Bulls And Bears

STI dips with banks among main laggards

Asian stocks ease off on fears of currency war, but China markets notch gains

Share prices on the Singapore bourse ended mixed yesterday as Asian equities eased after choppy trading during the day.

The key Straits Times Index retreated 4.12 points, or 0.12 per cent, to finish at 3,293.71.

Turnover came in at 1.66 billion shares worth $956.6 million, versus 1.39 billion shares worth $1.01 billion last Friday. The field was roughly evenly matched, with losers outnumbering gainers 200 to 191.

Main laggards included the three local banks, with DBS losing 1 per cent to $26; OCBC Bank down 0.8 per cent to $11.22; and United Overseas Bank declining 0.7 per cent to $26.25.

Sembcorp Marine shares sank 13 cents, or 6.6 per cent, to $1.83 following lower-than-expected second-quarter results released last Friday, which saw the group post a net loss of $55.6 million.

Meanwhile, shares in Venture Corp rose $1.95, or almost 12 per cent, to close at $18.25, prompting a query by the Singapore Exchange for the unusual price movements.

It was the second query sent in the past four months. The electronics manufacturer said it was not aware of any information that might explain the trading.

Singtel shares added two cents, or 0.6 per cent, to $3.33. This came after it unveiled plans with Sweden's Ericsson for a 5G pilot network in Singapore's one-north science district, to test drone and autonomous vehicle services.

Separately, CapitaLand Mall Trust shrugged off analyst reports from OCBC and CGS-CIMB that downgraded the counter to "hold", rising 1.4 per cent to close at $2.19.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo stocks fell for the third trading day as the yen firmed against the greenback with US President Donald Trump accusing the European Union and China of currency manipulation.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index gave up 300.89 points, or 1.33 per cent, to close at 22,396.99. The plunge also comes amid speculation that the Bank of Japan is planning to change its interest rate targets and stock-buying techniques.

"Fears of an escalation to a currency war enraptured (Asian) markets despite US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's attempt to pacify the markets," said market strategist Jingyi Pan.

Chinese stocks bucked the trend, with the Hang Seng Index rising 0.1 per cent to 28,256.12 points, and the Shanghai Composite Index advancing 1.07 per cent to 2,859.54. This came after China's central bank issued guidelines on commercial banks' asset management products that were less severe than expected.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 24, 2018, with the headline 'STI dips with banks among main laggards'. Print Edition | Subscribe