Bulls And Bears

Investors on sidelines as they await China data

Waiting game drives Straits Times Index down 16.7 points and most of Asia lower

Investors here and across the region went back into their shells yesterday after Tuesday's gains to await some key data expected out of China today.

The numbers from Beijing include industrial production, retail sales and foreign direct investment levels, which will all throw light on the state of the economy at a time when growth concerns are mounting.

This wait-and-see approach sent the Straits Times Index (STI) down 16.66 points or 0.52 per cent to 3,195.59. The muted session saw trade of 817.48 million shares worth $1.05 billion, with losers outpacing gainers 221 to 176.

There were 19 of those losers among the STI's 30 constituents, including Genting Singapore, which was the blue-chip index's most traded. The casino operator ended down 1 per cent to $1.01 with 26.3 million shares changing hands.

Elsewhere in Asia, ending lower were Australia, Japan, mainland China, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Going by value of trade here, DBS recorded $113.3 million worth of transactions - 10.8 per cent of the bourse's total trade amount yesterday - across 4.53 million shares. It dipped 1.3 per cent to $24.97.

Singapore Exchange (SGX) continued to slide since the Hong Kong bourse's announcement of its plan to launch futures contracts on the MSCI China A Index.

The counter closed 1.2 per cent down at $7.26 and is now 6.9 per cent lower on the week.

Jefferies Singapore equity analyst Krishna Guha acknowledged that concerns surrounding SGX are justified on grounds that its China A50 futures are a significant contributor to derivative volumes.

But Mr Guha noted that SGX continues to have "a few strengths such as a first-mover advantage to rely upon and the exchange has witnessed such competitive incursions earlier as well".

He added that the sell-off by investors since the start of the week was overdone.

PhillipCapital principal trading representative Marcus Toh agreed that the bourse operator had been oversold, adding that SGX shares were "attractive to buy again".

Wall Street's tech-led rally on Monday saw a number of tech-related shares here outperforming the benchmark index on Tuesday but they pared gains yesterday.

AEM Holdings ended 1.6 per cent down at $1.25 while Hi-P International dropped 4 per cent to $1.68.

Thomson Medical Group was the bourse's most active counter with 40.7 million shares traded as it finished flat at 7.8 cents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2019, with the headline 'Investors on sidelines as they await China data'. Subscribe