Bulls And Bears

STI flat as investors keep to sidelines

Traders fear another missile launch to mark anniversary of North Korea's foundation

Singapore shares were little changed yesterday as ongoing jitters over North Korea's missile programme continued to weigh on sentiment across the region.

The benchmark Straits Times Index added just 0.5 points, or 0.02 per cent, to close at 3,228.6, leaving it 1.49 per cent lower for the week.

Hong Kong shares added 0.53 per cent while bargain hunters moved in at the end of a volatile week, but Seoul slipped 0.11 per cent, Shanghai fell 0.01 per cent and Tokyo declained 0.63 per cent.

Trading has been dampened by fears North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might launch another missile test this weekend to mark the anniversary of the nation's foundation. This would only rack up tensions on the Korean peninsula, as it follows a nuclear test last week.

CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang told Bloomberg that the current jitters could well be an excuse for Asian traders to kick off a larger sell-off, given how much Asian shares have risen so far this year.

"While fundamentals are improving, Asia's rally this year is a bit overheated and there may be a technical pullback ahead," she said.

At home, blue-chip stocks were mixed, with ComfortDelGro among the biggest movers. The taxi operator rose three cents, or 1.4 per cent, to $2.20.

CapitaLand fell a cent to $3.70, even as OCBC Investment Research reiterated its "buy" call on the stock, following the firm's announcement on Thursday that it was investing $300 million in Indonesia, through an integrated development and a serviced residence under the Ascott brand.

The brokerage noted: "With an additional contract to manage the 230-unit Citadines Canggu Bali which is scheduled to open in 2020, the group will be expanding its serviced residences portfolio in Indonesia to close to 600 units, strengthening its leadership position as the largest serviced residence operator in Indonesia."

Another blue-chip firm to ink an Indonesia deal on Thursday, Keppel Corp, also edged down a cent to $6.27.

The firm said its unit, Keppel Offshore & Marine, had signed an agreement with Pavilion Energy and Indonesia's state-owned PT Perusahaan Listrik Negara to explore opportunities in the development of small-scale liquefied natural gas distribution in West Indonesia.

mm2 Asia rose a cent to 50.5 cents, after saying on Thursday it will co-invest US$25 million (S$33.5 million) with two Chinese media firms to produce five films and multiple online films over the next three years.

Catalist-listed Spackman Entertainment Group added 0.2 cent to 11.4 cents. It said on Thursday it is entering the Korean drama series production business, starting with a partnership deal with Mongjakso, a Korean TV producer, to develop and produce two TV dramas.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 09, 2017, with the headline 'STI flat as investors keep to sidelines'. Print Edition | Subscribe