Bulls And Bears

China fears send local shares tumbling again

Investor sentiment also hit by US Fed's concerns over state of global economy

Concerns over slowing growth in China sent local shares falling yesterday - the fourth straight day of red ink.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) dropped 31.47 points, or 1.03 per cent, to 3,009.78.

The 3,000-point support level is now too close for comfort, said analysts. "The ferocity of the recent plunge may be sufficiently forceful to pierce the barrier," said IG market strategist Bernard Aw.

Sentiment took another hit when the United States Federal Reserve highlighted concerns over the state of the global economy.

That sent Wall Street down 0.93 per cent overnight.

"The market has quickly pared back expectations of a September (interest rate hike)," said Mr Aw.

"Needless to say, market participants will scrutinise consumer price data in the coming months to speculate whether a rate hike is even on the table this year."

Other regional bourses fared poorly as well.

Shanghai tumbled 3.42 per cent, Hong Kong fell 1.77 per cent to its lowest level in eight months and Japan dipped 0.94 per cent.

The biggest laggards here included rigbuilders Sembcorp Marine and Keppel Corporation, which are being hit by the prolonged slide in oil prices on the back of a global supply glut. SembMarine fell 11 cents or 4.42 per cent to $2.38, a level last seen during the global financial crisis in 2009, while KepCorp lost 13 cents or 1.83 per cent to $6.96.

The local banks also took a hit, led by OCBC, which fell 16 cents or 1.69 per cent to $9.29. DBS Group shed 23 cents or 1.23 per cent to $18.48 and United Overseas Bank pared 16 cents or 0.81 per cent to $19.66.

Meanwhile, commodity giant Noble Group posted gains for the second straight day, climbing half a cent or 1.18 per cent to 43 cents.

Fitch Ratings said in a report that Noble's second-quarter results "reflect a stable financial profile, despite an increase in debt due to working capital expansion, which will set the stage for stronger operating cash flow generation in the second half of 2015". It gave Noble the lowest investment-grade rating of "BBB-" with a stable outlook.

Separately, a Barclays report said it maintained an "overweight" call on the stock. It expects the company to "remain profitable" even as it is likely that its near-term earnings outlook is being challenged by weak commodity prices.

Outside of the blue chips, jeweller Soo Kee Group, which made its trading debut yesterday, sank 5.5 cents or 18.3 per cent to 24.5 cents. Its initial public offering price was 30 cents.

Airport solutions provider Stratech Group was the day's most heavily traded counter, with 85 million shares changing hands. The stock slumped 0.8 cent or 11.8 per cent to six cents.

Overall trade on the exchange amounted to $1.24 billion, with 1.44 billion shares being traded.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 21, 2015, with the headline 'China fears send local shares tumbling again'. Print Edition | Subscribe