Bulls And Bears

Losers trump gainers amid light trading on STI

But property stocks, Reits see noticeable pickup; Asia-Pacific markets a mixed bag

With neither new economic data to ponder nor updates from the United States-China trade front, yesterday's session was largely uneventful.

But, for a day of light trading, there was a noticeable pickup in property stocks and real estate investment trusts (Reits).

The Straits Times Index (STI) opened slightly higher but retreated as the session wore on, eventually settling at 3,056.47, down 11.05 points, or 0.4 per cent. The blue-chip index is down 0.4 per cent this year.

It was a mixed bag elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific. Australia, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea closed in the black, while China and Hong Kong dipped. Hong Kong's benchmark has lost 0.9 per cent this year.

Oanda Asia Pacific senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley noted that an empty data calendar globally saw investors "probably dwell on the recession fears making all the noise on Wall Street", whereas in Tuesday's session, the US Treasury yield curve inversion deepened.

Reasonably speaking, safe-haven assets should continue to outperform equities. Defensively positioned stocks and those that gain most from low borrowing costs will likely fare better as well.

FXTM market analyst Han Tan believes the gains in safe-haven assets "speak to the rising fears in the markets which have prompted a clear pivot towards risk aversion".

"Investors cannot rule out another spike in US-China trade tensions coming out of the blue in the near term, which ensures that markets will remain trepidatious for the time being," Mr Tan said.

In Singapore, trading volume clocked in at 890.79 million securities. Total turnover came to $1 billion, 94 per cent of the January-to-July daily average. Across the market, losers trumped gainers 242 to 167. The blue-chip index had 16 of 30 counters closing in the red.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding - down two cents, or 2.2 per cent, to 88.5 cents - remained the most active on the STI, with 36.8 million shares changing hands.

Reits were a bright spot. iEdge S-Reit Index gained 13.84 points, or 1 per cent, to close at 1,413.65.

Mapletree Commercial Trust was the top performer, up seven cents, or 3.3 per cent, to $2.19. It has the largest market capitalisation in the STI reserve list, making it a prime candidate for index inclusion in next month's review, at the expense of HPH Trust - up 0.5 cent, or 2.3 per cent, to 22.5 cents - according to UOB Kay Hian yesterday.

Developers such as CapitaLand - up one cent, or 0.3 per cent, to $3.39, and City Developments - up 20 cents, or 2.2 per cent, to $9.33 - also outperformed the STI.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2019, with the headline 'Losers trump gainers amid light trading on STI'. Print Edition | Subscribe