Market capitalisation of S'pore bourse slips 2.9% in March

Last month's weaker finish reflects loss in value of STI component stocks, DBS Group among losers

The market capitalisation of the Singapore bourse slipped 2.9 per cent last month in the wake of trade war concerns.

Market cap stood at $984.5 billion at the closing bell on March 29, the last trading day of the month.

The weaker finish for the broader market reflects the loss in value of the 30 component stocks making up the Straits Times Index. The STI's market cap fell 3.1 per cent to $576.3 billion.

Top losers in dollar terms included DBS Group, which had soared in February after the announcement of its hefty dividend payout of $1.10 a share proposed in the fourth quarter.

Its market cap stood at $70.5 billion on March 29, down $3.08 billion or 4.2 per cent for the month. It remains South-east Asia's largest stock by market value.

DBS has proposed a final dividend of 60 cents a share for last year - double the 2016 payout - and also a special dividend of 50 cents a share, as a one-time return of capital buffers that had been built up and to mark the bank's 50th anniversary.

These will be paid on May 15. DBS shares are still trading on the basis that they will pay out a dividend, or on a cum-dividend basis. The stock's ex-dividend date is May 3, according to S&P Capital IQ data quoted on the Singapore Exchange website.

OCBC Bank was also among the bigger losers last month, giving up about $1 billion, or 1.8 per cent, to bring its market value to $53.8 billion.

A Daiwa report last month focused on trade war tensions, noting: "The big picture is that the United States and China are now locked in a geopolitical contest.

"Whoever wins in this contest will determine the rules, norms and institutions that govern global economic and political order in the next few decades, as well as the levels of prosperity for these two countries. Here at Daiwa, we don't call it a trade war any more. We call it 'great power rivalry'. And Asia is obviously caught right in between."

The bourse's top losers in percentage terms included troubled Noble Group, which has given up 54.7 per cent of its market value since the end of February. It is now valued at $104 million.

Last Thursday, Noble's third-largest shareholder rubbished the commodity trading group's argument that its senior creditors are its economic owners, and that liquidation is the only way out if the group's primary restructuring plan fails and there is no alternative restructuring plan.

Goldilocks Investment Company, an Abu Dhabi fund, further argued that Noble had not explained why an administration process in Britain would be better than judicial management in Singapore, where Noble has real connections and investors.