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Singapore shares skid 0.9% on HK violence, Trump disappointment

WITH the trading week heading into the home stretch, it's clear investors are facing another volatile week of trading, with more US-China trade deal uncertainty and increasingly chaotic scenes in Hong Kong the key factors denting sentiment on Wednesday.

The local benchmark and its regional brethren predictably retreated, and a sense of anxiety has filled the air.

Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) gave away Tuesday's gains, sliding 28.58 points or 0.9 per cent to 3,239.22. Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific, it was a sea of red, led by the Hang Seng Index's 493.82-point or 1.8 per cent drop to 26,571.46. Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan all posted considerable losses.

Going into Tuesday's speech on trade policy by US President Donald Trump, market watchers were hoping for details about recent progress towards a Phase One deal but what they got was more in line with typical Trumpspeak.

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"Markets were eagerly hoping for more insight into the state of the US-China trade talks. The street didn't get much joy, with the president threatening to raise tariffs even higher if the US didn't get an acceptable conclusion," Oanda Asia-Pacific senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley said.

Meanwhile, the protests in Hong Kong are getting more riotous and vivid - a Christmas tree at a Mapletree North Asia Commercial Trust (MNACT) mall was set alight. Worries over their implications for the region and intervention by Beijing are mounting, traders acknowledged.

In Singapore, trading volume stood at 1.51 billion securities, 31 per cent over the daily average in the first 10 months of 2019. Meanwhile, total turnover clocked in at S$1.14 billion, 8 per cent more than the January-to-October daily average.

Across the market, decliners trumped advancers 227 to 175. The blue-chip index had 20 of 30 counters closing in the red.

The local market was broadly lower but listings with substantial exposure to Hong Kong saw some sell-off.

After MNACT's anchor property Festival Walk in Kowloon Tong sustained "extensive damage" due to clashes, its units fell S$0.06 or 4.9 per cent to S$1.16 with 44.3 million units changing hands, the most the counter has seen in more than a year. The Reit generates close to 70 per cent of its revenue from Hong Kong.

The Jardine quartet with the most exposure to Hong Kong were among the STI's biggest laggards, with Hongkong Land, which has a staple of properties in Hong Kong's Central, dropped US$0.19 or 3.4 per cent to finish at US$5.41. Meanwhile, Jardine Matheson Holdings (down US$1.90 or 3.2 per cent to US$57.00), Jardine Strategic Holdings (down US$1.30 or 3.9 per cent to US$31.70) and Dairy Farm International (down US$0.15 or 2.5 per cent to US$5.86) also notched up sizeable losses.

The local banks were down. DBS dipped S$0.10 or 0.4 per cent to S$26.63, OCBC Bank eased S$0.07 or 0.6 per cent to close at S$11.10 while United Overseas Bank closed at S$26.73, falling S$0.29 or 1.1 per cent.

Shares of Sembcorp Marine (SembMarine) dropped S$0.05 or 3.7 per cent to S$1.29 following the release of Wednesday's Q3 results where net loss widened to S$52.6 million. After the earnings release, OCBC analysts downgraded their call on SembMarine to "sell" and lowered their fair-value estimate from S$1.29 to S$1.24.