Bulls And Bears

S'pore shares inch down to close in the red

Regional markets mostly lower on concerns over data from US and Japan

Singapore shares fell back into the red yesterday in line with regional markets as traders weighed key economic data from the United States and Japan. The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) slid four points, or 0.14 per cent, to 2,777.11.

"The Singapore market had rallied a lot on Tuesday, so it's reasonable to see a minor correction," Ms Margaret Yang, market analyst at CMC Markets Singapore, told The Straits Times. She believes it will continue to trade "range-bound, without clear direction" for the rest of the week, given the lack of positive leads in the global economy.

Worries that the US could raise interest rates as early as June were back in the limelight following reports on Tuesday that showed a rise in inflation and housing - data that pushed Wall Street down by 1.02 per cent overnight.

Japan surprised market watchers after posting a first-quarter gross domestic product that beat market estimates. Tokyo slipped 0.05 per cent, Shanghai fell 1.27 per cent and Hong Kong dropped 1.45 per cent.

"There's an addiction to stimulus," Mr Tim Schroeders, a Melbourne-based portfolio manager at Pengana Capital who helps oversee about US$1.2 billion (S$1.7 billion) in assets, told Bloomberg. "People are more worried about the stimulus than the trajectory of the economy. This highlights imbalances between markets and the real economy. In Japan, a stronger economy means a stronger yen and that's been interpreted as bad for the market."

One of the biggest drags on the STI yesterday was palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources, which sank 1.5 cents or 4.1 per cent to 35.5 cents.

An ABN Amro report on Monday noted that while adverse weather conditions have pushed agricultural and soft commodity markets higher recently, it expects further upside in prices to be limited, given substantial inventories.

Oil and gas-related plays fared poorly despite crude prices rising to a seven-month high amid an easing supply glut. Sembcorp Marine lost 2.5 cents or 1.5 per cent to $1.605 and Keppel Corporation shaved six cents or 1.1 per cent to $5.36. Yangzijiang Shipbuilding fell 2.5 cents or 2.7 per cent to 89.5 cents. The banks were a mixed bag: DBS Group Holdings dipped three cents or 0.2 per cent to $15.07; OCBC Bank shed one cent or 0.1 per cent to $8.45; while United Overseas Bank climbed one cent or 0.1 per cent to $17.97.

On the other side of the ledger, Global Logistic Properties was among the biggest gainers, jumping 8.5 cents or 4.7 per cent to $1.905 on heavy trade as "privatisation rumours resurfaced", according to a report by NetResearch Asia.

Thai Beverage extended gains, rising two cents or 2.3 per cent to 89.5 cents. Magnus Energy Group was the day's most heavily traded on a turnover of 531.8 million shares. The stock surged 0.1 cent or 50 per cent to 0.3 cent. A total of 1.93 billion shares worth $1.06 million were traded across the bourse.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore shares inch down to close in the red'. Print Edition | Subscribe