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Singapore shares retreat 0.4% on uneventful Wednesday session

WITH neither economic data releases to ponder over nor updates from the US-China trade front, Wednesday's session was mostly uneventful. But for a day of light trading, there was a noticeable pick-up in property stocks and real estate investment trusts (Reits).

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) may have opened slightly higher but retreated as the session wore on, eventually settling at 3,056.47, down 11.05 points or 0.4 per cent. The blue chip index is down 0.4 per cent in 2019.

It was a mixed bag elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific. Markets in Australia, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea closed in the black. On the other hand, China and Hong Kong dipped. The Hang Seng continued to decline this week, closing 48.59 points or 0.2 per cent to 25,615.48. Hong Kong's benchmark has lost 0.9 per cent this year.

Oanda Asia-Pacific senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley noted that an empty data calendar globally saw investors "probably dwell on the recession fears making all the noise on Wall Street", where during Tuesday's US session, the US Treasury yield curve inversion deepened.

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In Singapore, trading volume clocked in at 890.79 million securities, three-quarters the daily average in the first seven months of 2019. Total turnover came to S$1 billion, 94 per cent of the January-to-July daily average.

Across the market, decliners trumped advancers 242 to 167. The blue-chip index had 16 of the 30 counters closing in the red.

On counter activity, the broken record keeps playing, as Yangzijiang Shipbuilding (down two Singapore cents or 2.2 per cent to 88.5 Singapore cents) remained the most active counter on the STI with 36.8 million shares changing hands. 

With investors preferring to stay conservative, the banking trio were lower. DBS Group Holdings closed S$0.150 or 0.6 per cent lower at S$24.02; OCBC Bank fell S$0.07 or 0.7 per cent to S$10.51 and United Overseas Bank ended at S$24.41, dipping S$0.05 or 0.2 per cent.

Reits were a bright spot, with the iEdge S-Reit Index gained 13.84 points or one per cent to close at 1,413.65.

Property developers also outperformed the broader market with CapitaLand (up one Singapore cent or 0.3 per cent up at S$3.39) and City Developments (up S$0.20 or 2.2 per cent to S$9.33).