Bulls And Bears

STI continues slide amid geopolitical unease

N. Korea-US tensions upset other bourses too, but Shanghai, HK up on lift in China economy

Singapore equities continued on a downhill road yesterday amid a still-brewing war of words between North Korea and the United States.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) retreated 3.87 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 3,212.04. Turnover across the bourse was thin with just 979.9 million shares worth $821.7 million changing hands.

Investors pulled back after North Korea's foreign minister said US President Donald Trump's latest comments on Twitter amounted to a declaration of war and that it has the right to shoot down US warplanes. The White House, however, denied it has declared war on Pyongyang.

Mr Tapas Strickland, a Sydney-based economist at National Australia Bank, said in a Bloomberg report: "This does represent a significant escalation in rhetoric and raises the risk of a tactical misstep."

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo slid 0.33 per cent, Seoul eased 0.26 per cent and Jakarta lost 0.52 per cent. But Shanghai inched up 0.06 per cent, as did Hong Kong by 0.05 per cent, as the focus returned to signs of improvement in China's economy.

Geopolitical uncertainties aside, traders will be looking out for more clues on the next interest rate hike when US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen delivers a speech early today.

DBS Group Holdings was a drag on the STI yesterday as it fell 0.5 per cent or 10 cents to $20.52. The other two lenders fared better: United Overseas Bank added 0.2 per cent or four cents to $23.50, and OCBC Bank climbed 0.1 per cent or one cent to $11.17.

Other laggards included Golden Agri-Resources, which sank 2.6 per cent or one cent to 38 cents, and ComfortDelGro, with a 1.3 per cent or 2.5-cent drop to $1.97.

Sats was among the biggest gainers, rising 1.8 per cent or eight cents to $4.65, along with Keppel Corporation, up 0.9 per cent or six cents to $6.46.

Keppel Corp said on Monday that a joint venture between a unit of its offshore and marine arm and Shell Eastern Petroleum has completed the first commercial liquefied natural gas bunker transfer in Singapore.

Outside of the blue chips, Koh Brothers Eco Engineering shot up 13.3 per cent or one cent to 8.5 cents, after it announced on Monday that a unit has won a $225.4 million contract related to the building of the Circle Line 6 MRT project.

Koh Brothers Eco's single largest shareholder, Koh Brothers Group, gained 3.3 per cent or one cent to 31.5 cents.

Energy firms were in play, possibly fuelled by an overnight rally that saw global benchmark Brent crude hit its highest in about two years. KrisEnergy rose 3.5 per cent or 0.4 cent to 11.8 cents, while Loyz Energy jumped 6.7 per cent or 0.1 cent to 1.6 cents.

OLS Enterprise was the day's most heavily traded stock, surging 20 per cent or 0.1 cent to 0.6 cent on 106.2 million shares done.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 27, 2017, with the headline 'STI continues slide amid geopolitical unease'. Print Edition | Subscribe