Bulls And Bears

Marine sector woes plunge STI into the red

Local banks hit hardest as they are among principal bankers for offshore services firms

Singapore shares took a beating yesterday amid fresh worries over the beleaguered offshore and marine sector.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) sank 35.85 points or 1.24 per cent to 2,856.67.

The gloomy mood stems from the move by Swiber last week to go into liquidation before it changed tack and applied to be placed under judicial management instead.

A NetResearch Asia report said the Swiber event sparked contagion fears which created collateral damage elsewhere after most of the oil and gas stocks fell.

Of the STI's 30 constituent stocks, 24 closed in the red, with the rest clocking gains.

The local banks were among the biggest losers: DBS Group Holdings fell 21 cents or 1.4 per cent to $15.15, United Overseas Bank slid 20 cents or 1.1 per cent to $18.09 and OCBC Bank retreated seven cents or 0.8 per cent to $8.59.

Ratings agency Moody's said in a report on Monday that Swiber's move to apply for judicial management pointed to more asset quality challenges for Singapore banks for the rest of the year. DBS, UOB and OCBC are among the principal bankers for offshore services companies, which have been hit hard by the slump in oil prices.

Singtel, which traded ex-dividend, was another key drag on the STI, losing 13 cents or 3.1 per cent to $4.05.

On the other side of the ledger, airport services and inflight catering company Sats advanced seven cents or 1.6 per cent to $4.47.

Outside of the index, Genting Hong Kong lost one US cent or 3.6 per cent to 26.5 US cents after warning that it expects to report a net loss for the first half of the year.

Commodity trader Noble Group was the day's most heavily traded, slumping 2.9 cents or 17.9 per cent to 13.3 cents. Other top actives included offshore and marine plays Ezra Holdings, which lost 0.4 cent or 8.5 per cent to 4.3 cents, and Vallianz Holdings, down 0.1 cent or 4.2 per cent to 2.3 cents.

Other markets in the region also ended lower: Tokyo fell 1.47 per cent on the back of a stronger yen, Shanghai lost 0.61 per cent and Sydney shed 0.84 per cent. Hong Kong was closed due to Typhoon Nida.

In the United States, Wall Street slipped 0.2 per cent as falling crude prices sparked a sharp sell-off in energy shares.

"Today's fluctuation is completely driven by energy, and more specifically the downward spiral of oil," Mr Michael Antonelli, an institutional equity sales trader and managing director at Robert W Baird & Co, told Bloomberg.

"The (Federal Reserve) isn't really doing much and earnings haven't really offered anything too memorable. We've seen the market go sideways the last week and... that's good. The longer we stay this high the more rock-solid the market will be, especially with the Fed continuing to give mixed messages."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2016, with the headline 'Marine sector woes plunge STI into the red'. Print Edition | Subscribe