Asian markets scrape the barrel over oil woes
THE oil market woes continued to hit investor sentiment and gave the already jittery Asian markets little to cheer for in another mixed day.
New data pointed to a stronger-than-expected weekly build-up of oil products in the United States although crude oil stockpiles dropped.
Brent futures dropped over 2 per cent as a result before finding a footing.
But prices remained stuck below US$47 a barrel.
News that the oil fields in Nigeria and Libya would be restarting added to the pressure, as their output could upset the rebalancing efforts in the market, IG market strategist Bernard Aw said.
With the US Federal Reserve meeting also distracting investors, several key markets fell.
Tokyo pared 1.26 per cent with investors uncertain about the Bank of Japan policy review next week. Kuala Lumpur was down 0.51 per cent and Shanghai was closed for holiday. Wall Street closed down 0.18 per cent overnight.
Singapore's Straits Times Index (STI) shed 3.83 points or 0.14 per cent to 2,805.52, and the whole market saw $1.15 billion worth of shares change hands.
ComfortDelGro dropped the most among the 20 STI component stocks that ended in the red yesterday, closing down four cents or 1.45 per cent at $2.72. Golden Agri-Resources was off half a cent or 1.39 per cent to 35.5 cents.
Things were expectedly choppy in the oil and gas sector. Sembcorp Marine lost 1.5 cents or 1.19 per cent to $1.25 and Keppel Corp eased four cents or 0.77 per cent to $5.18.
Outside the STI, Marco Polo Marine - which is under scrutiny following news that it is seeking bondholder consent to extend the maturity of about $50 million worth of notes - was down 1.2 cents or 14.29 per cent to 7.2 cents.
Rickmers Maritime also said yesterday that it cannot repay its bonds due in March next year. It plunged 0.9 cent or 12.86 per cent to 6.1 cents.
On the other end of the spectrum, Jardine Cycle & Carriage put on $1.15 or 2.82 per cent to $42, the best performer among the seven STI stocks that rose yesterday.
Both blue-chip telcos gained, with StarHub adding five cents or 1.48 per cent to $3.43.
SingTel rose two cents or 0.52 per cent to $3.89 with 40.1 million traded shares.