Jun 24, 2014

    High oil price fears dampen Asia, US leads

    SINGAPORE shares ended mostly flat yesterday, as jitters over high oil prices offset positive leads from both Asia and the United States.

    News that Islamic militants have captured more territory in Iraq drove global crude prices higher, testing nine-month highs, and the Straits Times Index down 1.4 points to 3,257.40.

    Brent crude, a global benchmark, jumped 63 US cents to US$115.44 (S$144) a barrel in London, close to Thursday's US$115.71, its highest level since Sept 9.

    Benchmark US crude for August delivery rose 34 US cents to US$107.17 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 78 US cents to settle at US$106.83 on Friday.

    Asian stocks were mostly higher, boosted by a rise in US stocks on Friday and an upbeat China manufacturing report.

    Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.4 per cent after preliminary data on China's manufacturing sector pointed to an expansion in the country's factory activity for the first time in six months.

    In Japan, the Nikkei was up 0.4 per cent; South Korea's Kospi was up 0.4 per cent and the Shanghai Composite rose by 0.3 per cent.

    In Singapore, shares of RH Petrogas plunged 15.8 per cent, or 14.5 cents, to 77 cents, after the board said there have been "no further discussions or progress" over a potential takeover of the company.

    Some 35.3 million shares worth $28 million changed hands, making the upstream oil and gas company one of the five most heavily traded stocks by value yesterday.

    On May 20, the firm's controlling shareholders - Surreyville, Sharptone Investments and RH Capital - said they had been approached by an investor over a possible takeover offer of shares in the company.

    Yesterday, RH Petrogas said: "Although the potential investor had previously expressed interest in investing in the company, the controlling shareholders have, to date, not received any offer or indication of terms thereof from the potential investor.

    "There is no certainty that the parties will engage in any further discussions which will result in any definitive agreement or transaction."

    Meanwhile, HLH Group was among the top 20 active stocks, jumping 11.1 per cent, or 0.2 cent, to close at two cents on news that an associate had acquired 13,541 sq m of freehold land for property development in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Some 60.4 million shares worth $1.2 million changed hands.

    On Thursday, its associate, D'Lotus Development, bought the land for US$14.9 million from Shukaku Inc to develop an office tower, luxury condominiums, and food and beverage and retail buildings.