Dec 09, 2014

    US jobs data fails to boost S'pore stocks

    THE robust jobs data in the United States released on Friday failed to give the local market the same sugar rush that Wall Street enjoyed.

    The benchmark Straits Times Index dipped 26.55 points, or 0.8 per cent yesterday, closing at 3,297.84 on continuing concerns over the volatility in the oil market.

    Ezion dropped 4.5 cents to $1.135, SembCorp Marine lost five cents to $2.91 while Mermaid Maritime dropped two cents, or 5 per cent, to 28 cents.

    The energy sector's weakness was on the back of Brent crude staying around US$68 a barrel with no rebound in sight.

    Market fears are intensifying that major oil producers could cut production and cancel orders with offshore marine players like rig builders.

    The jitters over oil prices spilled over to Golden Agri-Resources, which closed one cent lower at 45 cents. The shares have dropped close to 10 per cent since Nov 12, when the company announced its worst quarterly results since 2009's first quarter.

    OCBC Investment Research said in a report: "We do not think that the worst is over yet. For one, the uncertainty over crude prices could continue to weigh on crude palm oil prices, mainly due to the bio-diesel link."

    Property stocks were more resilient, with most key plays rebounding after a drop on Friday triggered by a government decision to release sites enough for only 3,020 private homes in the first half of next year, the lowest since the first half of 2010.

    Keppel Land was flat at $3.35, but UOL gained six cents to $6.71 while Wheelock Properties rose one cent to $1.775.

    Phillip Capital analyst Caroline Tay warned that the sector's outlook is uncertain: "We feel that the residential market outlook remains challenging with the cooling measures likely to stay in near term…Price is still correcting and should only see a reversal in 2016 onwards."

    Elsewhere in Asia, the ebb and flow of the global economy remained the key market driver.

    Surprisingly disappointing trade data in China for last month has raised hopes that the government will be compelled to roll out more stimulus measures.

    That sent the Shanghai market up 2.81 per cent to top 3,000 points for the first time in three years, while Hong Kong went up 0.19 per cent.

    Tokyo added a marginal 0.08 per cent as the boost of a weaker yen was offset by a downward revision in economic growth announced on Monday. Kuala Lumpur dropped 0.49 per cent.