WIKIPEDIA defines Chinese water torture as a process in which water is slowly dripped onto a person's forehead, allegedly driving the restrained victim insane.
Although it would be a slight exaggeration to say that trading representatives and retail investors in the local stock market have been undergoing their own version of the Chinese water torture for many months now - after all, most are still sane as far as we can tell - it is a fact that a slow decline in stock prices accompanied by a drying up of liquidity such as that experienced here can be a torturous process to endure.
Such was the case once again on Tuesday when the Straits Times Index (STI) dropped 5.53 points to 3,454.04 with turnover amounting to 1.8 billion units worth S$973 million. It was again a wholly forgettable session much like the dozens which preceded it, one of which the only distinguishing feature was that it did not have any.
There was no discernible impact on sentiment from Wall Street's record closes overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ending Monday at its fifth all-time high for 2015 and the S&P 500 recording its ninth.
In order to salvage something, anything, from trading, proprietary traders looked to low-priced issues, resulting in 18 of the 20 members of the top actives list being priced under S$0.30. The list was headed by Sino Construction, which ended S$0.002 higher at S$0.036 on volume of 115.3 million.
Volume done in the 30 STI components, in the meantime, amounted to S$573 million, about 59 per cent of total business. Excluding warrants, there were 253 rises versus 203 falls.