SINGAPORE/BANGKOK - When China stocks and the Hong Kong market were surging earlier this year, there was no sympathetic movement in Singapore stocks. This caused much frustration among observers here, who had grown accustomed to trading here following Hong Kong's lead.
Even more frustrating was yesterday's 55.94 point or 1.7 per cent loss at 3,284.99 suffered by the Straits Times Index, the lowest close since June 29 and its biggest single-day loss since Dec 16 last year.
This came as a direct consequence of the Hang Seng's almost 6 per cent crash.
The spillover selling in Singapore was widespread, leading to an advance-decline score of 73-426 excluding warrants. Volume was the highest in several days at 1.8 billion units worth $1.6 billion.
Brokers were despairing when asked to describe the day's trading, their responses punctuated by the usual expletives best left unprinted. All pointed to China as the culprit, although many acknowledged that the as-yet unresolved Greek crisis also played a part.
The massive selling in China was described as a direct consequence of an unwinding of widespread margin positions taken by millions of retail punters eager to latch on to the rally of earlier months.
Over the weekend, Chinese regulators introduced measures to shore up the country's plunging market - measures which observers said may have added to the problem.
Whatever the case, the extreme volatility in China was said to be keeping investors away.
Among the top losers in Singapore was Hongkong Land Holdings, whose shares dropped 4.7 per cent. However, not all was doom and gloom. Among the stocks which held firm in the face of the selling was IHC, which ended unchanged at 30 cents with 37 million done.
South-east Asian stock markets also slid yesterday as tumbling Chinese shares spurred late selling.
Stocks in Malaysia hit a more than one-week low and the Philippines touched a one-month low, posting net foreign outflows worth RM374 million (S$133 million) and 888 million peso (S$27 million), respectively.
Thai stocks eased 0.9 per cent to a near seven-month closing low, Indonesia extended its slide for a third day while Vietnam posted the first fall in five trading days.