Traders jittery over geopolitical uncertainty

Malaysian polls and US pullout from Iran nuclear deal keep investors on edge

It was a nervy time for traders yesterday, what with Malaysia going to the polls soon after the United States' overnight exit from the Iran nuclear deal.

Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index reacted by diving to an intra-day low of 3,527.26 early in the session, before shrugging off the geopolitical uncertainty to close up 5.37 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 3,548.54.

Gainers pipped losers 215 to 205, with 1.69 billion shares worth $1.28 billion changing hands.

ComfortDelGro stayed a hot stock ahead of its results tomorrow, with a turnover of 19.56 million shares. The counter continued its ascent, putting on seven cents, or 3.08 per cent, to $2.34.

Phillip Securities analyst Jeremy Ng said: "Expect the bullish momentum to resume for the price to test the immediate resistance at $2.41, followed by $2.70."

Keppel Corp added 17 cents to $8.20, while Sembcorp Marine closed up nine cents, or 4.31 per cent, to $2.18 - rises likely due to US President Donald Trump's move to pull the US out of the Iran nuclear deal.

The decision is pushing up global oil prices, as fresh export sanctions on Iran would cut crude output.

Beleaguered offshore and marine services provider Ezion Holdings topped the stock actives list on a churn of 96.86 million shares, adding 0.4 cent, or 3.67 per cent, to 11.3 cents. Ezion, which was thrown a multimillion-dollar life buoy last month by a Temasek unit, has now said it expects a first-quarter net loss due to delays in asset redeployment.

Addvalue Technologies saw 24.2 million shares change hands as it gained 0.1 cent to four cents. It has picked a sponsor for the proposed Catalist debut of a wholly owned subsidiary, a spin-off that would reward shareholders with free stock in the new listing.

The Malaysian bourse was shuttered for the vote, while around the region, Shanghai lost 0.07 per cent, Tokyo was down 0.44 per cent, and Seoul shed 0.24 per cent.

But Hong Kong ticked up 0.44 per cent on a lift from energy stocks.

There will be fresh macroeconomic leads tonight, with US inflation and wage numbers on the way.

The Bank of England is also scheduled to decide on interest rates and to report on inflation.

Its monetary policy committee is expected to keep rates unchanged, but United Overseas Bank analysts wrote that "this is likely to be a delay, rather than abandonment, of the central bank's plans to gradually normalise monetary policy".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2018, with the headline 'Traders jittery over geopolitical uncertainty'. Print Edition | Subscribe