Bulls And Bears

STI ends lower as Monday blues set in

Key developments include oil price rally ahead of mid-week Opec meeting

The markets started the week with a touch of the Monday blues, with investors seemingly more indifferent than engaged with proceedings.

With such a downbeat mood here and across the region, it was no surprise that shares ended lower.

In Singapore's case, the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) lost 5.79 points or 0.17 per cent to 3,436.36.

Beneath the surface, plenty of things continue to happen.

Oil prices have been rallying ahead of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries' (Opec) mid-week meeting, where production cuts are expected to be extended.

Rigbuilder Keppel Corp, a retail investor favourite, continues to track the oil price and hit a new two-year high of $7.79 yesterday after rising 40 cents.

Norway's DNB Bank noted last Friday that crude prices are tilting bullish, with a weak US dollar, strong demand growth and lower inventories helping to outweigh higher rig counts and other factors.

One of the big movers yesterday was Lippo Malls Indonesia Retail Trust, which suddenly sank from 43 cents to an eight-month intraday low of 39 cents, before closing at 41 cents with 31.5 million units changing hands.

Indonesia consumers, particularly those in the lower and middle classes, have been going through a rough patch. One indirect play is Lippo Malls, which is known for attractive yields.

"Given the spike in volume, it looks to me like one major shareholder selling off," an analyst said. "I can't pinpoint any specific catalyst at the moment."

Its recent third-quarter results showed that rental reversions, or the increase in rent agreed upon by a tenant in a renewed lease, plummeted to 2.9 per cent - the worst quarterly increase since at least 2011. A correction might be due if the outlook is not so bright.

Another hot stock yesterday was Midas Holdings, an aluminium player that makes train car bodies for China subway and high-speed rail trains.

It rebounded 6 per cent to 15.7 cents after a savage sell-off last week. There was a scare that it had defaulted on its US$30 million 7 per cent fixed-rate notes, but the maturity was extended by a year.

Investors also remembered that earlier in the month, influential financial magazine Caixin published articles asking whether China's infrastructure spending is slowing down.

DBS analyst Paul Yong is staying sanguine. He said last week that at 15.4 cents, the stock is trading at just about 0.35 time book value despite being profitable. And he does not foresee any receivables impairment risk due to its blue chip client base.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2017, with the headline 'STI ends lower as Monday blues set in'. Print Edition | Subscribe