May 25, 2016

    Stocks in the red on oil-price fall, rate-hike fears

    ASIAN markets slipped into the red yesterday as concerns over the impending interest-rate hikes in the United States and dipping oil prices returned into focus.

    The local Straits Times Index (STI) eased 0.6 per cent, or 16.7 points, to 2,750.23.

    This came as the Monetary Authority of Singapore told BSI Bank - which has been embroiled in a global money-laundering scandal surrounding Malaysia's state fund 1MDB - to shut down its Singapore branch over "serious breaches of anti-money laundering requirements".

    The downbeat sentiment here was not unlike that on Wall Street, which shed 0.05 per cent overnight ahead of some key economic data due out this week.

    Comments from US Federal Reserve officials also fuelled speculation that an interest-rate hike could come on as soon as June. St Louis Fed Reserve president James Bullard said holding rates too low for too long could cause financial instability.

    Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo fell 0.94 per cent amid a strengthening yen.

    Shanghai lost 0.77 per cent and Sydney slid 0.44 per cent.

    Hong Kong bucked the trend, climbing 0.11 per cent, reversing its losses in late trading.

    Of the 30 STI constituents, 22 racked up losses, with palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources as one of the biggest laggards, falling one cent or 2.7 per cent to 36.5 cents.

    Rig builder Sembcorp Marine was also a drag on the index's performance, sliding 3.5 cents or 2.2 per cent to $1.54 while parent company Sembcorp Industries shed three cents or 1.1 per cent to $2.74.

    Keppel Corporation dropped seven cents or 1.3 per cent to $5.23.

    This came as crude prices dipped lower for the fifth straight day on worries over the supply glut after Iran reiterated it will keep up with production levels.

    On the other side of the ledger, Thai Beverage rose strongly by three cents or 3.5 per cent to 89 cents.

    The day's most heavily traded counter was property development and investment company Cedar Strategic Holdings, which slumped 0.1 cent or 25 per cent to 0.3 cent on a volume of 77.5 million units.

    Turnover across the bourse was thin, with just 966.2 million shares worth $726.7 million changing hands.