Singapore shares slide on trade concerns

Sea of red in regional markets as China's April trade data also did little to lift mood

Waning sentiment over a US-China trade resolution sent investors running for the hills in a broadly lower session in Asia.

This followed a Wall Street sell-off on Tuesday, triggered by key US officials supporting increasing levies on Chinese imports.

The mood saw the Straits Times Index (STI) reverse Tuesday's 0.7 per cent gain to close down 28.68 points, or 0.9 per cent, at 3,283.84 yesterday. It has fallen by 108.45 points or 3.2 per cent this week.

"It had been a sea of red as markets in Asia digested the fact that Friday's tariff implementation from the United States could become a reality and further hurt the precarious global growth situation," IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said.

Moreover, China's April trade figures - which were mixed - did little to improve market sentiment as Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea markets all ended lower.

The Nikkei 225 dropped 1.5 per cent to 21,602.59 - a five-week low. A stronger yen, which tends to rally in times of risk-off sentiment, also weighed on the Japan market.

In Singapore, volumes were heavy, clocking in at 1.48 billion securities or 17 per cent over the average in the first three months of the year. Total turnover came to $1.09 billion, 6.4 per cent more than the January-to-March daily average.

Decliners outpaced advancers 258 to 155. The STI had 23 of its 30 components ending in the red.

The banking trio pulled back from gains made on Tuesday. DBS Group Holdings fell 19 cents or 0.7 per cent to $26.58 a share, OCBC Bank slipped 13 cents or 1.1 per cent to $11.44, while United Overseas Bank dropped 27 cents or one per cent to end at $25.73.

Bucking the trend yesterday was Wilmar International, which closed at $3.59, advancing six cents or 1.7 per cent. UOB Kay Hian's vice-president of equities and financial products Brandon Leu said: "Wilmar continues to trade with strength, likely due to optimism on the future listing of its China unit in Shanghai, which analysts are expecting in the later part of 2019.''

Isetan Singapore was another gainer, closing two cents or 0.6 per cent up at $3.47. It has added 12 per cent since announcing on Monday that the lease for its loss-making store in Westgate mall will not be renewed.

With investors looking to developments from US-China trade talks that start today, a trader said investors are best placed to stay on the sidelines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2019, with the headline 'Singapore shares slide on trade concerns'. Subscribe