Bulls and bears

S'pore shares continue downhill slide

Weak market sentiment reflects investor concern over banks' non-performing loans

Singapore equities continue to slide downhill in line with most other Asian shares as market sentiment remains in the doldrums.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) dropped as much as 1.59 per cent in trading yesterday, before recovering somewhat to close 29.09 points or 1.02 per cent lower at 2,827.58.

Trading across the bourse amounted to 1.23 billion shares worth $1.22 billion. This came as Wall Street lost 0.49 per cent overnight to mark its biggest decline in a month amid sliding oil prices and renewed concerns over global growth.

A big contributor to the STI selldown was OCBC Bank, which traded ex-dividend and fell 24 cents or 2.8 per cent to $8.35.

"This has a lot to do with the current market sentiment," CMC Markets Singaporeanalyst Margaret Yang told The Straits Times.

"Investors are still very worried about rising non-performing loans for the banks, given the slump in crude prices and news of Swiber's insolvency."

Oilfield services firm Swiber Holdings, which faces claims amounting to a hefty US$50.5 million (S$67.8 million), is fighting for its life, having filed for judicial management.

"It does not help that there is selling pressure in the surrounding markets," added Ms Yang.

Other blue-chip laggards included Sembcorp Industries, which slid four cents or 1.4 per cent to $2.74 after its second-quarter results missed expectations. Its marine arm Sembcorp Marine fell 2.5 cents or 1.9 per cent to $1.325.


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An RHB Research report, however, maintained a "buy" call on Sembcorp Industries, noting that the group's "slew of utilities projects in the pipeline will be driving earnings, cushioning the weakness in the marine business".

Commodity trader Noble Group was again the day's most actively traded stock, sliding 0.1 cent or 0.8 per cent to 13.2 cents on 319.4 million shares transacted.

Offshore plays like Ezion Holdings saw a strong rebound, surging 4.5 cents or 16.7 per cent to 31.5 cents, while Ezra Holdings rose 0.2 cents or 4.7 per cent to 4.5 cents.

Pacc Offshore Services Holdings, which on Tuesday reported a net loss of US$17.5 million for the second quarter to June 30, slumped three cents or 8.8 per cent to 31 cents.

Elsewhere in the region, markets weakened. Tokyo led losses with a 1.88 per cent fall on a stronger yen, after the government's announcement of a stimulus package failed to meet expectations.

"After all the build-up, (the stimulus package is) a disappointment," Mr Shane Oliver, global investment strategist at AMP Capital Investors, which manages more than US$110 billion, told Bloomberg.

Shanghai edged up just 0.24 per cent, while Hong Kong, which reopened after being closed on Tuesday because of a typhoon, sank 1.76 per cent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 04, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore shares continue downhill slide'. Print Edition | Subscribe