Bulls And Bears

Asian markets fall on China's GDP target cut

Mood sours in S'pore, Japan and S. Korea; China bucks trend on plans to lift economy

Monday's sense of relief over what seemed like a thaw in the trade conflict proved short-lived with broader concerns muscling their way back into markets yesterday.

Chief among them was China's move to lower its gross domestic product target for this year to a range of 6 to 6.5 per cent.

Aberdeen Standard Investments chief economist Jeremy Lawson noted that the lower target suggested that "the reforms that President Trump is demanding matter much more for China than the US".

FXTM global head of currency strategy and market research Jameel Ahmad added: "The global economy was once again reminded of the risks that external headwinds can pose for domestic markets' today."

The souring mood sent the Straits Times Index (STI) down 17.01 points or 0.52 per cent to 3,234.07.

Elsewhere, markets in Australia, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia also ended lower while Hong Kong closed flat.

Markets in mainland China bucked the trend, buoyed by Beijing's plans to cut taxes, and increase public expenditure and lending to lift its slowing economy.

Shanghai shares rose 0.9 per cent while the ChiNext - the equivalent of the Nasdaq - added 3.5 per cent.

Trading here clocked in at 1.2 billion shares worth $1.07 billion, with losers outnumbering gainers 256 to 158.

Only eight of the STI's 30 constituents ended the day in the black.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding was the bourse's most traded counter, falling 2.1 per cent to $1.40 with 38.6 million shares changing hands.

SGX market strategist Geoff Howie noted: "Over the past two sessions, multiple research providers made adjustments to their outlook for the stock, which followed its report of a 23 per cent year-on-year increase in 2018 earnings."

Tech counters were active with Hi-P International falling 0.7 per cent to $1.50 on 28.3 million shares traded while AEM Holdings dropped 0.8 per cent to $1.16 on 20.9 million shares done.

Among financials, DBS Bank lost 0.3 per cent to $25.43, OCBC Bank dropped 0.4 per cent to $11.20 while United Overseas Bank ended 0.47 per cent lower at $25.15.

Agri-food company Japfa rose 0.7 per cent to 71 cents. The counter had been hit on news of an outbreak of African swine flu in Vietnam, which UOB Kay Hian analyst John Cheong said in a report yesterday was oversold.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2019, with the headline 'Asian markets fall on China's GDP target cut'. Print Edition | Subscribe