Jul 31, 2015

    Olam, Wilmar rise while Noble tumbles

    LOCAL shares retreated yesterday, in line with a late sell-off in the jittery Chinese markets.

    The Straits Times Index slid 34.48 points, or 1.05 per cent, to 3,249.52, reversing Wednesday's gain.

    "Singapore equities have more or less moved in line with Chinese markets since October, but the correlation seemed stronger last month," noted IG market strategist Bernard Aw, adding that many traders here have exposure to Chinese equities.

    The sell-off was sparked by the Shanghai market's 2.2 per cent fall yesterday, which came after the index had suffered its heaviest one-day loss in more than eight years on Monday.

    These fears spilled over into Hong Kong, where the Hang Seng Index dipped 0.49 per cent.

    The losses here were led by commodities blue chip Noble Group, which tumbled seven cents or 11.86 per cent to 52 cents - its lowest since late 2008.

    Singapore Airlines fell 54 cents or 4.73 per cent to $10.88, even as it turned in a 162 per cent surge in net profit for the first quarter on Wednesday.

    Net profit for the three months to June 30 was up year-on-year to $91 million.

    Agri-businesses Olam International and Wilmar International were among the few gainers for the day, in spite of the ongoing commodities rout.

    Olam climbed 2.5 cents or 1.4 per cent to $1.815, while Wilmar added four cents or 1.25 per cent to $3.23.

    On the whole, about 2.09 billion shares worth $1.08 billion were traded.

    Elsewhere, Japan rose 1.08 per cent, riding on confidence from strong corporate earnings and the United States Federal Reserve's upbeat assessment of the US economy.

    The Fed took a rain check on the interest rate hike as the Federal Open Market Committee meeting concluded, saying that it will raise rates once it sees a sustained recovery.

    This lifted sentiment on Wall Street and sent the Dow Jones Industrial Index up 0.69 per cent.

    "The Fed is taking baby steps towards a rate hike," Brian Jacobsen, chief portfolio strategist at Wells Fargo Funds Management, told Reuters.

    "The Fed is doing a good job getting people ready for a rate hike before year's end, making it likely to be a low-impact event," he said.