Singapore stocks plunge, STI down 128 points

SINGAPORE - Singapore shares suffered their worst one-day plunge in seven years as a sharp sell-off on Wall Street and rout on stock markets across Asia.

The benchmark Straits Times Index closed at 2,843.39, down 4.3 per cent or 127.62 points on Monday, weighed down by a sell-off on bluechip constituents DBS, OCBC, Singtel, Jardine Matheson, Hongkong Land.

DBS plunged 3.5 per cent or 64 cents to S$17.65; OCBC shed 4.4 per cent or 40 cents to S$8.70; Singtel dropped 4.1 per cent or 16 cents to S$3.78. Jardine Matheson plunged 5 per cent or US$2.56 to US$48.57, while Hongkong Land slipped 6.9 per cent or 50 cents to S$6.75.

Phillip Futures investment analyst Howie Lee noted: "Given how equity markets have slumped in the past couple of weeks and months, it may be an ominous foreboding of things to come. China's sudden step out to devalue its yuan brought this uncertainty sharply into view, which was not helped by the Fed's turn to bearishness in its latest FOMC minutes."

Bucking the downtrend is S-chip 8telecom International, which jumped 19 per cent or 12 cents to 75 cents after it announced it has entered into a conditional sale and purchase agreement to sell its entire interest in two subsidiaries, East Jade International and Aim Tech Network Investment, to Manfaith Investments for RMB 420 million.

The proposed sale is also conditional on 8telecom undertaking a distribution via a proposed special dividend of about RMB 231.29 million to eligible shareholders. "That comes out to a dividend of about 97 cents a share, and the company's book value is about $1 a share after the disposal," remisier Alvin Yong said.

Pacific Andes Resources and its subsidiary, China Fishery Group, continued to see selling pressure following their announcement last week that they are being investigated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Commercial Affairs Department for an offence under the Securities and Futures Act.

Pacific Andes, which is in seafood trading and ocean logistics business, sank 16.7 per cent or 0.5 cent to 2.5 cents, with 26 million shares traded. It owns 70 per cent of fishmeal producer China Fishery, whose shares plunged 19.4 per cent or 1.4 cents to 5.8 cents, with 24.6 million shares traded.

Fitch Ratings, in a report on Monday, said that the impact of the investigations into China Fishery by regulators in Singapore and also in Hong Kong is not yet clear, and more information will be needed to assess how the probes will affect its ratings.

The China Fishery probe relates to dealings with a trading party since Oct 1, 2011, Fitch said. China Fishery has said that its business and operations are not affected by the investigations and will continue as normal.