Bulls And Bears

Investors take profit in subdued market

Trading volumes lower than usual amid lack of fresh leads and cheap valuations

There was not much for investors to get their teeth into during yesterday's subdued session, although the market did eke out a modest rise.

The Straits Times Index added 7.96 points or 0.25 per cent to 3,220.92, on trade of 789.53 million shares worth $1.01 billion. Gainers trumped losers 192 to 170.

On the lower than average trading volumes over the past two sessions, CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang pointed to "the market already pricing in the optimistic sentiment of the past two months, which have meant that valuations no longer look cheap".

IG market strategist Pan Jingyi noted that there was also a lack of volatility due to investors missing fresh leads.

This left investors here and elsewhere turning to profit-taking, with Australia, Japan, South Korea, China and Malaysia markets all down, although Hong Kong edged up.

Market watchers have noted that investors will be looking to the United States Federal Reserve policy meeting this week, and whether European Union members will grant Britain a Brexit extension.

There were 22 gainers among the STI's 30 constituents, with Genting Singapore the most active overall, with 53.1 million shares done as the casino operator ended flat at $1.01.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding's turnover hit 47.4 million shares as it added 3.5 per cent to $1.50, leaving it up 20 per cent for the year.

Offshore and marine counters like Yangzijiang have been rising in line with increasing oil prices and, more recently, a softer greenback.

Among pennies, Tee International surged 23 per cent to 12.3 cents on trade of 47.5 million shares. About 40 per cent of the volume was contributed by a married trade in the early session of 20 million shares - about 3 per cent of all outstanding shares - at 11 cents.

Technology stocks, which have rallied in recent sessions, declined yesterday. UMS Holdings lost 1.9 per cent to 75.5 cents while Hi-P International slipped 2.4 per cent to $1.65.

Sheng Siong dipped 1.9 per cent to $1.06. Brokerage Maybank Kim Eng had initiated coverage on the supermarket operator with a "sell" recommendation at a target price of 95 cents.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines closed 0.2 per cent up at $9.85, following its offer of $500 million of five-year fixed-rate bonds to both institutional and retail investors.

UOB Kay Hian kept its "hold" call on the national carrier, saying the grounding of SilkAir's Boeing 737 Max aircraft may affect not just foregone revenue but also demand.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2019, with the headline 'Investors take profit in subdued market'. Print Edition | Subscribe