Singapore stocks end flat ahead of key markets’ inflation data

SINGAPORE – Singapore stocks finished flat on Jan 8, ahead of the week’s key inflation data out of China, Japan and the United States.

The Straits Times Index ended marginally higher by 2.72 points, or 0.09 per cent, at 3,187.02.

Elsewhere, most key gauges across Asia from Hong Kong and China to South Korea and Australia were in the red, while Taiwan bucked the trend to finish higher. Markets in Japan were closed for a holiday.

The showing on Jan 8 followed marginal gains on Jan 5 on Wall Street, which capped its worst decline since Halloween.

Last week – the new year’s first trading week – marked one of the weakest starts to the year for global equities.

Recent US data on jobs has provided a mixed picture of the economic path ahead, which in turn has raised doubts on the trajectory of the Federal Reserve’s rate cuts for the year. For this reason, the inflation figures on Jan 11 from the world’s largest economy will be closely watched.

“It overall remains unclear at this point if the US economy can see a soft landing, hard landing or still too strong a growth. The futures market is calling for a two-thirds chance of a cut in March, which is some reflection of the potential pressure for the Fed to act soon in light of more cool-down in the economy,” said Maybank analysts in a recent note.

Fears over continuing macroeconomic instability exacerbated by oil edging higher on the back of continued tensions in the Middle East further hurt trading sentiments.

US-Sino tensions were also another area of concern, particularly with Taiwan’s looming elections.

On the home front and across the broader market, 1.02 billion units worth $752 million were traded. Losers outnumbered gainers 314 to 246.

OCBC retreated $0.01, or 0.08 per cent, to $12.80. The bank is RHB Research’s preferred pick among Singapore banks given its “strongest asset quality metrics”, which is a potential differentiating factor if interest rates stay higher for longer.

ComfortDelGro inched up $0.01, or 0.7 per cent, to $1.43. Maybank Kim Eng viewed the transport operator’s move to raise taxi booking commissions effective the start of 2024 positively, despite competition from peers and its acquisition of an Australian taxi operator.

The research house retained a “buy” on the counter with a higher discounted cash flow target price of $1.60. THE BUSINESS TIMES

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