Bulls And Bears

Asian stocks weighed down by China jitters

Concerns over Chinese exports pull down Japan, HK stocks but Shanghai reverses falls

Fresh fears over China's slowing economy drove Asian shares further south yesterday, even as the Chinese bourses rebounded a little.

Japan stocks fell 1.61 per cent while Hong Kong equities dropped 1.31 per cent to reach their lowest level since December last year.

This was after China's Commerce Ministry yesterday said exports could continue to fall in coming months, adding to mounting concerns over the country's growth.

The Straits Times Index slid 8.4 points, or 0.28 per cent, to 3,041.25, extending losses for a third straight day this week.

Shanghai stocks, on the other hand, climbed 1.23 per cent to 3,794 points, reversing a plunge of more than 5 per cent in morning trade.

The central bank completed injecting nearly US$100 billion (S$140 billion) into the financial system, a move aimed at lifting the country's sluggish economy, amid renewed hopes for fresh government support that could shore up the market.

"The market expects the government will step in if the Shanghai Composite falls towards 3,500 but more and more people in the mainland see that the bull market is over," Ms Mari Oshidari, a Hong Kong-based strategist at Okasan Securities Group, told Bloomberg.

The benchmark Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index fell more than 6 per cent on Tuesday - its biggest fall in about three weeks.

The weak sentiment weighed down Wall Street, which slipped 0.19 per cent overnight.

Ahead of the release of the United States' inflation data and the minutes of last month's Federal Reserve monetary policy meeting, the losses at home yesterday were led by the local banks.

DBS Group Holdings lost 12 cents or 0.637 per cent to $18.71, while OCBC Bank shed five cents or 0.526 per cent to $9.45 and United Overseas Bank pared nine cents or 0.452 per cent to $19.82.

IG market strategist Bernard Aw said traders will be watching closely the release of the minutes, "which, ideally, should provide greater clarity on the timing of the first (interest rate) hike".

Shipbuilder Vard Holdings slumped four cents or 10.7 per cents to 33.5 cents, hitting a record low. The stock nosedived by as much as 28 per cent in early morning trading before recovering later, prompting a query from the Singapore Exchange.

Meanwhile, commodities blue chip Noble Group posted its first gain in seven days, edging up one cent or 2.41 per cent to 42.5 cents.

Brokerages Phillip Securities, UOB-Kay Hian Holdings and CIMB Group Holdings have restricted online trading and imposed other curbs on the stock as volatility rose.

Other notable gainers included Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust, which added three cents or 1.36 per cent to $2.24, and Hongkong Land Holdings, which rose eight US cents or 1.08 per cent to US$7.51.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2015, with the headline 'Asian stocks weighed down by China jitters'. Print Edition | Subscribe