Aug 26, 2014

    Market muted after Fed chief's speech

    THE local market stagnated with uncertainty yesterday after the United States central bank chief left many investors' questions unanswered in keenly awaited comments on Friday.

    The benchmark Straits Times Index rose just 4.78 points, or 0.14 per cent, to close at 3,330.28.

    "US Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen's speech at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on Friday was the most anticipated event in the entire week but she revealed little," noted Phillip Futures investment analyst Howie Lee in a note yesterday.

    "Technically speaking, she didn't say anything new but markets turned bearish as equities (in the US) dipped on Friday."

    Asian bourses were mixed, with Tokyo climbing 0.28 per cent, Seoul putting on 0.2 per cent and Hong Kong gaining 0.22 per cent.

    However, Sydney shed 0.19 per cent and Shanghai dipped 0.51 per cent.

    Despite the slight rise, market activity in Singapore was rather muted, with just 1.32 billion shares worth $763.1 million changing hands.

    Chinese property developer Weiye Holdings was the top active, rising 0.3 cent to 4.6 cents on a turnover of 75 million shares, after saying last week that it was entering talks for potential collaboration on projects in Malaysia and Singapore.

    Plantation stocks were in the spotlight yesterday, with most ending lower, as palm oil prices continued their losing streak into a ninth session.

    Golden Agri-Resources was flat at 51 cents and Kencana Agri unchanged at 22 cents, but Indofood Agri was half a cent lower at 87.5 cents, Noble Group dropped 1.5 cents to $1.375 and Wilmar International lost a cent to $3.14.

    "Crude palm oil (CPO) futures prices have fallen below the RM2,000 mark for the first time in more than five years. This is steeper than expected and negative for CPO producers," noted CIMB Research analyst Ivy Ng in a report yesterday.

    "The sharper fall was due to a confluence of bearish factors. Global edible oil supplies are projected to be strong in the coming months. This is aggravated by reports that Chinese buyers are facing difficulty in raising financing and speculative selling by market players."

    Singapore Airlines fell nine cents to $9.96. OCBC Investment Research has reiterated its "hold" call on the stock, saying that recent progress in the carrier's partnerships with Tata and Air New Zealand seems hopeful, but that it remains cautious on SIA's future growth.