Bulls And Bears

Weak start to week for STI on US election jitters

Regional markets also mostly down, in line with poor sentiment on Wall Street

Singapore shares started the week on yet another gloomy note amid jitters ahead of the United States presidential election next week.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) pared 2.39 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 2,813.87. A total of 1.19 billion shares worth $977.8 million were traded across the bourse.

This was in line with sentiment on Friday on Wall Street, which slid 0.05 per cent. A drop in oil prices, as the world's biggest crude producers failed to agree on supply cuts at a meeting in Vienna, did not help.

"The US presidential election is the biggest risk event for traders in many key markets right now. With the spotlight on the FBI's investigations into Hillary Clinton's e-mail, people are paring their trades and saying, 'let's wait and see'," KGI Securities (Singapore) trading strategist Nicholas Teo told The Straits Times. "The next stimulus locally was going to be from corporate earnings. But we're nearing the end of the cycle and, so far, there hasn't been any major surprises, so the results haven't had so much of an impact."

DBS Group Holdings rose 10 cents or 0.7 per cent to $15. It said yesterday it is buying ANZ Banking Group's wealth and retail businesses in five Asian nations for an undisclosed sum. It reported third-quarter net profit of $1.07 billion, little changed from a year earlier.

OCBC Bank slipped two cents or 0.2 per cent to $8.48 while United Overseas Bank grew 15 cents or 0.8 per cent to $18.78.

Transport group ComfortDelGro closed weaker for the third straight session, losing six cents or 2.3 per cent to $2.54, after the Public Transport Council said last Thursday that it will reduce bus and rail fares by 4.2 per cent from Dec 30.

DBS Group Research in a report retained its "buy" call on the stock, noting that the market may have overreacted on the news. It said the fare cut's impact will be limited to its rail operations, as fare revenue risk for buses has been moved to the Land Transport Authority.

In the highly-stressed offshore and marine space, Ezra Holdings lost 0.2 cent or 4.4 per cent to 4.3 cents. The offshore services firm on Sunday asked for more time to release its unaudited full-year results, citing "a lot of uncertainties", given its investment in associate company Perisai PetroleumTeknologi.

Perisai, which declared itself insolvent after defaulting on $125 million of 6.875 per cent bonds due Oct 3, said it has received a notice from lawyers for OCBC Al-Amin Bank on a loan default and a separate winding-up petition by a bond holder.

The day's top active was YuuZoo Corporation, which slid 0.4 cent or 2.2 per cent to 17.7 cents on 92.2 million shares done. The firm on Sunday said it is planning to invest between US$50 million and US$150 million (S$70 million and S$209 million) for a 33.3 per cent stake in an American independent movie studio and entertainment group.

Markets elsewhere in the region were mostly down.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2016, with the headline 'Weak start to week for STI on US election jitters'. Print Edition | Subscribe