Bulls And Bears

Local shares dip on expected higher volatility

STI weighed down by Singtel; spotlight falls on Opec meeting and US presidential debate

Singapore shares ended slightly lower, with traders anticipating higher volatility given a meeting of the world's largest oil producers this week and a crucial United States presidential election debate.

The Straits Times Index (STI) slid 0.25 per cent, or 7.01 points, to 2,849.94, weighed down by Singtel, which slipped 0.5 per cent, or two cents, to $3.96.

ComfortDelGro dipped 1.8 per cent, or five cents, to $2.76; airport handling agent Sats fell 3.1 per cent, or 16 cents, to $4.93; United Overseas Bank dipped 0.4 per cent, or eight cents, to $18.77; and Keppel Corp was down nearly 1 per cent, or five cents, to $5.21.

Members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) are meeting this week in Algeria to discuss a possible deal to limit output.

Oil prices fell last week by nearly 5 per cent, after signs that Saudi Arabia and Iran had made little progress on a deal to freeze output, but were holding steady yesterday.

The Opec meeting is good reason to keep an eye on oil and gas stocks this week, according to DBS Group Research. "If the Algiers meeting fails to bring about an agreement to cut production, oil prices could fall, bringing down oil and gas stocks," it said.

Penny stocks were again the most actively traded, with Magnus Energy flat at 0.2 cent, with 103.4 million shares traded; Noble Group rose 1.5 per cent, or 0.2 cent, to 13.8 cents, with 90.9 million shares done.

Annica Holdings was unchanged at 0.1 cent, with 90.8 million shares traded; Spackman Entertainment gained 7.4 per cent, or 0.7 cent, to 10.1 cents, with 86 million shares traded; and Alliance Minerals Assets jumped 12.5 per cent, or 1.1 cents, to 9.9 cents, with 73.3 million shares traded.

Another actively traded counter was SunMoon Food, which rose 10.9 per cent, or 0.6 cent, to 6.1 cents, on 55.3 million shares traded.

This was after the company, responding on Sunday to the Singapore Exchange's query last week, said it could not explain the unusual volume movements in its stock.

But the firm added that after shifting to a new business model, it has been "continuously exploring opportunities to increase its geographic presence, product range, as well as sales network so as to maximise shareholder value".

Meanwhile, the spotlight has shifted from central banks' monetary policy to the US presidential debate between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Donald Trump.

The debate is due to be held at 9am Singapore time today and is seen by analysts as crucial in a tightening race.

"If Trump leads in the first presidential debate, we will probably see higher risk premiums in the equity market and rising political uncertainties in the US," said CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2016, with the headline 'Local shares dip on expected higher volatility'. Print Edition | Subscribe