S'pore market catches Crimean chill

POLITICAL RIPPLES: Escalating tensions in Ukraine come at an already uncertain time for Asia. Singapore's Straits Times Index dropped 0.75 per cent, Tokyo retreated 1.27 per cent, Hong Kong declined 1.47 per cent and Seoul lost 0.77 per cent.


    Mar 04, 2014

    S'pore market catches Crimean chill

    ESCALATING political tensions in Ukraine have caused ripples that splashed all the way over to Asian markets, which mostly ended in the red yesterday.

    Analysts noted that the diplomatic troubles in Crimea come at an already uncertain time for Asia, which has been grappling with the aftereffects of stimulus tapering in the United States and slower growth in China.

    "The Crimean reaction to the ousting of the Ukrainian government, the Russian response and the counter-response from the US and Europe are the focus for markets," said Mr Kit Juckes, the head of currency strategy at Societe Generale, in an interview with AFP.

    "The weekend's events will be followed by a lot of uncertainty and further risk aversion as a diplomatic solution is sought."

    At press time, no such solution seemed to be in sight, as temperatures rose and tempers frayed in Europe.

    Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index dropped 23.31 points, or 0.75 per cent, to 3,087.47.

    Others fared worse, with Tokyo retreating 1.27 per cent, Hong Kong declining 1.47 per cent and Seoul losing 0.77 per cent.

    Shanghai was one of the few markets to end the day higher, up 0.92 per cent.

    Most STI constituent stocks also ended the day in the red, although commodity players were among the rare winners.

    Golden Agri Resources, for one thing, rose three cents to 58.5 cents, while Wilmar International also gained ground, advancing a cent to $3.46.

    Indofood Agri added a cent to 88 cents. CIMB Research has upgraded the stock to a "hold" rating after the company announced better-than-expected results for the fourth quarter.

    "We are upgrading Indofood Agri from 'reduce' to 'hold', as we are more optimistic on its earnings prospects due to subsiding social issues at its estates, better cost management and positive results from its Brazilian sugar assets," wrote analyst Ivy Ng.

    Centurion Corp slipped a cent to 61 cents. DMG & Partners Research has maintained its "buy" call on the stock, saying that a shortage of worker dormitory accommodation, which Centurion supplies, and an exciting year of expansion ahead will put the firm in a strong position for the next few years.

    OUE gained a cent to $2.36. The firm said last week that it had made a net loss of $36.6 million for the full year.

    However, Maybank Kim Eng Research is still positive on the stock, citing the firm's upgrading of its property assets.

    Analyst Wilson Liew wrote in a note yesterday: "OUE has a track record of sussing out interesting deals and has the balance sheet to do so."