Bulls And Bears

Asian markets end lower or flat amid gloom

STI continues decline, dragged down by financials and industrials

Amid a cautious trading environment, Singapore stocks continued their downward slide yesterday, with the Straits Times Index (STI) losing 0.68 per cent or 21.6 points to close at 3,171.11.

Investors are finding more reasons for gloom than cheer, with the International Monetary Fund's downgrade of its global growth outlook, Brexit-related uncertainty and the continued partial United States government shutdown.

Hopes for progress in US-China trade ties were also dimmed by reports that Washington had rejected Beijing's offer to hold preparatory talks ahead of a key meeting next week, although the White House denied the reports.

Asian markets were a mixed bag, ending mostly lower or flat.

"With market players clearly keeping a safe distance from riskier assets... stock markets remain in the firing line," FXTM research analyst Lukman Otunuga said. "The declines witnessed across global stocks in recent days continue to highlight how fragile market sentiment remains."

Turnover on the Singapore bourse was about 1.27 billion shares worth $1 billion. Losers outnumbered gainers 213 to 150.

Several of the most heavily traded stocks ended flat, such as Genting Singapore, which closed at $1.09 after 45.5 million shares changed hands. Rex International closed at 7.9 cents on a volume of 22.6 million, while JCG Investment Holdings closed at 0.3 cent with 22 million shares traded.

Among STI constituents, financials were the biggest drag, followed by industrials. DBS fell 39 cents to $24.16. OCBC Bank lost 12 cents to $11.38 and United Overseas Bank retreated 36 cents to $25.66.

CapitaLand Mall Trust led gainers on the STI, adding four cents to close at $2.31. It reported a higher distribution per unit of 2.99 cents for its fourth quarter ended Dec 31. OCBC research analyst Andy Wong said the bank maintains its "hold" rating and $2.12 target price on the stock for now.

Grand Venture Technology joined the Catalist board yesterday, opening at 27 cents and closing at its offer price of 27.5 cents.

Singapore's Consumer Price Index for December came in above projections. Headline inflation rose to 0.5 per cent year on year, up from 0.3 per cent in November. Core inflation rose to 1.9 per cent.

UOB's Global Economics and Markets Research team expects this year's headline and core inflation to average 1.5 per cent and 2.2 per cent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2019, with the headline 'Asian markets end lower or flat amid gloom'. Subscribe