Regional bourses hit by selling pressure
AFTER a short-covering bounce yesterday morning that gave a mistaken semblance of stability because it added 30 points to the Straits Times Index (STI), pressure returned in force during the afternoon session.
It left the STI 27.07 points worse off at 2,532.70 at 5pm, The Business Times reported.
Turnover remained elevated at 1.2 billion units worth $1.4 billion and, excluding warrants, there were 127 rises versus 288 falls. Of the total volume traded, just over $1 billion was generated by the 30 STI components.
Over in North Asia, the Shanghai Composite Index plunged 3.2 per cent, taking 1.8 per cent off the Hang Seng Index, while a weak session for the Dow futures indicated Wall Street would likely remain depressed yesterday. At 5pm, the March contract was trading at a 120-point loss.
Brokers said the volatility spike of the past few weeks and the unpredictability of the China market were making it impossible to say when the selling might end.
Banks had a mixed outing, with DBS and OCBC ending with losses but with UOB rising. Over in the oil and gas sector, the performance of the heavyweights was also mixed - Keppel Corp and Sembcorp Industries fell but Sembcorp Marine rose.
Shares of Keppel Corp eased 0.6 per cent ahead of results. After the market closed, it reported a drop in revenue and net profit in the fourth quarter due to weak oil prices, said Reuters.
Meanwhile, other South-east Asian stocks fell yesterday, as a drop in oil prices towards 12-year lows unnerved investors, taking losses in the Philippines to the worst in almost two weeks.
Malaysia hit a more-than-four-month low ahead of a rate decision.
The Philippine main index finished down 2.8 per cent, the biggest single-day decline since Jan 11.
The index slipped into the oversold zone, with the 14-day Relative Strength Index below 30, similar to its peers in Singapore and Vietnam.
Stocks in Malaysia fell 1 per cent to the lowest close since Sept 8. The central bank, after market hours, said it kept the benchmark interest rate unchanged at 3.25 per cent, as expected.
The region posted outflows on the day, with Malaysia seeing an 11th day of foreign selling worth a net RM264 million (S$86 million), stock exchange data showed.
Foreign selling in the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia was relatively modest, worth a net 962 million peso (S$29 million), 506.27 million baht (S$20 million) and 110 billion rupiah (S$11 million) respectively.