Regional markets end the year on mixed note, STI closes 3 points down

The SGX Centre.
The SGX Centre.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore shares ended flat Thursday, the last trading session of 2015, with Asian markets also putting up a mixed performance to mark the end of a volatile year.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed down 2.78 points or 0.1 per cent at 2,882.73. This followed a last minute selloff when the index inched up to 2,889, as investors took what little profit they could in the half-day session, where some 596 million shares worth S$340.9 million were transacted.

For the week, STI was up 0.18 per cent, but it dropped 14.3 per cent in total through 2015, making the year one of the index's worst since the global financial crisis, remisier Alvin Yong said.

"Many are left disillusioned and expect the market the slide further in 2016. But I'm still cautiously optimistic, partly because key economies including Europe, China and Japan look set to roll out more stimulus in the coming months," he noted.

Still, the regional mood was subdued yesterday, when Shanghai was down 0.61 per cent while Hong Kong put on 0.15 per cent. Tokyo was closed for holiday. Overnight, Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.66 per cent.

Back on the STI, only 10 counters ended higher, with StarHub rising five cents or 1.37 per cent to S$3.70, the most among the blue chips.

Several property plays on the index also gained. Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust put on three cents or 1.33 per cent to S$2.28, and UOL Group was up one cent or 0.16 per cent to close at S$6.24. But City Developments lost the most on the other end of STI, down 10 cents or 1.29 per cent to S$7.65.

The main laggards of 2015 - Noble Group, Sembcorp Marine and Keppel Corp - failed to close the year on a positive note.

Noble ended flat at 40 cents, exactly at the support level that it's tested several times this year. It was one of yesterday's top active counters, with 17 million shares changing hands.

For 2015, the embattled commodity firm - which lost its investment grade rating with Moody's this week - shed 65 per cent.

SembMarine dropped 1.5 cents or 0.85 per cent to S$1.75, pushing its full year drop to 46 per cent. Keppel Corp was down one cent or 0.15 per cent to S$6.51, with a full year loss of 26 per cent.

Outside the STI, China Sports International was the penny favourite of the day, as speculation sent its shares up 1.2 cents or 150 per cent to two cents. 79.6 million shares were transacted.

Healthcare stocks such as Q&M Dental and Singapore O&G were flat, with Q&M closing at 70 cents while Singapore O&G ended at 74.5 cents.

Regardless, the healthcare sector as a whole still stood out as Singapore market's top performer in 2015. SGX data released this week showed a 12 per cent gain to the SGX All Healthcare Index in 2015, with an 11.8 per cent total return generated.

whwong@sph.com.sg