Bulls And Bears

S'pore market ends flat on mixed data

Positive news from US and China negated by falling exports here

A mixed bag of financial numbers left investors in the doldrums and local shares flat yesterday.

The key Straits Times Index inched up 1.01 points, or 0.03 per cent, to 3,498.20, on trade of 2.1 billion shares worth $1.1 billion. Losers outpaced gainers 219 to 185.

The data was up and down: Washington announced overnight that US retail sales rebounded last month after three straight monthly declines, with households boosting purchases of motor vehicles and other big-ticket items.

This, along with positive first-quarter earnings reports and the absence of retaliation from Syrian allies Iran and Russia to the missile strikes, lifted Wall Street.

Then China announced yesterday that its economy grew 6.8 per cent in the first quarter, above the government's target and despite fears that growth was set to slow sharply with an emerging trade war with the US.

Mr Jameel Ahmad, global head of currency strategy and market research at foreign exchange broker FXTM, said the number suggests the economy should have no difficulties meeting official growth targets.

"The data did show that there was some weakness in industrial output, but domestic consumption is still showing high signs of growth with retail sales remaining one of the star performers for the China economy," he added.

But data from Singapore disappointed, with exports falling for the second straight month in March, hit by a triple whammy of high base effects, cooling electronics demand and a strengthening Singdollar.

The day's losers included offshore and marine services company Ezion Holdings, which lost 0.3 cent to 19.4 cents in what some called an "accelerated correction" after its months-long trading suspension and debt revamp.

This was not unlike how marine logistics group Marco Polo Marine went on a protracted decline after it resumed trading in early February. It has lost over 30 per cent this year.

Keppel Corp slipped nine cents to $7.77 after Keppel DC Reit posted a first-quarter distribution per unit of 1.8 cents on Monday, down 4.8 per cent from a year ago. That said, its other trust, Keppel Infrastructure Trust, delivered a steady performance.

Gainers included events production firm UnUsUaL, which added one cent to 48 cents after announcing that it had sold a 5.39 per cent stake for $25.8 million, or 46.5 cents a share, to Brunei's Prince Abdul Qawi and a fund started by Osim founder Ron Sim.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 18, 2018, with the headline 'S'pore market ends flat on mixed data'. Print Edition | Subscribe