STI ends the week 1.63% down as investors play wait-and-watch

SINGAPORE - Singapore shares ended the short trading week in the red amid the mixed performance across key markets in Asia, where investors remained unsure of the choppy economic outlook.

After Thursday's public holiday, the trading here resumed with no signs of improved sentiments. The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) was down 13.1 points or 0.46 per cent to a new full-year low at 2,832.64. For the week, the STI pared 1.63 per cent.

Friday's session continued to reflect the local market's sideway movements, with the index stuck between 2,830 and 2,840 through the day. This may be the new norm for local shares for the coming weeks until there is more clarity on the market momentum, remisier Chung Chun He said.

"There is still very little retail participation in the market, and most investors are still waiting on the side line because the market is not giving any directions. Meanwhile, we continue to see big funds pulling out of local shares.

"The worse may yet to come. If the downward pressure from the economic concerns breaks the sideway movements, the market may plummet further," he warned.

Investors were spooked by yet another string of data highlighting fresh signs of economic woes in Asia. Singapore's industrial production fell 8.1 per cent year-on-year in August, the latest government figures showed, while Japan's core inflation dropped for the first time since April 2013.

These figures ran contrary to the regulatory views in the United States, where Federal Reserve chairman Janet Yellen said in a public speech that rate hike is still likely by the end of this year. Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.48 per cent overnight.

In Asia, while Tokyo was up 1.76 per cent due partly to investors betting on further government stimulus, Shanghai fell 1.6 per cent and Hong Kong gained 0.43 per cent.

"The (Chinese) market's condition is still weak, and the correction trend should have a little further to run," Haitong Securities analyst Zhang Qi told Reutuers.

Back in Singapore, half of the STI component stocks ended lower, with Jardine Cycle & Carriage closing 63 cents or 2.2 per cent down at $27.96. Wednesday's gainers ComfortDelGro and Singapore Airlines also dropped - ComfortDelgro pared six cents or 2.09 per cent to $2.81, while SIA lost 20 cents or 1.85 per cent to close at $10.61.

All three banking counters remained locked in their recent slump. DBS dipped by 13 cents or 0.77 per cent to hit its full-year low at $16.77. OCBC and United Overseas Bank lingered just above their respective full-year lows, as OCBC closed flat at $8.91 while UOB dropped 16 cents or 0.84 per cent to $18.81.

Top active counter International Healthway Corp managed to end its 70 per cent drop since two weeks ago, closing 0.6 cent or 6.82 per cent up at 9.4 cents.

whwong@sph.com.sg