Bulls And Bears

Markets end miserable year in the red

Investors lock in slim profit during shortened session, pushing the STI down to 2,882.73

A miserable trading year ended on an appropriate note yesterday with investors taking what profit they could before the market limped into the red and called it a day.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) ended down 2.78 points or 0.1 per cent at 2,882.73 after a last-minute sell-off when the index inched up to 2,889 as investors looked to lock in the slim profit.

About 596 million shares worth $340.9 million were transacted in the shortened session.

The STI was up 0.18 per cent for the week but dropped 14.3 per cent for 2015, making the year one of the worst since the global financial crisis, remisier Alvin Yong said.

"Many are left disillusioned and expect the market to slide further in 2016.

"But I'm still cautiously optimistic, partly because key economies including Europe, China and Japan look set to roll out more stimulus in the coming months," he noted.

The regional mood was subdued yesterday as well, with Shanghai down over 0.3 per cent in the afternoon while Hong Kong put on 0.15 per cent . Tokyo was closed for a holiday. Wall Street closed down 0.66 per cent overnight.

Only 10 counters on the STI ended higher, with StarHub rising five cents or 1.37 per cent to $3.70, the most among the blue chips.

Some property plays also gained. Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust put on three cents or 1.33 per cent to $2.28, and UOL Group was up one cent or 0.16 per cent to $6.24. But City Developments lost the most on the other end of the STI, down 10 cents or 1.29 per cent to $7.65.

The main laggards of 2015 - Noble Group, Sembcorp Marine and Keppel Corp - failed to close the year on a positive note.

Noble ended flat at 40 cents, exactly at the support level that it tested several times last year. It was one of yesterday's top active counters, with 17 million shares changing hands.

The embattled commodity firm - which lost its investment grade rating with Moody's this week - shed 65 per cent in 2015.

SembMarine dropped 1.5 cents or 0.85 per cent to $1.75, pushing its full-year drop to 46 per cent. Keppel Corp was down one cent or 0.15 per cent to $6.51, with a full-year loss of 26 per cent.

Outside the STI, China Sports International was the penny favourite of the day, as speculation sent its shares up 1.2 cents or 150 per cent to two cents with 79.6 million shares traded.

Healthcare stocks such as Q&M Dental and Singapore O&G were flat, with Q&M closing at 70 cents while Singapore O&G ended flat at 74.5 cents.

Regardless, the healthcare sector as a whole still stood out as the Singapore market's top performer in 2015. SGX data showed a 12 per cent gain to the SGX All Healthcare Index in 2015, with an 11.8 per cent total return generated.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 01, 2016, with the headline 'Markets end miserable year in the red'. Print Edition | Subscribe