Bulls And Bears

STI down in line with most Asian markets

Wall St sentiment hit as Fed chairman's remarks seen to hint at end to cuts this year

Markets got what they expected when the United States reduced interest rates yesterday but hints that no more cuts were on the cards sent shares down.

Investors around the world had already priced in a rate cut over the past two months so the decision was not expected to move the needle much.

But hawkish statements by United States central bank's chairman Jerome Powell led some to cast doubt on the possibility of more cuts this year. That hit sentiment and sent Wall Street's key benchmarks down by around 1.2 per cent on Wednesday.

Mr Powell's statements had less of an effect on markets in Asia but the Straits Times Index (STI) still lost 0.3 per cent or nine points to 3,291.75.

Elsewhere, Australia, China, Hong Kong and South Korea also closed lower, but less so than Wall Street. Japan and Malaysia bucked the trend to end ahead.

IG market strategist Pan Jingyi saw the US cut as a repeat of last week's European Central Bank meeting, where "a less dovish than expected communique was seen".

While much attention was on Mr Powell's hawkish tilt, Asian markets also had to contend with US-China trade talks in Shanghai ending early and worries over the economic growth, which has been affecting the region.

Trading volume here clocked in at 934.31 million shares worth $1.11 billion, with losers beating gainers 264 to 162.

Singtel, which rose 0.9 per cent to $3.36, was the benchmark index's most traded stock with 20.4 million shares changing hands.

Fellow telecoms plays StarHub rose 0.7 per cent to $1.52 while Netlink NBN Trust added 1.2 per cent to 87.5 cents.

Financials had a mixed day at the office. DBS Bank added 0.4 per cent to $26.51 but OCBC fell 1.0 per cent to $11.42 and United Overseas Bank dipped 0.5 per cent to $26.28.

Bourse operator Singapore Exchange (SGX), which on Wednesday posted a robust earnings increase for the fourth quarter on record derivatives revenue, fell 1.8 per cent to $7.78.

DBS Equity Research upgraded its recommendation on SGX to "buy" with a target price of $8.30 on the back of strong earnings.

But RHB Research Institute, which feels the firm's positives are largely priced in, has downgraded the stock to "neutral" with a target price of $8.10.

Singapore Airlines, the other STI component that reported earnings after market close on Wednesday, ended 4.9 per cent lower at $9.20 on an ex-dividend basis.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2019, with the headline 'STI down in line with most Asian markets'. Subscribe