Local shares rocky ahead of Fed move
SINGAPORE stocks faced a second rocky day, as traders steered clear of risk ahead of a decision at a closely watched United States interest rate meeting.
The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) slid 12.02 points, or 0.39 per cent, to 3,040.51.
Trading on the exchange was thin, with 1.02 billion shares worth $825.7 million changing hands.
Markets elsewhere in the region mostly fell into the red as well, taking their cue from Wall Street, which dropped 0.24 per cent overnight on mixed earnings reports.
Shanghai sank 1.72 per cent, dragged down by concerns that China's slowing economy was weighing down on profit margins and encouraging bad loans, while Hong Kong slipped 0.8 per cent.
Tokyo bucked the trend with a 0.67 per cent rise, backed by brisk earnings reports.
"Markets are keeping a low profile ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), with investors cutting risk from their portfolios," said IG market strategist Bernard Aw.
The FOMC is the policy-making arm of the Federal Reserve.
"To be sure, chances of a rate move in the meeting is extremely remote," he added. "It is widely expected to be a non-event for financial markets, as a combination of soft inflation and recent economic data dented the policymakers' confidence to hike interest rates."
At home, the three local banks led losses. OCBC shaved eight cents or 0.86 per cent to $9.20, after reporting a 27 per cent slide in third quarter net profit to $902 million.
DBS Group Holdings lost 27 cents or 1.52 per cent to $17.45, while United Overseas Bank (UOB) fell 27 cents or 1.33 per cent to $20.
Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust was also among the day's laggards, losing seven cents or 2.79 per cent to $2.44.
On the other side of the ledger, rigbuilders Sembcorp Marine and Keppel Corporation made a good showing, even as oil prices show little signs of improvement.
SembMarine rose four cents or 1.72 per cent to $2.37, while KepCorp was up four cents or 0.56 per cent at $7.16.
KepCorp announced yesterday that its shipbuilding unit Keppel Fels had delivered its eighth rig this year ahead of schedule.
Commodity trading giant Noble Group was the day's most heavily traded stock, with 64.2 million shares being moved. The stock was unchanged at 53.5 cents.
Agri-business Olam International gained two cents or 1 per cent to $2.02, after announcing early yesterday morning that it had secured about US$1 billion in new loans.
The firm said the facility will be used to refinance its debt as well as meet its working capital and general corporate funding needs.