Markets Insights

STI may see slow start after tech sell-off last week

Disappointing results from Amazon last week had tech stocks beating a retreat far beyond US shores. The online retail giant launched Prime Now, its two-hour delivery service, in Singapore last Thursday.
Disappointing results from Amazon last week had tech stocks beating a retreat far beyond US shores. The online retail giant launched Prime Now, its two-hour delivery service, in Singapore last Thursday.PHOTO: AMAZON

Eyes will be on fresh economic data, earnings following jitters set off by Amazon results

The local market is likely to open on a tentative footing today, given the way markets across the globe ended on a whimper last week.

A run of record-high closings on Wall Street's tech-heavy Nasdaq index gave way to a correction late in the week as disappointing earnings results from Amazon led to a sell-off in technology stocks, not just in the United States but also around the world.

The S&P 500 index ended the busiest week of corporate earning reports virtually unchanged from where it had begun, while the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average held on to slim gains and the Nasdaq 100 index finished in the red.

Chief economist Chris Low at investment management firm FTN Financial, told Agence France-Presse: "It was a pretty good week, obviously ending on a sour note.

"We started the week with better-than-expected earnings from the big banks. At the end of the week, we had Amazon."

Amazon's profit came in at about just a third of what analysts had expected, as a huge gain in its revenue was ploughed back into investment spending. The stock ended the week 2.5 per cent lower.

The tech jitters infected Asia before the week was out, leading to a 0.71 per cent drop in the Straits Times Index (STI) last Friday, although it still chalked up a slight 0.5 per cent gain for the week.

SWEET START, SOUR FINISH

It was a pretty good week, obviously ending on a sour note. We started the week with better-than- expected earnings from the big banks. At the end of the week, we had Amazon.

MR CHRIS LOW, chief economist at investment management firm FTN Financial.

Even so, investors are probably watching for a stream of economic data and more corporate earnings results to boost their confidence.

At home, DBS Group is expected to release its second-quarter financials on Friday. Investors are likely to be expecting good news, after both OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank reported solid sets of numbers last week.

Other household names that are set to announce their results in the week ahead include CapitaLand, StarHub, Genting Singapore and Sembcorp Industries.

On the economic front, it is likely to be a quiet week, with the release of the Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) - a measure of factory activity - and the electronics sector index for this month.

UOB economist Alvin Liew noted that, in contrast, it would be a lively week ahead for the US.

"The focus will be on Apple, Tesla and Berkshire Hathaway. Attention will also be on US domestic politics as Senate lawmakers will continue to be in session until Aug 11," he said in a note last Friday.

China will also be in the spotlight, as it will release official manufacturing and non-manufacturing PMI survey data for this month.

Elsewhere, Mr Liew noted, the euro zone will be releasing preliminary inflation data for this month and economic growth figures for the second quarter, while Japan will be announcing labour earnings data on Friday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2017, with the headline 'STI may see slow start after tech sell-off last week'. Print Edition | Subscribe