Singapore stocks open up as nervous markets await UK election results

The SGX Centre at 4 Shenton Way.
The SGX Centre at 4 Shenton Way. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - Singapore stocks opened up on Friday (June 9) as nervous investors tracked British election results as they trickled in.

Asian markets were mixed in early trading after an exit poll showed Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party could fail to win a parliamentary majority but with relief overnight from the US that testimony of former FBI director James Comey had no new bombshells to immediately threaten the administration of President Donald Trump.

The Straits Times Index opened up 3.36 points or 0.1 per cent to 3,240.41, with traders saying many investors were waiting on the sidelines. By 10:15am, the STI had climbed 0.3 per cent.

"The reactions have been concentrated in the currency market so far," said IG analyst Pan Jingyi.

Local property counters were still on the uptrend, led by UOL, which gained 0.7 per cent or five cents to S$7.55.

Traders also said the fact that the STI was slightly up at the opening was a positive sign as it shows the market has resilience.

For the local bourse, the key focus has been how risk sentiment adjusts to the trio of events - UK vote, Comey testimony and European Central Bank - and specifically how the US market performed overnight, said analysts.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.04 per cent, the S&P 500 gained 0.03 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.39 per cent.

Japan's Nikkei index was trading 0.8 per cent higher, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 0.2 per cent, while the Shanghai Composite was up 0.3 per cent and Australia's ASX swuing up 0.2 per cent after falling earlier.

An exit poll showed Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party could fail to win a parliamentary majority, a shock result that would plunge British politics into turmoil and could delay Brexit talks.

The exit poll predicted the ruling Conservatives would win 314 seats in the 650-member parliament and the opposition Labour Party 266, leaving no clear winner when markets had assumed May would easily increase her majority.

Betting agencies were already taking wagers on whether May would lose her job.

Though such exit polls have generally been reliable in the past, commentators said the outcome is still very much in doubt, with the BBC reporting that 76 seats 650-member parliament appeared too close to call.

"The initial exit poll suggest it's been a catastrophic campaign for Theresa May, with the Conservatives on course to fall short of an overall majority," said Oanda senior market analyst Craig Erlam said. "A hung parliament creates another layer of uncertainty ahead of the Brexit negotiations and chips away at what is already a short timeline to secure a deal for Britain."