Bulls And Bears

Asian markets dip over signs of slow US growth

UOB and OCBC among big losers on STI, followed by Genting Singapore

Investors had little to go on yesterday as the familiar market driver of recent months - trade talk news - was in short supply.

Some interest was stirred by data showing signs that the United States economy may be slowing.

Key indices in the US closed lower overnight on the numbers, and their counterparts in Asia, including Singapore, followed suit.

The Straits Times Index (STI) opened with a 0.6 per cent drop and spent the rest of the day trading upwards.

It never quite recovered before closing down 8.01 points, or 0.24 per cent, at 3,269.90 points, but still ahead 0.93 per cent for the week.

Trade hit a high for the week, with 1.46 billion shares worth $1.27 billion changing hands as gainers just outnumbered losers 218 to 208.

The banks were the biggest drag on the STI, followed by the day's most active, Genting Singapore.

United Overseas Bank and OCBC Bank reported their fourth-quarter earnings yesterday, with UOB posting a 7 per cent rise in net profit, while OCBC saw an 11 per cent fall.

UOB shares lost 1.54 per cent to $25.58 and OCBC declined 1.56 per cent to $11.39, but DBS rallied 0.81 per cent to $25.01.

Genting Singapore lost 3.6 per cent to $1.07, with 69.5 million shares traded after posting a 12 per cent rise in fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday night.

DBS analyst Mervin Song said yesterday that investors remain sceptical over the sustainability of the gaming company's earnings recovery. However, the bank believes this scepticism should subside.

Electronics manufacturer Hi-P International rose 8.57 per cent to $1.14 after posting a $101 million net profit for the year on Thursday night.

 
 
 

Singapore Exchange (SGX) market strategist Geoff Howie said its traded value of $39.4 million yesterday was an almost eightfold increase relative to its $5 million average daily traded value for the past three months.

One-third of the STI stocks reported full-year earnings this week, including Venture Corp after markets closed yesterday.

The electronics manufacturer posted net profit of $370.1 million for the year, down 0.7 per cent, although it would have registered a 2.4 per cent increase after excluding a one-off gain recorded in the previous year. The stock closed down 0.19 per cent to $16.12.

The SGX's five largest tech stocks - Venture, Hi-P, Creative Technology, Silverlake Axis and NetLink NBN Trust - have gained since the start of the year, averaging 21 per cent returns with double-digit gains for four of them, said Mr Howie.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2019, with the headline 'Asian markets dip over signs of slow US growth'. Print Edition | Subscribe