Singapore Dollars. Photo Leslie Shaffer

Short-sellers have Singapore stocks in their sights as the market struggles to find its footing as a smaller exchange hit hard by the commodity rout. SGX saw its total short selling surge from 3.2 billion Singapore dollars ($2.24 billion) in December to 5.6 billion Singapore dollars in January, representing 25 percent of total volume, the highest since data became available in 2013, Credit Suisse said in a note Tuesday. Short-selling refers to borrowing shares to sell in hopes of buying them back at a lower price later.

That comes as the exchange is also facing headwinds from a concentration of listings in hard-hit sectors, including commodities, oil services and shipping as well as a hit from China’s economic slowdown. Out of a total 776 listings at the end of December, the SGX had 63 listings in the basic materials sector, 40 in oil and gas and 267 classified as industrials. That compares with 26 healthcare listings and 59 technology listings.

Among the stocks with the highest percentage of volume related to short-selling were agri-businesses Wilmar and Golden-Agri Resources and oil-rig-builders SembCorp Industries and Keppel Corp., Credit Suisse said. That comes as the exchange is already facing difficulty competing, particularly due to its relatively small size.