Bulls And Bears

STI gains amid mixed Asian markets

Upbeat jobs data in America offset by concerns over US-China trade spat

Asian markets ended mixed yesterday despite starting the early session with gains, after United States economic data last Friday showed the pace of hiring remained strong in the past three months.

This came despite last month's slowdown in jobs creation.

The gains were eventually pared as concerns over China-US trade tensions continued to fester.

China last Friday proposed retaliatory tariffs on US$60 billion (S$82 billion) worth of US goods ranging from liquefied natural gas to aircraft. It also made efforts to cushion the yuan after it closed in on a rate of seven yuan per US dollar.

In a report on the escalating trade tensions between the US and China, chief market strategist Hussein Sayed at FXTM said: "A large portion of the tariffs will be paid by US consumers and I also expect consumer price index figures to begin reflecting these higher prices, especially if Trump's administration imposes additional tariffs on US$200 billion of Chinese goods."

He added: "Rising inflation leads to higher US interest rates, translating into higher cost of borrowing and debt servicing."

In regional markets, the Nikkei 225, Kospi and Shanghai Composite ended lower, with the Shanghai bourse bearing the brunt of the negative sentiments to fall 1.3 per cent. The Hang Seng and ASX 200 ended higher, while the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index closed flat.

The benchmark Straits Times Index gained 19.61 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 3,285.34. It fell by as many as 13.37 points in early trading. Turnover stood at about 1.87 billion shares worth $1.18 billion. Losers outpaced gainers by 196 to 179.

The biggest loser of the day - Genting Singapore - was also the most hotly traded stock. It fell 10 cents, or 8.1 per cent, to $1.13. Turnover was 81.4 million shares.

The biggest gainer was Venture Corp, which gained $1.75, or 10.4 per cent, to close at $18.60, with 4.7 million shares changing hands.

Shares in the big three banks also made gains. OCBC Bank, which released its second-quarter earnings yesterday morning, ended 23 cents, or 2 per cent, up at $11.58. It beat forecasts, with net profit climbing 16 per cent to $1.21 billion, beating a $1.12 billion consensus forecast in a Bloomberg poll of four analysts.

United Overseas Bank, which posted a 28 per cent increase in net profit to $1.08 billion for the second quarter last Friday, finished 54 cents, or 2 per cent, higher at $27.13. DBS shares closed 27 cents, or 1 per cent, up at $26.40.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2018, with the headline 'STI gains amid mixed Asian markets'. Print Edition | Subscribe