Bulls And Bears

Falling crude prices send oil stocks skidding

Wall Street rally, spurred by rebound in commodities, fails to excite S'pore punters

Singapore shares lost ground yesterday for the second consecutive session amid a strengthening Japanese yen and falling oil prices.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) slid 8.28 points, or 0.3 per cent, to 2,732.87, despite Wall Street rising 1.3 per cent overnight - its biggest gain in two months - in line with a rebound in commodities.

Markets elsewhere in the region were a mixed bag.

Tokyo was flat, inching up just 0.1 per cent to reverse earlier gains on the back of a stronger yen, while Shanghai climbed 0.2 per cent as bargain-hunters closed in on consumer and healthcare stocks.

Hong Kong slipped 0.9 per cent, weighed down by persistent worries over China's economic recovery, Seoul pared 0.1 per cent, Sydney rose 0.6 per cent and Kuala Lumpur added 0.5 per cent.

"There aren't many fundamental drivers to push shares much higher," Mr Bernard Aw, market strategist at IG, told Bloomberg.

"Corporate earnings haven't been positive and there's uncertainty as to whether the Federal Reserve will raise rates soon."

Two of the Big Three local banks were a major drag on the STI yesterday, with DBS Group Holdings falling 13 cents or 0.9 per cent to $14.67 and United Overseas Bank losing 17 cents or 1 per cent to $17.56.

OCBC Bank, on the other hand, edged up three cents or 0.4 per cent to $8.33.

Wilmar International, the world's largest palm oil trader, was one of the biggest losers, slumping 12 cents or 3.5 per cent to $3.29.

This came as the group, which on Tuesday reported a 3.2 per cent increase in first-quarter net profit to US$239.4 million (S$327 million), warned of challenging operating conditions in the coming months.

An OCBC Investment Research note said it maintains a "hold" rating on the stock, but has placed its $3.34 fair value under review.

Oil and gas-related plays closed weaker as crude prices dipped: Sembcorp Marine slid two cents or 1.3 per cent to $1.52 and Keppel Corporation retreated six cents or 1.2 per cent to $5.12.

Singapore Airlines was among the top blue-chip gainers, advancing 31 cents or 2.7 per cent to $11.65, while Thai Beverage grew two cents or 2.7 per cent to 76.5 cents.

Outside of the STI, upstream energy group Loyz Energy jumped 0.1 cent or 3.8 per cent to 2.7 cents.

The company announced in the morning that it will welcome a new controlling shareholder and has made changes to its board and management team to "better weather the current challenging environment in its upstream oil and gas business".

Commodity trader Noble Group was the day's most heavily traded counter, with a turnover of 76.7 million units. The stock fell one cent or 2.8 per cent to 35 cents.

A total of 1.01 billion shares worth $1.1 billion across the bourse changed hands.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2016, with the headline 'Falling crude prices send oil stocks skidding'. Print Edition | Subscribe