Business

STI down 0.12% in soft start to week

About 1.6 billion shares worth $863.2 million were traded, with nearly two losers for every gainer

The Singapore stock market was off to a "soft start" yesterday, trading sideways as Asian equities elsewhere fell.

Investors seemed to be taking risk off the table over geopolitical uncertainties after the US-led missile strikes in Syria, Mr Eli Lee, head of investment strategy at Bank of Singapore, said.

Share prices in the Singapore bourse closed lower yesterday, with the key Straits Times Index down 4.11 points or 0.12 per cent to finish at 3,497.19.

Some 1.6 billion shares worth $863.2 million were traded. There were nearly two losers for every stock that gained.

Notably, real estate and investment company Rowsley, which was the most active counter on the market, fell two Singapore cents or 16.5 per cent to $0.101.

This came after the company on Friday said that tycoon Peter Lim had sold 300 million of his existing Rowsley shares, representing a 6.33 per cent stake, in order for the company to meet the public float requirement in relation to Rowsley's acquisition of the holding company of Thomson Medical and Malaysia-listed TMC Life Sciences from Mr Lim.

While the market remained on its back foot, we note that the decline today took place in a fairly orderly manner. Mr Eli Lee, head of investment strategy at Bank of Singapore

This leaves about 10.09 per cent of the enlarged share capital of the company in public hands.

Property developer City Developments also lost 16 Singapore cents or 1.2 per cent to $12.66, as the FTSE index tracking Singapore developers fell 0.8 per cent after official figures for Singapore's new home sales showed developers selling 716 private homes in March, 60 per cent lower than the 1,780 units in March last year.

Contract manufacturer Venture Corporation fell 47 Singapore cents or 1.6 per cent to $29.04, while conglomerate Jardine Strategic retreated 78 US cents or 2 per cent to US$38.50 (S$50.49).

Significant gainers for the day included the embattled Noble Group which yesterday said that it had won its founder and largest shareholder Richard Elman over to its restructuring plan, after tweaking the plan to provide current shareholders 15 per cent of new equity in the new Noble and agreeing to give him a seat on the new board.

The counter added half a cent or 4 per cent to $0.131.

LOANS GROWTH

Singapore banks also rose after Nomura recommended buying the asset class on the back of the central bank's recent monetary policy tightening signalling confidence in the economy.

Consequently, this should also support a case for stronger loans growth for Singapore banks, Nomura said.

It estimates loans growth of nearly 8 per cent on average for the three local banks for FY18.

Commenting broadly, Mr Lee said: "While the market remained on its back foot, we note that the decline today took place in a fairly orderly manner. Investors' fears of escalation in the Middle East were alleviated with President Trump tweeting 'mission accomplished' after US strikes, and we saw safe haven assets, such as treasuries and gold, falling alongside oil prices accordingly."

He added that markets are expected to remain volatile going forward, with uncertainties over geopolitical risks, trade tensions and inflation continuing to affect investor sentiment.

Data to look forward to in the rest of the week include China's first-quarter GDP and Japan's industrial production today and Japan's inflation figures on Friday.

Earnings of listed Singapore companies due out this week include Keppel Corp on Thursday, and Singapore Exchange and CapitaLand Mall Trust on Friday.

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