Value of S'pore stocks down 6.4% in Jan

Value of S'pore stocks down 6.4% in Jan

Singapore's stock market lost a hefty 6.4 per cent of its value in January amid market turmoil caused by fears of a hard landing in China's economy and oil price woes.

The market capitalisation of the 766 companies listed on the Singapore Exchange (SGX) was $804.9 billion as of yesterday, down from $856.4 billion as at Dec 31.

January also saw the listing of three companies on the Catalist board. But that has done little to help boost the overall market cap.

This month, the Straits Times Index tumbled 8.8 per cent, which might have been worse but for a rebound yesterday after the Bank of Japan shocked markets by adopting a negative interest rate policy.

The STI's nosedive was the worst January the index has recorded since the fall-out from the global financial crisis in 2008.

Prudential is still the biggest stock on the SGX despite losing 14.1 per cent during the month to end with a market cap of $70.6 billion.

More than a third of the 30 constituent stocks of the Straits Times Index have lost at least 10 per cent of their market cap in the heavy selldown since the start of the year.

Conglomerate Keppel Corporation was the biggest loser among the STI stocks, with its market cap shrinking by 22.9 per cent to $9.13 billion.

Embattled commodities player Noble recovered some of its losses yesterday to end 22.5 per cent lower with a value of $2.1 billion.

The banks - which are some of Singapore's largest listed companies - also lost a chunk of their market value in the past month.

DBS Group Holdings, the biggest Singapore bank, shed 15.8 per cent of its value to end at $35.4 billion, while OCBC's market cap shrunk by 10 per cent to $32.6 billion.

United Overseas Bank, which ranks as the seventh-biggest-listed company here, lost 7.5 per cent to finish with a value of $29.3 billion.

"The Year of the Monkey is likely characterised by 'wide swings'," said Mr Yeo Kee Yan, vice-president of DBS Equity Research, referring to the Chinese zodiac.

He thinks that the STI will improve after hitting a low of 2,532.11 points, though it is uncertain if that will be the "ultimate bottom".

"We think the odds have increased for a short-term U-turn leading to a counter-trend rally in the weeks ahead," he said.

Mr Yeo expects short-covering and bargain-hunting activities to lift oil and gas stocks like KepCorp, SembCorp Marine and SembCorp Industries, as well as bank stocks like UOB and OCBC as the oil price stabilises and the fear of a collapse to US$20 per barrel fades.

NRA Capital research head Liu Jinshu also thinks that the Singapore market could see a short-term rebound soon. "Some of the reasons that have precipitated the meltdown in January have been the withdrawal of funds from the Middle Eastern and other oil-producing sources," said Mr Liu.

"Such activity usually lasts for a short while and the price action suggests slowing fund outflows. I think we can start bargain hunting at current levels, but I would not suggest being overweight on stocks."

This article was first published on Jan 30, 2016.
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