STI closes 14 points down despite strong market performance in Asia

The decline here followed the overnight 0.77 per cent rise in Dow Jones Industrial Average.
The decline here followed the overnight 0.77 per cent rise in Dow Jones Industrial Average. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - The local market was unable to stretch its gain to a second straight day, as investors remain uncertain over the outlook despite the strong market performances in Greater China on Tuesday.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) pared 13.8 points or 0.48 per cent to close at 2,868.47, following Monday's marginal rise.

Some 1.46 billion shares worth S$969.1 million changed hands across the market, in a session that had shown upward momentum through most of the day, pushing the STI to above 2,900 before a late-hour selloff sent the shares back into the red again.

The decline here followed the overnight 0.77 per cent rise in Dow Jones Industrial Average. Closer in Asia, Chinese markets - so often been the source of bearish sentiments these days - also gained, with Shanghai rising 0.92 per cent while Hong Kong went up 0.18 per cent.

It is not surprising that local sentiments have not been equally positive, remisier Desmond Leong told the Straits Times.

"What spooked the investors yesterday was probably the over 200 points fall of Dow Jones' futures," he said, referring to a 256 points drop to DJIA contracts expiring in December as investors remain occupied by uncertainties around the timing of Federal Reserve rate hike.

"The last-hour selloff showed that sentiments are still quite fragile, and many investors still remain apprehensive and will take money away at the first negative sign."

But the worst selloff seems to be over, Mr Leong noted, adding that as long as the market can remain in sideways as long as STI stays above the 2,800 level.

Amid the wild swings through the day, seven blue chip counters still managed to eke out a gain. Thai Beverage again emerged as the top gaining blue chip, rising 1.5 cent or 2.19 per cent to 70 cents. Wilmar International also rose, up five cents or 1.88 per cent to close at S$2.71.

Performance of the three new STI entrants - UOL Group, Yangzijiang Shipbuilding and Sats - was mixed after their strong debut on the benchmark index on Monday.

UOL Group dropped three cents or 0.49 per cent to S$6.05, while Yangzijiang pared 2.5 cents or 2.1 per cent to S$1.165. But Sats put on three cents or 0.77 per cent and closed at S$3.94.

On the other end of the ledger, offshore and marine plays remained under pressure. Sembcorp Marine dropped seven cents or 2.92 per cent to S$2.33, and Keppel Corp closed 18 cents or 2.52 per cent down at S$6.97, reflecting the still choppy oil prices.

whwong@sph.com.sg