Bulls And Bears

Singapore shares down as investors stay cautious

Uncertainty over US-China trade talks, Brexit vote results in muted trading

Investors in Singapore seem to be in a holding pattern as markets wait on developments on two fronts - Britain's Brexit vote and the United States-China trade talks.

Analysts said bourses in Singapore and across the region are likely to continue to trade cautiously, as they did yesterday.

CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said there was a "lack of catalysts in the Singapore market".

The indifference left the Straits Times Index (STI) down 4.45 points or 0.14 per cent at 3,191.42.

The lack of activity meant trading clocked in at a muted 952.52 million shares worth $792.81 million, below the daily average. Losers outnumbered gainers 234 to 168.

IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said: "It is not a surprise to see a mixed but muted start to the week for Asian markets as global equity markets remain in no-man's land."

She cited the US-China trade issue, which continues to hang in the balance between earnings seasons, as well as the largely mixed data releases from the US and China.

"The data releases lack transparency due to factors such as the US government shutdown and the Chinese New Year marring them."

Markets in Australia and Malaysia ended lower, while those in North Asia ended higher on the back of China officials boosting sentiment that policy support would lift a slowing economy. China's Shanghai Composite Index fared best. It lost 4.4 per cent last Friday, but added 1.92 per cent yesterday.

Food and beverage player ThaiBev was the STI's most traded. It ended up 0.6 per cent to 80 cents with 17.1 million shares done. The counter has gained 31 per cent since the start of the year.

Singapore Exchange was among the STI's worst performers, losing 3.7 per cent to $7.47.

Index compiler MSCI and the Hong Kong stock exchange said that they will launch futures contracts on the MSCI China A Index to provide a hedging tool as interest in Chinese mainland shares surge.

This may rival the SGX's A50 Index Futures, the only offshore futures contract tracking the Chinese A-share market.

Tech counters - last week's flavour for the most part - had a strong rally yesterday.

Hi-P International was the bourse's most traded, with 27.9 million shares done. It ended 11 per cent up at $1.72. Memtech International added 1.9 per cent to $1.06.

CMC's Ms Yang said "speculative activities" were probably behind the price rises.

Reclaims Global debuted on the Catalist board yesterday, closing at 14.8 cents, 35.7 per cent below its listing price of 23 cents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2019, with the headline 'S'pore shares down as investors stay cautious'. Print Edition | Subscribe