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Singapore shares open slightly higher on Friday; STI up 0.1% to 3,353.70

SINGAPORE shares struggled to advance when the market opened on Friday, as new records set on Wall Street in anticipation of an interest rate cut clashed with news of Singapore's worse-than-expected GDP performance in the second quarter.

The Straits Times Index was up 3.25 points, or 0.1 per cent to 3,353.70 as at 9.02am.

About 32.9 million securities worth S$67.45 million changed hands.

Gainers outnumbered losers 65 to 49.

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Some of the most heavily traded counters were flat in the morning. They included Singtel, which was unchanged at S$3.53 with 2.4 million shares changing hands, CapitaLand Commercial Trust flat at S$2.18 with 2.2 million shares traded, and Mapletree Logistics Trust at S$1.59 with 1.2 million shares traded as at 9.02am.

Active index stocks included Ascendas Reit, which was down 0.3 per cent or one Singapore cent to S$3.08, Golden Agri-Resources which gained 1.6 per cent or 0.5 cent to S$0.31, and DBS which rose 0.6 per cent or 15 cents to S$25.76.

SPH Reit was down 0.9 per cent or one Singapore cent to S$1.11 as at 9.03am. The retail landlord announced its third-quarter results on Thursday evening, with a 1.5 per cent increase in distribution per unit to 1.39 Singapore cents.

Thomson Medical Group was up 1.5 per cent or 0.1 cent to 6.7 cents as at 9.05am. The healthcare provider on Thursday night priced its S$225 million notes due 2022 at 4.8 per cent in its maiden bond offering.

The market opened after gloomy local economic data. Second-quarter flash data on Friday morning showed a much deeper slowdown than had been feared. Singapore’s year-on-year gross domestic product (GDP) growth looks set to ease to a flattish 0.1 per cent in Q2 this year. This is the slowest quarterly growth since the throes of the Great Recession in mid-2009, when the economy shrank by 1.2 per cent.

In the US, the Dow finished above 27,000 points – a first – on Wednesday over an expected Fed interest rate cut later this month. The new high, which was also accompanied by a fresh record for the S&P 500, came as Fed chair Jerome Powell completed a second day of congressional testimony at which he emphasised economic risks in remarks that were widely interpreted as signalling a likely interest rate cut.

Elsewhere in Asia, Tokyo stocks also opened higher on Friday, extending the record-setting rallies on Wall Street.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index was up 0.12 per cent or 25.04 points at 21,668.57 in early trade, while the broader Topix index was up 0.03 per cent or 0.52 points at 1,579.15.