Asian markets, STI slide as traders wound down for the holiday weekend

Singapore equities rolled further downhill Friday (Dec 23) as investors wound down for the holidays. Most other markets in Asia finished weaker as well.
Singapore equities rolled further downhill Friday (Dec 23) as investors wound down for the holidays. Most other markets in Asia finished weaker as well.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Singapore equities rolled further downhill Friday as investors wound down for the holidays. Most other markets in Asia finished weaker as well.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) slid 10.99 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 2,871.05 - down 66.81 points or 2.27 per cent for the week, and lower by 0.44 per cent for the year so far. Shanghai fell 0.94 per cent, Hong Kong shaved off 0.28 per cent and Kuala Lumpur eased 0.37 per cent. Tokyo was closed for a holiday.

"Volatility dropped to extremely low levels as markets sank into the holiday mood on the last trading day ahead of Christmas," said Ms Margaret Yang, market analyst at CMC Markets Singapore, noting trading volumes have also thinned.

"But that couldn't mask the fact that emerging markets are suffering from capital outflows, which is observed in the performance divergence between US equities and Asian equities," she said.

Wall Street retreated 0.12 per cent overnight - though only after having pushed record highs over the last few days in tandem with the US dollar, buoyed by optimism that president-elect Donald Trump's fiscal stimulus policies will help spur economic growth.

"Going into next year, we are confident the dollar will continue to make headway. It will be the currency that appreciates in 2017, it's just a question of how much," Mr Andrew Milligan, head of global strategy at Standard Life Investments in Edinburgh, told Bloomberg.

Commodity plays were among the biggest drags on the STI's performance Friday. Wilmar International dropped seven cents or 1.9 per cent to S$3.59 while Golden Agri-Resources fell half a cent or 1.2 per cent to 42.5 cents.

Keppel Corporation dipped three cents or 0.5 per cent to S$5.80. The conglomerate said on Thursday evening that a Keppel Land unit has bought a 50 per cent stake for 250 billion rupiah (S$27 million) in a joint development with a subsidiary of major Indonesian real estate developer Metropolitan Land. The development is in Greater Jakarta.

Some 1.46 billion shares worth just $593.1 million changed hands across the bourse.

The Singapore market is closed on Monday for Christmas.

tsjwoo@sph.com.sg