Lack of clear leads drags STI down
A LACK of clear leads delivered a listless trading session yesterday.
The indifference left the Straits Times Index (STI) down 6.6 points or 0.2 per cent to 3,415.53.
Shares traded in a narrow band, staying in the black for most of the session, but going up by a maximum of just eight points before a bout of selling took over in the final half hour.
A total of 1.4 billion shares worth $1 billion were traded, a shade below the average of $1.25 billion this week.
Most other Asian bourses were also lower. Hong Kong dropped 1 per cent, Tokyo lost 0.6 per cent and Seoul dipped 0.2 per cent.
"The lack of fresh sparks has prompted investors to take profits and wait for new signals," Matthew Sherwood, the head of investment markets research at Perpetual, told Bloomberg.
Shanghai bucked the trend, rising 0.5 per cent, on hopes that new stimulus measures to boost China's growth will be announced during the National People's Congress starting today.
"The market has already started to react to expectations of policies and reforms," Shenwan Hongguan analyst Qian Qimin told Agence France-Presse.
Telco Singtel was the biggest drag on the STI, dropping two cents to $4.16 and contributing to a 1.7 point decline on the index.
The biggest losers were Great Eastern, which dropped 44 cents to $24.86, Jardine C&C, which fell 37 cents to $42.63, and Jardine Matheson, down 35 US cents to US$65.64.
At the other end of the spectrum, DBS propped up the market, gaining 21 cents to $19.47 to give a 4.3 point boost to the STI.
It was also the top gainer, along with Yanlord Land - which rose 6.5 cents to 97.5 cents - and Dairy Farm, which advanced six US cents to US$8.92.
Mechanical engineering and climate control firm CNA Group dipped 0.4 cent to 2.3 cents after its subsidiary said it intends to buy a 30 per cent stake in Jilin Mailong Xuntong Electronic Products for $6 million.
Health-care equipment and services stocks were mixed after a Singapore Exchange My Gateway report out yesterday showed the five biggest plays in the sector averaged a price gain of 7.6 per cent so far this year, with an average dividend yield of 2.9 per cent.
IHH Healthcare lost two cents to $2.03, Biosensors International declined half a cent to 65 cents and Religare Health Trust surrendered 1.5 cents to $1.065. Raffles Medical Group added a cent to $3.94 and TalkMed Group crept up by half a cent to $1.06.