Bulls And Bears

Asian markets fall as US rate hike fears resurface

STI down 0.2% with City Developments and Sats among biggest losers

Asian markets mostly fell yesterday, with Singapore shares extending their losses for the third consecutive session and the key Straits Times Index down 7.18 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 3,533.05.

Some two billion shares worth $1.4 billion were traded. Losers outpaced gainers at 257 to 162.

Other markets that traded below the water included Japan, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen, India and Thailand, even as the US dollar continued to strengthen as worries about interest rate hikes resurfaced.

Meanwhile, news that North Korea had threatened to pull out of a historic summit with the United States also unnerved markets.

Pyongyang initially blamed joint South Korea-US military exercises for the threat, but later warned Washington not to push it into abandoning its nuclear programme.

In the US, Wall Street was pressured by surging yields, IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said. She noted that the yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury notes had touched the highest level since 2011, blaming the spike on a series of positive data.

"While April's headline retail sales number arrived in line with expectations at 0.3 per cent month-on-month, the control group (which excludes autos, gasoline and construction materials) accelerated to 0.4 per cent, sparking expectations for more rate hikes.

"For the market, this makes all the difference, given how the figure feeds directly into the computation for GDP (gross domestic product)."

The positive data likely fed into expectations for better GDP numbers to come, in turn raking up interest rate hike expectations.

The CME FedWatch Tool now points to an over 50 per cent likelihood of three or more hikes for the rest of the year.

On the local bourse, the day's biggest losers included blue chips such as in-flight catering service provider Sats, ahead of its May 30 results release. There was no clear reason for its 19-cent drop to $5.37, but Bloomberg noted that this was the biggest decline in over a year.

Its trading volume, at 3.1 million shares, was also significantly heavier than usual. The stock is also now at a 4.6 per cent discount to analysts' consensus target price.

City Developments fell 25 cents to $11.97, culminating in a close to 5 per cent share price fall since May 10.

Its retreat exceeded the drop in the FTSE index tracking Singapore-listed developers, a day after Urban Redevelopment Authority data showed private home sales last month stayed largely unchanged compared with March, and was down 53 per cent year-on-year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2018, with the headline 'Asian markets fall as US rate hike fears resurface'. Print Edition | Subscribe