Singapore

SGX trading glitch a blip on the radar

Apart from penny stock selloff and STI's 1% plunge, an unexpected tech wrangle disrupted trading early yesterday morning

At first glance, the Straits Times Index's 30.94 points, or 1 per cent, plunge to 3,138.3 and the data connectivity glitch on Fidelity National Information Services' (FIS) SunGard systems that disrupted the trading of selected equity traders connected to its system in the morning were the main features of yesterday's trading.

For many, these would suffice, the index's loss coming in the wake of last Thursday's Wall Street selloff that was triggered by heightened geopolitical risk surrounding events in North Korea, Afghanistan and Syria.

The trading holdup upset many dealers, who found themselves unable to trade properly for the first few hours of the session.

Moreover, the Dow futures traded in the red throughout Asian trading hours, compounding jitters here.

With Hong Kong and many markets in Asia closed for Easter, brokers said the local market bore the brunt of the geopolitical-related selling.

Turnover, however, was a low 1.3 billion units worth $746 million because of the closure of Hong Kong and the morning trading disruption.

Although these features were noteworthy, perhaps the real story lay not in blue chips but in the penny stock segment, where the selling was much more pronounced.

Shares of computer video firm Artivision Technologies caught the eye with a $0.002, or 9.5 per cent, fall to $0.019 on volume of 48.2 million after the company announced that the planned sale of its subsidiary Artimedia and Artimedia's subsidiary Artimedia Technologies for $50 million in cash, which was announced in December, has been called off.

Also weak were AddValue Tech, Noble Group, Spackman and Alliance Mineral - the weakness in penny stocks was amply captured by in the advance-decline score of 86-420, excluding warrants.

Among blue chips, shares of media and property group Singapore Press Holdings ended $0.05 weaker at $3.41 on volume of 8.1 million.

The company last week announced a 1.2 per cent drop in second quarter net profit to $53.5 million.

OCBC Investment Research said it views the figures as "marginally below expectations" and tweaked its full-year FY2017 net income forecast down 6 per cent to $216 million to reflect difficult business conditions.

The latest trade figures for the local economy showed that non-oil domestic exports for last month rose 16.5 per cent year-on-year, following a 21.1 per cent expansion in February.

DBS' senior economist Irvin Seah said that while this might be attributed partly to the low base last year, it is clear that exports are going through a strong upswing.

"In terms of absolute dollar value of exports, this is the highest ($16 million) in two years. Compared to historical records, Nodx growth has averaged a solid 14.3 per cent year-on-year over the past five months" said Mr Seah in his Asian Insights report.

"And this is the strongest growth streak since the period from Oct 10 - Feb 11. Plainly, what this underscores is that the external environment is improving and demand is certainly picking up, after the extended doldrums over the past years."

Maybank Kim Eng's economist Chua Hak Bin said the data supports his view that gross domestic product growth will be upgraded from the 2.5 per cent flash number last week.

On the trading glitch, the Singapore Exchange (SGX) said that at 10.40am, it sent a message to brokers that it had been informed by technology provider FIS (formerly SunGard) that FIS was facing securities market data issues and was currently working on resolving the issues.

It added that there were no issues observed at its infrastructure, and securities and derivatives trading was as per normal.

"At about 2.35pm, we sent out a final statement to our members to close the matter: SGX has been informed by FIS that they have resolved the issues pertaining to securities market data. There has been no impact on SGX's end, and securities and derivatives trading continues as per normal," said SGX.

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

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