China slowdown adds to jitters
LOCAL shares took another tumble yesterday as consumer confidence in the United States dropped unexpectedly and Hong Kong braced itself for bigger protests as Chinese holidays started.
The benchmark Straits Times Index sank 12.65 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 3,264.09 in an echo of the general sluggishness across the region.
Japan's Nikkei slid 0.56 per cent while Seoul's Kospi sank 1.41 per cent.
Hong Kong and Shanghai were shut for the Golden Week public holiday in China, which began yesterday and ends on Tuesday.
Investors are keeping a nervous eye on the political situation in Hong Kong, which yesterday faced its sixth day of pro-democracy protests that have paralysed the city's downtown area.
"There's growing concern over the Hong Kong situation. If the protests continue, there's a risk some businesses may pull out," Nader Naeimi, AMP Capital Investors head of dynamic asset allocation, told Bloomberg.
Another dampener on sentiment was a slowdown in mainland China, which CMC Markets strategist Desmond Chua said "remains a big concern, with retail sales and manufacturing remaining weak", according to Bloomberg.
Uncertainty over when the US Federal Reserve will start to raise interest rates is also keeping investors on the sidelines, analysts added.
Mirach Energy was the top active, staying flat at 17 cents on a turnover of 55.3 million shares.
Commodities firm Noble Group was also active, ending the day 1.5 cents down at $1.285 with 25.6 million shares changing hands.
Noble said earlier this week that China's sovereign wealth fund, the China Investment Corp, has pared its stake in Noble from 13.8 per cent to 9.4 per cent owing to overall portfolio rebalancing.
OCBC Investment Research said in a note yesterday: "We believe Noble's core business is stabilising, although near-term catalysts may still be lacking as China's economic growth remains splotchy."
Tile supplier Hafary Holdings also rose a cent yesterday to 22 cents with 16.4 million shares traded.
DMG Research initiated coverage on the stock yesterday, saying that the firm has "a strong track record in identifying interior-decorative trends". It also owns a significantly undervalued portfolio of six property assets: five in Singapore and one in China, DMG said.
About 1.03 billion shares worth $695.4 million changed hands in total yesterday, as 193 stocks lost ground while 188 made gains.