STI down 0.26%, regional markets hit by China Covid-19 fears

The Straits Times Index fell 0.26 per cent to 3,244.55. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Stocks fell on Friday, mirroring broad declines in the region as a surge in Covid-19 cases in China cast a looming shadow over the reopening of the world’s second-largest economy.

The Straits Times Index (STI) fell 0.26 per cent to 3,244.55. Advancers beat decliners 253 to 248, with 1.3 billion securities worth $898.4 million having changed hands for the session.

Regional indexes were largely in the red. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.5 per cent, Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was down 0.4 per cent and South Korea’s Kospi ended the day 0.1 per cent lower.

The Kuala Lumpur Composite Index fell 1 per cent following a surge on Thursday, after long-time opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was announced as Malaysia’s new prime minister. The Jakarta Composite Index fell 0.4 per cent.

Still, SPI Asset Management’s managing partner Stephen Innes is optimistic that investors recognise that infections may increase as the Chinese economy begins its “long and winding road to normalcy”.

“Stock and currency market investors are tentatively looking through the current lockdown regime, while betting on the more optimistic interpretation that China is hitting the limits of zero-Covid-19, and the authorities’ efforts to loosen restrictions will continue,” he said.

Pan-Asian retailer DFI Retail Group ended the day at the top of the STI, after three days of decline. The counter closed 2.5 per cent higher at US$2.43.

At the bottom of the index was Jardine Matheson Holdings, which fell 2.2 per cent to close at US$47.73.

The three local banks ended the day in the red. OCBC Bank fell 0.7 per cent to $12.25, DBS Group Holdings was down 0.7 per cent to $34.75, and UOB was down 0.1 per cent to $30.25.

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