacific shares lost more than 4 per cent overall this week, their worst five-day streak in four years.

Remisier Desmond Leong said: "After being spooked by what happened in China, attention turned to the US where the job data will give signals of economic conditions and possibly timing of a rate hike.

"But sentiments have definitely weakened, and the string of weak data in Asia does not give much reason for confidence."

Aside from China's disappointing export and manufacturing figures in the past two weeks, local investors are also worried about conditions here, where economists this week slashed their growth forecast for the third quarter from 2.9 per cent to 2.1 per cent.

"So a lot are waiting on the sidelines to see how things go next week. If the US data is weak, and the Chinese markets open poorly, we may see the STI testing another new low," Mr Leong said.

Unsurprisingly, 27 of the 30 STI constituent counters fell.

The top losing blue chip was Hutchison Port Holdings Trust, which closed 2.5 US cents or 4.42 per cent down at 54 US cents, snapping a two-day positive streak. Global Logistics Properties also fell, down nine cents or 4.23 per cent to $2.04.

The three counters that are soon to be removed from the STI - Jardine Matheson Holdings, Jardine Strategic Holdings and Olam International - were all down by over 2 per cent, a day after the announcement by Singapore Exchange.

whwong@sph.com.sg