Singapore shares stay unchanged ahead of Budget day, STI ends 1 point higher

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) premises at the central business district in Singapore.
The Singapore Exchange (SGX) premises at the central business district in Singapore.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Singapore equities stayed mostly unchanged on Wednesday (March 23) even as other Asian markets digested news of the terrorist attacks in Brussels.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) climbed 1.33 points, or 0.05 per cent, to 2,881.98, reversing its losses in the last few minutes of trading.

Markets elsewhere in the region were kept on edge. Both Tokyo and Hong Kong eased 0.3 per cent. Seoul pared 0.1 per cent while Sydney and Jakarta dropped 0.5 per cent each.

Shanghai was an outlier, rising 0.4 per cent following a rocky session.

"This is a reflection of broader geopolitical risks out there," Mr Chris Green, an Auckland-based strategist at brokerage and wealth management firm First NZ Capital Group, told Bloomberg.

But he added: "Usually such attacks will have only a short-term impact. Investors' focus remains on macro economic fundamentals and we do need to see more signs of sustainability in the United States economy and some stability in the Chinese data. I'm somewhat cautious given the recent rally we've seen."

Wall Street slipped 0.2 per cent on Tuesday as travel sector stocks took a hard hit.

At home, firm gains in Global Logistic Properties helped to prop up the STI. The counter jumped 10 cents or 5.3 per cent to S$1.98 on a volume of 36.2 million units.

The modern logistics facilities provider, after receiving a query from the Singapore Exchange in mid-day trade, said it was not aware of any reasons behind the unusual trading activity.

Oil and gas-related plays fared relatively well as crude prices continued to hold steady at levels above US$40 a barrel, despite slipping in the wake of the Brussels attacks.

The most heavily traded stock was again OKH Global on a strong turnover of 188.5 million units. The property developer regained footing to soar 1.7 cents or 20 per cent to 10.2 cents after tumbling nearly 80 per cent on Monday.

Overall volume was thin with 1.32 billion units worth S$977.7 million being being traded.

Investors will likely focus on the Singapore Budget, to be announced on Thursday, said a dealer in a report by NetResearch Asia Team. He added that after "a 400-point rally from the lows, the STI looks poised for a brief consolidation".

tsjwoo@sph.com.sg