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Market dips as growth worries linger

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Straits Times Index drops 4.69 points to close at 3,368.44; Singtel among session's top losers

The Singapore stock market rose yesterday morning, tracking Wall Street gains overnight amid renewed US-China trade talks. But declines later in the day suggested other worries may be weighing on investors' minds.

The Straits Times Index lost 0.14 per cent or 4.69 points to close at 3,368.44.

Losers outpaced gainers, with 223 stocks that slid versus 194 on higher ground. A total of 1.45 billion shares worth $1.04 billion changed hands.

FXTM market analyst Han Tan said: "While the resumption of trade talks appears to mitigate any near-term deterioration in US-China tensions, the prudent investor will not get carried away, seeing as a meaningful deal still seems a long way off at this point in time.

"Global growth has already been stifled by the protracted impasse... along with the imposed tariffs, and investors need not look further than the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) repeated downgrades to its global growth forecasts."

The IMF further downgraded its global growth outlook overnight to 3.2 per cent this year and 3.5 per cent for 2020, both down by 0.1 percentage point from its April projections. It also said that policy "missteps" on trade and Brexit could derail the expected rebound in 2020.

"The balance of economic risks remains tipped towards growth as reflected by another downgrade by the IMF of its global growth outlook," said ING economists Nicholas Mapa and Prakash Sakpal.

They also noted that traders remain anxious ahead of the European Central Bank meeting and next week's Fed meeting.

More than 100 million Nico Steel shares changed hands, lifting the stock to top of the volumes table.

Its counter closed at $0.005, up 25 per cent or 0.1 cent.

Another active stock was Singtel, which saw 52.3 million shares traded, after the management defended at its annual general meeting the telco's investments in units such as cyber security arm Trustwave and digital marketing unit Amobee.

The counter, trading cum dividend, was also one of the bourse's largest decliners. It closed at $3.46, down 1.71 per cent or six cents.

Other stocks in the red included Yoma Strategic Holdings, which lost 2.6 per cent or one cent to 37.5 cents.

It yesterday announced a widening of its first-quarter net loss amid lower real estate development revenues and higher finance expenses. It incurred a net loss of US$13.3 million (S$18 million) for its first quarter ended June 30, deepening from the US$5.6 million net loss a year ago, while revenue shrank 11.5 per cent to US$18.6 million.

Catalist-listed ISOTeam said it will buy Coney International's entire stake in Pure Group for $24 million in cash and shares. But the news did not lift the stock, which lost 3.92 per cent or one cent to 24.5 cents.

Bright spots included mainboard-listed MTQ Corporation, which gained 7.14 per cent or 1.5 cents to 22.5 cents, after putting itself back in the black.

Hutchison Port Holdings Trust added 2.27 per cent or half a cent to 22.5 US cents.

But it saw second-quarter profit and revenue hit by ongoing challenges in the global environment, according to results released after market close.

Management said it remains cautious about future cargo trends and will continue to "adhere to cost discipline and efficiency improvements in order to face the challenges ahead".

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