Bulls And Bears

STI slips on concerns over event risks

Investors hold fire ahead of US Nafta renegotiations and tight Malaysia polls

Local shares fell for the third straight session yesterday as investors held fire ahead of a handful of event risks, including the United States Nafta renegotiations and the too-close-to-call Malaysia polls.

The benchmark Straits Times Index slipped 12.52 points, or 0.35 per cent, to 3,532.86 with about 2.2 billion shares worth $1.1 billion done.

Investors are also expected to keep a lookout for key data on retail sales here this week, while geopolitics will stay in focus with US President Donald Trump saying he will decide by May 12 whether or not America stays in the Iran nuclear deal.

If the US decides to waive sanctions on Iran, it could help ease oil price rises, while a decision not to do so will heighten geopolitical tensions and add to upside pressure on crude, said Maybank Research.

Elsewhere, other major Asian benchmarks were mixed with shares in Japan, South Korea and Malaysia finishing lower, while Hong Kong, China and Australia notched up gains.

The inconclusive US-China trade talks last Friday elicited almost no market reaction, indicating how little anyone believed in the chances of a deal anyway, said Mr Rob Carnell, ING chief economist and research head for Asia-Pacific. "(But) one thing is apparent, China is in no mood to be bullied by the US over trade. We take a step nearer to trade war with this outcome."

Losses here were led by OCBC Bank, which retreated by 48 cents, or 3.5 per cent, to $13.17.

The bank - the last of Singapore's three banking stalwarts to release its quarterly score card - posted a 29 per cent jump in first-quarter net profit, but there were concerns as the growth was led largely by lower loan allowances while lending margins stagnated.

The other two banks stayed in positive territory, with DBS Group Holdings advancing 17 cents to $28.97 and United Overseas Bank gaining 22 cents to $29.29.

Spackman Entertainment Group rose 0.2 cent, or 2.8 per cent, to 7.3 cents. It was one of the day's most active counters with 13 million shares worth $942,000 done. The Catalist-listed entertainment firm unveiled a plan to spin off two subsidiaries for an eventual listing on the junior board as a combined entity.

Keppel DC Reit requested a trading halt yesterday and announced a plan to raise about $303.1 million in a private placement of new shares at $1.353 apiece - a 5 per cent discount to its last traded price of $1.43 on May 4. The funds raised will largely be used to acquire a data centre in Singapore.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 08, 2018, with the headline 'STI slips on concerns over event risks'. Print Edition | Subscribe