STI slips after four-day winning streak

Decline in line with regional bourses; buyers lying low ahead of news from US, Japan

Singapore shares snapped a four-day winning streak yesterday in a day of thin trading, as most investors waited on the sidelines for policy decisions by central bankers in the United States and Japan.

The local benchmark Straits Times Index lost 30.54 points, or 0.99 per cent, to close at 3,052.53.

The lacklustre performance was in line with most other bourses across the region. Tokyo fell 0.9 per cent, Seoul slipped 0.2 per cent and Sydney lost 0.03 per cent. Hong Kong and Shanghai, however, gained 0.1 per cent each, as investors were still cheering China's move last Friday to cut interest rates to stimulate stalling economic growth.

"Market participants are taking a break from risk assets, preferring to square positions ahead of several events. Investors were digesting seemingly mixed earnings reports as well as awaiting incoming ones," said IG market strategist Bernard Aw.

The US Federal Reserve, which started its two-day meeting overnight, is widely expected to delay raising interest rates again.

Market watchers are also keeping an eye on the Bank of Japan which is meeting on Friday, to see if it announces more stimulus measures.

Commodity counters led losses at home, with Noble Group down 2.5 cents to 53.5 cents, Golden Agri-Resources falling half a cent to 40.5 cents, Indofood Agri slipping two cents to 60 cents and Wilmar International losing eight cents to $3.15.

Olam International, however, gained half a cent to $2.

A report from the Singapore Exchange yesterday noted that the four retail real estate investment trusts (Reits) that have released their results for the past quarter so far, have reported an average distribution per unit of 2.63 cents. This reflects an average 6.8 per cent gain from the same quarter a year ago.

CapitaLand Mall Trust slipped two cents to $2.05, CapitaLand Retail China Trust edged down 1.5 cents to $1.54, Mapletree Commercial Trust slid half a cent to $1.39 and Frasers Centrepoint Trust dropped a cent to $2.

Raffles Medical fell three cents to $4.36. The firm said on Monday that net profit for the third quarter rose 1.2 per cent.

CIMB Research analyst Jonathan Seow upgraded his call on the stock from "reduce" to "hold", given the recent correction in its price.

The firm had also said revenue from its hospital services and healthcare services divisions increased by 11.7 per cent, a number Mr Seow said was surprising, given the softening medical tourism sector.

"In fact, management said this was the first quarter where it saw a decline in foreign patients, primarily from Indonesia and Russia," he noted in a report yesterday. "We believe the decline came from the middle and upper-middle class and, given the poor consumer sentiment and weak regional currencies, we see no near-term reprieve."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2015, with the headline 'STI slips after four-day winning streak'. Print Edition | Subscribe