Bulls And Bears

STI ends flat on lack of market drivers

Analysts expect this week to be a quiet one in lead-up to Chinese New Year

Singapore stocks started the week on the back foot yesterday, with the local benchmark edging lower amid a lack of market drivers.

The Straits Times Index closed at 3,280.09, down 0.94 point or 0.03 per cent, following a session that hinted at active trading among penny stocks, and saw temporary glitches in the Singapore Exchange (SGX) website.

Gainers outpaced decliners 202 to 192, while 12 of the index's 30 stocks finished in the red.

Turnover was unusually high, with 2.48 billion securities changing hands, but trading value totalled just $838.65 million, suggesting heavy trading among penny stocks.

But punters still expect this week to be a quiet one. "We have one of the quietest trading weeks ahead as many Asian markets close for the Chinese New Year holidays," Singapore-based brokerage KGI Securities said in a note yesterday.

Another analyst expected trading action to taper off over the next few days in the lead-up to Chinese New Year, saying "nobody is keen to build new positions".

Among the most traded counters by volume yesterday were Ntegrator International and AusGroup.

Catalist-listed Ntegrator's counter closed up 66.7 per cent at 1.5 cents, with nearly 235 million shares changing hands, after trading volume surged during the day.

The spike in volume triggered a query from the SGX, although Ntegrator said after the market close that it was unaware of any reason for it.

Shares of AusGroup closed unchanged at 4.8 cents on trade volume of over 64 million. According to the latest SGX market update, AusGroup saw the largest increase in year-to-date trading turnover compared with 2019 activity.

Among the blue chips, Sembcorp Industries' shares finished the day down 1.7 per cent at $2.28, after losing nearly 2.8 per cent during the day.

This came after the conglomerate disclosed that it faces $54 million in fines and civil claims for its Chinese water treatment joint venture's illegal discharge of waste water. Eleven of the unit's executives, including its Singaporean general manager, have been jailed and individually fined.

Another loser yesterday was Keppel Corporation, which closed down 0.2 per cent to $6.83, despite news that its subsidiary had secured contracts worth more than €12 million (S$18 million) to supply technology and services to waste-to-energy plants in India.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2020, with the headline 'STI ends flat on lack of market drivers'. Print Edition | Subscribe