Mar 20, 2014

    Stocks slip as investors await word from Fed

    SINGAPORE stocks slipped slightly yesterday as investors awaited the outcome of the first policy meeting of the United States central bank since it got a new boss.

    The US Federal Reserve was meeting overnight with governor Janet Yellen, who replaced Dr Ben Bernanke, in the hot seat.

    "While it will be closely watched, it should not contain many surprises, given the previews we have seen from (Dr Yellen's) testimony," said CMC Markets analyst Desmond Chua.

    The waiting game for what might emerge left investors with few cues, allowing the Straits Times Index (STI) to drift down 13.09 points, or 0.42 per cent, to 3,080.75.

    As in recent days, market attention here was focused on penny stocks, with 2.3 billion shares worth $1.2 billion traded.

    "Risk sentiment has markedly improved since the start of the Crimean invasion," said Mr Chua.

    Key regional markets were mixed, with Japan up 0.36 per cent but Hong Kong closed flat.

    Back home, 17 of the 30 STI component stocks finished lower, with seven gainers and six unchanged.

    CapitaLand shed two cents to $2.72 and dropped to a 21-month low of $2.70 during the session after saying it had sold its remaining stake in Australia's Australand Property Group.

    It was also a downbeat session for Global Logistic Properties, which dropped three cents to $2.64 on concerns about its earnings being potentially dampened by a weaker Chinese yuan.

    Singapore packaging company Goodpack jumped 20 cents to $2.23 after announcing it was in talks with parties that may make an offer for the company.

    Talks are underway and "there is no certainty whatsoever that these discussions will result in any transaction", said Goodpack.

    The firm halted trading just before noon yesterday and resumed around 2pm after releasing a filing to the bourse.

    Recently listed commercial and industrial developer Figtree Holdings slumped nine cents to 38 cents. The 19.15 per cent fall was not queried by the Singapore Exchange as of press time.

    The day's most active counter was Albedo, which saw 487.37 million units change hands in just over an hour of trade before it was halted. The counter plunged 42 per cent, sinking 2.2 cents to three cents.

    Malaysia's The Star newspaper reported yesterday that tycoon Danny Tan is aborting his plans to inject some valuable land in Johor state into Albedo.

    Albedo clarified last evening that the parties concerned have not terminated the proposed acquisition.