Bulls And Bears

S'pore shares drop amid regional selldown

Traders' sentiment weakens over US political issues, decline in Nodx figures

Singapore shares slid further yesterday as markets in Asia tumbled on worries over political turmoil in the United States.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) shed 3.61 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 3,224.1. A total of 1.35 billion shares worth $1.23 billion changed hands across the bourse.

Data that showed non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) here dipped 0.7 per cent last month did little to shore up sentiment either.

"The first decline in Nodx in four months could mean further jitters after the heavy sell-off on Tuesday," IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said in a note.

Tokyo, which fell 0.53 per cent, was among the biggest losers in the region. Shanghai dropped 0.27 per cent, Hong Kong pared 0.17 per cent, while Sydney sank 1.1 per cent.

Traders appear to be spooked by reports that US President Donald Trump had asked then Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey to end a probe into his former national security adviser Mike Flynn.

"The Trump issue seems to come in waves, and now we have another wave," Mr Hans Peterson, global head of asset allocation at SEB Investments, told Reuters.

"I have been asked if he is going to be impeached.

"I think that is the type of discussion some (investors) are having," said Mr Peterson, noting that institutional clients are turning cautious.

Of the 30 STI constituents, 16 finished weaker, nine rose and five remained unchanged.

The index was weighed down by blue chips such as SIA Engineering, which sank 1.5 per cent or six cents to $3.89.

Two of the local banks also fared poorly: OCBC Bank lost 1.1 per cent or 12 cents to $10.42 while United Overseas Bank slid 0.5 per cent or 11 cents to $23.14. DBS Group Holdings, on the other hand, climbed 0.7 per cent or 15 cents to $20.80.

Other gainers included Singapore Airlines, which rose 2.4 per cent or 25 cents to $10.74, and Singtel, up 0.5 per cent or two cents to $3.75.

Noble Group notched up gains for the second straight day after taking a massive hit in the past week, jumping 5.3 per cent or 3.5 cents to 69.5 cents in heavy trade.

Moody's Investors Service cut its rating on the commodity trader on Monday from "B2" to "Caa1", or junk territory, with a negative outlook, after Noble reported a quarterly loss of nearly US$130 million (S$181 million) and said it will not return to profitability until at least 2018 to 2019.

Some penny stocks also saw a strong finish, including Alliance Mineral Assets, which soared 12.7 per cent or 3.5 cents to 31 cents, and Yuuzoo Corporation, which surged 10.9 per cent or 0.7 cent to 7.1 cents.

Disa remained the day's most active counter, dropping 3.6 per cent or 0.1 cent to 2.7 cents on 147 million shares done.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore shares drop amid regional selldown'. Print Edition | Subscribe