Singapore equities resumed trading on shaky ground yesterday, after the Chinese New Year holiday, as worries mounted over the isolationist policies of United States President Donald Trump.
The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) slid 18.05 points or 0.59 per cent to 3,046.8. Turnover across the bourse totalled 1.29 billion shares worth $1.07 billion.
Most other Asian markets also clocked losses, tracking a 0.61 per cent drop on Wall Street last Friday. Tokyo sank 1.69 per cent, Sydney lost 0.72 per cent and Kuala Lumpur retreated 0.88 per cent.
Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei remained shut for the holiday.
"The markets appeared to be spooked by what Donald Trump is doing about his immigration policies; more pertinently, spooked by the fact that he is doing what he said he would do," a dealer said in a NetResearch Asia report.
Mr Trump signed an executive order last Friday to shut the US borders to refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries, rattling markets worldwide.
The STI's performance yesterday was largely dragged down by the three local banks. DBS Group Holdings lost 20 cents or 1 per cent to $18.97, OCBC Bank shed six cents or 0.6 per cent to $9.39, and United Overseas Bank pared eight cents or 0.4 per cent to $20.92. Blue chip heavyweight Singtel also slipped, down two cents or 0.5 per cent to $3.87.
Other laggards included Keppel Corporation, which fell 10 cents or 1.6 per cent to $6.17. The conglomerate reported weaker fourth-quarter results last week, and said on Friday that its wholly owned unit, Keppel Infrastructure Holdings, is selling its entire 49.99 per cent stake in GE Keppel Energy Services to GE Singapore for $24.6 million.
Sembcorp Marine shed two cents or 1.3 per cent to $1.49, despite news that it is in final talks with an oil and gas business partnership between Chinese conglomerates Poly Group and GCL Group for the supply of a newbuild floating liquefaction plant. This plant is expected to facilitate the development of what could be Ethiopia's first liquefied natural gas export project.
The total value of shares on the SGX last month was $914.98 billion, up 4 per cent from December. Insurance giant Prudential was again the biggest counter, with a market capitalisation of US$68.28 billion (S$97 billion). Outside of the blue chips, GSS Energy, which surged more than 15 per cent in the afternoon and closed 1.1 cents or 12 per cent up at 10.3 cents, received a trading query from the Singapore Exchange.
The precision engineering firm said it has released announcements pertaining to the purchase and sale of its shares by its substantial shareholders in the last two weeks, and is not aware of other possible explanations behind the price movement.
Equation Summit was the day's most heavily traded counter, sliding 0.1 cent or 3.7 per cent to 2.6 cents on 102.7 million shares done.