STI marks time as release of US data looms
INDIFFERENCE set in on the stock market as investors adopted a wait-and-see approach at the start of a new trading quarter.
The Straits Times Index (STI) ended virtually unchanged, up 0.01 point at 3,447.02. It dipped slightly into the red for most of the day before creeping into neutral territory.
The general lack of interest was reflected in lacklustre turnover, which stood at $954.5 million with 1.23 billion shares changing hands, compared with the 1.4 billion shares worth $1.4 billion traded on the previous day.
Investors waited on the sidelines, with more uncertainty ahead as the United States is slated to release its crucial non-farm payrolls data for last month tomorrow, which could give clues on the future of interest rate hikes.
"This is going to be a tougher quarter and you can expect higher volatility," Nader Naeimi, the head of dynamic asset allocation at AMP Capital Investors, told Bloomberg.
Offshore and marine plays were mostly lower owing to the further decline in crude oil prices with Brent crude oil falling below US$55 a barrel in Asian trading.
Worries about a supply glut weighed on the market, as talks between world powers and oil producer Iran suggest economic sanctions against Teheran may be lifted in return for a halt in its nuclear ambitions. Such a scenario would worsen the current crude oil oversupply glut.
At home, Keppel Corp lost six cents to $8.94, Ezion declined 2.5 cents to $1.05 while Sembcorp Marine was flat at $2.92.
Property counters were mixed after another disappointing set of results that showed a 1.1 per cent drop in private home prices in the first quarter this year, the sixth straight quarter of decline.
CapitaLand was flat at $3.58, City Developments was unchanged at $10.60, UOL added one cent to $7.65 while Wing Tai lost half a cent to $1.915.
Banks advanced despite data showing that loans growth in February continued to slow, dragged down by shrinking business loans.
Brokerage CIMB noted in a report that banks will benefit from the rising Singapore interbank offered rate, which will lift the lenders' net interest margins.
DBS Group Holdings rose three cents to $20.39, OCBC Bank was up a cent at $10.58 and United Overseas Bank added five cents to $23.05.
Ascendas Reit was up a cent to $2.60 after an active week where it sold a property in Senoko Way back to JTC Corp for $24.8 million and bought a property from its sponsor Ascendas Group for $112 million.