BULLS AND BEARS

STI slide continues amid China equity scare

Day's losses led largely by Noble Group; market down 4.8 per cent for the week

Continued volatility on Chinese equity markets again weighed on Singapore shares, which ended the week in the red yesterday.

The Straits Times Index sank 47.02 points, or 1.45 per cent, to close at 3,202.5 yesterday. For the week, the STI fell 153.87 points, or 4.8 per cent.

China's mainland markets slid further amid waning confidence, even as the authorities rolled out its latest round of support measures.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index fell 1.13 per cent, notching up a 15 per cent plunge for July, its worst monthly showing in six years. The Shenzhen Composite Index slipped 0.82 per cent.

"The market is still in the process of deleveraging and funds are flowing out," Mr Li Zheming, an analyst at Daton Securities, told Reuters.

"Investors become especially sensitive towards the weekend when Beijing usually releases new messages, and that's why they tend to square their positions on Friday."

At home, the losses were led largely by commodities blue chip Noble Group, which plunged to its lowest since 2008, after the Singapore Exchange issued a warning on the company's shares.

The beleaguered counter sank 6.5 cents or 12.5 per cent to 45.5 cents. It was also the most heavily traded, with 302.2 million shares done.

"The SGX's 'trade with caution' warning on Noble might have led to panic selling in the commodity trader, worsened by the gloomy global commodity outlook," noted IG market strategist Bernard Aw.

Local lenders United Overseas Bank and DBS Group Holdings also logged losses, with UOB dropping 73 cents or 3.18 per cent to $22.20 and DBS losing 53 cents or 2.56 per cent to $20.18. UOB reported a 5.7 per cent decline in second-quarter net profit before trading opened, missing analysts' estimates.

OCBC Bank, on the other hand, was among the day's few gainers, rising two cents or 0.195 per cent to $10.29. Its second-quarter net profit jumped 14 per cent to a record $1.05 billion, beating forecasts. Mr Aw said the outlook for local lenders, on the whole, is likely to be "a tad brighter", in line with expectations that the US central bank would raise the interest rate in the coming months.

Lower oil prices amid a worsening supply glut again hit rig-building giants Keppel Corporation and Sembcorp Marine, which extended losses on their lowest levels in years.

KepCorp shaved 30 cents or 3.85 per cent to $7.50, while SembMarine was down five cents or 1.88 per cent to $2.61.

Elsewhere in the region, the Nikkei 225 Index climbed 0.3 per cent as traders were lifted by better-than-expected corporate earnings, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 0.56 per cent.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average edged down slightly by 0.03 per cent, muted by sluggish corporate earnings. US economic data on Thursday showed growth accelerated in the second quarter, though slightly short of some forecasts.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2015, with the headline 'STI slide continues amid China equity scare'. Print Edition | Subscribe