Bulls And Bears

Markets trade sideways thanks to US holiday

Strong Q3 growth figures and muted inflation data fail to perk up STI after Wednesday's high

Thanksgiving lethargy in the United States extended across the Pacific yesterday and left local equities in the doldrums.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) dipped 6.85 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 3,423.17, after finishing Wednesday at its highest level since May 2015.

More than 2.63 billion shares - but worth only $976.9 million - changed hands, with losers outnumbering gainers 311 to 143.

Small bouts of optimism - on the back of the morning's strong growth figures and the afternoon's muted inflation data - failed to lift sentiment.

The STI ticked up to 3,430.02 at 9am after third-quarter GDP growth clocked in at a three-year high of 5.2 per cent over the same period last year.

But the cheer quickly evaporated despite a passing spike when data came out at 1pm to show headline inflation holding steady at 0.4 per cent, in line with expectations.

Keppel Corp added six cents, or 0.8 per cent, to $7.59, before announcing that its Keppel Land unit is in line to buy a share of two sites in Bangkok's central business district.

Singapore Press Holdings put on one cent, or 0.37 per cent, to $2.71, ahead of its announcement that it has raised its stake in MindChamps Holdings' pre-school arm to 26.84 per cent.

But these feel-good stories were the exception rather than the rule.

Positive news failed to give a lift to several other counters.

Singtel, lauded in a morning report from OCBC Investment Research as the bright spot in a muted telecoms sector, stayed flat at $3.70.

Singapore Exchange also closed unchanged at $7.50, in spite of taking home the "Exchange of the Year Asia" title for Asian commodities from Energy Risk magazine.

Developer Chip Eng Seng Corporation, which said on Wednesday that it had picked up two adjoining Perth properties in a 70:30 joint venture deal, shed 0.5 cent to93 cents.

Heavy equipment supplier Hoe Leong Corporation's afternoon update on debt restructuring also could not perk up the stock.

The group is turning to vessel and spare-part loans and the issuance of new ordinary shares to restructure its $80 million or so in debt.

The stock lost 0.6 cent, or 12.5 per cent, to 4.2 cents.

It was a lacklustre day, but the index "is just taking a breather", Maybank Kim Eng Securities sales trader Wong Kok Hoong told Reuters.

Elsewhere, Thanksgiving inertia has hit the US, with major indices mostly flat.

The Dow dipped by 0.27 per cent and the S&P by 0.08 per cent overnight, with the Nasdaq an outlier, rising 0.07 per cent.

Chinese stocks took a beating amid fears that the government will rein in a recent rally, even as bond sell-offs spook the market.

Shanghai dropped 2.29 per cent, Shenzhen by 2.92 per cent and Hong Kong by 0.99 per cent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 24, 2017, with the headline 'Markets trade sideways thanks to US holiday'. Print Edition | Subscribe