Bulls And Bears

STI inches up despite US telecoms move

Local shares defy general pessimistic mood but most tech counters end lower

Local shares managed to defy the general mood of pessimism yesterday to creep upwards after opening lower following Washington's move to ban US companies from using foreign telecoms equipment that could pose a security threat.

Investors seemed determined to make something of a lacklustre day as they lifted the Straits Times Index (STI) up 11.49 points or 0.4 per cent to close at 3,230.26.

CMC Markets market analyst Margaret Yang noted: "I don't think the worst is over if trade risk persists for an extended period of time."

Trading volume here clocked in at 968.09 million shares worth $883.59 million, with losers outnumbering gainers 205 to 181. The benchmark index had 21 of its 30 components trading in the black.

The United States move, which market watchers see as targeting Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies, adds another element to the already edgy atmosphere between Washington and Beijing.

"If that's not an escalation in trade tensions, then I don't know what is," Oanda senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley said.

While the spillover effect was not as pronounced in the local market, most tech counters closed lower.

AEM Holdings, one of the firms picked by Huawei for testing and developing cabling links for its 5G gear, fell 2 per cent to 97 cents.

"AEM's biggest client - US tech player Intel - is also one of Huawei's suppliers, so it could have also impacted the Singapore-listed firm's performance," a dealer said.

Hi-P International closed 0.8 per cent down at $1.29 while Venture Corp dipped 0.9 per cent to $15.76.

The defensively positioned Netlink NBN Trust, which has a significant share in the domestic fibre network infrastructure market, closed 0.6 per cent up at 84 cents.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding was the most traded, adding 2.1 per cent to $1.49 on 39.2 million shares.

Market watchers speculated that the stock could have risen on possible share buybacks and traders looking to add to their positions before Yangzijiang goes ex-dividend on May 21.

Wilmar International was another of the STI's big gainers, closing 1.4 per cent higher at $3.55. RHB Research Institute reaffirmed the agri-business player as its top sector pick yesterday.

BoardRoom leapt after news on Wednesday that GK Goh Holdings has made a voluntary unconditional cash offer for the corporate secretarial services firm at 88 cents a share. BoardRoom, which GK Goh intends to delist, closed at the offer price, up 14.3 per cent.

Elsewhere, Australia and China were higher. Japan, Malaysia and South Korea were lower, while Hong Kong closed flat.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 17, 2019, with the headline 'STI inches up despite US telecoms move'. Print Edition | Subscribe