Bulls And Bears

Strong US jobs report hits Singapore stocks

News dims hopes of aggressive Fed rate cut, sending ST Index down 32.58 points

Local shares had only one way to go yesterday after the buoyant United States jobs report last Friday undercut hopes for an aggressive interest rate cut later this month.

Disappointed traders sent the Straits Times Index (STI) tumbling 32.58 points or 1 per cent to 3,334.23 - an outcome mirrored in Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea.

Vanguard Partners managing partner Stephen Innes noted that after the strong jobs report, "there were some concerns that (Fed) chair (Jerome) Powell could walk down some of the market aggressive Fed rate cut pricing, and this too is having a significant impact on the investor psyche".

Asian indices were also weighed down by "escalating trade friction between Japan and South Korea, not to mention the monumental slide in Samsung's profits", Mr Innes added.

Trading volume here clocked in at 1.12 billion securities worth $1.06 billion, with losers trumping gainers 306 to 132, while 25 of the STI's 30 components closed in the red.

Singtel, down 2.3 per cent to $3.48, was the benchmark index's most active with 30.8 million shares traded.

The telco saw heavier-than-usual trading after DBS Group Research downgraded its recommendation from "buy" to "hold" but increased the target price from $3.55 to $3.60.

DBS analyst Sachin Mittal said Singtel's recent rally could be losing steam, and investors could consider taking some profit.

Like the broader market, banks had a lacklustre day. DBS Group eased 1 per cent to $25.37, OCBC Bank fell 0.7 per cent to $11.31 and UOB dipped 0.7 per cent to $26.07.

But RHB Research Institute analyst Leng Seng Choon remains bullish on the banking sector with DBS and UOB his top picks. Both have a target price of $30.80.

He said: "Market expectations of softer 2019 GDP growth for Singapore and a cut in US Federal funds rate in the (second half of 2019) could dampen investors' appetite for Singapore banks... with economic recovery likely in 2020, we remain bullish on the sector."

Real estate investment trusts (Reits), which have hogged the limelight on the back of dovish stances from central banks, saw pullbacks.

The iEdge S-Reit 20 Index lost 12.10 points or 0.8 per cent to 1,469.96 yesterday.

Healthcare player Health Management International, which resumed trading yesterday morning after an offer by its management and private equity firm EQT to take the firm private at 73 cents a share, shot up 9.1 per cent to 72 cents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2019, with the headline 'Strong US jobs report hits Singapore stocks'. Print Edition | Subscribe