Investors hold their breath for US election

PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE shares started the new week on yet another gloomy note amid jitters over next week's United States presidential elections.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) pared 2.39 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 2,813.87. A total of 1.19 billion shares worth $977.8 million were traded.

This was in line with sentiment on Friday on Wall Street, which slid 0.05 per cent. A drop in oil prices, as the world's biggest crude producers failed to agree on supply cuts at a meeting in Vienna, did not help.

"The US presidential election is the biggest risk event for traders in many key markets right now. With the spotlight on the FBI's investigations into Hillary Clinton's e-mails, people are paring their trades and saying 'let's wait and see'," KGI Securities (Singapore) trading strategist Nicholas Teo told The Straits Times.

He added: "The next stimulus locally was going to come from corporate earnings.

"But we're nearing the end of the cycle and, so far, there hasn't been any major surprises, so the results haven't had so much of an impact."

DBS Group Holdings rose 10 cents or 0.7 per cent to $15. It said yesterday it is buying ANZ Banking Group's wealth and retail businesses in five Asian markets for an undisclosed sum. DBS reported third-quarter net profit of $1.07 billion, little changed from a year earlier.

OCBC Bank slipped two cents or 0.2 per cent to $8.48 while United Overseas Bank grew 15 cents or 0.8 per cent to $18.78.

Transport group ComfortDelGro closed weaker for the third straight session, losing six cents or 2.3 per cent to $2.54.

The Public Transport Council said last Thursday it will reduce bus and rail fares by 4.2 per cent from Dec 30.

DBS Group Research in a report retained its "buy" call on the stock, noting that the market may have overreacted to the news.

It said the fare cut's impact will be limited to rail operations, as fare revenue risk for buses has been moved to the Land Transport Authority.

The top active was YuuZoo Corporation, which slid 0.4 cent or 2.2 per cent to 17.7 cents on 92.2 million shares done.

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