Jun 26, 2015

    Greek impasse weighs on Asian markets

    ASIAN markets yesterday backed away from earlier optimism on the Greek debt crisis, as emergency talks fell apart with no sign of a bailout programme.

    Concerns that Greece could default on its debt and exit the euro zone, especially as Tuesday's deadline approaches, took a toll on Wall Street, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 0.98 per cent on Wednesday.

    A similarly downbeat mood swept Asia as Japan slid 0.46 per cent after hitting a post-1996 high the day before, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 0.95 per cent.

    The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index took a heavy hit, plunging 3.46 per cent, led by a selldown in technology stocks.

    At home, the Straits Times Index was flat at 3,349.87, down 1.46 points, or 0.04 per cent.

    CMC Markets analyst Nicholas Teo noted that the market here was "very quiet" as Greece remains in a stalemate.

    Market volume was 1.23 billion shares worth $865.6 million.

    "Investors are waiting to see what happens to Greece. They seem to be reserving something for a bigger move."

    Noble Group continued its rally for the third day on the back of news of yet another share buyback, closing two cents higher at 73.5 cents.

    The commodities play announced before trading yesterday that it had bought 14.45 million of its own shares at 71.78 cents apiece, for $10.4 million in all.

    An OCBC Investment Research report yesterday said that Noble's share price will "remain supported for now", in the light of the recent share buybacks.

    But it maintained a "hold" rating on the stock, adding that the medium-term outlook "remains somewhat muted".

    The Singapore Exchange also emerged as one of the top blue-chip gainers, adding 10 cents to end at $7.94.

    The bourse announced yesterday it would freeze fee increases on the securities and derivatives markets for now, and channel $20 million into technology infrastructure investments.

    This followed a stern reprimand from the regulator over two trading glitches last year.

    Armarda Group came up as the most active counter for the day, with 295.8 million shares changing hands.

    Shares of the Hong Kong-based group, which provides information and technology professional services to the banking and financial services industries here and in China, crashed by 0.1 cent to close at 0.2 cent.

    Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines was among the day's laggards, shedding 17 cents to close at $10.62. Telecom giant Singtel lost four cents to $4.20, while rigbuilder Keppel Corporation slid four cents to $8.36.