Light trading in Asia as investors stay away, STI closes 2 points lower

SGX Centre 1  at Shenton Way Road in the Raffles Place District.
SGX Centre 1 at Shenton Way Road in the Raffles Place District. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Trading slowed to a trickle on Monday with disinterested investors sandwiched between two long weekends.

The benchmark Straits Times Index fell 2.3 points, or 0.08 per cent, to close at 2,875.32, with only 623.2 million shares changing hands in the quiet post-Christmas session.

Trading was light across the region, with most bourses ending the day lower, although Tokyo managed a 0.6 per cent rise thanks to a weaker yen.

Shanghai fell 2.6 per cent while Hong Kong dropped 0.99 per cent.

Remisier Alvin Yong was not surprised by the tepid day: "Year-end trading is usually quite muted. In this short trading week we will see investors taking their money off the table to lock in their gains and re-strategise for next year."

Analysts added that the grim stock market performance this year is unlikely to ease going into the new year.

OCBC's vice-president of wealth management, Mr Vasu Menon, told Bloomberg: "For 2016, the outlook should become less hazy and investors should enjoy greater clarity with regards to the pace of Fed rate hikes. Equity markets are likely to remain volatile, at least into the first half of 2016."

Noble Group continued to be among the top actives here yesterday, slipping a cent to 44.5 cents. The commodities giant sealed a US$750 million deal last week to sell its agricultural unit, a move that analysts say will give it a much-needed liquidity boost and help it reduce debt.

However ratings agency Standard & Poor's also said that the sale "could weaken Noble's business position, including its business diversity and long-term competitiveness".

Marble producer Terratech topped the actives list, rising 0.3 cents to 6.1 cents. Last Monday the firm was queried by the Singapore Exchange after its shares jumped almost 49 per cent.

The firm replied that it is"constantly reviewing and exploring potential funding opportunities in tandem with its corporate growth strategy" and that discussions were in a very preliminary stage, with no certainty of a deal being inked.

Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust was unchanged at S$2.28 after saying last Thursday it is seeking to acquire a logistics property in Sydney for A$76.6 million (S$78.14 million).

Global Yellow Pages dropped two cents to 16.3 cents. It said last week it has lodged a report with the Commercial Affairs Department in relation to potentially irregular transactions at its Singapore River Explorer unit.

yasminey@sph.com.sg