BULLS AND BEARS

Market dips as investors await US data

Traders cautious ahead of Opec meeting and US payroll and unemployment figures

Singapore shares ended a tad lower yesterday as investors held off ahead of key United States data this week and an absence of leads from Wall Street, which was closed for Monday's Memorial Day holiday.

The Straits Times Index lost 5.76 points or 0.21 per cent to 2,796.75, dragged down by Singtel, which dipped 0.8 per cent or three cents to $3.90.

Traders are not expected to take major positions ahead of the Opec (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) meeting on Thursday and the release of US payroll and unemployment data on Friday.

Sentiment turned cautious after Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen suggested that an interest rate hike may be around the corner.

Noble Group was among the most actively traded stocks. It lost 8.2 per cent or 2.5 cents to 28 cents on news of the resignation of chief executive Yusuf Alireza. About 131.6 million shares changed hands.

The commodity trader also said it will sell Noble Americas Energy Solutions (NAES) to raise cash to strengthen its balance sheet - less than a month after Mr Alireza described the unit as one of the core assets it wanted to keep.

DBS Group Research, which has a hold call, said the "exact impact on Noble's financials from the sale of NAES is still unclear, given Noble has never disclosed the earnings contribution for NAES and its selling price is yet uncertain".

"While the sale of NAES will strengthen Noble's balance sheet, we believe investors will remain cautious on the stock until Noble is able to achieve positive operating/ free cash flows on a sustained basis," DBS said.

Genting Singapore rebounded after being sold down in recent weeks, closing up 3.4 per cent or 2.5 cents at 76 cents, with 23.6 million shares traded. Genting's first-quarter total gross gaming revenue market share of 46 per cent was its highest since the fourth-quarter of 2014.

UOB KayHian, which has a buy call on the casino operator, noted: "We share management's confidence in how provisions would fall significantly in the second half of the year. Genting is eyeing better capital management... Genting has tightened its credit term from 90 days to 30 days since March."

Other hotly traded stocks included Ipco International, which jumped by 25 per cent or 0.1 cents to 0.5 cents, with 37.1 million shares traded.

Cedar Strategic fell by 25 per cent or 0.1 cents to 0.3 cents on trade of 32.6 million shares, while Terratech soared by 13 per cent or 0.6 cents to 5.2 cents with 30.4 million shares traded.

Cityneon jumped by five cents or 6.8 per cent to a six-year high at 79 cents after a spate of upgrades by analysts. DBS Group Research, which has a buy call, said the event services provider has a "scalable business model with low execution risk".

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2016, with the headline 'Market dips as investors await US data'. Print Edition | Subscribe