Bulls And Bears

Slide in local banks pulls down STI

Index also hit by falls in ThaiBev and Singtel, while Hang Seng posts new high

Traders here beat a cautious retreat on Wednesday amid the release of modest export figures - just a day after local stocks climbed back to pre-global financial crisis levels.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) slipped by 8.3 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 3,541.91, after clawing its way back from an intra-day low of 3,534.89 points in the afternoon.

The index was pulled down by a slide in all three local banks.

DBS Group Holdings lost 30 cents to $26.21, OCBC Bank was down by 3 cents to $13.18, and United Overseas Bank shed 13 cents to $28.17.

Another heavyweight drag on the index was Thai Beverage, which lost 2 cents, or 2.13 per cent, to 92 cents - on a whopping 71.9 million shares.

Singtel, too, was a lead weight. With nearly 21.3 million shares changing hands, the telco slipped by 2 cents, or 0.55 per cent, to $3.59.

But bourse operator Singapore Exchange bucked the trend, rising by 21 cents, or 2.77 per cent, to $7.78 on a volume of 7.77 million shares.

Off the index, manufacturer JEP Holdings topped the actives list once again, with almost 140.1 million shares traded.

It put on 0.8 cent, or 13.3 per cent, to 6.8 cents.

The gain came after UMS Holdings said it had bought a 7.48 per cent stake in JEP for $5.7 million.

Manufacturers faced some pessimism on news that Singapore's electronics exports shrank by 5.3 per cent year-on-year last month, after two months of growth.

Semiconductor company Asti Holdings fell by 0.1 cent, or 1.18 per cent, to 8.4 cents, with 4.01 million shares moving.

Yet this gloom was shrugged off by other large electronics stocks.

Solutions provider Ellipsiz put on 2.5 cents, or 3.38 per cent, to 76.5 cents, while STI constituent Venture Corporation added 22 cents, or 0.97 per cent, to $22.81.

The research team at KGI Securities (Singapore) noted that "we may expect some profit-taking after the surge in Brent oil prices to US$70 per barrel lifted energy-related stocks".

The STI's bashful performance for the day was at odds with that of its counterpart in Hong Kong, where the Hang Seng topped Tuesday's record close with a fresh 0.25 per cent gain.

But Singapore's index matched the hesitation on Wall Street, where earnings season has pressed "pause" on the United States' equities rally.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2018, with the headline 'Slide in local banks pulls down STI'. Print Edition | Subscribe