Bulls And Bears

STI drops lower as investors play it safe

Questions over Trump administration cast shadow; traders looking to Jackson Hole meet

Local shares ended slightly lower yesterday as investors turned cautious on uncertainty surrounding the Trump administration, while also looking to the annual Jackson Hole central bankers meeting later this week.

The Straits Times Index fell 0.15 per cent or five points to 3,246.99.

Investors are awaiting comments from United States Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen and European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi at a two-day economic symposium due to start on Thursday.

Traders are keen to get more insight into the plans of the two central banks which, said Oanda senior market analyst Craig Erlam, are pursuing less accommodative monetary policy.

The Fed is expected to soon start winding down its balance sheet, which stands at US$4.5 trillion (S$6 trillion).

CMC Markets Margaret Yang warned that a technical correction is on its way, and could snowball into a major one "if investors lose further confidence in US President (Donald) Trump and his policy reforms".

The market's decline was led by Keppel Corp, which slipped 1.4 per cent or nine cents to $6.24, and City Developments, down 1.5 per cent or 17 cents to $11.32.

Singtel dipped 0.3 per cent or one cent to $3.74 and Golden Agri-Resources shed 2.7 per cent or one cent to 36 cents.

Meanwhile, recent weakness in the local market has resulted in directors stepping up stock purchases and share buybacks, traders said.

OCBC Bank edged up two cents or 0.2 per cent to $11.02 after the company bought back 200,000 shares at $11.03 yesterday.

Best World shares gained 2.1 per cent or 2.5 cents to $1.22 yesterday. This came after news that directors Doreen Tan and Dora Hoan added 50,000 shares each at $1.10 last Friday, NRA Capital said, while fellow director Lee Sen Choon bought 20,000 at $1.05.

In addition, the company bought back 230,000 shares between 99 cents and $1.12 on the same day.

A broker reiterated its buy call as it sees minimal impact from China's crackdown on pyramid schemes.

Sino Grandness rose 2.6 per cent or 0.5 cent to 19.9 cents after chairman and chief executive Huang Yupeng bought 500,000 shares at an average of 19.32 cents on Friday.

CWT jumped 5.2 per cent or 11 cents to $2.24 on news that Chinese conglomerate HNA Holding Group is convening a general meeting on Sept 7 to seek shareholder approval for its $1.4 billion privatisation offer for the logistics firm.

Other actively traded counters included Rowsley, which fell 1.9 per cent or 0.2 cent to 10.3 cents on trade of 58.7 million shares.

Thai Beverage lost 1.1 per cent or one cent to 91.5 cents on volume of 33.4 million shares while Jiutian Chemical gained 3.3 per cent or 0.1 cent to 3.1 cents, with 29 million shares changing hands.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2017, with the headline 'STI drops lower as investors play it safe'. Print Edition | Subscribe