Jun 14, 2016

    Brexit, oil price jitters send stocks tumbling

    INVESTORS across Asia rushed for the exits yesterday amid heightened fears that Britain will vote to leave the European Union on June 23.

    Polls over the weekend showed more respondents supporting Brexit than those favouring to stay in the bloc.

    This pushed the already jittery Asian markets into more sell-offs, with the regional index MSCI Asia ex-Japan losing 1.7 per cent yesterday, the biggest daily loss since February.

    Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index closed down for the third straight session, dropping 37.54 points or 1.33 per cent to 2,785.43. About 1.59 billion shares were traded but they were worth only $841 million.

    Among the 30 STI constituent stocks, 24 ended in the red, led by Golden Agri-Resources, which shed 1.5 cents or 3.95 per cent to 36.5 cents. Keppel Corp also took a beating, closing down 19 cents or 3.4 per cent at $5.40.

    Sembcorp Marine dipped 4.5 cents or 2.71 per cent to $1.615.

    The market sentiment was further weakened by oil prices, with Brent futures down towards US$50 a barrel.

    CapitaLand slipped four cents or 1.32 per cent to $2.99. But OCBC analyst Eli Lee maintained his buy call for the developer, calling its recent announcement of co-working space Collective Works Capital Tower "forward-looking" amid the difficult office rental market.

    Only five blue chips - Singapore Technologies Engineering, Sats, Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust, StarHub and Singapore Airlines (SIA) - rose yesterday.

    ST Engineering put on seven cents or 2.24 per cent to $3.20. Airline catering firm Sats gained seven cents or 1.73 per cent to $4.12.

    SIA rose one cent or 0.09 per cent to $10.58.

    The International Air Transport Association noted in a recent report that the air travel industry here could more than double in 20 years and increase its contribution to Singapore's economy to US$65 billion (S$88 billion).

    Outside the STI, Ezra Holdings dropped 0.7 cent or 7.78 per cent to 8.3 cents, on 290.49 million shares traded - the most active counter yesterday.

    The offshore and marine firm's stock was dumped after news that it is selling another 10 per cent stake in joint venture EMAS Chiyoda Subsea deepened concerns over how it is faring in the stagnant sector.