Singapore stocks start strong, finish weak over capital outflow worries

The Straits Times Index (STI) fell 9.61 points, or 0.33 per cent, on Dec 21, 2016.
The Straits Times Index (STI) fell 9.61 points, or 0.33 per cent, on Dec 21, 2016.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

SINGAPORE - Singapore equities again finished weaker on Wednesday (Dec 21) despite starting the day on a strong note.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) fell 9.61 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 2,901.7, reversing its gains in the last hour of trading.

A total of 1.37 billion shares worth S$789.4 million changed hands.

The earlier gains were largely due to Wall Street's overnight performance, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.46 per cent to clock a record high as investors looked forward to promising growth in the US economy.

Sentiment was also helped by oil prices, which inched above US$55 (S$79.5) a barrel.

But all of this was capped by worries over capital outflows from the region given the strengthening US dollar and as traders prepared to wind down for the holidays.

There were eight gainers among the 30 STI constituents, with 18 losers and four unchanged.

The local banks fared well, led by DBS Group Holdings as it rebounded from the previous day's fall to finish 7 cents or 0.4 per cent higher at S$17.62, while OCBC Bank climbed 2 cents or 0.2 per cent to S$9.06. United Overseas Bank bucked the trend, sliding 16 cents or 0.8 per cent to S$20.70.

Both DBS and OCBC helped prop up the STI despite the drag from telco Singtel, which fell 3 cents or 0.8 per cent to S$3.64.

Palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources also clocked heavy losses, sinking 1.5 cents or 3.4 per cent to 43 cents.

Transport group ComfortDelGro was flat at 25.5 cents, after announcing before the markets opened that it has entered into a deal with Cabcharge Australia to acquire the remaining 49 per cent stake in ComfortDelGro Cabcharge for A$186 million (S$196 million).

Outside of the index, Catalist-listed Trendlines Group grew 0.2 cent or 1.3 per cent to 15.2 cents.

Meanwhile, other markets in the region also climbed despite fears over a series of terrorist attacks in Europe on Monday. Shanghai advanced 1.11 per cent, Hong Kong added 0.37 per cent while Sydney rose 0.4 per cent. Tokyo slid 0.25 per cent as traders moved to lock in profits after the Bank of Japan said on Tuesday it will stand put on monetary policy.

"Investors have become so fast in digesting bad news, and this explains the resilience in financial markets," said Mr Hussein Sayed, chief market strategist at FXTM, in a Reuters report.