Singapore shares ended lower yesterday after a bout of profit-taking in the final hour of trade wiped out gains from a relief rally after the United States central bank delayed raising interest rates.
The benchmark Straits Times Index closed 0.56 per cent or 16.22 points lower at 2,879.59, dragged down by banking counters. OCBC shed 1.2 per cent or 11 cents to $9 a share, DBS Group Holdings dipped 0.5 per cent or nine cents to $17.33 and United Overseas Bank lost 0.7 per cent or 14 cents to $19.36.
Among the most actively traded counters was Global Logistic Properties, which fell 3.4 per cent or seven cents to $2.01, with 139.8 million shares traded. Sinarmas Land, the most actively traded counter, was queried by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) over the unusual trading volume of its stock. The counter closed flat at 60 cents, with 152.2 million shares traded. Sinarmas told SGX it has conducted a share buyback of 149.8 million ordinary shares in its share capital. "The company has been considering share buybacks due to feedback and communication from various stakeholders."
Except Singapore, Malaysia and Japan, the rest of Asia closed higher on news that the US Federal Reserve kept interest rates unchanged due to worries about the global economy, financial market volatility and sluggish inflation at home.
"The fact that Asian markets were higher today is not indicative of improving risk appetite. On the contrary, the no-change decision by the Fed would perpetuate uncertainty for longer," IG market strategist Bernard Aw said. "While the dovish stance adopted by the US central bank is seen as supportive for global equities, the flip side is that the Fed is not confident enough of the US economic outlook to raise interest rates. This is probably what is worrying the markets," he said.
Reactions to the delayed hike varied. "My clients were relieved there wasn't a rate hike, and many were bargain-hunting the property counters and Reits because the delay will put a short-term lid on the Sibor," remisier Alvin Yong said. The three-month Singapore interbank offered rate (Sibor), used to set mortgage rates, dipped slightly to 1.13933 per cent yesterday from 1.13958 per cent on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Hong Fok Corp, Jasper Investments and United Food Holdings yesterday requested trading halts pending announcements. Asiatravel.com Holdings requested its trading halt be lifted after it was told that several substantial shareholders have entered into a memorandum of understanding with another substantial shareholder, ZhongHong Holdings. ZhongHong had proposed to make a conditional general cash offer for all issued and paid-up shares at 30 cents a share.