Bulls And Bears

Singapore investors wary after Syrian strikes

Uncertainty sends STI 4.11 points lower, with nearly two losers for each gainer

Local shares started the week soft yesterday as risk-wary investors opted to keep their powder dry amid geopolitical uncertainties following the missile strikes in Syria.

The uncertainty sent the Straits Times Index (STI) down 4.11 points or 0.12 per cent to 3,497.19.

About 1.6 billion shares worth $863.2 million were traded, with nearly two losers for every stock that gained.

Notably, real-estate and investment company Rowsley, which was the most active counter, fell two cents or 16.5 per cent to 10.1 cent.

This came after the firm said on Friday that tycoon Peter Lim had sold 300 million Rowsley shares, representing a 6.33 per cent stake.

This was so that the company could meet the public float requirement in relation to its acquisition of the holding company of Thomson Medical and Malaysia-listed TMC Life Sciences from Mr Lim.

This leaves about 10.09 per cent of the enlarged share capital of the company in public hands.

Developer City Developments fell 16 cents to $12.66 as the FTSE index tracking local developers fell 0.8 per cent after official figures showed that 716 new private homes were moved last month, 60 per cent lower than the 1,780 units in March last year.

Contract manufacturer Venture Corporation fell 47 cents to $29.04, while conglomerate Jardine Strategic lost 78 US cents to US$38.50.

Significant gainers for the day included embattled Noble Group, which said yesterday that founder and largest shareholder Richard Elman is backing its restructuring plan. The counter added 0.5 cent or 4 per cent to 13.1 cents.

Singapore banks also rose, after Nomura recommended buying them on the back of the central bank's recent monetary policy tightening, which signalled confidence in the economy. This should also support a case for stronger loans growth for Singapore banks, it said.

Mr Eli Lee, head of investment strategy at Bank of Singapore, said: "While the market remained on its back foot, we note that the decline (yesterday) took place in a fairly orderly manner."

He added that markets are expected to remain volatile with uncertainties over geopolitical risks, trade tensions and inflation continuing to affect investor sentiment.

This week's data includes US March retail sales yesterday, China's first-quarter GDP and Japan's industrial production today, and Japan'sinflation figures on Friday.

Keppel Corp releases quarterly results on Thursday, while Singapore Exchange and CapitaLand Mall Trust report on Friday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 17, 2018, with the headline 'S'pore investors wary after Syrian strikes'. Print Edition | Subscribe