Bulls And Bears

Markets cautious in the light of Italy-EU row

HK, Nikkei and KL down but STI bucks the trend with 24.75-point rise

A worsening row between Italy and the European Union raised the spectre of yet another crisis in the euro zone and put some regional investors in a cautious mood.

The spark was the move by the Italian government last week to pass a budget that drew the ire of Brussels with warnings to abide by the bloc's rules on public spending.

This prompted Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini to threaten to seek damages from the EU for scaring off investors.

Oil prices continue to hold at four-year highs but appear to ease after recent gains.

While markets in China and South Korea were closed for public holidays, Hong Kong shares closed at their lowest in two weeks with the Hang Seng down 0.13 per cent.

The Nikkei in Tokyo dipped as well, following consecutive sessions when it hit heights not seen since November 1991. The index slipped 0.66 per cent as investors turned to profit-taking ahead of possible ructions over Italy.

The Kuala Lumpur Composite also fell but Australia's ASX 200 closed higher on the back of gains in resource-related stocks and higher prices for gold and metals.

Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) clocked an intra-day high of 3,271.7 in the early session before closing up 0.8 per cent or 24.75 points to 3,267.4, the highest in over six weeks.

Turnover was 1.55 billion shares worth $907 million with gainers outnumbering losers 229 to 155.

SinoCloud Group was the most hotly traded stock, plunging 50 per cent to 0.1 cent on turnover of 151 million shares. The STI's biggest loser in dollar terms was Jardine Strategic Holdings, down 20 US cents or 0.5 per cent to US$36.76.

In percentage terms, property player Hongkong Land Holdings was the index's biggest loser, closing 0.8 per cent down at US$6.55.

In a positive day for industrials, conglomerate Keppel Corporation, the index's biggest gainer on the day, surged 3.7 per cent to $7.30.

Other index industrials to fare well included Sembcorp Industries, up 1.3 per cent to $3.09, and Yangzijiang, ahead 2.4 per cent to $1.29. Broker OCBC Investment Research had called a "hold" on the shipbuilder yesterday, citing diminishing upside, even as its fair value estimate has risen from $1.23 to $1.32.

Financials pared losses from Tuesday's session.

DBS Group Holdings closed 1.2 per cent higher at $25.95, OCBC Bank was 0.7 per cent ahead at $11.39 and United Overseas Bank put on 0.6 per cent at $26.89.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 04, 2018, with the headline 'Markets cautious in the light of Italy-EU row'. Print Edition | Subscribe