Business

STI's gains 0.5% for end-of-quarter week

Wall Street wobble causes Straits Times Index to fall, a day after sharp rise

"Choppy behaviour like this tends to be seen at the end of the quarter, when institutions are moving holdings around for reporting purposes."

- A commentator on the plunge in Wall Street and the Straits Times Index

Wall Street's volatility was the main feature of trading this week, especially in the latter half.

Its sharp rise on Wednesday pushed the Straits Times Index (STI) up 43 points on Thursday, but an unexpected plunge the next day brought the sellers out. Yesterday, the STI dropped 32.17 points, which cut its gain for the week to 17 points, or 0.5 per cent, at 3,209.47.

To be sure, there must have been some element of quarter-ending "window-dressing" or "portfolio rebalancing" involved in these swings.

One commentator said: "Choppy behaviour like this tends to be seen at the end of the quarter, when institutions are moving holdings around for reporting purposes."

Choppy behaviour like this tends to be seen at the end of the quarter, when institutions are moving holdings around for reporting purposes. A commentator on the plunge in Wall Street and the Straits Times Index

Whatever the case, turnover has not been great lately - the highest business done for the week was yesterday, when 1.5 billion units worth $1.26 billion changed hands. This was far below the $1.6 billion done at the end of the first quarter on March 31, or the $2.7 billion on Feb 28.

Yesterday, the advance-decline score was a weak 133-301, excluding warrants.

Reports were unable to shed much light on the reason for the US market plunge on Thursday.

There were vague references to central bank tightening as a possible contributing factor, though why this should be an issue now is unclear, since tighter money has been a known factor for several months now.

Furthermore, the jump earlier in the week had come reportedly because higher interest rates should translate to higher bank income.

Closer home, several corporate developments of note kept traders happy.

Possibly the most prominent was the impending takeover and privatisation of Croesus Retail Trust by Blackstone, the latter offering $1.17 per unit. Analysts have almost unanimously given the thumbs-up to the offer.

Among smaller companies, medical firm TalkMed's shares suffered mid-week after news of its chief executive officer's suspension from medical practice for eight months.

After the knee-jerk selling on Wednesday, however, the stock managed a modest rebound on Thursday. Yesterday, it ended $0.01 lower at $0.67 on volume of 802,000.

In property, shares of UOL were in play after an announcement of a share swap deal with Haw Par, which would bump up UOL's stake in United Industrial Corp from 44.71 per cent to 48.94 per cent.

The deal may also make UOL one of the largest owners of commercial space in Singapore.

However, after a rise earlier in the week, UOL shares yesterday slid $0.28 to $7.64 with 2.95 million done.

Yesterday, shopper360, a marketing-services provider in retail and consumer goods in Malaysia, debuted on Catalist. It has three business segments: in-store advertising and digital marketing, field force management and sampling activities and events management.

The stock, offered at $0.29 a share, traded at an intraday high of $0.35 and closed at $0.295 on volume of 15.4 million.

Singapore Exchange's (SGX) investor education portal My Gateway said: "SGX lists 106 consumer discretionary stocks with a combined market capitalisation of $76.2 billion.

"In the year to date, SGX's 10 largest consumer discretionary stocks have returned an average market capitalisation weighted total return of 20.5 per cent."

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