STI ends worst performer among regional markets

This comes as S'pore Govt announces stricter measures to contain coronavirus

The Straits Times Index (STI) ended yesterday down 63.74 points, or 2.6 per cent, at 2,389.29 points, ending the week 5.5 per cent lower than when it started.

It was by far the worst performer among Asian markets, which mostly finished flat or registered slight dips.

This comes as the Singapore authorities said yesterday that they will shut schools and most businesses for a month in a bid to break the chain of local transmisison of the coronavirus.

"Global recession fears are now being confirmed by the incoming economic prints," said FXTM market analyst Han Tan. "Until the virus case count peaks and the business earnings outlook improves, risk sentiment may experience only fleeting bouts of positivity."

MSCI's Asia-Pacific index outside Japan dipped 0.6 per cent while Japan's Nikkei erased earlier gains to end flat. US stock futures sank nearly 1 per cent.

The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index was flat, down 0.02 per cent, or 0.25 point, to close at 1,330.65 points. The Hang Seng Index declined 0.19 per cent. However, the Thai stock market closed marginally higher and posted its best week since October 2015, boosted by rallying oil prices and hopes of stimulus to support the country's economy.

The worst performers among the STI's constituents were Jardine Cycle & Carriage and Jardine Strategic, which fell 5.5 per cent to $18.28, and 2.8 per cent to US$21.60, respectively.

Singapore banks DBS Bank, OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank (UOB) were also among the hardest-hit stocks after they slashed several rates on their flagship deposit accounts to better reflect the weaker rate environment globally.

At yesterday's close, shares in DBS were down 2.7 per cent to $17.92; UOB lost 2.9 per cent to $18.80; while OCBC receded 2.9 per cent to finish at $8.38.

By percentage, commercial real estate investment trusts (Reits) also ranked among the biggest decliners on the STI. Mapletree Commercial Trust, which owns VivoCity, fell $0.12, or 7.4 per cent, to $1.50. Office Reit CapitaLand Commercial Trust fell 7 per cent to $1.33.

This was an extension from Thursday's sell-off after DBS Group Research noted that a proposed Bill to alleviate the financial pressure on local tenants could create significant cash flow uncertainty for the Reits.

Decliners outnumbered advancers 333 to 113 for the day, with 1.6 billion shares worth $1.55 billion changing hands.

• With additional information from Reuters

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2020, with the headline 'STI ends worst performer among regional markets'. Print Edition | Subscribe