Bulls And Bears

Prices drift on autopilot amid lacklustre trading

STI dips amid caution led by worries over global economy, rising US-China spat

The local bourse's key Straits Times Index (STI) fell 6.45 points, or 0.26 per cent, to 2,504.76 yesterday, as prices by and large drifted to and fro on directionless autopilot.

Lacklustre trading volumes underpinned stubborn caution that was led by worries over the global economy and the growing US-China spat, while the generally uneventful atmosphere was partly owing to overnight calm - the United States and Canada were enjoying holidays - and a data vacuum.

To some extent, Brexit news made up for the lull, with the British pound failing to bounce back from Monday's losses after Prime Minister Boris Johnson threatened to walk away from trade deal talks with the European Union, which renewed hard-Brexit fears.

All the same, there has been some growing optimism of late.

In a recent report, Morgan Stanley said a V-shaped recovery is playing out faster than envisaged and that it expected a faster return to pre-Covid-19 output by year-end for the global market economies, and the third quarter next year for the developed market economies.

"The outlook for Covid-19's impact on the economy has changed dramatically, with most large economies able to lift economic activity to much higher levels despite the ongoing virus spread," said the bank, adding that "policymakers continue to provide aggressive support as there are no serious moral hazard concerns this time".

All the other major Asian bourses posted gains on close, from Japan to Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Australia and Malaysia.

In Singapore, trading volume on the market totalled 1.3 billion worth $943 million from Monday's 1.32 billion shares worth $780.8 million.

Losses in the market's barometer were led by the Republic's three banking stalwarts, whose falls collectively shaved 3.5 index points off the STI.

Among the STI constituents, eight counters closed up, and 18, down.

Sembcorp Marine was one of the top 10 active counters for the day, with 24 million shares worth $4.7 million done. The stock fell 3 per cent to 19.3 cents. Its rights issue was undersubscribed and it is expected that Temasek will mop up the undersubscribed portion as it had earlier agreed to do.

Raffles Education Corp jumped 32 per cent to finish at 15 cents. The stock had risen by as much as 39 per cent yesterday.

When the Singapore Exchange queried these unusual price movements, the private education provider said it was not aware of any explanation for the unusual trading activity.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2020, with the headline 'Prices drift on autopilot amid lacklustre trading'. Print Edition | Subscribe