US-China trade tensions persisted as investors remained cautious in what was a mixed session for Asian markets yesterday.
Both parties continued to trade blows, with the US saying it will start imposing 25 per cent duties on an additional US$16 billion (S$21.8 billion) of Chinese imports in a fortnight. It will be the second time the Trump administration slaps tariffs on Chinese goods in about a month.
China released trade balance data for last month yesterday, with exports beating expectations. Its trade surplus with the US neared record highs despite calls for another round of tariffs to be placed.
Mr Jameel Ahmad, global head of currency strategy and market research at FXTM, said: "The trade balance release from China this morning has provided both encouragement and optimism to the view that the second-largest economy in the world has not yet been negatively impacted by trade war fears."
However, oil prices dipped on weak Chinese import data, but prices were well supported by falling US crude inventories and Washington's sanctions on Iran.
In regional markets, the Hang Seng, Kospi, ASX 200 and Kuala Lumpur Composite all ended higher yesterday. Elsewhere, the Nikkei 225 and Shanghai Composite ended the day lower. Shanghai's main equity benchmark, which made its biggest daily gain since 2016 on Tuesday after four days of losses, closed 1.3 per cent down.
The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) enters the National Day break down 13.26 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 3,326.74. It fell by as much as 31 points in early trading.
About 1.86 billion shares worth $1.31 billion changed hands, which worked out to an average unit price of 70 cents per share. Losers outnumbered gainers 225 to 157.
In what was a mixed session for financials, the STI's biggest loser on the day was DBS, which closed 79 cents, or 2.9 per cent, lower at $26.
OCBC Bank closed five cents, or 0.4 per cent, down at $12, but United Overseas Bank continued its rally, ending 32 cents, or 1.1 per cent, higher at $28.34.
The big three banks had ended Tuesday's session among the bourse's top gainers after encouraging second-quarter results.
Home-grown e-commerce start-up Synagie Corporation, which debuted on the Catalist board yesterday, opened at 26.5 cents but closed up at 27.5 cents.
The firm, which made its initial public offering at 27 cents per share, has a market capitalisation of about $71 million.