Grim China data adds gloom to bourse

STI down nearly 39 points; falls below the 3,000 level for the first time since Feb 2014

Singapore shares sank deeper into the red yesterday after ailing China released its bleakest manufacturing data since the global financial crisis in 2009.

The benchmark Straits Times Index fell 38.77 points, or 1.29 per cent, to 2,971.01 - dropping below the 3,000 support level for the first time since February last year.

The blue-chip index, down 4.6 per cent for the week, moved south for all five trading days this week.

China's grim data, little helped by its shock move to devalue the yuan last week, confirmed fears over the worsening decline of its economy.

The persistent downturn in the oil industry dragged down investor confidence as well, with prices on track for their longest losing streak since 1986.

As a result, traders fled regional markets: Shanghai dived 4.27 per cent, Hong Kong slid 1.53 per cent and Japan fell 2.98 per cent.

Wall Street faced similar worries, retreating 2.06 per cent overnight.

"It seems like we're seeing the makings of the 1997 Asian financial crisis all over, with emerging-market currencies plunging," CMC Markets analyst Nicholas Teo told Bloomberg News.

"China's knock-on effect on the rest of the world is huge and (the country's) deepening economic slowdown will have an impact for the next couple of months or so."

At home, the local banks were among the day's biggest losers, led by United Overseas Bank, which fell 55 cents or 2.8 per cent to $19.11.

OCBC Bank slid 19 cents or 2.05 per cent to $9.10, while DBS Group Holdings pared 19 cents or 1.03 per cent to $18.29.

Rigbuilding giants Keppel Corporation and Sembcorp Marine slipped further into the red, as the global supply glut continued to take a toll on oil prices. Keppel Corp lost 16 cents or 2.3 per cent to $6.80, while SembMarine shed five cents or 2.1 per cent to $2.33.

The most heavily traded stock was fishery group Pacific Andes Resources Development, with 238.5 million shares changing hands.

The counter plunged 1.2 cents or 28.6 per cent to three cents on news of a probe by Singapore regulators.

Amid the frenzied selldown, commodities trader Noble Group once again kept afloat, rising 1.5 cent or 3.49 per cent to 44.5 cents.

IG market strategist Bernard Aw noted that the stock has been "surprisingly resilient", as the company seeks to grow its credit lines by pledging commodity inventories to banks as collateral.

Bourse operator Singapore Exchange edged up two cents or 0.269 per cent to $7.45.

Overall trade on the exchange for the day was worth $1.54 billion, with 1.94 billion shares traded.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 22, 2015, with the headline 'Grim China data adds gloom to bourse'. Subscribe