Bulls And Bears

STI weighed down by trade fears, HK protests

Sentiment also hit by poor retail sales data and lowering of growth forecast

Local shares picked up from where they left off on Tuesday and seemed headed for another positive finish yesterday - until the old spectre of trade tensions and the Hong Kong protests hit investor sentiment.

The change in mood left The Straits Times Index (STI) down 1.84 points, or 0.06 per cent, to 3,207.74.

CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang noted that the index had "demonstrated resilience against multiple headwinds".

United States President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he was responsible for holding up a trade deal with China, before continuing to criticise the Federal Reserve for not cutting interest rates.

The local market also had to contend with poor retail sales numbers for April, while private sector economists lowered Singapore's growth forecast to 2.1 per cent for this year.

"The tepid economic outlook suggests that corporate earnings growth in the second quarter might not deliver much of a positive surprise, and trade uncertainties will likely dampen hiring, investment and capital expenditure for a prolonged period," Ms Yang said.

Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and Malaysia all closed lower.

Mr Stephen Innes, a managing partner at Vanguard Markets (Singapore), said: "The demonstrations in Hong Kong... for me, anyway, overshadowed most of the goings-on in Asian financial markets."

The impact of the protests was most felt on Singapore-listed stocks with high exposure to Hong Kong, including blue-chip Hongkong Land, which fell 2.9 per cent to US$6.63, and Jardine Strategic Holdings, down 1 per cent to US$37.71.

Trading volumes here clocked in at 1.15 billion shares worth $1 billion. Losers outpaced winners 218 to 146. There were 14 STI stocks in the red.

Casino operator Genting Singapore was the index's most traded for the third straight session, dipping 1.1 per cent to 88.5 cents on trade of 27.7 million. Among the banks, DBS added 0.1 per cent to $24.70 and United Overseas Bank put on 0.3 per cent to $24.61. OCBC Bank ended down 0.1 per cent at $10.80.

Investors continued to load up on real estate counters in hopes of a US rate cut. OUE added 0.7 per cent to $1.50 and City Developments gained 1.8 per cent to $9.19.

Gainers among real estate investment trusts were Mapletree Logistics Trust, which advanced 2 per cent to $1.56, and Ascott Reit, up 1.6 per cent to $1.30.

IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said the market's "one strong support" was the prospect of rate cuts in the second half of the year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 13, 2019, with the headline 'STI weighed down by trade fears, HK protests'. Print Edition | Subscribe