Bulls And Bears

Local investors pack up for the holidays

Volatility and trading volumes drop amid weaker showing in most regional markets

Singapore equities rolled further downhill yesterday as investors eased up for the holidays.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) slid 10.99 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 2,871.05 - off 66.81 points or 2.27 per cent for the week and 0.44 per cent for the year.

Most other regional markets finished weaker as well. Shanghai fell 0.94 per cent, Hong Kong shaved 0.28 per cent and Kuala Lumpur eased 0.37 per cent.

Tokyo was closed for a holiday.

"Volatility dropped to extremely low levels as markets sank into the holiday mood on the last trading day ahead of Christmas," said Ms Margaret Yang, market analyst at CMC Markets Singapore, noting that trading volumes have also thinned.

"But that couldn't mask the fact that emerging markets are suffering from capital outflows, which is observed in the performance divergence between US equities and Asian equities."

Wall Street retreated 0.12 per cent overnight - though only after having pushed record highs over the past few days in tandem with the surging US dollar, buoyed by optimism that President-elect Donald Trump's fiscal stimulus policies will help spur growth. Mr Andrew Milligan, head of global strategy at Standard Life Investments, told Bloomberg: "Going into next year, we are confident the dollar will continue to make headway. It will be the currency that appreciates in 2017, it's just a question of how much."

Commodity plays were among the biggest drags on the STI's performance yesterday. Wilmar International dropped seven cents or 1.9 per cent to $3.59 while Golden Agri-Resources fell half a cent or 1.2 per cent to 42.5 cents.

Keppel Corp fell three cents or 0.5 per cent to $5.80. The conglomerate on Thursday night said a Keppel Land unit has bought a 50 per cent stake for 250 billion rupiah (S$27 million) in a joint development with a subsidiary of major Indonesian real estate developer Metropolitan Land.

Elsewhere, Malaysian shipbuilder Nam Cheong rose 0.1 cent or 1.7 per cent to 6.1 cents. This came despite the group saying on Thursday that subsidiary Nam Cheong International (NCIL) has received a letter of demand from a unit of Perdana Petroleum, claiming the refund of a deposit of US$8.4 million (S$12.2 million) under a contract. Nam Cheong announced earlier this month that the sale of an accommodation work barge between NCIL and Petra Offshore had been terminated.

Chinese textile-maker Foreland FabricTech Holdings requested a trading halt at around 12.30pm. The stock last traded at 0.9 cent.

Chinese developer Ying Li International Real Estate emerged as the day's most heavily traded, jumping 0.7 cent or 4.8 per cent to 15.2 cents, on 224.4 million shares done.

About 1.46 billion shares worth just $593.1 million changed hands across the bourse.

The Singapore market is closed on Monday for Christmas.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2016, with the headline 'Local investors pack up for the holidays'. Print Edition | Subscribe