STI falls as regional markets stay mixed

Its most traded counter Singtel stays flat at $3.20 as banks continue to slide

The adage of "sell in May and go away" has certainly held up this year.

As if to underline the point, investors were dealt further blows yesterday, due to Washington's tariff threat on Mexico and disappointing Chinese manufacturing figures.

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) responded by sliding 25.24 points or 0.8 per cent to 3,117.76 - a fall of 1.6 per cent for the week and capping four straight weeks of losses. It lost 9.1 per cent in May.

Regional markets were mixed. Australia, Malaysia and South Korea ended higher but China, Hong Kong and Japan fell. Market watchers said the region's bourses opened lower on what they felt were knee-jerk reactions to President Donald Trump's latest tariff move while China's official purchasing managers index (PMI) figures, released shortly after trading began yesterday, were of more consequence to the region.

Non-manufacturing PMI met street estimates but the 49.4 posted for manufacturing was a bigger contraction than expected.

Trading here came in at 926.13 million shares worth $1.22 billion with losers trumping gainers 227 to 152 while 18 of the benchmark index's 30 components closed in the red.

Singtel, unchanged at $3.20, was the STI's most traded counter with 27.1 million shares changing hands. The telco has outperformed the STI in recent sessions as traders seem to be moving to more defensive stocks.

Banks continued to slide. DBS Bank shed 1.3 per cent to $24.29, OCBC dropped 1.6 per cent to $10.57 and UOB fell 1.6 per cent to $23.50. While slowing global growth and trade rows have sent bank stocks down in recent weeks, ratings agency Moody's has maintained that the 12-to 18-month outlook for local lenders remains stable. "Singapore banks will continue to show strong fundamentals across all aspects of their operations, despite a slowdown in economic growth in Singapore and broadly in Asia," said Mr Eugene Tarzimanov, a Moody's vice-president and senior credit officer.

Among the bright spots, Creative Technology leapt 14.8 per cent to $3.95 after announcing it was working with Taiwanese computer maker Clevo to integrate its Super X-Fi technology into Clevo's next-generation gaming laptops. The 837,500 shares that changed hands were about 6.5 times more than the daily average in the past 15 trading days.

Alliance Healthcare Group closed its first day on the Exchange's Catalist board at 20.5 cents, with 1.65 million shares traded. The integrated healthcare group had spent most of the trading day at 20 cents - its initial public offering price.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2019, with the headline 'STI falls as regional markets stay mixed'. Print Edition | Subscribe