Bulls And Bears

Asian markets quiet ahead of Fed decision

11 of STI's constituent stocks end in the black; index still above key support level at 3,200

Renewed uncertainty between the United States and China saw the Singapore stock market dip early, with trading remaining muted ahead of a US Federal Reserve decision on interest rates.

The Straits Times Index (STI) fell by as much as 0.7 per cent before closing 13.26 points or 0.4 per cent lower at 3,207.66.

Even though 11 of the STI's 30 constituent stocks ended the day in the black, CMC Markets' Margaret Yang noted that the benchmark index "managed to hold above the key support level at 3,200".

Trading clocked in at 903.21 million securities, about 65 per cent of the daily average over the first two months of the year. Total turnover came to $974.99 million, 95 per cent of the January-to-February daily average. Decliners outnumbered advancers 198 to 160.

Elsewhere in Asia, trading was mixed with the markets in Australia, South Korea, China, Hong Kong and Malaysia closing lower. Japan closed higher.

Investors in other Asian markets were also on the sidelines, awaiting the outcome of the Fed meeting.

With broad expectations of a dovish Fed, IG market strategist Pan Jingyi noted that sentiment could be punctured by "the small chance that the Fed continues to see two or more hikes this year".

Thomson Medical Group was the bourse's most active counter with 47 million shares traded. Shares in the medical group ended the session flat at 7.8 cents.

There were six trades of value exceeding $150,000 on the day. This led a trader to postulate that investors could have been in a tussle to keep the counter either below or above eight cents, the strike price of an outstanding warrant expiring on April 24. Thomson Medical warrants closed at 0.1 Singapore cent.

"Those keen to convert the warrants to underlying shares will enjoy the dividend, and the company will get a chance to gain more funds," the trader said.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding was the STI's most traded counter, rising two cents to $1.52 with 34.4 million shares changing hands.

Among the big gainers was Best World International. The skincare maker and distributor surged 29 cents to close at $2.60 on news that it has appointed PwC to examine its franchise model. Best World has gained 15 per cent on the week.

Going by value of trades done, DBS Group Holdings saw $67.79 million traded - 7 per cent of the bourse's value of securities traded - across 2.68 million shares. DBS shares fell seven cents to $25.35.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2019, with the headline 'Asian markets quiet ahead of Fed decision'. Subscribe