STI falls 1.1% as Covid-19 case count threatens to impede next phase of reopening

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) – Fears that restrictions might not be eased as soon as hoped given persistent numbers of new cases spooked local investors on Wednesday (Jun 16) and sent shares tumbling.

The wary mood left the benchmark Straits Times Index down 1.1 per cent or 35.3 points at 3,139.57 with losers easily outpacing gainers 338 to 148 on trade of 2.06 billion shares worth S$1.36 billion.

It was much the same across the region as investors cut their exposure ahead of the key meeting overnight of the United States Federal Reserve, said Oanda senior market analyst Jeffrey Halley.

The Hang Seng Index fell 0.7 per cent, the Nikkei 225 declined 0.5 per cent, while the KLCI lost 0.2 per cent. The Kospi bucked the trend, rising 0.6 per cent.

But Mr Halley figures the decline is unlikely to last long: “Assuming no surprises and the (Fed) remains suitably dovish, I can see no reason why the gentle rally in equity markets will not resume into the remainder of the week.”

Only ThaiBev among the 30 STI constituent stocks ended the day in the black, closing up 0.7 per cent at 69.5 cents.

The STI’s biggest decliner was Singapore Airlines, falling 3.2 per cent to $4.92 amid investor fears over the prospects for air travel.

Precision manufacturer Shinvest was the biggest gainer on the broader market. The stock climbed 12.3 per cent to $2.75. TheHourGlass was another gainer, adding 5.4 per cent to $1.36.

On the other hand, luxury watch retailer Cortina was the top decliner, falling 7.6 per cent to $2.69. Venture was another loser, down 1 per cent to $18.87.

MarcoPolo Marine was the most actively traded by volume, with 159 million shares changing hands.

RHB initiated coverage on the stock with a “buy” call and target price of 4.1 cents, citing the firm’s move into servicing the renewable energy sector. The counter closed at three cents, up 3.5 per cent.