Bulls And Bears

Uncertainty, lack of direction weigh on STI

Banks close mixed; Jardine Strategic, Hutchison Port trust among big losers

Local shares struggled alongside their Asian counterparts to get any real traction yesterday amid uncertainty and a general lack of market direction.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) fell 0.38 per cent to 3,034.31, with gainers edging out losers 185 to 179 on trade of 1.8 billion shares worth $950.6 million.

CMC market analyst Margaret Yang said: "The STI followed the US into a technical correction last week, and this is unlikely to change until the US market stabilises and the earnings season feeds investors with positive surprises."

Singapore Press Holdings kick-started the earnings reporting season for STI constituents. Keppel Corp follows suit with third-quarter numbers tomorrow, while Singapore Exchange announces first-quarter figures on Friday.

Penny stocks like Allied Tech, Rex International and Nico Steel were among the most heavily traded.

Other active index stocks included Genting Singapore, which lost 1.6 per cent to 93 cents with 49 million shares traded, and Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, up 1.6 per cent to $1.26 on trade of 23 million.

Asian Healthcare Specialists (AHS) jumped 6.1 per cent to 26 cents after reaching an intraday high of 28 cents in morning trade.

The Catalist-listed orthopaedic services provider said on Monday that it has entered into an agreement with Vanda 1 Investments, which is managed by Temasek unit Heliconia Capital Management. Estimated net proceeds for the deal stand at $9.92 million.

NRA Capital analyst Liu Jinshu noted in June that AHS is a "highly profitable business with aggressive growth plans".

Hutchison Port Holdings Trust helped drag the STI lower. It fell 2 per cent to 24 US cents, while Jardine Strategic Holdings lost 2.9 per cent to US$32.86, near its 52-week low of US$32.51.


Banks again closed mixed. United Overseas Bank gained 0.6 per cent to $25.33, DBS lost 1 per cent to $24.24, and OCBC Bank fell 0.8 per cent to $10.58.

Elsewhere, Japan's equities outperformed, while South Korea's Kospi closed flat.

Early gains in China and Hong Kong were pared by the end of the day after data showed that factory-gate inflation had cooled for a third straight month in September, on the back of lean domestic demand.

The Shanghai Composite lost 0.85 per cent while the Hang Seng added 0.07 per cent. Meanwhile, Australia shares ended higher as mining and financials rebounded.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2018, with the headline 'Uncertainty, lack of direction weigh on STI'. Print Edition | Subscribe