Third straight slide for Singapore shares over political turmoil in US

A file picture of Singapore Exchange building. PHOTO: SPH
A file picture of Singapore Exchange building. PHOTO: SPH

SINGAPORE - Singapore shares slid for the third straight day, as the drama unfolding in Washington DC raised more questions on the United States' political stability.

Talks in the US capital that president Donald Trump may potentially face impeachment amid allegations of links with Russia stirred the markets worldwide, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropping 1.78 per cent overnight.

Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index took the cue and started slow on Thursday, but managed to found its footing to end with a more marginal 0.08 per cent drop to 3,221.66. Some 1.11 billion shares worth S$1.26 billion were traded across the whole market.

Tokyo pared the most among the main Asian markets, down 1.32 per cent, while Shanghai was down 0.46 per cent and Hong Kong eased 0.62 per cent. Sydney dropped 0.82 per cent.

The global stock markets have spent months speculating on what a Trump presidency will bring to the table, and so far there has been little to show in terms of the business and tax reforms that he promised.

These reforms now look more difficult amid the chaos, Bank of Singapore chief economist Richard Jerram said.

"A tail risk to consider is if Trump embarks on some foreign policy adventurism to try to distract attention from his domestic problems," he added.

"This is an area where the president has a lot of freedom of action - either trade or military conflict - and either could concern markets."

There were 17 stocks on the STI that ended in the red. Yangzijiang Shipbuilding was the top loser, down 3.59 per cent or 4.5 cents to S$1.21 on 20.5 million transacted shares. UOL Group closed down 12 cents or 1.73 per cent at S$6.83.

The banking stocks performance has turned mixed in recent sessions after a strong run last month. DBS Group Holdings was off 17 cents or 0.82 per cent yesterday to S$20.63 and OCBC dropped four cents or 0.38 per cent to S$10.38. United Overseas Bank however added 20 cents or 0.86 per cent to S$23.34.

Jardine Matheson Holdings led the nine STI gainers, up US$2.27 or 3.67 per cent to US$64.17. SingTel was up only one cent or 0.27 per cent to S$3.76 but saw 27.4 million shares traded. Its competitor StarHub closed down three cents or 1.08 per cent at S$2.74, and M1 was down two cents or 0.88 per cent to S$2.25.

Noble Group was the top active, with 99.4 million traded shares. Shares of the commodity trader had a strong start on news that it's close to securing a new loan, but eventually dropped 1.5 cents or 2.16 per cent to 68 cents.