Bulls And Bears

STI down, with Big Three banks a major drag

Growing doubts over feasibility of Trump's pro-growth agenda add to global pessimism

A run of losses by Singapore stocks deepened yesterday in line with a global selldown.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) tumbled 40.38 points or 1.28 per cent to 3,118.19, finishing weaker for the third straight day.

Much of the downbeat sentiment was due to growing doubts over the feasibility of US President Donald Trump's pro-growth agenda, as promised during his presidential campaign in November.

Of the 30 STI constituents, 29 fell while one was unchanged.

All three local banks proved major drags on the index: DBS Group Holdings sank 1.7 per cent or 33 cents to $18.67, OCBC Bank lost 1.8 per cent or 17 cents to $9.45, and United Overseas Bank shed 1.2 per cent or 27 cents to $21.53.

Conglomerate Keppel Corporation continued to retreat, sliding 1.6 per cent or 11 cents to $6.72. This was despite news on Monday that the group's rig-building arm has entered into an agreement with Borr Drilling, which will take over the five jack-up rigs it is building for Transocean.

RHB said in a report that the deal will "provide visibility to Keppel's delivery schedule, minimise potential project risk and improve its cash flow". It maintained a "buy" call on the stock with a higher target price of $7.77.

Elsewhere, a number of offshore marine counters were in play, such as Ezion Holdings, which sank 5.9 per cent or two cents to 32 cents. Malaysian offshore support vessel builder Nam Cheong gained 3.7 per cent or 0.1 cent to 2.8 cents.

Chinese waste-to-energy firm China Jinjiang Environment Holding climbed 1.8 per cent or 1.5 cents to 86 cents, after CIMB initiated coverage on the stock with an "add" rating and a target price of $1.10.

"A hidden jewel in China's waste-treatment industry, China Jinjiang is the largest waste-to-energy operator in China but seems overlooked by investors," CIMB said.

Watch-listed Dapai International Holdings asked for a trading halt on its shares in the morning, before announcing that the Singapore Exchange had granted the company a further extension of time - up to June 4 - to meet requirements for its removal from the watch list.

The backpack maker had applied for the extension so it would have more time to shore up its general working capital and pursue new opportunities, as well as complete an ongoing special audit. The stock resumed trading later, surging 33.3 per cent or 0.2 cent to 0.8 cent.

ISR Capital was the day's most heavily traded counter, plummeting 47.6 per cent or one cent to 1.1 cents, with 134.2 million shares changing hands.

Other actives included Noble Group, which sank 3.7 cents or 0.7 per cent to 18.4 cents, and QT Vascular, which put on 6.5 per cent or 0.3 cent to 4.9 cents.

Turnover across the bourse was 1.72 billion shares worth $1.21 billion.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2017, with the headline 'STI down, with Big Three banks a major drag'. Print Edition | Subscribe