Bulls And Bears

STI down ahead of central bank meetings

With policy changes on the cards, investors keep their heads down

With "central bank week" upon us, it was no surprise that investors decided to keep their collective heads down yesterday.

Banks in the United States, Japan, Britain, Brazil and India will all meet in the coming days with policy changes on the cards.

The Bank of Japan may adjust its yield-curve control policy and cut its inflation forecasts, while the Bank of England is expected to hike rates, according to Bloomberg. The US Federal Reserve is seen to hold rates, as will Brazil's central bank.

The uncertainties left the Straits Times Index down 17.83 points at 3,307.15, with losers outnumbering gainers 237 to 153 on trade of 1.74 billion shares worth $835.3 million.

The three banks ended in the red, with DBS Group Holdings seeing the largest percentage decline, falling 1.55 per cent to $26.64. United Overseas Bank retreated 1.24 per cent to $26.98, while OCBC Bank lost 1.2 per cent to $11.52.

The three telcos were a bright spot. M1, buoyed by its second-quarter results last Friday after the market closed, gained 2.5 per cent to $1.64.

Its net profit beat estimates, but it warned that second-half earnings would be hit by looming competition. Australia's TPG Telecom is set to enter the Singapore market as a mobile network operator this year.

Singtel advanced 0.63 per cent to $3.20, and StarHub added 1.17 per cent to $1.73.

Retailer Dairy Farm International fell 4.48 per cent to US$8.74 after multiple brokerages downgraded their outlook on the pan-Asian firm, citing slower growth prospects and higher operating expenses from its associate, Yonghui Superstores.

Another day, another debutante on the Catalist, this time in the form of Silkroad Nickel, formerly known as China Bearing. The Indonesia-based group has a licence to mine nickel in Sulawesi Tengah Province.

Silkroad Nickel opened at 30 cents, peaked at 38 cents in early trading before closing at 34.5 cents.

In the service sector, Thomson Medical Group found itself among the top 20 stocks by volume, seeing some 50.84 million units traded at eight cents apiece, up nearly 4 per cent. The heavy trading came amid news that Thomson Medical had signed an agreement with IVI-RMA Global - reportedly the world's largest medical group specialising in assisted reproductive technologies - for a proposed joint venture that will see the two groups form Asia's leading assisted reproduction platform.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2018, with the headline 'STI down ahead of central bank meetings'. Subscribe