Bulls And Bears

Singapore shares left out of regional rally

After BOJ monetary policy changes, attention shifts to outcome of Fed meeting

Local shares were left out in the cold yesterday as regional equities rallied on Japan's monetary policy overhaul.

The Straits Times Index (STI) slid 3.95 points or 0.14 per cent to 2,850.74, as it erased gains in late trading. About 1.53 billion shares worth $944 million exchanged hands across the bourse.

Markets elsewhere received a boost as the Bank of Japan (BOJ) announced changes to its monetary policy, although it stopped short of deepening negative interest rates.

Tokyo rose 1.91 per cent on hopes that the central bank's move could support financial institutions. Hong Kong gained 0.59 per cent, Shanghai climbed 0.09 per cent, Sydney put on 0.68 per cent and Jakarta advanced 0.76 per cent.

Still, Mr Richard Jerram, chief economist at Bank of Singapore, called the BOJ move "underwhelming", saying "such minor and complex policy moves are unlikely to make much of a difference to the economy or financial markets".

"The message from the Fed overnight is likely to be more important. We do not expect a rate hike, but look for strong guidance for a move in December."

Wall Street climbed 0.05 per cent on Tuesday as traders readied themselves for a dovish stance on rate hikes ahead of the United States Federal Reserve's tightly-watched policy meeting early today.

At home, 14 of the STI constituents rose, 10 fell and six were unchanged.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Holdings was among the biggest losers, down 1.5 cents or 2 per cent to 72.5 cents. CapitaLand Mall Trust lost four cents or 1.9 per cent to $2.10.

Mr Nicholas Teo, trading strategist at KGI Fraser Securities, told The Straits Times that the STI's poor showing yesterday against its regional peers boiled down simply to "lacklustre trading".

"I think we can expect to see ourselves being increasingly left out or marginalised. We've come to a point where we've grown to our maximum, and the 'safe haven' effect typically associated with the Singapore market has become less appealing, with everything else slowing down," he said.

"We are in the process of re-inventing and re-calibrating, but for now it's going to be slightly more painful before it gets better."

Meanwhile, penny stocks were again at the centre of market activity. Magnus Energy, flat at 0.1 cent, was the top active with 252 million shares done. Other energy-related stocks rose. Ezra Holdings surged 0.8 cent or 16 per cent to 5.8 cents, and Rex International gained half a cent or 8.9 per cent to 6.1 cents.

Healthcare provider Asiamedic rocketed 2.4 cents or 35.8 per cent to 9.1 cents in heavy trade, attracting a query from the Singapore Exchange. The firm said it was not aware of what accounted for the trading. It added that the group is "continuing to actively pursue potential expansion opportunities".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2016, with the headline 'Singapore shares left out of regional rally'. Print Edition | Subscribe