Bulls And Bears

Hong Kong unrest takes a toll on Singapore market

Shares with deep exposure to city hit; doubts remain over US-China trade issue

The Hong Kong effect was evident on the local market yesterday with local investors paying more attention to unrest in the territory.

Shares with deep exposure to the city took a hit, and in turn helped send the Straits Times Index (STI) down 7.37 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 3,231.85.

That said, investors also took the opportunity to cash in on counters that had a decent run-up before third-quarter earnings were out.

The picture was mixed elsewhere. Hong Kong, as expected, led regional markets down as it dropped a further 0.9 per cent to a five-week low after Wednesday's 1.8 per cent dive.

Japan, Malaysia and Taiwan were also lower, but Australia, China and South Korea ended in the black.

IG market strategist Pan Jingyi noted: "The market remains in contemplation over the US-China trade issue, while comments from Fed chair Jerome Powell in his Wednesday testimony to Congress provided little fresh insights to shift prices."

Industrial production data for last month again showed the impact the longstanding trade scuffle is having on China's economy.

Last month's reading showed growth slowed sharply, retail sales missed expectations, and fixed asset investment, a key driver of economic growth, hit a record low.

Trading volume here was 1.62 billion shares worth $1.09 billion, with losers beating gainers 216 to 189.

Investors booked profits on Golden Agri-Resources after it posted a third-quarter net profit of US$801,000 (S$1.1 million), reversing last year's loss of US$53.9 million.

The palm oil plantation owner fell 7.6 per cent to 24.5 cents with 65.3 million shares traded, the most among STI counters.

Traders felt it was an opportune time to cash in after the counter, along with other agribusiness shares, rode the coat-tails of higher palm oil prices recently. Golden Agri had risen 29 per cent this month before yesterday's results.

ComfortDelGro shed 2.5 per cent to $2.32, after its net profit fell 10.8 per cent as a deflating taxi business took a toll on earnings.

CGS-CIMB and UOB Kay Hian both downgraded their calls on the firm to "hold", after taking into account a weaker earnings outlook.

Myanmar-focused Yoma Strategic surged as much as 20 per cent in early trading as Philippine conglomerate Ayala became its second-largest investor after taking up a 20 per cent stake for US$155 million.

Yoma closed 15.4 per cent higher at 37.5 cents despite posting a second-quarter net loss of US$44.2 million yesterday morning.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 15, 2019, with the headline 'HK unrest takes a toll on Singapore market'. Print Edition | Subscribe