Bulls And Bears

STI ends ding-dong week on positive note

Most Asian markets up, after week of swings on outlook of US-China trade deal

Movements in Asian markets mirrored that of a pendulum, with sentiment across the week constantly swinging from one side to another on dithering feelings over the outlook of a US-China trade deal.

Traders pointed out that the region's benchmarks performed similarly to the week before. This is particularly true of the middle and later stretches, where trade worries hit a low point on Wednesday and Thursday, only to recover yesterday after conciliatory news reports on a trade agreement were released.

After two sessions of losses, the Straits Times Index (STI) managed to notch gains to end at 3,225.65, up 33.44 points or 1.05 per cent. The blue-chip index dipped 13.21 points, or 0.4 per cent, from last Friday's close of 3,238.86.

Elsewhere, the lights were mostly flashing green. Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan all posted gains. Meanwhile, China closed lower.

Summing up yesterday's action, Oanda's Asia-Pacific senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley said: "Asian equities caught a dose of the trade flu at the start of the week and appear to be recovering."

In Singapore, trading volume stood at 1.3 billion securities, 13 per cent over the daily average in the year's first 10 months. Meanwhile, total turnover clocked in at $1.14 billion, 8 per cent over the January-to-October daily average.

Advancers trumped decliners 235 to 132. Just three of the benchmark's 30 counters were in the red.

With 67 million shares changing hands, Golden Agri-Resources was the STI's most active counter. It fell 2.1 per cent to 23 cents.

Investors continued to place considerable attention on Singtel after Indian associate Bharti Airtel indicated plans to raise phone rates. The counter ended 2.2 per cent higher at $3.33 on 26.5 million shares traded. The telco has gained 4.7 per cent this week.

The local lenders were in the black. DBS Group Holdings closed 0.6 per cent up at $25.80, OCBC Bank was up 0.6 per cent to $11 while United Overseas Bank closed at $26.30, advancing 0.9 per cent.

Among real estate investment trusts, Mapletree North Asia Commercial Trust (MNACT) units edged down 0.9 per cent to $1.14 after Moody's Investors Service lowered its outlook from stable to negative.

The downgrade by the credit ratings agency comes on the back of uncertainty over MNACT's largest asset Festival Walk, after it was damaged during protests in Hong Kong last week. Recovery works on the property are currently being done, while insurers have been notified and claims are being assessed.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2019, with the headline 'STI ends ding-dong week on positive note'. Print Edition | Subscribe