Sep 26, 2014

    Turnover at 3-month low as investors stay on sidelines

    TURNOVER slumped to a three-month low yesterday as investors ignored positive news in Europe and the United States, and sent shares into the red for a second straight day.

    The indifferent mood left the benchmark Straits Times Index down 1.82 points to 3,290.99, but it was the trading volumes that caught the eye.

    Only 1.23 billion shares worth $655.5 million changed hands - the lowest since July 21, when turnover sank to $622.2 million on geopolitical tensions in the Middle East.

    Investors stayed away despite a positive lead from Europe on central bank stimulus and a robust performance overnight on Wall Street following strong US housing data.

    Meanwhile, Asian markets were mixed, with many indexes reversing early gains as initial cheer from the Wall Street rally was replaced by concerns that US interest rates could rise sooner than expected.

    Tokyo jumped 1.28 per cent, while Sydney added 0.12 per cent. But Seoul ticked 0.08 per cent lower, Shenzhen slipped 0.01 per cent and Hong Kong shed 0.64 per cent. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index also saw an initial advance peter out to end up just 1.53 points at 2,345.10.

    APAC Strategic, which jumped 1.8 per cent or 0.1 cent to 5.6 cents, was one of the top actives with 38.2 million shares changing hands.

    The laggards included Keppel Corp, down eight cents to $10.48, City Developments, which slipped seven cents to $9.59, DBS Bank off six cents to $18.39, and Jardine C&C, five cents lower at $43.41.

    Sapphire Corp, which received a Singapore Exchange query on unusual volume movement yesterday, said it was not aware of any information that might explain the trading. Its shares jumped 20 per cent or 1.8 cents to 10.6 cents, with 24.4 million shares changing hands.

    But it outlined a major restructuring that involves selling its flagging steel business in China for $70 million, a move that will yield a gain of $5.05 million.

    More divestments could follow, and it may purchase a new business in China.

    Lee Kim Tah Holdings, which asked for a trading halt in place since Wednesday to be lifted after the market closed yesterday, said Lee Kim Tah Investments has made a voluntary conditional cash offer for all outstanding shares in the property holding company for $1.08 each.

    Lee Kim Tah Investments intends to delist the company, a move it said would provide "more flexibility to manage the group's business, reduce its costs of compliance and optimise the use of its management and capital resources".