Bulls And Bears

S'pore shares down for fourth straight session

Anxieties over this morning's Fed meeting, impending Brexit vote keep traders away

Local shares continued their slide yesterday amid concerns over Brexit and the US central bank meeting.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) lost 17.1 points or 0.61 per cent to 2,768.33, ending in the red for the fourth straight session. Only $739.5 million worth of shares were traded, making for a slow day.

Wall Street fell 0.74 per cent overnight and most of Asia followed suit. Hong Kong shed 0.61 per cent, Tokyo closed down 1 per cent and Sydney tumbled 2.06 per cent. Shanghai, however, managed to put on 0.32 per cent.

Aside from the Brexit referendum next week, risk-averse investors were also getting out of the market to avoid any unpleasant surprises from the US Federal Reserve meeting this morning, even though no rate hike is expected after May's disappointing job data.

That led to 21 of the 30 STI constituent stocks being sold down. Singapore Technologies Engineering fell the most, losing six cents or 1.87 per cent to $3.14. Singtel pared six cents or 1.55 per cent to $3.80, and its rival StarHub closed down three cents or 0.84 per cent to $3.55.

Singtel fell despite announcing a tie-up with associate Bharti Airtel to merge their points of presence into one single global network.

Keppel Corp dropped eight cents or 1.48 per cent to $5.32 and SembMarine went down two cents or 1.24 per cent to $1.595.

Keppel, whose rig-building unit Keppel Fels is close to clinching a US$500 million (S$677 million) deal, may have some respite ahead, DBS said in a note yesterday.

But it also warned that uncertainties around supply conditions remain: "Now that oil prices are around US$50 per barrel, the market will start focusing on whether United States shale production sees a resurgence. Watch those numbers closely."

Only five STI counters rose. They were led by Hutchison Port Holdings Trust, which put on half a US cent or 1.11 per cent to 45.5 US cents.

But OCBC analyst Deborah Ong warned that Hong Kong port container throughput has dropped 11.1 per cent so far this year, adding: "Given the continued rationalisation as well as muted purchasing managers' index indicators for US and euro zone, we find it less likely that there will be a strong enough recovery in the Trust's Hong Kong throughput in the second half to end the year flat."

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding gained half a cent or 0.56 per cent to 89.5 cents and Thai Beverage also rose half a cent or 0.56 per cent, closing at 90.5 cents.

Outside the STI, embattled commodities firm Noble Group lost half a cent or 2.08 per cent to 23.5 cents on 72.45 million shares traded - one of yesterday's top actives.

Over the past month, Noble shares have plunged 26.6 per cent, a drop that intensified following the resignation of chief executive Yusuf Alireza on May 30.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore shares down for fourth straight session'. Subscribe