Business

STI breaks its losing streak

Recovery led by mid- and large-cap financial institutions; tech counters under selling pressure over Facebook data leak

The Straits Times Index (STI) yesterday snapped its losing streak, turning around from four days of decline with a 0.43 per cent or 15.02 point increase to 3,513.31.

The recovery was led by mid- and large-cap financial institutions such as the three local banks and property developers, the likes of City Developments, which recently announced a new project launch, The Tapestry condominium, and GuocoLand, which has clinched a new site through a collective sale tender.

What was more notable, however, was a pullback from a bunch of tech counters, following a share price tumble of big technology companies on Wall Street.

Overnight on Monday, Facebook suffered the biggest hit, diving close to 7 per cent on reports that a data analysis firm hired by Mr Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign had stolen information from Facebook user profiles to design software to predict and influence voters' choices.

The jitters spread to Asia. On the local bourse, shares of semiconductor equipment-maker AEM Holdings fell 24 cents or 3.3 per cent to $7.12, while those of precision manufacturer UMS Holdings fell 2.3 per cent or three cents to $1.27.

Shares of Hi-P International, a components supplier for Apple and Amazon, fell 1.1 per cent or three cents to $2.65, while those of contract manufacturer Venture Corporation slipped 0.7 per cent or 19 cents to $28.54.

Digital entertainment product-maker Creative Technology, which many reckon has been overbought and is still correcting from its decade high reached earlier this month, fell 0.6 per cent or four cents to $6.51.

Ms Pan Jingyi, market strategist at IG Markets, said: "For the broad Singapore market in the morning, the market was cognisant of what had happened in the US overnight.

"For the early sell-off in Asia, the magnitude of change was not as bad as it was in the US, and I think the sentiment slowly cleared up a little bit, resulting in the Singapore market finishing a little better than in the morning."

APPLE'S DEVICE DISPLAYS

The news of Facebook's data leak was not the only wave that rocked the boat in the tech world.

It was also reported a few days ago that Apple Inc is designing and producing its own device displays for the first time, using a secret manufacturing facility in California. This led to jitters among contract manufacturers that depend on the tech giant's contracts for business.

Ms Pan added: "The Facebook news is something that is rather contained in the US, and it shouldn't be something that is leading to this kind of sentiment here, I think the market is really grabbing at straws now.

"And for Apple, I think it might still be a long shot even though the market seems to believe that this might be the direction the company is taking.

"Hence if you look at the tech sector in Taiwan and South Korea, you see similar (trading) trends among the tech counters."

Besides these factors, there are also others weighing on investors' sentiment, such as the potential US$60 billion (S$79 billion) in new trade tariffs that the Trump administration is expected to unveil on Chinese imports by this Friday, targeting technology, telecommunications and intellectual property, as well as the outcome of the Federal Open Market Committee meeting later this week.

In other sectors, shares of Union Gas rose 5.6 per cent or 1.5 cents to 28.5 cents on news that it plans to buy U-Gas, a business that supplies liquefied petroleum gas to hawker centres.

Commodities merchant Noble Group also saw some buying interest, rising 1.8 per cent or 0.2 cent to 11.3 cents, following Monday's sell-down on the back of a looming bond default.

Overall on the Singapore market, some 1.4 billion shares worth $938.1 million were traded. Losers outpaced gainers 224 to 195.

For full listings of SGX prices, go to http://btd.sg/BTmkts

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