Bulls And Bears

STI ends relatively flat in weak market

Most Asian markets down as China probes top brokerages for rule violations

Singapore shares closed relatively flat yesterday after early gains due to a soft lead from European markets.

The Straits Times Index closed down 3.18 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 2,855.94, with 1.37 billion shares worth $1.18 billion changing hands.

"We were half-expecting some window-dressing to happen on the last day of the month, but it didn't happen," remisier Desmond Leong said, referring to fund managers' practice of dressing up portfolios with well-performing stocks and ditching laggards. "But November isn't a very significant month because it isn't the end of the calendar quarter."

"The Singapore market has been very weak, and the downtrend looks set to continue. The next support for the STI is seen at 2,800."

Gains in Singtel helped shore up the market. The telco rose 0.8 per cent, or three cents, to $3.83 on news of a deal with Globe Telecom to strengthen its information security services and help businesses fight cybercrime. About 35.5 million Singtel shares changed hands.

Noble Group led gainers, up 6.3 per cent, or 2.5 cents, to 42.5 cents, with 51 million shares traded.

Banks were active as ahead of the widely expected rise in US interest rates this month. UOB was up 0.8 per cent, or 16 cents, to $19.39.

Except for China, the rest of Asia remained in negative territory as ongoing investigations of short-selling and alleged rule violations at Chinese brokerages hurt sentiment.

Last week, the authorities launched investigations into three of its biggest brokerages. "There's not a lot of information from the government about the crackdown. Compounding the fear factor was news that key executives from large domestic brokerages were reported missing, seemingly being hauled up for investigations," IG market strategist Bernard Aw said.

Investors are watching China's Purchasing managers' indexes, due out today, for indications on the health of its manufacturing sector.

Meanwhile, micro-penny plays again dominated the most actively traded list. Vashion was flat at 0.2 cent, with 200.9 million shares traded. WE Holdings was also unchanged at 0.4 cent, with 77.7 million shares changing hands.

QT Vascular jumped 5.3 per cent, or 0.6 cent, to 11.9 cents, with trade of 70.9 million shares, while Elektromotive skyrocketed 100 per cent, or 0.2 cent, to 0.4 cent, with 70 million shares traded.

Shares of timber flooring specialist Jason Holdings slipped 10.1 per cent, or 0.8 cent, to 7.1 cents after it announced that its boss, Mr Jason Sim, is in a contractual dispute with CIMB Securities (Singapore).

China Fibretech suspended the trading of its shares yesterday after a unit received damage claims from three customers last week.

The company had asked for a trading halt last Wednesday. Due to uncertainty over the claims, the company said trading of its shares would be suspended until further notice.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2015, with the headline 'STI ends relatively flat in weak market'. Print Edition | Subscribe