Flat trading ahead of Fed meeting
SINGAPORE shares drifted sideways yesterday, with investors mostly sitting on the sidelines ahead a United States Federal Reserve meeting.
The two-day meeting, beginning today, could offer clues to investors on the likely timing of a US interest rate hike.
The benchmark Straits Times Index closed 3.56 points or 0.1 per cent higher at 3,226.11, with 1.11 billion shares worth $953.7 million changing hands.
The most active stocks included SingTel, which gained 0.5 per cent or two cents to $3.72, with 29 million shares done.
Blumont Group fell 8 per cent to 2.3 cents with 36.4 million shares traded after it posted an earnings warning on Friday.
LionGold Corp skidded nearly 13 per cent to 2.7 cents, with 21.4 million shares traded, after its auditors were not able to give a clean bill of health for its statements for the year ended March 31.
Desmond Chua, a CMC Markets analyst, said: "This week, the focus will quickly turn to the Fed meeting on Thursday, where the central bank is expected to put an end to its asset purchase programme. More importantly, traders will be watching language surrounding the first interest rate hike, mostly the use of the term 'considerable time' when it comes to keeping interest rates low."
Remisier Alvin Yong sees the market trading sideways ahead of the results of the meeting. "But any good corporate earnings this week could help restore confidence," he said.
Singapore Airlines, which is releasing its second-quarter earnings next Thursday, and ST Engineering, set to announce its third-quarter results next Friday, were among the top gainers.
SIA jumped 2.2 per cent or 21 cents to $9.83, while ST Engineering was up 1.7 per cent or six cents to $3.67.
Among other top gainers, CapitaLand shares climbed nine cents or 3 per cent to $3.14, with 18 million shares traded, while City Developments jumped 17 cents or 1.8 per cent to $9.80.
Raffles Medical Group shares gained 1.6 per cent or six cents to $3.93, after it posted an 11.3 per cent jump in net profit for the third quarter that ending last month to $15.43 million from $13.87 million, and an 11.1 per cent increase in revenue to $94.49 million from $85.05 million.
Weaker oil prices weighed on local offshore marine and oil-related counters. Keppel Corp dropped 2.4 per cent or 23 cents to $9.44 with nearly 13 million shares traded. Among the top laggards were Emas Offshore, which fell 7 per cent or 6.5 cents to 83 cents, while Ezion Holdings slid 3.2 per cent or five cents to $1.51.
Brent crude fell 32 US cents to US$85.81 a barrel, extending a near 25 per cent fall in prices over the past five months on signs of rising global supply.