S'pore stocks slump on soft China data
SINGAPORE shares snapped a four-day winning streak yesterday as the broader Asian market slid on surprisingly weak Chinese trade data and slower growth in Japan.
The benchmark Straits Times Index was down 9.63 points to 3,126.63, with MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan losing 1.4 per cent, as China's weak export and inflation data last month fuelled fears of a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
Chinese exports tumbled 18.1 per cent last month from a year earlier, according to data released on Saturday, swinging the trade balance into a deficit of US$22.98 billion (S$29.13 billion). The figure compared with a surplus of US$14.8 billion in the same month last year, and a median forecast of an US$11.9 billion surplus.
Those figures were followed the next day by news that inflation eased to 2 per cent last month, down from 2.5 per cent in January, which led to talk of possible deflation, which could delay much-needed investment and consumer spending.
CMC Markets analyst Kenny Kan said the soft Chinese data dampened sentiment on whether China can maintain its 7.5 per cent GDP growth target this year.
The soft Chinese data put a damper on risk sentiment, which had been temporarily boosted by the stronger-than-expected US non-farm payrolls released on Friday, showing employers had added 175,000 jobs last month, up from 129,000 new positions in January.
The worst-hit markets in the region were the Shanghai Composite Index, which fell 2.9 per cent, while the Shenzhen Composite Index fell 3.5 per cent. On the local bourse, property counters that have a large exposure in China were also affected, Mr Kan said.
The most active stocks included CapitaLand, which closed at $2.79, down 1.4 per cent, City Developments shed 1.3 per cent to close at $9.38, while Global Logistic Properties fell 1.05 per cent to close at $2.82.
Meanwhile, news of the Malaysia Airlines jetliner that mysteriously went missing with 239 people aboard on its way to China has had not much impact so far on airline-related stocks in Singapore, Mr Kan said. Locally, Singapore Airlines edged down 0.29 per cent or 3 cents to close at $10.31 yesterday.
"Until there are concrete facts pointing to a terrorist-related attack, if not, the impact is limited," he said.
In Malaysia, the benchmark FTSE Bursa KLCI dropped 0.5 per cent. Malaysia Airline System, which is not part of the KLCI, dropped 4 per cent to RM0.24.