STI slips amid unease over US economy
THE Singapore market closed marginally lower yesterday, as investors reacted to fresh worrying signs of a slowing recovery in the United States.
The benchmark Straits Times Index slipped 0.84 point or 0.02 per cent to close at 3,452.91, after a choppy day as the index went as high as 3,457.97.
Investors stuck to lower-cost stocks with a healthy 1.951 billion shares changing hands - but worth only $704.3 million.
The market dip came after the US reported on Friday that only 126,000 jobs were created last month - significantly undershooting the 12-month average of 269,000 jobs, and casting a shadow over the country's economic outlook.
But the impact of the news was mitigated somewhat by the long weekend, as Wall Street and London remained closed for Easter Monday while Shanghai and Hong Kong were also closed yesterday for the Qing Ming Festival.
"Meanwhile, traders here have had the time to digest what the latest US job data meant and realised there may be an upside to the poorer-than-expected number, which may persuade the Federal Reserve to push back (an) interest-rate hike," CMC Markets analyst Nicholas Teo said. The rest of the week ahead may be similarly uneven for the market, which has remained stuck around the 3,450 resistance level, he added.
Yesterday's top STI gainers included Jardine Strategic Holdings, which closed 56 US cents or 1.6 per cent higher at US$35.51, and Golden Agri-Resources, adding 0.5 cent or 1.16 per cent to close at 43.5 cents, as sentiment over the commodity firm was partly lifted by the weaker US dollar.
Sembcorp Marine also notched a two cent or 0.69 per cent rise, closing at $2.92. Keppel Corp closed two cents or 0.22 per cent ahead at $8.97.
Crude-oil futures rose about 3 per cent overnight, as Saudi Arabia announced a price raise for sales to Asia, indicating improvement in demand.
The banking sector was a mixed bag, with United Overseas Bank closing 14 cents or 0.61 per cent up at $23.22. But DBS Group Holdings closed two cents or 0.10 per cent lower at $20.45, while OCBC Bank also dropped two cents or 0.19 per cent to $10.60.
On the other end of the benchmark, Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust lost the most, closing four cents or 1.54 per cent lower at $2.56. Profit-taking might explain the drop, as investors cashed out on the counter's full-year high of $2.60 last week.
Outside the generally quiet STI, property plays, including Wing Tai and Ho Bee, rose strongly on market expectations that they might be privatised soon.
Wing Tai closed 18.5 cents or 9.61 per cent higher at $2.11, while Ho Bee gained 10 cents or 4.63 per cent to close at $2.26.