Fears of US strike on Syria strike fear in investors

PHOTO: Fears of US strike on Syria strike fear in investors

Fears of a United States-led strike on Syria sent Singapore shares sliding to a new nine-month low on Tuesday amid a regional sell-down.

The benchmark Straits Times Index closed down 29.84 points, or 0.98 per cent, at 3,004.18, extending its losing streak to 10 straight sessions.

The STI barely kept its head above the key 3,000-point mark at the close, having sunk to as low as 2,990.68 during the day.

It is now at a level not seen since hitting 2,989 on Nov 23 last year.

About three billion shares worth $1.45 billion changed hands.

"Caution is advised till the market weakness has run it's course," said Phillip Securities Research research head Joshua Tan.

The Singapore bourse joined its regional peers in a sea of red, with Hong Kong sinking 1.60 per cent, Japan down 1.51 per cent and Australia dropping 1.05 per cent.

"Uncertainty looms with the potential of some US intervention in Syria, prompting investors to move their monies into safe haven assets like gold, US, British and German government bonds," said Mr Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets.

Nearly all 30 of the STI's component stocks finished in negative territory, with just three ending higher.

The winners were ST Engineering, up three cents to $3.88, Wilmar International, two cents higher at $3.12, and StarHub, a cent in front at $4.13.

The rest ended lower, with the red ink most pronounced on Thai Beverage, down 3.5 cents to 42 cents.

Other STI stocks that headed south included CapitaLand, seven cents behind at $2.93, and Genting Singapore, back three cents at $1.305.

But Fraser and Neave escaped the broad market weakness, adding 23 cents to $5.72 after it unveiled plans to separately list its property arm.

Property group Wing Tai Holdings avoided the carnage after posting a 72 per cent rise in fourth-quarter profit on Tuesday. The counter added six cents to $2.10.

"We like Wing Tai for its low gearing and attractive valuations," noted Maybank Kim Eng analyst Wilson Liew.

The day's most active was Ipco International, which closed half a cent higher to 3.3 cents with 698.8 million units traded.

Analysts expect the bumpy ride to continue.

"We are going to experience further consolidation until the Fed addresses the tapering timeline," said IG Markets Singapore market strategist Kelly Teoh.

alfoo@sph.com.sg


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