Bulls And Bears

Trade tensions continue to weigh on STI

But early losses pared after China moves to stabilise yuan; banks among big losers

Local shares took another hit yesterday as trade tensions rattled investors, but early losses were pared after Beijing moved to stabilise the yuan.

The Straits Times Index (STI) dropped as much as 1.6 per cent to a nearly two-month low but regained ground steadily over the session to close at 3,170.47, down 24.04 points, or 0.75 per cent.

Losers outnumbered gainers 318 to 135, with 1.3 billion shares worth $1.64 billion traded.

"Who doesn't love a good old Turnaround Tuesday story in the markets?" said Mr Stephen Innes, managing partner at VM Markets.

"We have the PBOC (People's Bank of China) to thank for tweaking the fix just enough to convince the markets that the mainland authorities are not embarking on a wave of aggressive yuan depreciation."

China's central bank took steps to limit weakness in the yuan after the currency on Monday fell to its lowest level against the dollar since August 2010, prompting US President Donald Trump to label China a currency manipulator in a tweet.

The STI was dragged down by industrials and financial stocks. Conglomerate Jardine Matheson Holdings fell 0.89 per cent to US$56.87, while Jardine Cycle & Carriage lost 3.81 per cent to $31.31.

DBS and United Overseas Bank (UOB) were also among the big losers. DBS closed at $24.88, down 1.62 per cent, while UOB dipped 0.97 per cent to $25.66.

OCBC equity analysts maintained their "buy" call on UOB yesterday, but noted that the bank's medium-term outlook continues to hinge on US-China trade developments and interest rate direction.

Battered risk appetites also saw a clutch of large-cap stocks slide badly.

Hutchison Port Holdings Trust (HPH Trust) finished at 19.4 US cents, down 2.02 per cent.

HPH Trust's second-quarter performance was affected by challenges in the global trade environment. Last month, it reported a 1.4 per cent dip in revenue and other income to HK$2.7 billion (S$475.6 million) for the three months ended June 30.

Hongkong Land, a member of the Jardine Matheson Group, slumped 2.96 per cent, to US$5.57.

Singapore Press Holdings, which recently reported a 44 per cent fall in third-quarter earnings, closed down 0.5 per cent at $2.09.

Likewise, Singapore Airlines shares ended at their lowest in a decade, finishing at $9.04, down 0.11 per cent.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2019, with the headline 'Trade tensions continue to weigh on STI'. Subscribe