Singapore equities continued their slide as a disappointing decline in Chinese exports cast a shadow on Asian markets.
The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) shed 8.23 points, or 0.29 per cent, to 2,805.48 - extending losses for the fourth straight day. Total market turnover was 1.97 billion shares worth $1.26 billion.
Shanghai was flat, inching up just 0.09 per cent after figures showed that Chinese exports had fallen the most since February, while Hong Kong took a bigger hit, sliding 1.6 per cent. Tokyo eased 0.39 per cent, Sydney slipped 0.71 per cent and Jakarta retreated 0.45 per cent. Bangkok's benchmark SET staged a late rebound to end 0.5 per cent higher after falling as much as 3.5 per cent earlier in the day on concerns over the health of the Thai king.
Wall Street climbed 0.09 per cent overnight after the minutes of the US Federal Reserve's September meeting showed that Fed officials are still waiting on more labour-market data before raising interest rates.
"The pessimism in the Singapore market today was in part attributed to the disappointing China data," IG market strategist Pan Jingyi told The Straits Times. "But the focus still remains largely on Fed comments in relation to the next rate hike, and oil prices. Developments in these two areas will be major drivers for market sentiment."
Ms Pan said the STI is likely to continue with its "directionless" trading, although there could be more volatility ahead with the US elections approaching.
On the index, local banks continued to lose ground. United Overseas Bank, for instance, was down 30 cents or 1.6 per cent to $18.30.
Thai Beverage bounced back 1.5 cents or 1.6 per cent to 92.5 cents following a heavy sell-down the day before amid fears over political uncertainty in Thailand. An OCBC Investment Research report noted that "near-term sentiment may remain hit by the uncertainties around potential repercussions for Thailand", although it believes the group's long-term fundamentals remain strong. It maintained a "hold" rating on the stock and advised longer-term investors to "consider accumulating at current price levels".
Commodity trader Noble Group continued to be the top active, dropping 0.7 cent or 3.9 per cent to 17.3 cents on 330.9 million shares done.
Spackman Entertainment Group was also heavily traded, jumping 0.9 cent or 8 per cent to 12.2 cents. RHB Research yesterday initiated coverage on the stock, with a "buy" call and a target price of 22 cents. It said the South Korean movie producer is "primed for a strong turnaround" due to a few key near-term catalysts, including the upcoming release of its movie Master.
TT International surged 1.4 cents or 51.9 per cent to 4.1 cents, while Dragon Group International rocketed 0.7 cent or 58.3 per cent to 1.9 cents. Both earned a query from the Singapore Exchange on their unusual stock price movement.