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Singapore shares end flat on Wednesday amid poor showing in regional markets

SINGAPORE equities picked up from where they left off on Tuesday, trading higher in the early session before the weight of US-China trade concerns - lingering in the background after the recent rally - and protests in Hong Kong dented investor sentiment.

The Straits Times Index (STI) closed at 3,207.74, down 1.84 points or 0.06 per cent, with CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang noting that the index "demonstrated resilience against multiple headwinds".

On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump said that he was holding up a trade deal with China and the US would either have a "great deal" with China or none at all, before continuing to place criticism on the US Federal Reserve for not cutting interest rates.

The local market also had to contend with worse-than-expected retail sales growth for April and private forecasters lowering Singapore growth forecast to 2.1 per cent for 2019.

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Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and Malaysia all closed lower. Unsurprisingly, the Hang Seng Index performed worst of the lot, sliding 480.88 points or 1.7 per cent to finish at 27,308.46. Tensions are running high in the territory, with protests aimed at preventing the passage of a bill allowing the special administrative region to extradite its citizens to mainland China.

"The demonstrations in Hong Kong regarding the extradition bill provided much of the news flow in Asia and frankly for me anyway they overshadowed most of the goings-on in Asian financial markets," said Vanguard Markets (Singapore) managing partner Stephen Innes.

In Singapore, trading volume clocked in at 1.15 billion securities and turnover came to S$1 billion. Both figures were 96 per cent of their respective daily averages in the first five months of 2019.

Across the market, decliners outpaced advancers 218 to 146. The benchmark index had 14 of its 30 components in the red.

On 27.8 million shares traded, Genting Singapore remained the benchmark index's most traded stock for the third straight session. The casino operator dipped one Singapore cent or 1.1 per cent to close at 88.5 Singapore cents. 

Among the banks, DBS Group Holdings closed two cents or 0.1 per cent higher at S$24.70 and United Overseas Bank added eight cents or 0.3 per cent to S$24.61. Meanwhile, OCBC Bank ended at S$10.80, down one cent or 0.1 per cent.

With markets still anticipating the US Federal Reserve to announce rate cuts in the coming months, investors continued to load up on real estate counters though interest is less pronounced than days prior. OUE Limited added one cent or 0.7 per cent to S$1.50 and City Developments Limited advanced S$0.16 or 1.8 per cent to S$9.19. 

Mapletree Logistics Trust, which added three cents or 2 per cent to S$1.56, and Ascott Reit, which gained two cents or 1.6 per cent to S$1.30, were some of the gainers among real estate investment trusts (Reits).