Udemy

There have been plenty of fireworks in this week of Chinese New Year festivities but few have gone off on share markets, even when United States President Donald Trump put a word in.

That was the case yesterday when investors had to confront the trade war yet again.

This time, it was US economic adviser Larry Kudlow warning that Washington and Beijing have a long way to go in their talks.

Mr Trump then leapt in to add fuel to the fire by saying his meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping would not occur before tariffs were due to rise on March 1.

That might have sparked a sell-off a few weeks ago, but jaded investors just shrugged and left the Straits Times Index (STI) flat yesterday with an increase of just 1.4 points, or 0.04 per cent, to 3,202.04.

Turnover stood at 1.19 billion shares worth $965.41 million with losers outpacing gainers 222 to 150.

The most active was marine firm Ezion Holdings, which lost 4.3 per cent to 4.5 cents with 88.6 million shares changing hands.

Index-listed companies were also actively traded.

ThaiBev was the most active, down 2 per cent to 72 cents with 48 million shares done.

Yangzijiang Shipbuilding also saw heavy trading with 24.9 million shares traded as it rose 1.4 per cent to $1.45.

Meanwhile, Best World continued to rally, ending 4.9 per cent higher at $3.19 with 5.37 million shares traded.

Reits fared well. CapitaLand Mall Trust was among the top performers, with its units closing up 1.3 per cent to $2.40. Keppel Reit thrived as well, 1.7 per cent ahead at $1.21.

Elsewhere in Asia, Mr Trump’s comments seemed to have a bigger effect, sending Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Malaysia into the red. Mainland China and Taiwan were closed.

The Hang Seng dipped 0.16 per cent on its first day back after a three-day break, while Japan’s benchmark lost 2 per cent.

IG market strategist Pan Jingyi said: “The key culprit for weighing down Asia markets has been the latest uncertainty in US-China relations induced by President Donald Trump’s comments.”

A lot hinges on the outcome of next week’s meeting between the US and China in Beijing, she added.

“Broadly speaking, Singapore Reits have been viewed as being rather attractive at the start of the year from a valuation standpoint, but also as a good defensive strategy going into a year still rife with uncertainties.”

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