Bulls And Bears

Asian markets slide on IMF growth warnings

STI hurt by declines in manufacturing, transport, storage and communications

Warnings from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) about weakening global growth due to trade rows and financial market volatility sent local shares down for another session yesterday.

The IMF also cut global growth forecasts, just three months since it warned of a downturn last October.

OCBC Treasury Research said in a morning note that the latest IMF cut "is just a confirmation of existing concerns of a slower 2019".

The news hit investor sentiment, clipping gains in most Asian markets, with China and Hong Kong posting some of the biggest losses.

Local stocks fared no better.

The Straits Times Index began the day under water and sank further, before closing down 0.86 per cent, or 27.85 points, to 3,192.71.

Losers outnumbered gainers 225 to 148 after 1.57 billion shares worth $786.6 million changed hands.

"The Singapore market has already enjoyed an almost 5 per cent rise in three weeks. Some sideways movement is expected, especially with US equity futures pointing to some downside when it reopens," said Phillip Securities research head Paul Chew.

Drags on the index came from the manufacturing, transport, storage and communication sectors.

M1 fell 0.97 per cent to $2.05 after Keppel Corporation and Singapore Press Holdings' joint venture entity said there would be no increase in its $2.06 per share offer price for M1.

Singtel slid 0.66 per cent to $3.02, while StarHub slumped 1.11 per cent to $1.78. In contrast, Netlink NBN Trust ended higher, up 0.65 per cent to 77.5 cents.

Another exception was ComfortDelGro, which put on 0.46 per cent to $2.19. KGI Securities noted that institutional investors have been accumulating the stock at $2.10 to $2.30, with JPMorgan's Asean Equity fund the latest to add a significant stake to its portfolio. The fund added 2.37 million shares valued at $3.7 million last month.

The index was also hurt by declines in financial counters.

DBS pared 1.84 per cent to $24.55, while United Overseas Bank gave up 1.55 per cent to $26.02. OCBC Bank posted the steepest decline, down 1.96 per cent to $11.50.

Real estate investment trusts (Reits), which analysts have looked to as defensive plays in recent volatile times, were a mixed bag. Soilbuild Reit gained 2.48 per cent after posting higher fourth-quarter earnings on Monday. But Mapletree Logistics Trust, which also lifted earnings, ended flat.

OCBC analysts foresee more upside to come for the trust.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2019, with the headline 'Asian markets slide on IMF growth warnings'. Print Edition | Subscribe