It was another topsy-turvy trading week in Asia with the focus still on recession fears and trade disputes, although local investors grabbed the opportunity to pick up some oversold counters.
The wary mood kept the Straits Times Index (STI) down yesterday, but it did claw back some of the 1 per cent opening loss to close at 3,115.03, down 11.06 points or 0.35 per cent. It also left it down 53.91 points or 1.7 per cent for the week, and 5.6 per cent off for this month.
Investors would have kept a cautious eye on Singapore's non-oil domestic exports (Nodx) figures for last month that were released yesterday. Shipments continued to fall but less sharply. After dropping 17.4 per cent in June, Nodx declined 11.2 per cent last month, better than the 15.4 per cent median estimate from private-sector economists.
Equity markets were a mixed bag elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, with shares in Australia and South Korea lower while Malaysia barely moved.
Hong Kong ended strongly, thanks to bargain hunting by investors. China's markets were also higher after Beijing signalled support for the economy. Japan posted gains as well.
VM Markets managing partner Stephen Innes noted that markets yesterday were "meandering around sometimes in a completely random fashion, despite the widespread stabilising effect of the US economic data".
Trading volume here clocked in at 1.47 billion securities worth $1.19 billion with losers edging out gainers 202 to 191. The STI had 14 of the 30 counters closing in the red.
Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, which slid 17.3 per cent on Thursday after a week-long trading halt, rebounded as investors turned to picking up the counter after prices hit a 21/2-year low. The shipbuilder also bought back shares yesterday.
The counter reversed most of Thursday's slide to close 15.1 per cent higher at 99 cents. It was the most traded counter in the market with 126.2 million shares traded.
The local banks were mixed.
DBS was unchanged at $24.70. OCBC Bank fell 0.7 per cent to $10.63 and United Overseas Bank closed at $25.04, down 0.4 per cent.
One of the big movers in the market was Seroja Investments. The watch-listed company closed at 7.8 cents, almost 2.5 times its last traded price of 3.2 cents on Aug 8.
Seroja said late on Thursday that it will dispose of Trans LK Marine and its assets to group executive director and chief operating officer Masdjan for US$32.2 million (S$44.6 million).