Singapore Overtakes Thailand to Become Asia’s Worst Stock Market

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Singapore stocks took a beating this week amid the twin uncertainties of the U.S. election and the worsening pandemic in the West, overtaking Thailand to become Asia’s worst equity market this year.

The Straits Times Index fell about 1% on Friday, taking the 2020 decline so far to 25%, compared with a fractionally smaller loss for Thailand’s SET index. The city-state’s gauge, which relies heavily on exports, is down about 4.3% this week, among the region’s worst performances.

A recovery in the Southeast Asian nation’s stocks from the market plunge triggered by the pandemic has been hampered by the economy’s integration with global trade and supply chains, and a lack of technology shares in the index. More than 80% of Singapore’s benchmark is made up of cyclical equities -- the most among regional peers. A resurgence in coronavirus cases in America and Europe and uncertainty surrounding stimulus in the U.S. are expected to limit gains in the near term.

Singapore Overtakes Thailand to Become Asia’s Worst Stock Market

“Singapore is particularly sensitive to global risk-off sentiment, and risk appetite has worsened from the resurgence in virus cases and expectations of a slow pace of economic recovery,” said Jingyi Pan, a strategist at IG Asia Pte. “Some of the virus-affected regions are Singapore’s key trading partners.”

Singapore Airlines Ltd. and ComfortDelGro Corp. are the worst performers on the index this year so far -- down 46% and 42%, respectively -- after the pandemic battered travel and forced people to stay home. A gloomy outlook for tourism could limit the stock market’s re-rating potential, according to Suresh Tantia, an investment strategist at Credit Suisse Group AG.

That said, valuations are proving attractive for some as the Straits Times Index trades at 13 times forecast earnings for the next year, in line with its 10-year average. In comparison, the MSCI Asia Pacific Index is trading at a multiple of 16 times, much higher than its historical average of 13 times.

Still, the index’s recovery has some way to go as investors await a stimulus package in the U.S., said Daniel Dubrovsky, an analyst at DailyFX. “The Senate is off for recess until later next month without a fiscal package, crushing hopes of an economic boost,” which will keep the Singapore gauge under pressure, he added.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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