Singtel's 2.8% drop weighs down STI
A MINOR sell-off in telco Singtel weighed down the market yesterday, as traders got back into the swing of things after the Chinese New Year break and took in the Budget news.
The firm shed 12 cents or 2.8 per cent to finish at $4.16 after investors opted to take profits.
Analysts' consensus view of the stock's fair value was $4.08 yesterday, according to Bloomberg data.
OCBC Investment Research said earlier this month that a weakening Australian dollar "remains a near- to medium-term concern" for the company and downgraded the stock to a "hold".
Singtel's fall accounted for 10.29 points of the 14.36-point decline in the benchmark Straits Times Index, which closed at 3,421.30.
The broader market was also largely flat despite announcements of government handouts in yesterday's Budget, with 201 gainers and 196 losers. The declines here were in contrast to other regional major markets, which rose yesterday partly due to optimism over news of a Greek debt deal over the weekend, say analysts.
Tokyo climbed 0.7 per cent, Shanghai gained 0.8 per cent and Seoul was up 0.4 per cent, while Hong Kong was flat.
The deal on Friday extended Greece's financial rescue package by four months, a bit less than what Athens wanted, but raising hopes that the country will avoid debt and stay in the euro zone.
"Greece has been given a lifeline, even if just short-term, which is a positive boost to the market," said Ayako Sera, a market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank in Tokyo, in a Bloomberg report.
Analysts also said that traders were treading cautiously ahead of Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen's two-day testimony to the United States Congress, which begins tonight.
Dr Yellen may give an indication as to how soon interest rates in the world's biggest economy will rise.
Local investors were not swayed by other news from the US, where a shutdown of 29 ports along the West Coast had been averted.
Shipping company NOL fell half a cent to $1.015 yesterday, despite announcing on Friday that the shutdown had been averted.
CMC Markets analyst Nicholas Teo noted that these ports are a major part of NOL's container liner business, so the good news from the US ports "could offer traders a reason to bid up the stock again".