Losers beat gainers 343 to 173 after 1.43 billion shares traded
Sembcorp Marine most actively traded counter by volume
Jardine Matheson Holdings the biggest gainer of STI constituents
Regional markets ignored the overnight rally on Wall Street and slumped ahead of testimony from United States Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell that should throw more light on policy and inflation expectations.
The cautious mood here took its toll on the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI), which slid 24.17 points or 0.8 per cent to 3,093.31.
It was no surprise that decliners easily outnumbered advancers 343 to 173 after 1.43 billion shares worth $1.18 billion changed hands.
There was red ink across the region as well with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index retreating 2.6 per cent and South Korea's Kospi off 2.7 per cent, while major indices in Japan, Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia closed between 0.2 per cent and 1.7 per cent lower.
Oanda senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley said the abrupt about-turn by US futures yesterday could be behind the slump in Asian equities. While the S&P 500, Nasdaq and Dow Jones all booked healthy gains of over 2 per cent overnight, US index futures in Asia are "telling a story of fast-money locking" in short-term overnight gains as the S&P 500, Dow and Nasdaq futures all headed south, he noted. "Asia-Pacific markets, ex-Taipei and Seoul, appear content to adopt a wait-and-see approach this week, letting the dust settle on the Powell testimony," he added.
Multinational conglomerate Jardine Matheson Holdings was the biggest gainer among the STI constituents, closing up 1.5 per cent at US$51.90, with Mapletree Commercial Trust next, closed up 1.1 per cent at $1.81. JMH's investment holding company Jardine Cycle & Carriage finished at the bottom of the STI performance table, shedding 2.7 per cent to $29.09, while property giant CapitaLand Investment lost 2.4 per cent to $3.72.
The most active counter by volume in the broader market was Sembcorp Marine, which closed down 4.5 per cent at 10.6 cents after 141.9 million shares exchanged hands.