Stocks on Asian bourses hit a 14-month trough yesterday with investors remaining coy as was the case throughout the week.
Ms Pan Jingyi, market strategist at IG, said: "The drivers for regional markets are little changed from Thursday, with investors awaiting a further tariff announcement from the Trump administration with bated breath."
She added: "Ultimately, any escalation in US and China trade tariffs looks to be the biggest risk at present. The perceived vulnerabilities will likely keep the downtrend going until we find a reversal in risk."
Ms Margaret Yang, CMC Markets Singapore's market analyst, shared Ms Pan's sentiment. She said: "Markets are bad this week, with negative news surrounding trades, emerging market currency turmoil and Iran sanctions weighing on sentiment."
Describing it as a tough week would be an understatement for emerging markets as the MSCI Emerging Market Index closed more than 20 per cent off from a late January high. The index, which has lost 12.1 per cent for the year, has crossed the threshold into a bear market.
A mixed session saw the Nikkei 225, Kospi and ASX 200 all end in the red. The Hang Seng closed flat while the Shanghai Composite and Kuala Lumpur Composite ended higher.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was down for a seventh session, closing at its lowest level for the year. The index has lost 7.6 per cent this year.
At home, Singapore shares ended the week at their lowest level this year, with the Straits Times Index (STI) losing 0.4 per cent or 13.3 points to 3,134.39. The STI has closed under its key support of 3,200 points for the third straight session with the index's next support level at around the 3,080-point region.
"The sell-off in the Singapore equity market was part of the broader emerging market outflow that is happening globally, due to the strengthening US dollar and rising interest rates," Ms Yang said. In the light of these factors, she said "there could be more rainy days ahead for emerging markets" with Singapore unlikely to buck the global trend despite a resilient domestic economy.
On the Singapore bourse, about 1.22 billion shares worth $825 million in total changed hands. Decliners greatly outnumbered advancers 227 to 141. The most actively traded stock was Rex International, which rose 13.5 per cent, closing at 8.4 cents with 79.2 million shares changing hands. Jardine Strategic Holdings was STI's big gainer yesterday, ending the session 1.3 per cent up at $35.60.