BENGALURU: Singapore shares cut losses at the close of trade on Friday after falling nearly 1 percent, as the city-state’s biggest banks pulled down the index and as sentiment took a hit after total jobs fell in the second quarter, the most in 14 years. The FTSE Straits Times Index closed 0.7 percent lower, but rose 0.5 percent on week, its fifth straight weekly gain.
DBS Group fell 2.6 percent, United Overseas Bank slipped 2.2 percent and Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp dropped 0.9 percent. “The weaker performance of financials today follows a relatively lengthy period of gains. Hence, traders could have been selling ahead of news, especially in the results season,” said Liu Jinshu, director of research at NRA Capital. On Thursday, DBS Group closed at its highest in more than 17 years, OCBC hit a record closing high and United Overseas Bank rose 1.3 percent. United Overseas Bank reported a 5.5 percent increase in second-quarter profit on Friday, a day after OCBC’s profit beat expectations with a 22 percent jump. “After the OCBC results, the other two names may have been sucked higher yesterday. After the UOB numbers this morning, (it’s) a little bit of a reality check,” said a strategist with a Singapore-based bank who did not want to be identified.
Singapore’s total employment contracted by 7,800 in the second quarter, the biggest quarterly drop in employment since 2003, preliminary data from the Ministry of Manpower showed. In other Southeast markets, Philippine shares inched up, finishing the week 1 percent higher. Conglomerate JG Summit Holdings climbed 1.9 percent, while BDO Unibank rose 1.7 percent to close at its highest in more than four months. Vietnam shares closed up 0.7 percent and were up 2 percent on week, while Indonesia rose marginally, ending the week 1.1 percent higher. Malaysian shares snapped five sessions of gains to slip 0.2 percent, but ended the week up 0.5 percent.