Bulls And Bears

STI dips on growth concerns, HK protests

Asian bourses down as markets anticipate more backlash from rising trade risks

Investors sent local shares down yesterday after returning from the four-day weekend with heightened concerns over the US-China trade war and protests in Hong Kong.

Sentiment was also hit by news that Singapore's non-oil domestic exports tumbled 14.6 per cent year on year in the second quarter, while the Government cut its full-year growth forecast to 0 to 1 per cent.

All this led to a knee-jerk sell-off shortly after the market opened, with the Straits Times Index (STI) down 1 per cent before it made back some ground to end at 3,146.73, a dip of 22.21 points or 0.7 per cent.

Mr Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst at Oanda Asia-Pacific, noted that Singapore's "consistent run of poor data is cause for concern, both regionally and globally", given its position as a free-trading, bellwether economy.

Bourses in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea also fell. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was hit hard by ongoing protests, ending 2.1 per cent down yesterday at a seven-month low.

The slump in Asian equities suggests that markets are bracing themselves for more backlash from trade risks, said Mr Vishnu Varathan, Mizuho Bank's head of economics and strategy for the Asia and Oceania treasury.

Local trading volume was 1.37 billion shares worth $1.52 billion, with losers outpacing gainers 299 to 156.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding shares have been suspended since last Thursday, when reports emerged of Beijing's investigation of an individual linked to the firm.

Singtel, which fell 2.5 per cent to $3.18, was the STI's most traded stock, with 37.5 million shares changing hands after it posted a 35 per cent fall in first-quarter earnings on an Indian price war.

It was not all doom and gloom, however, as Venture Corp jumped 3.5 per cent to $15.28 after posting a 7.3 per cent fall in second-quarter net profit last Thursday.

Analysts are confident over the electronics manufacturing services firm's plans to tackle the semiconductor industry's near-term challenges and Venture's strategy itself.

DBS Bank lost 0.5 per cent to $24.81, OCBC Bank was down 0.8 per cent at $11.00 and United Overseas Bank slipped 1.15 per cent to $25.75.

Meanwhile, the protests in Hong Kong hammered most of the city's Jardine counters. Jardine Strategic Holdings lost 2.9 per cent to US$32.00, Jardine Matheson Holdings ended down 2.2 per cent at US$53.85 and Hongkong Land shed 0.9 per cent to US$5.40.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 14, 2019, with the headline 'STI dips on growth concerns, HK protests'. Print Edition | Subscribe