CNY break fails to lift spirits of local investors

The two-day holiday has done nothing for the mood among investors, going by yesterday's gusher of red ink.

The local bourse resumed trading on a dismal note, with the benchmark Straits Times Index falling nearly 3 per cent in just the first 15 minutes.

It later pared losses to finish 41.11 points or 1.57 per cent down at 2,582.1.

Concerns over bank stocks worldwide, especially in Europe, and the market rout in Japan, which suffered a bruising 5 per cent fall on Tuesday, continued to weigh on market sentiment.

Elsewhere in the region, Tokyo continued to head south, sliding 2.3 per cent. Sydney retreated 1.2 per cent, Kuala Lumpur declined 1.1 per cent while Shanghai and Hong Kong remained shut for the Chinese New Year holiday.

Wall Street slipped 0.1 per cent on Tuesday.

"Concerns about European banks are contributing to the risk-off mood in markets," Shinichiro Kadota, chief forex strategist at Barclays in Japan, told Reuters.

"In addition, United States data this month has been weak and Fed officials appear to be toning down on rate hikes."

The local banks were among the biggest losers yesterday, with DBS Group Holdings sliding 22 cents or 1.6 per cent to $13.38.

OCBC Bank shed 13 cents or 1.7 per cent to $7.56 while United Overseas Bank lost 31 cents or 1.7 per cent to $17.56.

A Nomura report last week noted that Singapore banks tumbled 11 per cent in January, in line with others in the region, as markets "not only questioned their top-line growth but also pondered potential costs via higher non-performing loans".

It also believes the banks had "underperformed" owing to concerns over exposure to China and commodities.

Commodity trader Noble Group shaved half a cent or 1.5 per cent to 32.5 cents on a heavy trade of 50.4 million units, while palm planter Golden Agri-Resources fell one cent or 2.6 per cent to 37.5 cents.

Real-estate counters took a beating as well: CapitaLand fell nine cents or 3 per cent to $2.90 and Ascendas Reit sank six cents or 2.5 per cent to $2.33.

Warehouse facilities provider Global Logistic Properties was the day's most heavily traded stock, with 50.9 million shares changing hands.

The counter slid five cents or 3 per cent to $1.63.

Among the pennies, Chinese department store operator Zhongmin Baihui Retail Group crashed 45 cents or 25.7 per cent to $1.30 after the Singapore Exchange (SGX) said on Friday that it was reviewing trading in the counter.

The SGX added that it had found that a small group of individuals accounted for almost all the buy volume in Zhongmin Baihui shares since October last year.

It noted that Zhongmin Baihui's shares had stayed relatively stable since Oct 26 last year despite declines in the broader market, and have rarely closed lower than $1.76 since the start of this year.

Trading across the bourse amounted to 802.2 million units worth $1.2 billion yesterday.

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