Bull And Bears

STI falls as bargain hunters take profit

Uncertainty in market ahead of release of the minutes of US Fed's last policy meeting

The rally in Singapore shares fizzled out yesterday as investors took cash off the table amid uncertainty ahead of the release of the minutes of the United States Federal Reserve's last policy meeting.

The benchmark Straits Times Index slipped 14.78 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 2,947.03 as bargain hunters took their chance to take profit.

"Those who had the guts to bottom fish in the past few days would have trimmed some of their positions today," remisier Alvin Yong said. "Corporate earnings for the third quarter are not expected to be fantastic given the weak Singapore GDP figures we've been seeing."

Golden Agri-Resources was one of the big losers, down 5.4 per cent, or two cents, to 35 cents, while fellow commodity player Wilmar International dropped 2.4 per cent, or seven cents, to $2.82.

ComfortDelGro shed 2.6 per cent, or eight cents, to $2.94. DBS Bank fell 0.3 per cent, or six cents, to $17.42.

IG market strategist Bernard Aw said the past three sessions' rally was "not based on solid fundamentals, but more on speculation of more monetary easing in the pipeline".

Despite the selldown in most blue chips, Singtel held its ground, rising 0.5 per cent, or two cents, to $3.77, with 24.3 million shares traded; while Yangzijiang Shipbuilding gained 2.9 per cent, or 3.5 cents, to $1.24, with 28 million shares traded.

Neptune Orient Lines jumped 4 per cent, or four cents, to $1.04 on trades of 27.6 million.

"The stock is up on possible corporate action," Mr Yong said.

Trading activity in shares of the container shipping liner has been heavy since reports in July said Temasek Holdings has put it up for sale.

Oil and gas plays were among the most actively traded, as crude prices whipsawed after the latest US data showed larger national stockpiles than expected, deepening worries of a supply glut.

Ezra slipped 2.4 per cent, or 0.3 cent, to 12 cents, with 73.7 million shares changing hands, while Ezion shed 3.4 per cent, or 2.5 cents, to 70 cents, with 23.6 million shares traded. Keppel Corp dipped 0.3 per cent, or two cents, to $7.16.

Investors are awaiting clues on the timing of a US rate hike. ABN Amro analyst Nick Kounis said the first hike will likely be delayed until next June. "A delay will give the Fed time to allow financial conditions to stabilise, external uncertainties to wane and data to improve again."

Traders are also watching for the upcoming fifth plenum of the 18th Communist Party Congress in the middle of this month, which could shed light on the Chinese authorities' plans to boost the domestic economy while working on its reforms.

Of particular interest will also be China's GDP growth target set out by the five-year plan, Mr Aw said. Some analysts are expecting the number to be lowered to 6.5 per cent. The International Monetary Fund has projected China's GDP to grow by 6.8 per cent this year, slowing to 6.3 per cent next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 09, 2015, with the headline 'STI falls as bargain hunters take profit'. Print Edition | Subscribe