Bulls And Bears

STI inches lower amid tepid trade across Asia

Lacklustre start to Q4 comes as HK and China markets close for holidays

The fourth quarter opened with a lacklustre performance across the region yesterday, not helped by markets in Hong Kong and China closing for holidays.

Hong Kong was out of action for National Day while mainland bourses remained closed for the Golden Week National Day holiday.

The tepid day's trade left the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) 1.59 points lower at 3,255.46 after it clocked an intra-day high of 3,268.24 in the early session.

Turnover was 1.05 billion shares worth $765 million, with gainers outnumbering losers 222 to 159.

Ezion Holdings was the most hotly traded stock, rising 1.35 per cent to 7.5 cents with 129.9 million shares changing hands.

The STI's biggest loser in dollar terms was Jardine Cycle & Carriage, which fell 0.4 per cent to $31.85.

ThaiBev took a hit as well, down 2.2 per cent to 66.5 cents.

Contract manufacturer Venture Corp was the index's biggest gainer, up 5 per cent to $18.52.

Nico Steel was on the radar as well, with 89.8 million shares changing hands. The stock has grown six times since opening at 0.1 cent at the start of last month.

DBS Group Holdings closed 0.46 per cent lower at $25.97 and United Overseas Bank ended 0.1 per cent down at $27.05, but OCBC Bank finished 0.1 per cent up at $11.45.

The lender said yesterday that it terminated the sale of its 33.33 per cent stake in Hong Kong Life Insurance, saying the closing conditions had not been satisfied by Sept 30.

Telco M1 dipped 0.5 per cent to $2.10. Its shares have gained 29 per cent since Keppel Corp and Singapore Press Holdings unveiled plans last Thursday to take over the firm with an offer of $2.06 a share.

The muted trade here yesterday was mirrored across the region.

IG sales trader Jayden Loh noted: "Trade tensions are taking a toll on China's economy, with obvious signs from China's Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) data... For the first time since June 2017, Caixin PMI stalled at 50, precariously close to signalling a contraction in the economy. With the Shanghai Composite Index trading near the 2016 crisis' low, we may be reaching price levels for further government intervention to support the markets."

Among the other key regional markets, only the Nikkei 225, which closed at a 27-year high yesterday, ended the day in positive territory, up 0.52 per cent, boosted by a weak yen and a breakthrough in trade talks between the United States and Canada on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Shares in Kuala Lumpur, Sydney and Seoul all closed lower.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 02, 2018, with the headline 'STI inches lower amid tepid trade across Asia'. Print Edition | Subscribe