Bulls And Bears

Asian markets cautious ahead of UK polls

Trading thin as investors find little to inspire them before Britons cast their votes tomorrow

The mood across Asia was cautious yesterday ahead of the British general election.

Trading was thin here, with the benchmark Straits Times Index edging down 2.56 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 3,235.75.

"Asian markets could find little to draw inspiration from," said IG Asia analyst Pan Jingyi in an interview with Bloomberg. "The holding pattern for markets could certainly retain slightly longer towards the action-packed Thursday."

British voters will cast their ballots tomorrow, with polls showing the incumbent Conservative Party's lead shrinking in the wake of terrorist attacks in recent weeks.

Other Asian markets showed little action. Hong Kong rose 0.52 per cent and Shanghai gained 0.34 per cent, while Tokyo fell 0.95 per cent.

In Sydney, shares fell 1.52 per cent to their weakest since February, after the Reserve Bank of Australia kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged.

Noble Group was among the most actively traded shares at home, ending the day half a cent lower at 31.5 cents, amid ongoing investor concern that the company might not be able to turn itself around.

CapitaLand slipped a cent to $3.59. It had said last week it would acquire two serviced residences in Chongqing and Chengdu, China.

OCBC Investment Research analyst Eli Lee yesterday maintained his "buy" call on the stock, saying: "We like that the group continues to scale up its serviced residences business segment while actively reconstituting its portfolio, and also see the set of transactions of office assets in Shanghai as favourable."

Other property developers had a mixed day.

City Developments fell six cents to $10.68, Wing Tai rose half a cent to $1.94, and Wheelock Properties added half a cent to $1.885.

Yoma Strategic was flat at 59 cents. RHB Research analyst Goh Han Peng yesterday maintained his "buy" call on the stock after a recent investor roadshow with the firm.

"Yoma has added a new product line in construction equipment to its auto platform, and plans to open another 10 KFC stores in the current financial year." He added that the stock could get a boost from a recovering real estate market in Myanmar, and if Yoma continues to divest more non-core assets.

IHH Healthcare gained 2.5 cents to $1.94, after CIMB Research said in a report yesterday that it believes the firm is about to undertake a merger or acquisition in India.

"Media reports have linked IHH with Fortis, which makes sense given that Fortis has one of the largest footprints in India and apparently willing to cede management control," the brokerage wrote. "Fortis or not, we believe IHH has M&A (merger and acquisition) plans given that it is still relatively under-represented in India and management views India as a high-growth market."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2017, with the headline 'Asian markets cautious ahead of UK polls'. Print Edition | Subscribe