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Singapore stocks finish weaker despite late rise in STI

ON the face of it, North Korea's missile test may have had something to do with the cloud of uncertainty that hung over markets this week and capped gains, though why this test should be any different from the many others that preceded it over the past few years is a mystery.

According to some observers, more likely factors were the hawkish tone struck by the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank in their releases this week and a slide in oil prices.

Whatever the reason, US Treasuries were sold off on Thursday, pushing up yields and dragging stocks sharply lower. The reaction in Singapore on Friday was a mainly weak session for the Straits Times Index (STI), though a late push enabled it to close with a net gain of 2.67 points at 3,229.01, a gain which meant it added three points for the week.

Liquidity has been mediocre of late, with daily volume regularly hovering around the industry's ballpark breakeven point of S$1 billion. On Friday, a weak 1.4 billion units worth S$886 million were transacted and, excluding warrants, there were 135 rises versus 264 falls throughout the whole market.

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