Business

STI's 4-day rally ends with 0.5% drop

Overnight Wall Street fall and retreats by Singapore banks led 15.82 points decrease in the Straits Times Index

A fusion of three key factors gave the local bourse's key barometer no chance to notch gains yesterday, snapping a four-day rally over a short trading week that had one day before pushed the 30-stock Straits Times Index (STI) to a 22-month high.

An overnight fall on Wall Street - its biggest in three weeks - and a retreat by Singapore's three banks after robust gains in the previous session, plus the persistent whiplash of Noble Group shares, led the STI to finish 15.82 points, or 0.5 per cent, lower yesterday at 3,255.29.

The mood elsewhere in the region was mostly downbeat, with Japan's Nikkei 225 down 0.4 per cent, South Korea's Kospi losing 0.5 per cent and Australia's ASX 200 falling 0.7 per cent.

Bucking the trend was Hong Kong's Hang Seng, which finished 0.12 per cent higher, and China's Shanghai Composite, which ended 0.7 per cent up.

Week on week, the STI's showing was not shabby with a 26-point, or 0.8 per cent, gain over a trading week shortened by Vesak Day on Wednesday.

The key index remains up 13 per cent for the year.

The French Presidential election on May 7, which saw centrist Emmanuel Macron emerge the victor, has sparked interest in the local bourse's four exchange traded funds (ETFs) that track the European market, with three ETFs hitting 52-week highs over the week, according to a report by SGX My Gateway.

Yesterday's turnover in the local stock market came in at 2.2 billion shares worth $1.4 billion, with 307 counters down and 168 counters up.

Losses were led by commodities trader Noble Group, which had another horrible day following news that it had swung sharply into the red with a Q1 net loss of US$129 million (S$181 million) from a net profit of US$40.5 million a year ago.

The counter shed 21 cents, or 24 per cent, to 66.5 Singapore cents and was the day's second-most active, with 129 million shares worth $89 million done.

The French Presidential election, which saw centrist Emmanuel Macron emerge the victor, has sparked interest in the local bourse's four exchange traded funds that track the European market.

Technically, Noble's share price looks like a "falling knife", said CMC Markets Singapore's Margaret Yang Yan.

Singapore's three banks, which have revelled in a stellar run on the stock front lately with recently-reported quarterly earnings that most analysts reckoned signal that eroding asset quality may have run its course, took a breather yesterday and led further losses in the market.

DBS Group Holdings fell 25 cents, or 1.2 per cent, to $20.68 while OCBC slipped 1 cent, or 0.1 per cent, to $10.55.

UOB lost 38 cents, or 1.6 per cent, to finish at $23.59.

OCBC made big news this week.

The last of the three to issue its quarterly earnings score card, it announced that it has swooped in on National Australia Bank's private wealth business in Singapore and Hong Kong - sending its share price to the highest level in two years on Thursday.

Singapore Press Holdings closed unchanged at $3.38.

The media and property group said it plans to sell its stake in 701Search to Norway's Telenor for some US$109 million.

Wilmar International jumped 33 cents, or 9.6 per cent, to $3.76 after reporting a 51 per cent jump in quarterly net profit on the back of a 17 per cent rise in revenue.

It also announced that it is carrying out an internal restructuring of its China operations, with an eye on a possible listing.

This article appears in The Business Times today. For full listings of SGX prices, go to btd.sg/BTmkts