Bulls And Bears

China worries keep Asian bourses down

But Hong Kong defies trend after Beijing hints at renewing support for afflicted markets

Asian bourses were a mixed bag yesterday as investors across the region continued to keep an eye on the beleaguered Chinese market.

The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index dropped 1.68 per cent following an 8 per cent plunge on Monday that shook markets around the world.

Wall Street responded overnight, falling 0.73 per cent, while the Nikkei 225 Index in Japan dipped 0.1 per cent yesterday.

The Straits Times Index slid 32.33 points, or 0.98 per cent, to 3,281.09.

But Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index defied the trend, rising 0.62 per cent after Beijing hinted at renewing support for its afflicted markets.

Mr Matt Maley, a United States- based equity strategist at Miller Tabak, speaking to Bloomberg, said: "The situation in China is causing concern, particularly for the international companies that get a good portion of their sales from overseas.

"We're already starting to see cracks in the earnings picture, so if global growth is going to slow, that will make the cracks bigger."

IG market strategist Bernard Aw said state efforts to shore up market sentiment have not done the trick.

He said: "Monday's plunge showed the Chinese authorities that even governmental measures have their limits.

"In the meantime, we will continue to see a sideways grind in the Chinese markets. Traders should be extremely cautious on break-out volatility."

The losses in Singapore were led by the three local banks, which were unable to dodge the volatility in China. DBS Group fell nine cents to $20.99, OCBC Bank lost five cents to $10.27, and UOB sank 22 cents to $22.97.

Also among the day's worst performers were telco giant Singtel, which dropped three cents to $4.27, and bourse operator Singapore Exchange, which was down 14 cents to $8.07.

Palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources lost two cents to 34 cents - its lowest in about six years - as the global commodity rout continued to bite. An OCBC report last month said the near-term outlook for Golden Agri remains "somewhat muted", as drier conditions are expected in Indonesia in the coming months due to the El Nino effect.

Commodities play Noble Group also headed to a fresh six-year low, losing 2.5 cents to 59.5 cents

"Clearly, the sustained share buybacks are losing the fight against the gloomy commodity outlook," said Mr Aw.

The only bright spot among the blue-chip counters yesterday was the agribusiness group Wilmar International, which rose one cent to $3.20.

Catalist-listed waterproofing firm Chinese Global was again the most heavily traded, with 267.9 million shares changing hands. The counter fell 0.6 cents to 5.7 cents.

A total of 2.14 billion stocks worth $2.25 billion were traded.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2015, with the headline 'China worries keep Asian bourses down'. Subscribe