Asian markets closed mixed yesterday, with Hong Kong shares hitting a 25-month high but Singapore among the weakest bourses.
Hong Kong was spurred by resources firms and a 2.62 per cent jump in HSBC Holdings after the bank said it would buy back another US$2 billion (S$2.7 billion) in shares, as its profits beat estimates.
The Hang Seng Index rose 1.3 per cent to 27,323.99 after companies poured an estimated HK$25 billion (S$4.3 billion) into share buybacks this year to July 25, the highest for the period since 2008, Bloomberg reported. The property sector accounted for almost 60 per cent of buybacks this year.
At home, the Straits Times Index (STI) finished 0.04 per cent lower at 3,329.52 as the market took a breather after touching a fresh high last Thursday.
The STI was dragged down by Singtel, which shed three cents or 0.75 per cent to $3.97. The telco will report earnings on Aug 11.
Australia's ASX 200 added 0.3 per cent to 5,720.59, fuelled by higher metals prices which lifted mining and materials firms. Brent crude oil held above the US$52.50 mark as at 5pm yesterday.
Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.2 per cent to 19,925.18, owing to a sell-off in index heavyweights Fanuc, the robotics firm, and SoftBank, the Internet firm and fund manager.
At home, all three banks saw more selling despite a firmer growth picture. Bank lending in June rose 7.6 per cent year on year, the fastest pace in over two years as business and consumer loans went up, new data shows.
DBS Group Holdings fell six cents or 0.28 per cent to $21.60. OCBC Bank lost three cents or 0.26 per cent to $11.36, and United Overseas Bank shed six cents or 0.25 per cent to $23.99. DBS reports its results on Friday.
Overall, turnover on the Singapore bourse reached $1.37 billion on volume of 2.78 billion. Gainers outnumbered losers 226 to 210.
Rowsley was the top active, followed by DiSa which added 0.1 cent or 6.67 per cent to 1.6 cents on volume of 111 million. The digital safety solutions seller said that one billion new shares will be listed from today. These were issued from the exercise of warrants last Friday.
TT International, which has been under court-supervised restructuring since 2010, called for a trading halt yesterday morning pending an announcement.
As a whole, Singapore-listed companies and trusts had a combined market cap of $985.7 billion at the end of July, up from $971 billion at the end of June.
Among the STI component stocks, Genting Singapore was the strongest gainer, growing 6.4 per cent to a market cap of $14.3 billion in the last month. It rose 1.5 cents or 1.3 per cent to $1.165 yesterday.
In second place was Yangzijiang Shipbuilding, which grew 6 per cent. It gained 11 cents or 8.43 per cent yesterday to $1.415.