Asian bourses give in to growth, earnings fears

S'pore shares at near 22-month low, with sober data on home prices, factory output

Regional markets failed to shrug off fears about global growth and corporate earnings to end the week in the red.

Yesterday's declines also came on the back of disappointing earnings from Amazon and Google's parent Alphabet in the United States overnight.

The sour mood sent the Shanghai Composite down 0.19 per cent while Japan's Nikkei 225 slipped 0.4 per cent. South Korea fell 1.75 per cent.

Singapore shares were left at near 22-month lows with the Straits Times Index (STI) down 1.35 per cent or 40.82 points to 2,972.02, leaving it 2.6 per cent down for the week.

Losers outnumbered gainers 261 to 133 on trade of 1.77 billion shares worth $1.27 billion.

While many traders may be licking their wounds, Mr Andrew Gillan, Singapore-based head of Asia ex-Japan equities at Janus Henderson Investors, told Bloomberg that it is a "great opportunity for long-term investors to pick up cheaper companies" as trade and rising interest rate concerns have arguably been "well priced" into Asian markets.

OCBC analysts noted that Asian bourses are likely to benefit from "tentative bottom-fishing".

Financial heavyweights weighed on the STI yesterday with all three banks down.

DBS lost 2.57 per cent to $23.10 and OCBC slipped 1.9 per cent to $10.40 but UOB bore the brunt, plunging 3.53 per cent to $24.07 on weaker net interest margins and quarter-on-quarter results, despite a net profit rise.

Developers also slumped. Oxley Holdings lost 1.67 per cent to 29.5 cents and City Developments lost 1.75 per cent to $7.86.

Private home price growth moderated to 0.5 per cent in the third quarter after the July cooling measures, in contrast to an increase of 3.4 per cent in the previous quarter, according to official data yesterday.

That did not help the mood and neither did estimates showing that manufacturing output took a surprise fall last month, shrinking 0.2 per cent year on year. Economists had predicted production would slow further in the quarter but few had expected contraction.

Eyes are now on gross domestic product data for the US due overnight, with experts tipping a robust result.

Deutsche Bank Wealth Management analyst Tuan Huynh said: "We have upgraded our 2018 US GDP growth forecast to 2.9 per cent, although we do expect growth to slow to 2.4 per cent in 2019, partly due to fiscal policy stimulus starting to run out of puff and jobs growth unavoidably starting to cool."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2018, with the headline 'Asian bourses give in to growth, earnings fears'. Print Edition | Subscribe