Sep 03, 2015

    STI dips for third day on selldown

    THE local market tried but failed to end on a positive note despite a midday surge yesterday, dragged down by the uncertain mood still pressuring key markets worldwide.

    The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed 4.64 points or 0.16 per cent lower at 2,878.13, its third straight day of declines.

    In all, about 1.1 billion shares worth $904 million changed hands.

    A brief bounce pushed the STI up to 2,906 by noon, before these gains were wiped off in the afternoon selldown.

    Remisier Alvin Yong said: "The bulls attempted a counter attack yesterday after days of bearish sessions. This is due partly to expectations for central banks in Asia to loosen monetary policies, and that's why we saw similar intra-day gains in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Japan."

    He added: "Unfortunately it couldn't hold and Singapore was similarly dragged down."

    Shanghai lost 0.2 per cent, Hong Kong fell 1.18 per cent and Tokyo ended 0.39 per cent lower.

    Talks of further monetary easing have persisted amid a string of disappointing economic data across the region.

    In China, manufacturing activity last month was hit by the worst contraction since March 2009, according to the final Caixin purchasing managers' index reading.

    In Japan, official data this week highlighted a fourth straight month of month-on-month economic contraction in July.

    As the signs of uneven global growth piled up, the United States markets were also spooked, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average slumping 2.84 per cent overnight.

    The pace of expansion in the US manufacturing sector also slowed down, the Institute for Supply Management index showed.

    Local shares are unlikely to see major recovery as a result of the choppy backdrop, Mr Yong said.

    "I believe the STI will remain range-bound between 2,800 and 3,000 for at least a couple of weeks, until the next Fed meeting in mid-September provides more market clarity," he said.

    Still, as many as 11 STI blue chip counters managed to close higher.

    Hutchison Port Holdings Trust closed 1.5 US cents or 2.86 per cent higher at 54 US cents, Olam International gained 5.5 cents or 2.77 per cent to $2.04, and Noble Group rose one cent or 1.92 per cent to 53 cents.

    Olam remained on investors' radars following the recent news of its 20 per cent acquisition by Mitsubishi.

    Shares of Olam have surged 21 per cent over the last week.

    For Noble, more good news arrived yesterday as Prudential bought up another 2.9 million shares in the commodity firm.

    Sembcorp Marine dropped four cents or 1.67 per cent to $2.35, while Keppel Corp pared two cents or 0.3 per cent to close at $6.73.

    The offshore and marine counters were hit by further drop in oil prices, as Brent futures slumped 8.5 per cent to US$49.56 per barrel overnight.

    But Ezra, another oil and gas play outside the STI, added 0.4 cent or 3.13 per cent to close at 13.2 cents.

    It remained the top trading counter yesterday, with investors still buying in after it sold a 50 per cent stake in Emas AMC to Chiyoda Corporation to form a joint venture last week.