Markets Insights

Brexit, trade deal worries likely to weigh on sentiment

Some Reits, business trusts to report quarterly earnings; S'pore economic data also out this week

Investor sentiment was swayed last week by a number of factors, including positive US corporate earnings, developments in the United States-China trade relationship, a dismal third-quarter economic growth reading from China, as well as hopes of a Brexit deal.

But at the weekend, investors were thrown another curve ball after the British Parliament delayed a vote on Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit deal. Mr Johnson has sent a letter formally asking the European Union to delay Brexit until next Jan 31 as stipulated by law, but made it clear he would rather that there be no extension.

Meanwhile, there has been progress between the US and China to complete a phase-one trade deal by the middle of next month, but this could be scuppered by US support for Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.

Last Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 255.68 points to 26,770.20. The S&P 500 lost 11.75 points to 2,986.20, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 67.31 points to 8,098.54.

The Straits Times Index closed at 3,114.16, skidding 11.98 points or 0.4 per cent last Friday, and was little moved from Oct 11's close of 3,113.97.

This week, about half of listed real estate investment trusts (Reits) and business trusts will report quarterly earnings. Results for CapitaLand Mall Trust and Mapletree Logistics Trust are due today, Frasers Commercial Trust and Mapletree Industrial Trust tomorrow, CapitaLand Commercial Trust and Frasers Centrepoint Trust on Wednesday, and CapitaLand Retail China Trust on Friday.

Wednesday sees the release of September inflation data, while industrial production (IP) and preliminary data for third-quarter unemployment will be out on Friday.

Even as Singapore avoided a technical recession in the third quarter, FXTM market analyst Han Tan noted that "upcoming inflation, unemployment and industrial production data will be used to further assess the health of the city-state economy".

He added: "Signs of weaker inflationary pressures should lower the bar for future policy easing by the central bank, especially if external headwinds strengthen going into 2020."

United Overseas Bank (UOB) expects inflation in September to edge higher to 0.6 per cent year on year. Core inflation, which strips out accommodation and private road transport costs, may also edge higher to 0.9 per cent year on year.

Based on advance estimates for third-quarter gross domestic product (GDP) growth, manufacturing contracted 3.5 per cent year on year. Barring any revision to July and August figures, UOB has forecast that IP may record a smaller contraction of 2.6 per cent year on year in September.

UOB economist Alvin Liew said: "If the IP contraction turns out to be much worse than what was implied, then the slightly positive third-quarter GDP growth (of 0.1 per cent) will be at risk of a downward revision."

South Korea's third-quarter GDP figures are due on Thursday, as well as Bank Indonesia's monetary policy decision.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2019, with the headline 'Brexit, trade deal worries likely to weigh on sentiment'. Print Edition | Subscribe