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Singapore market unfazed by US trade threats

This article is more than 12 months old

STI closes 2.05 points higher, with 21 of its 30 blue chips ending in the black

Despite US President Donald Trump's tariff threats to the European Union and the International Monetary Fund lowering its forecast of 2019 global economic growth, the Singapore market managed to inch higher, albeit just.

The bearish sentiment that weighed on Tuesday's US session saw the Straits Times Index (STI) open lower before eventually closing 2.05 points or 0.06 per cent higher at 3,327.65.

Markets in Asia mostly shrugged off the latest "Trump threat".

This led SPI Asset Management's head of trading and market strategy Stephen Innes to say traders were taking "a 'been there, done that attitude' towards the latest trade curveball as nothing ever substitutes for investor confidence born of experience".

IG market strategist Pan Jingyi noted the imports targeted were a small percentage of what the EU exports to the US, which explained why markets downplayed concerns.

Instead, Mr Innes felt that traders and investors were more focused on the EU summit and details from the Federal Reserve's March meeting.

Trading clocked in at 1.05 billion securities, about 83 per cent of the daily average over the first three months of 2019.

Total turnover came to $1.01 billion, just under the January-to-March daily average. Gainers slightly outpaced losers 197 to 183.

Even though the STI edged up slightly, 21 of its 30 blue chips ended in the black. Of them, the benchmark index was lifted by Jardine Matheson Holdings (up 54 US cents, or 73 Singapore cents, or 0.9 per cent at US$63.17) and Singtel (up one cent or 0.3 per cent at $3.11).

The latter closed at a four-month high on the back of a stronger Australian dollar, CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said.

Genting Singapore continued to be the blue-chip index's most traded, slipping 0.5 cent or 0.5 per cent to close at 96.5 cents, with 42.8 million shares changing hands.

The casino operator's stock has shed 10.8 per cent since an increase in the casino entry levy and higher casino tax rates were announced, along with a $4.5 billion reinvestment plan for Resorts World Sentosa.

It was a mixed day for the three local banks. DBS Group Holdings closed lower by three cents or 0.1 per cent at $26.97 and OCBC Bank fell four cents or 0.3 per cent to $11.72. United Overseas Bank climbed six cents or 0.2 per cent to end at $26.56.

Counters of real estate developers are mostly up on the year, and there are signs that the rally still has legs.

Mr Marcus Toh, principal trading representative at Phillip Securities said: "Developers with sizeable exposure to China like CapitaLand (closed flat at $3.70) and Yanlord Land (up six cents or 4.2 per cent to $1.48) are likely to benefit from a move to relax residency curbs in China to boost the urban population."

Real estate company KSH Holdings was among the main gainers on the day, jumping 3.5 cents or 6.5 per cent to end at 57.5 cents.

Market watchers said the real estate company is probably viewed by investors as a likely benefactor of reinvestment plans of Singapore's integrated resorts.

Interest in real estate investment trusts (Reits) continued to be strong, since the US Federal Reserve paused rate hikes for the year.

Yesterday, Mapletree Commercial Trust (up three cents or 1.6 per cent to $1.92) and Mapletree North Asia Commercial Trust (up two cents or 1.5 per cent to $1.38), were the biggest gainers among Reits.

"The FTSE Straits Times Reit Index traded near a 14-month high, registering 11.6 per cent year-to-date gain," Ms Yang noted.

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