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Jonathan Kwok
Monday, May 12, 2014

Singapore

STI holds steady amid sluggish trading

The Straits Times | Jonathan Kwok | Monday, May 12, 2014

SINGAPORE - The popular market adage is "sell in May and go away", but so far this month, investors seem to have just gone away without doing much selling.

Since the end of last month, the benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) has held fairly steady.

It closed at 3,252.13 points on Friday - down just 12.58 points or 0.4 per cent for the month so far.

Notably, the local market is one of the few bourses in the region to have stayed in the black for the year.

Its gain for the year to date is 2.7 per cent, thanks to solid rises between the middle of March and last month.

In contrast, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index has declined 6.2 per cent so far this year, and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo has backtracked 12.8 per cent since Jan 1.

Not only are prices flat - so are trading volumes.

The average daily turnover this month has been just 1.56 billion shares worth $981 million, far lower than the daily average of 2.87 billion shares worth $1.22 billion posted over the past year.

Describing the current market as "quiet", remisier Desmond Leong said trading volumes are usually "a lot better" in the first half of the year.

"Although we had a rally about two weeks ago, the volumes seem to be dwindling," he added.

NetResearch Asia said in a note last week: "There are now expectations that May could prove to be a quiet month of consolidation, given the decent gains in April and the absence of fresh leads either way."

The "sell in May and go away" maxim describes the theory that shares tend to do worse in the May-to-October period than in the other six months of the year.

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