Bulls And Bears

Asian markets fall on trade, growth fears

Most of region down, in line with Wall Street losses; 17 STI stocks in the red

Trade worries and growth concerns stayed front and centre yesterday and sent shares heading south across the region.

The local market was not spared from the sea of red with the Straits Times Index (STI) down 2.04 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 3,163.28.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea all closed lower.

South Korea's Kospi 200 index fell 1.3 per cent to its lowest since Jan 4. Only Malaysia bucked the trend, adding 0.6 per cent.

"It was a quiet session for Asian markets. The region fell mostly in line with Wall Street losses, which extended worries over trade tensions and growth," said IG market strategist Pan Jingyi.

FXTM research analyst Lukman Otunuga said: "Until markets see encouraging signs of both sides securing a trade deal, this negative sentiment and general risk aversion will most likely continue punishing global equity markets."

A trader said that with investors uncertain, "there is a possibility that prices could fall further, shorting the market is an option".

Trading volumes here clocked in at 1.13 billion securities worth $1.04 billion, with losers trumping gainers 215 to 153. The 17 STI stocks in the red included Genting Singapore, which was also the benchmark index's most traded stock, with 29.1 million changing hands. The shares reversed Tuesday's gains to end 1.1 per cent down at 88 cents.

Banks slid as well. DBS shed 0.4 per cent to $24.85, OCBC Bank fell 0.5 per cent to $10.89, while United Overseas Bank dipped 0.8 per cent to $24.11.

IG's Ms Pan noted that lower US treasury yields could have been a drag on the local banking sector.

Meanwhile, Singtel rebounded, up 1 per cent to $3.18, while rival StarHub was unchanged at $1.49.

The telcos fell on Tuesday after recently privatised M1 revealed that it would replace 19 mobile plans with one base plan each for SIM-only and handset bundles.

DBS Equity research analyst Sachin Mittal said in a report yesterday that M1's move is likely to have minimal impact on Singtel's earnings "as Singapore mobile accounts for less than 10 per cent of Singtel's bottom line".

Oil prices slumped on the back of trade hostilities and growth fears, which impacted some players. Rex International dropped 6.5 per cent to 5.8 cents, and GSS Energy fell 2.8 per cent to seven cents.

Investors turned to defensive stocks, with Sheng Siong adding 1.9 per cent to $1.10.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 30, 2019, with the headline 'Asian markets fall on trade, growth fears'. Print Edition | Subscribe