Bulls And Bears

Mid-week gloom hits Asian markets

Major regional markets fell on Sept 5, 2018, with Hong Kong stocks taking a big hit, falling 2.6 per cent.
Major regional markets fell on Sept 5, 2018, with Hong Kong stocks taking a big hit, falling 2.6 per cent.PHOTO: AFP

Investors cautious amid lingering concerns over trade war, global economy

Equity markets in Asia continued to slide yesterday in the wake of a lacklustre showing on Wall Street after the Labour Day break.

Investors continued to brace themselves for the possibility of US tariffs on China taking effect while the state of the global economy has also kept them from making big moves. IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said these factors "paint an uncertain picture ahead".

Emerging market currencies continued to slide as the US dollar strengthened for a fifth session. Unexpectedly, South Africa entered recession and the rand plunged as fears mount over a contagion effect.

It was no surprise that major regional markets fell yesterday with Hong Kong stocks taking a big hit, falling 2.6 per cent.

Indonesian shares were the biggest loser in the wake of the weaker rupiah. Shares closed 3.8 per cent lower in what was the biggest single-day drop since November 2016.

Singapore did not escape, with the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) down 1.7 per cent or 54.23 points to 3,156.28, its lowest level since April 24 last year. About 1.66 billion shares worth $1.05 billion in total changed hands, with losers beating gainers 302 to 119.

Rex International was the most actively traded stock, falling 0.1 cent or 1.3 per cent to 7.4 cents with 81.7 million shares changing hands.

The STI's biggest losers included firms with significant exposure to Indonesia.

Auto wholesaler Jardine Cycle & Carriage lost 5 per cent to $30.25, its lowest since June 2015.

And Golden Agri Resources, which has palm oil operations in Indonesia, ended 3.3 per cent lower at 29 cents.

Among financials, DBS was 2 per cent down at $24.49, OCBC ended 1.6 per cent lower at $11.10 and UOB lost 1.7 per cent to $26.34.

Telco StarHub dipped 1.2 per cent to $1.61 despite entering a joint venture with a Temasek subsidiary to form a cyber security business.

Consumer stocks with strong local exposure offered a bright spot. Supermarket chain Sheng Siong closed 1.8 per cent higher at $1.15 and restaurant group RE&S Holdings added 7.5 per cent to 21.5 cents.

The focus for the rest of the week will turn to US non-farm payroll data out late tomorrow.

But CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said this is "unlikely to alleviate selling pressure over emerging markets, as strong jobs data will reinforce the Fed's decision to raise rates", thus leading to a stronger US dollar and more emerging market outflows.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2018, with the headline 'Mid-week gloom hits Asian markets'. Print Edition | Subscribe