Bulls And Bears

Region falls further on Sino-US trade jitters

STI declines 0.4% but fares better than regional bourses, analysts note

Local shares were not spared yesterday as investors across the region remained jittery over the potential breakdown in trade talks between the United States and China.

IG market strategist Pan Jingyi noted: "For fear of sounding like a broken record, it was a sea of red cutting across the region as trade fears reigned supreme."

The Straits Times Index (STI) continued its losing streak, slipping 14.14 points or 0.4 per cent to 3,269.7 on a heavy volume of 1.35 billion shares worth $1.33 billion with losers outpacing gainers 288 to 141.

Market watchers did note the STI still fared better than its regional peers. "It seems like the local market has priced in some of the possible effects of the trade talk and is also switching to a wait-and-see approach as Chinese officials arrive in the US at what has become a very crucial juncture in US-China trade relations," said Mr Brandon Leu, UOB Kay Hian's vice-president of equities and financial products.

The three banks were mixed: DBS added 0.1 per cent to $26.60; United Overseas Bank dropped 1 per cent to $25.48; and OCBC, which reports first-quarter earnings this morning, slipped 1.1 per cent to $11.31.

With risk aversion gaining traction among investors, defensive counters did the heavy lifting on the blue-chip index. Telco Singtel was the STI's most traded with 30.2 million shares changing hands as it closed up 1 per cent to $3.14. ST Engineering added 3.1 per cent to $4.

"On the other hand, counters with large exposure to China like CapitaLand were among the worst performers, underscoring hefty risk associated to the trade tensions," CMC Markets market analyst Margaret Yang said.

Developments surrounding Best World International garnered much attention. Its shares resumed trading only to have them later suspended by the exchange. The bourse is checking the accuracy of the cosmetics firm's announcement yesterday, which refuted an April report by short seller Bonitas Research on its China business.

At 3.14pm - the time of the suspension - Best World shares were down 16 per cent to $1.36 on a volume of 28.8 million.

ARA US Hospitality Trust made its trading debut on the Singapore Exchange's mainboard at 87.5 US cents per stapled security and closed at its initial public offering price of 88 US cents.

KGI Securities analyst Geraldine Wong said earlier that the trust has attractive yields, "in the high 7 per cent to low 8 per cent range".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2019, with the headline 'Region falls further on Sino-US trade jitters'. Print Edition | Subscribe