Bulls And Bears

Downbeat sentiment sends STI down 0.5%

Brexit anxiety and sell-off in tech stocks drag most regional markets lower

With nothing much happening on the trade front, regional investors turned their attention to Brexit and a weak revenue forecast from semiconductor giant Texas Instruments in yesterday's session.

The downbeat sentiment here sent the Straits Times Index (STI) down 16.39 points, or 0.52 per cent, to 3,144.28, although traders noted that the benchmark's strong early-week rally gave cause for investors to book profits.

Elsewhere, most Asian markets faced a sell-off in tech stocks on Texas Instruments' revenue warning, with China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and South Korea all posting losses. Australia was flat but Japan managed gains.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was one of the region's worst performers, skidding 0.8 per cent.

Anxiety over Brexit seemed to play on the minds of Asian investors but it was not all bad news as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson got approval in principle from Parliament for the withdrawal agreement, just not for his fast-tracked deadline to meet the Oct 31 exit date from the European Union.

Trading volume here came in at 980.05 million shares worth $1.02 billion, with losers outpacing gainers 206 to 175.

Much of the chatter in the local market remained on Temasek's partial offer to raise its stake in Keppel Corp to 51 per cent. The conglomerate built on Tuesday's 14.4 per cent surge, adding 0.8 per cent to $6.73.

CGS-CIMB Singapore research head Lim Siew Khee believes Keppel's share price could stay around $6.61 to $7 in the near future.

Proxies to the conglomerate, most notably Sembcorp Industries, which added 2.2 per cent to $2.28, and its subsidiary Sembcorp Marine (SembMarine) continued to see considerable trading activity. SembMarine added 3.7 per cent to $1.40 on 30.4 million shares traded, making it one of the most active counters.

"Judging from trading since Monday, the market is speculating that SembMarine may also be subject to a partial or full offer," one dealer said.

Along with the regional slide in tech stocks, Venture Corp closed 1.8 per cent lower at $15.11.

Among real estate investment trusts (Reits), CapitaLand Commercial Trust dipped 0.5 per cent to $2.04, Suntec Reit fell 1.1 per cent to $1.85 and Frasers Centrepoint Trust edged down 0.4 per cent to $2.72.

The local banks were also down. DBS Group Holdings fell 0.5 per cent to $24.79, OCBC Bank finished 0.6 per cent lower at $10.65 and United Overseas Bank dipped 0.5 per cent to $25.77.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2019, with the headline 'Downbeat sentiment sends STI down 0.5%'. Print Edition | Subscribe