Bulls And Bears

Singapore market still in the doldrums

US non-farm payroll data out this week likely to guide Fed's decision on next rate hike

Most Asian bourses bounced back into the black yesterday, tracking overnight gains on Wall Street.

But Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) was left out of the party, easing 1.04 points or 0.04 per cent to 2,828.39 instead.

"The market has been very lethargic lately, partly because corporate results are already all out," remisier Desmond Leong told The Straits Times. "It also seems there are no catalysts for the market to come alive, especially after the whole Swiber issue. Everyone is waiting for some good news, but until that happens, there's not much to look forward to for now."

He was referring to the dramatic fallout from the collapse of offshore marine services firm Swiber Holdings, now under judicial management, which has shaken the oil and gas and banking sectors.

Hong Kong led the region-wide rally with a 0.85 per cent rise, taking its cue from Wall Street's 0.58 per cent increase on Monday, on the back of data showing higher United States consumer spending for a fourth straight month in July.

Shanghai put on 0.15 per cent and Seoul rose 0.36 per cent.

Tokyo, however, dipped 0.07 per cent after reports showed retail sales and household spending fell in Japan.

"Views on the US interest rate hike have eased a little... and it's difficult to see a clear direction, ahead of US job data," Mr Seiichi Miura, a strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, told Bloomberg.

All eyes are on US non-farm payroll data, out later this week, which will likely play a key role in guiding the Federal Reserve's decision on the next rate hike.

At home, the biggest laggards included casino operator Genting Singapore, which slid one cent or 1.4 per cent to 72.5 cents, and Singapore Airlines, down nine cents or 0.8 per cent to $10.56.

The local banks were a mixed bag, with DBS Group Holdings the only gainer, up two cents or 0.1 per cent to $15.05. United Overseas Bank pared two cents or 0.1 per cent to $17.98, and OCBC Bank shed one cent or 0.1 per cent to $8.57.

Outside of the blue chips, Healthway Medical Corporation jumped 0.3 cent or 11.1 per cent to three cents. The clinic operator on Monday said it will issue up to 133.3 million new ordinary shares at three cents each to raise net proceeds of about $3.75 million, which will be used as working capital and to fund its expansion plan in Singapore.

Specialist engineering group PEC leapt 4.5 cents or 10.3 per cent to 48 cents, after posting a fourth-quarter net profit of $8.2 million on Monday - a reversal from its net loss of $7.8 million in the previous year.

Commodity trader Noble Group was again the day's top active, with 146.7 million shares traded. The stock slipped 0.1 cent or 0.8 per cent to 12.3 cents.

Total turnover across the bourse came up to 1.03 billion shares worth $678.1 million.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore market still in the doldrums'. Print Edition | Subscribe