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Singapore shares fall on Friday, down 0.2% on the week

SIMILAR to previous sessions, markets in Asia traded cautiously as investors geared up to US Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell's speech in Jackson Hole.

That being said, equities here fared worse than most of the region's key markets, weighed down by financials and effects from counters going ex-dividend on Friday.

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) ended the week at 3,110.35, down 17.39 points or 0.6 per cent. The blue-chip index lost 4.68 points or 0.15 per cent from last Friday's close of 3,115.03.

Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan and Malaysia finished higher. But like the local market, South Korea closed lower.

Market voices on:

In the lead-up to Mr Powell's address, street expectations are that the Fed chair "will lean dovish and pre-commit to a September rate cut which will be viewed supportive for equity markets", VM Markets managing partner Stephen Innes noted.

In Singapore, trading volume clocked in at 1.07 billion securities, 89 per cent of the daily average in the first seven months of 2019. Total turnover came to S$958.46 million, 90 per cent of the January-to-July daily average.

Across the market, decliners trumped advancers 246 to 141. The blue-chip index had 23 of the 30 counters closing in the red.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding shares continued to see active trading, and on Friday was the most active counter on the STI. The shipbuilder closed 1.5 Singapore cents or 1.6 per cent lower at 91.5 cents with 41.6 million shares changing hands.

After reaching a 52-week high on Thursday, the benchmark's top performer in 2019, Thai Beverage, extended those gains to close 0.5 Singapore cent or 0.5 per cent to trade at 93.5 cents.

The STI's performance was weighed down by a number of counters trading ex-dividend on Friday, including four Jardine counters. Among them were property pick Hongkong Land (down US$0.13 or 2.3 per cent to US$5.57) and Jardine Strategic Holdings (down US$0.24 or 0.7 per cent to US$32.03).

The banking trio also closed lower before Mr Powell's speech. DBS Group Holdings eased S$0.20 or 0.8 per cent to S$24.39. Meanwhile, OCBC Bank fell S$0.06 or 0.6 per cent to S$10.63 and United Overseas Bank ended at S$24.65, down S$0.17 or 0.7 per cent.