S'pore market muted on lack of strong leads

Fizz from US-China trade talks fades; losers include SGX, City Developments

Local equities were muted yesterday, as the fizz from the weekend's US-China trade talks faded without other strong leads in play.

The benchmark Straits Times Index shed 5.05 points to close at 3,543.18.

There were 230 losers compared with 157 winners, and only 1.06 billion shares traded for a paltry $894.9 million in value.

Bourse operator Singapore Exchange lost 16 cents to $7.48 amid an interim injunction on the new India equity derivative products meant to tide traders over when its Nifty licence agreement is killed in August.

City Developments fell by 20 cents to close at $11.84.

Phillip Securities analyst Jeremy Ng wrote in the morning that sentiment on the stock is "bullish", with a support area at $11.78. "Expect a reversal higher next into the uptrend for price to test the $12.92 resistance area followed by $13.53," he said. "The $11.78 support area should hold up in the near term."

Semiconductor maker UMS Holdings tumbled 7.5 cents to close at 90 cents on a turnover of 23.7 million shares.

Its trading volume has surged this week - jumping from 3.15 million shares last Friday, when it closed at $1, to 16.5 million on Monday.

Chief executive Andy Luong disclosed after the close that he has bought 300,000 shares on the market at 98.5 cents a share, which raises his stake from 20.08 per cent to 20.14 per cent.

Other electronics stocks that took a beating included Hi-P International, which lost eight cents to close at $1.33.

Mr Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at currency broker FXTM, said Wall Street investors "got over-excited on Monday", thinking the sabre-rattling between the United States and China had eased on Beijing's vow to boost American imports.

"It seems the ceasefire is likely to remain on hold for some time," he added, noting that US President Donald Trump will not want to risk his agricultural base in mid-term elections should China's threat of soya bean tariffs be realised.

But Mr Sayed warned: "Asian equities didn't enjoy the same excitement in Wall Street as optimism over easing tensions faded, meaning that Asian investors are likely to become more worried about oil trading at US$80."

Oil prices are expected to rise.

Singapore inflation numbers come out this afternoon, which might inject traders with fresh pep.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2018, with the headline 'S'pore market muted on lack of strong leads'. Print Edition | Subscribe