Dec 31, 2015

    Weak oil, commodities hit stocks

    LOCAL shares continued to trudge through into the New Year uninspired yesterday, ending the session flat amid thin trading.

    The benchmark Straits Times Index slipped 2.71 points, or 0.09 per cent, to 2,885.51.

    Other Asian bourses rose briefly in early trade, boosted by positive data on United States consumer confidence and a rally on Wall Street overnight.

    But the rally fizzled out as crude oil prices fell back after a short climb.

    SMBC Nikko Securities' general manager of investment information, Chihiro Ohta, told Agence France-Presse: "We'll keep on being moved by the oil price. We'll have to keep being aware of this for the first three months or the first half of next year as well."

    Tokyo ended the day 0.27 per cent higher. It has been one of the world's best-performing stock markets this year, rising 9 per cent.

    Shanghai gained 0.26 per cent, while Hong Kong fell 0.53 per cent and Seoul lost 0.25 per cent.

    At home, Noble Group was the second most active stock, dropping four cents to 40 cents on news that Moody's Investors Service had slashed its credit rating to "junk" status amid concerns over the commodity player's liquidity.

    The stock has so far lost two-third of its value this year. (See other story) Other commodity players were mixed. Golden Agri Resources was flat at 34 cents, Wilmar International rose two cents to $2.96, Olam International gained half a cent to $1.825 and Indofood Agri lost two cents to 48.5 cents.

    Tiong Seng Holdings added half a cent to 25.5 cents, after saying on Tuesday that its unit Tiong Seng Contractors had won a contract worth $69.9 million from the Land Transport Authority to build a bus depot in Ulu Pandan.

    Singapore Airlines gained three cents to $11.22, while Tiger Airways edged up half a cent to 41 cents.

    SIA said on Tuesday, the day after its offer to take Tiger Airways private was originally set to expire, that it owned, controlled or had agreed to acquire about 74.5 per cent of the budget carrier's shares - short of the 90 per cent required for the move to succeed.

    Tigerair shareholders now have another 11 days to decide whether to accept SIA's offer of 41 cents a share after the national carrier announced on Monday it is extending its offer to 5.30pm on Jan 8.

    Blue chips were mixed amid lacklustre trading and few leads.

    Among banking stocks, DBS was flat at $16.72, OCBC Bank gained two cents to $8.85 and United Overseas Bank dropped four cents to $19.55.

    Property stocks were similarly mixed. CapitaLand added three cents to $3.38, City Developments was unchanged at $7.75 and Hong Kong Land slipped 10 US cents to US$6.91.