Bulls And Bears

Investors take profit amid muted trading

But Jakarta bucks regional trend, buoyed by likely re-election of Jokowi

Investors here and across the region seemed more focused on the upcoming long weekend than any trends that might inspire some market activity yesterday.

Trade volumes were low, catalysts in short supply while profit-taking seemed to be in the ascendant in many bourses.

The only market to show much life was in Jakarta, where shares enjoyed a flying start, buoyed by opinion polls that indicated incumbent President Joko Widodo was set to win the Indonesian presidential election.

The index surged 2.4 per cent shortly after the opening bell, before easing to close up 0.4 per cent.

Mr Stephen Innes, SPI Asset Management's managing partner and head of trading, noted: "The most significant declines (in Asia) are on the Kospi (down 1.06 per cent), being deep in the red, which comes on the back of news that North Korea has tested a new 'tactical weapon'."

At least the Straits Times Index (STI) managed to stay on an even keel, closing down just 1.06 points or 0.03 per cent to 3,347.58.

UOB Kay Hian vice-president of equities and financial products Brandon Leu said: "It is quite encouraging to see the STI continue to hold near to its key resistance of 3,350, which implies that the market may not be as pessimistic.

"The STI may break above the 3,350 level, especially if we see positive near-term drivers, such as better-than-expected earnings or further positive developments in US-China trade talks."

The bourse also managed to add 15.6 points or 0.5 per cent for the shortened week.

Trading clocked in at 923.26 million shares worth $952.8 million yesterday, with losers outpacing gainers 230 to 166.

There were 15 benchmark shares that dipped, four counters that ended level and 11 winners.

A trader said that he had advised clients to take profit on a number of blue-chip counters following the index's recent run, adding: "The market could see some correction soon."

CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said: "While investors were keen to take profit, counters like Singtel, OCBC and ThaiBev posted gains, outperforming the STI."

ThaiBev was the big gainer, adding 1.2 per cent to 82.5 cents, leaving it up 3.8 per cent over the past three sessions.

Banks had a mixed day. DBS Bank fell 0.3 per cent to $27.40, while United Overseas Bank was 0.3 per cent down at $26.80, but OCBC Bank added 0.4 per cent to $11.77.

The Japanese and United States markets will be open today for trading.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2019, with the headline 'Investors take profit amid muted trading'. Print Edition | Subscribe