Bulls And Bears

N. Korean missile launch drags down STI

Most Asian markets also decline - with Shanghai an outlier, edging up 0.08%

Local equities slipped into the red yesterday on heightened geopolitical tensions after North Korea fired a missile over Japan.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) lost 18.28 points, or 0.56 per cent, to 3,249.34, erasing gains from Monday. Overall trade on the bourse amounted to 1.25 billion worth just $900.2 million.

Most markets in Asia were down as well: Tokyo fell 0.45 per cent, Hong Kong eased 0.35 per cent and Sydney dropped 0.72 per cent. But Shanghai was an outlier, inching up 0.08 per cent, together with Bangkok, up by 1.79 per cent.

CMC Markets Singapore market analyst Margaret Yang noted that North Korea's decision to fire the missile will weigh on market sentiment and keep Asian shares under pressure.

The biggest laggards on the STI yesterday included ST Engineering, down 1.4 per cent or five cents to $3.54, and Singtel, which fell 1.4 per cent or five cents to $3.70.

The three local banks were a drag as well. DBS Group Holdings fell 0.8 per cent or 16 cents to $20.49, OCBC Bank pared 0.5 per cent or six cents to $10.99 while United Overseas Bank edged down 0.1 per cent or three cents to $23.67.

Keppel Corporation slid 0.9 per cent or six cents to $6.33. The group announced in the morning that its Keppel Land unit has priced $150 million in aggregate principal amount of 2.843 per cent notes due 2023. The notes are expected to be issued on Sept 5.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding was one of the handful of gainers, rising 1.9 per cent or three cents to $1.60. City Developments climbed 0.4 per cent or five cents to $11.50.

Away from the blue chips, New Silkroutes Group jumped 3.8 per cent or 1.5 cents to 40.5 cents, despite the group reporting a wider net loss of US$1 million (S$1.35 million) for its fourth quarter ended June 30, from a net loss of US$268,000 in the same period a year earlier. Revenue surged 227.2 per cent to US$114.6 million.

Fibre network owner NetLink NBN Trust was flat at 81 cents.

Three brokerages initiated coverage on the stock yesterday, including HSBC Global Research, which had a "buy" call with a target price of 90 cents. HSBC noted that the outlook for NetLink was attractive with no overseas exposure or currency risk, as well as steady growth in enterprise and Internet of Things connections.

Hi-P International soared 6.9 per cent or nine cents to $1.395. "While the company has provided an upbeat forecast, there are talks that the company is being approached for a possible buyout or strategic tie-up," said an unnamed trader in a NetResearch Asia report.

Blumont was the day's top traded counter, with 235.9 million shares changing hands. The stock nosedived 50 per cent or 0.1 cent to 0.1 cent. Other actives included Rowsley, which fell 2.6 per cent or 0.3 cent to 11.4 cents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2017, with the headline 'N. Korean missile launch drags down STI'. Print Edition | Subscribe