Jul 31, 2014

    All quiet as investors await US Fed news

    LOCAL investors stayed their hand yesterday as they await some key market-moving events in the United States later this week.

    The anaemic trading left the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) down a mere 2.43 points to 3,353.65, quite a change from the big moves that have taken it to 14-month highs in recent weeks.

    Only 1.8 billion shares worth $892.7 million changed hands yesterday, prompting a broker to tell The Straits Times: "It was mostly dead quiet today. The market is getting worse."

    Traders were awaiting the conclusion of the two-day US Federal Reserve policy meeting which ended last night before taking fresh positions.

    Announcements from the US and European Union of tougher sanctions on Russia put Wall Street in retreat overnight, paring back gains earlier in the session.

    All eyes will be on the outcome of the Fed meeting for clues regarding future interest rate hikes and further tapering.

    "The Fed statement will not be accompanied by a press conference at this reading. This suggests that the event may be less volatile in the absence of unprepared responses," said CMC Markets analyst Desmond Chua.

    Regional bourses did not move much, with Japan 0.18 per cent in front, Hong Kong 0.37 per cent higher and Shanghai 0.09 per cent lower.

    Credit Suisse noted: "We expect Japan, India and Taiwan to outperform due to their positive growth recovery outlook. Improving Chinese data and continued targeted stimuli should support a tactical rebound in China and Hong Kong equities."

    Here, 19 of the 30 STI component stocks closed lower, with five gainers and six unchanged.

    Several blue chips lost ground, including SIA Engineering, which slipped nine cents to $4.69, Singapore Exchange, off seven cents to $7.07 and CapitaMall Trust, down three cents to $1.98.

    OCBC Bank hit a seven-month high after announcing that it had cleared a key hurdle in its bid to take Wing Hang private, rising 15 cents to $9.91.

    UOB Kay Hian noted: "This is a rare occasion whereby OCBC gains full control through a general offer. In the past, OCBC usually accumulated stakes in target companies progressively over time."

    The broker added that the "overhang on OCBC's share price would be removed once the management discloses the structure of its equity fund-raising exercise".

    The day's most active stock was marble producer Terratech Group, which closed at 23.5 cents on its trading debut with 111.5 million shares done. Its IPO price was 23 cents.