Jul 29, 2015

    S'pore banks hit by volatility in China

    ASIAN bourses were a mixed bag yesterday, as investors across the region continued to keep an eye on the Chinese market.

    The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index dropped 1.68 per cent yesterday, following the 8 per cent plunge on Monday that shook markets globally.

    Wall Street responded overnight, falling 0.73 per cent overnight while the Nikkei 225 Index in Japan dipped 0.1 per cent.

    Singapore's Straits Times Index slid 32.33 points, or 0.98 per cent, to 3,281.09.

    But Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index bucked the trend, climbing 0.62 per cent after Beijing hinted at renewed support for its afflicted markets.

    "The situation in China is causing concern, particularly for international companies that get a good portion of their sales from overseas," Matt Maley, an equity strategist at Miller Tabak in the United States, told Bloomberg.

    "We're already starting to see cracks in the earnings picture, so if global growth is going to slow, that will make the cracks bigger."

    IG market strategist Bernard Aw noted that state efforts to shore up market sentiment have not done the trick, saying: "Monday's plunge showed the Chinese authorities that even governmental measures have their limits."

    The losses here were led by the three local banks, which were unable to dodge the volatility in China.

    DBS Group fell nine cents to $20.99, OCBC Bank lost five cents to $10.27 and United Overseas Bank sank 22 cents to $22.97.

    Also among the day's worst performers were telco heavyweight Singtel, which dropped three cents to $4.27, and bourse operator Singapore Exchange, down 14 cents to $8.07.

    Palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources lost two cents to 34 cents - its lowest in about six years - as the global commodity rout continues to bite.

    An OCBC report last month said that the near-term outlook for Golden Agri remains "somewhat muted", as drier conditions are expected in Indonesia in the coming months due to the El Nino effect.

    The only bright spot among blue-chip counters yesterday was agribusiness group Wilmar International, which rose one cent to $3.20.

    Catalist-listed waterproofing firm Chinese Global was again the most heavily traded, with 267.9 million shares changing hands. The counter fell 0.6 cent to 5.7 cents.

    A total of 2.3 billion stocks worth $1.37 billion were traded.