Bulls And Bears

Slower manufacturing growth trims STI's gains

S'pore market still manages to close higher for sixth consecutive session

Employees working at a wafer production line in a manufacturing facility located in Tuas.
Employees working at a wafer production line in a manufacturing facility located in Tuas.PHOTO: ST FILE

Local shares erased most of their gains yesterday after data was released just before the midday trading break that showed a sharp slowdown in growth in the manufacturing sector last month.

There were plenty of culprits - headwinds from the United States-China trade conflict, slowing demand from China and high base effects from last year - that conspired to crimp industrial production.

Output rose 3.3 per cent year on year last month, below economist expectations of 4.7 per cent and slower than the 6.7 per cent rise in July.

It rattled investors to a degree but the market still managed to close in the black to mark the sixth consecutive session of gains.

The benchmark Straits Times Index clocked an intra-day high of 3,265.01 before falling steadily to close at 3,239.10 - a measly gain of 0.09 per cent or 3.02 points.

Gainers outnumbered decliners 203 to 181 on turnover of 1.22 billion shares worth about $979.1 million.

The most active was Marco Polo Marine with 52.47 million shares traded. It fell 6.9 per cent to 2.7 cents.

Among the top five gainers, Jardine Matheson rose 1.08 per cent to US$62.55, while Venture Corp added 2.18 per cent to $17.80.

OCBC shed 0.52 per cent to $11.39.

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) slipped 1.41 per cent to $2.79, while Keppel Corp gained 0.42 per cent to $7.16 after a Bloomberg report speculated that SPH and Keppel's Telecommunications & Transportation arm were considering making a general offer for M1 shares.

Recruitment agency HRnetGroup rose 1.15 per cent to 88 cents after broker CGS-CIMB initiated coverage on the firm with an "add" call, citing the company's professional recruitment segment and flexible staffing business.

In other markets, Chinese stocks rose after index compiler MSCI said it was considering raising the weightage of mainland shares in its global indexes from next year.

The announcement also helped boost Hong Kong's Hang Seng 1.2 per cent, back in business after its Mid-Autumn Festival break.

Tokyo's Nikkei extended its rally to an eighth consecutive session as expectations of a US rate hike lifted investors' risk appetite.

Those expectations will be tested tonight when the US Federal Open Market Committee meets.

The Fed is widely expected to raise rates for the third time this year on the back of accelerating US economic growth. A United Overseas Bank report said the Fed could lift rates by 25 basis points to a range of 2 per cent to 2.25 per cent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2018, with the headline 'Slower manufacturing growth trims STI's gains'. Subscribe