Markets spooked by geopolitics yet again

Wall Street stocks, regional indices hit by conflict between US, Syria and Russia

No sooner had trade war tensions begun to ease than geopolitical stresses of a different nature started to rock markets again.

Fears of rising conflict between the United States, Syria and Russia wiped out Wednesday's gains, with Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index following in Wall Street's footsteps to dip 11.15 points or 0.32 per cent to 3,468.61.

Around 1.6 billion shares worth $1.1 billion were traded, while losers outpacing gainers 219 to 192.

Wall Street stocks sagged overnight as President Donald Trump warned Russia of imminent military action in Syria, a move that sparked Russian rebuttal and raised fears of increased unrest ahead.

This overshadowed positive sentiment from the Federal Open Market Committee minutes as well as fresh US inflation data that showed the consumer price index rose 2.1 per cent in March.

Key regional indices in Japan, South Korea, Australia, Hong Kong and China also fell with Malaysia bucking the trend with a meagre 0.2 per cent gain.

Notable movers here included Dragon Group International, which said yesterday that it has received a delisting notice after its request for further extension to meet bourse requirements for removal from the watch list was rejected. The Chinese electronics engineering firm lost 53 per cent to 0.8 cent.

Units of Lippo Malls Indonesia Retail Trust fell 1.5 cents to 36.5 cents after OCBC Investment Research said Indonesia's new tax rules on income received from land and building leases could "prompt selling pressure on the counter" as the levy could shave about 7 per cent off distributions per unit.

On the brighter side, Hyflux jumped five cents or 19.6 per cent on hopes of potential investors looking to inject additional funds to spur growth.

Datapulse Technology rose one cent to 37.5 cents after the company said it will expand its recently acquired hair care product manufacturer into the distribution business despite the challenges from a bloc of minority shareholders.

Genting Singapore gained three cents to $1.16 after Morgan Stanley raised its rating on the stock from "equal weight" to "overweight".

It cited its attractive valuation after its price retreat, increased local spending and the legalisation of gaming in Japan as early as this year, which could drive its share-price gain.

The research house increased its target price from $1.30 to $1.40.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2018, with the headline 'Markets spooked by geopolitics yet again'. Print Edition | Subscribe