Slow start to the week for STI
SINGAPORE stocks put in a listless start to the week, as investors awaited clearer direction from central banks on possible further stimulus after a raft of poor global economic data.
The benchmark Straits Times Index closed 6.54 points or 0.2 per cent lower at 3,335.19.
Some 1.96 billion shares worth a total value of just $631 million exchanged hands. Trading was also quieter as markets in mainland China, South Korea and Taiwan were closed for public holidays.
There were 239 losers to 164 winners, while 392 stocks were unchanged.
Poor economic data from the United States, China and Japan put a drag on sentiment, but hopes that there would be more monetary stimulus measures limited the declines.
The US Labor Department reported on Friday that the economy added only 142,000 jobs last month, the fewest so far this year.
Even though the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 per cent, economists said it was more because people gave up looking for a job.
With the US recovery on the jobs front possibly stalling, analysts held out hope that the US Federal Reserve may alter its timeline or give further details of an interest-rate hike.
Another major economy, Japan, also unveiled grim news yesterday, with second-quarter economic output shrinking an annualised 7.1 per cent, worse than an initial forecast of a 6.8 per cent drop.
CMC Markets analyst Desmond Chua said the contraction is the worst since the first quarter of 2011, when Japan was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami.
"While the Bank of Japan (BOJ) seemed optimistic about the economy's resiliency - as seen in the BOJ statement last week - there are obvious signs that the Japanese economy is suffering from a loss of momentum, which may spur further monetary easing," he said in a research note yesterday.
China also saw its import growth last month fall by 2.4 per cent compared with a year earlier, declining for a second straight month.
Exports did better, jumping 9.4 per cent year on year, but still way below July's 14.5 per cent jump, which stoked speculation that the central government could loosen monetary policies to spur growth.
Singapore eDevelopment was the top volume counter, with 363.6 million shares swopping hands. Its shares closed unchanged at 0.3 cent.
BreadTalk was a standout performer, jumping eight cents or 6.1 per cent to $1.40, with some 1.61 million shares exchanging hands, more than eight times above the average volume over the past five weeks.
The company was highlighted as the best-performing retail stock on the local market by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) in an SGX My Gateway report yesterday, giving investors a total return of 48.6 per cent for the year to date.
Keppel Corp lost three cents to $10.80 despite brokerage OSK DMG Research keeping its buy call on the conglomerate, with a target price of $12.50.