Asian stocks skid as Fed meeting looms
A DEGREE of panic seized investors here and across Asia yesterday over fears of an impending interest rate hike as the United States Federal Reserve began a closely-watched monetary policy meeting last night.
Singapore shares closed in the red for the third straight day, with the Straits Times Index (STI) sliding another 39.85 points or 1.2 per cent to 3,272.62.
Stocks here opened a tad higher, creeping up by 1.92 points before the bears moved in, causing a heavy sell-off in the market.
Yesterday's decline is the worst single-day drop in percentage terms since Feb 3, when the STI fell 36.27 points or 1.2 per cent.
It added to the sea of red seen on Monday, when the STI lost 33.08 points or 1 per cent. This followed Friday's fall of 1.73 points or 0.1 per cent.
Trading volume increased yesterday as investors rushed to sell their shares. Some 1.51 billion shares worth $1.21 billion changed hands.
There were just 78 gainers compared with 378 losers - or about five losers for every winner.
Worries of an impending interest rate hike in the US continued to weigh on the market, as the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee started its two-day meeting last night.
There was more negative economic news to boot as the US reported on Monday that industrial production fell in August by 0.1 per cent while manufacturing output dropped 0.4 per cent.
China's Commerce Ministry also announced that it attracted only US$7.2 billion (S$9 billion) in foreign direct investment in August, down 14 per cent from a year earlier, giving investors more concerns.
It was the same downbeat story in other Asian markets, where Shanghai plummeted 1.82 per cent, Tokyo dropped 0.23 per cent and Sydney declined 0.51 per cent.
Even Hong Kong, which was only open for trading in the afternoon due to a typhoon warning, could not escape the slaughter, falling 0.91 per cent.
Seoul was the only bourse in the green, up 0.35 per cent. Malaysia was spared as it was closed for a public holiday.
Apac Strategic was the top volume counter at home, down 0.1 cent at 5.5 cents on a turnover of 98.2 million shares.
Among the top actives were consumption and commodities plays. Thai Beverage lost two cents to 72.5 cents, Genting Singapore fell 3.5 cents to $1.095 and Noble dropped two cents to $1.34.
E-commerce and social network firm YuuZoo made its debut yesterday, following the completion of a reverse takeover of W Corp.
It made a bright start, opening one cent higher at 51 cents, but could not hold off the torrent of poor sentiment to close half a cent lower at 49.5 cents.