Bulls And Bears

China markets stabilise but STI down again

Local bourse tests 2,800 level; whether the line will hold may depend on Fed minutes out today

Local shares slid for the third day this week despite Chinese markets stabilising on news that government moves to curb volatility will become long-term measures.

It was announced that the ban in China on major shareholders dumping shares will remain in place until new rules in this area are drawn up.

This pushed China's benchmark Shanghai Composite up 2.25 per cent, after the 7.1 per cent plunge on the first two days of the week.

But other regional markets were less buoyant. Hong Kong was down by 0.98 per cent, Tokyo pared 0.99 per cent and Seoul lost 0.26 per cent, a muted response to North Korea's surprise announcement of a successful hydrogen bomb test.

The benchmark Straits Times Index here closed down 29.96 points, or 1.06 per cent, to 2,804.27, testing the 2,800 level that it had held through last year. Whether the line will hold depends on what news the latest United States Federal Reserve meeting minutes would bear, remisier Alvin Yong noted. The minutes will be released early this morning.

"If the message is dovish - for instance, suggesting that the further rounds of rate hikes will be gradual this year - then we may see the Dow recovering to give the local market some uplift," he added.

Dow Jones Industrial Average stayed virtually flat overnight, gaining just 0.06 per cent.

"Regardless, the overall market will remain weak as investors head into the uncertain earnings seasons. The weak oil prices... also remain a concern," said Mr Yong.

Brent futures fell further from US$37 on Monday to US$35.20, a new 12-month low, on news of Saudi Arabian price cuts to undercut Iran.

Offshore marine plays Sembcorp Marine and Keppel Corp were among the top losing blue chips yesterday. SembMarine fell six cents, or 3.51 per cent, to its 12-month low at $1.65. Keppel Corp shed 22 cents, or 3.41 per cent, to close at $6.23.

Commodity firm Noble Group also lost 1.5 cents, or 3.8 per cent, to 38 cents - another full-year low.

Only six STI counters ended on a positive note, led by Sats, which rose five cents, or 1.3 per cent, to $3.89. The flight service provider was one of last year's standouts, gaining 30 per cent in the past 12 months despite persistent market headwinds.

Tiger Airways closed flat at 45 cents. The price will likely stay static in the coming days as it is already on a par with Singapore Airlines' buyout offer.

Singapore Post dropped 10 cents, or 6.21 per cent, to $1.51, with 31.3 million shares transacted. The price and volume drew trading activity queries from Singapore Exchange, and may bring investor attention back to the recent news of potential governance issues around independent director Keith Tay.

Film company Spackman Entertainment Group gained 0.8 cent, or 5.84 per cent, to 14.5 cents, a day ahead of the Korean release of its film Chasing. Its previous film, The Priests, was a box-office success.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2016, with the headline 'China markets stabilise but STI down again'. Print Edition | Subscribe