Noble Group shares fall to 7-year low amid commodity rout, criticism

Shares of Noble Group fell to their lowest level since 2008 in Singapore trading.
Shares of Noble Group fell to their lowest level since 2008 in Singapore trading.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Shares of Noble Group fell to their lowest level since 2008 in Singapore trading as Asia's largest commodity trader by revenue battles a slump in resource prices and criticism of its accounting.

The stock fell as much as 6.9 per cent to 60.5 cents, the lowest since December 2008, the year a crisis in US mortgage markets froze global credit flows. Noble's outside public relations firm said the company had no immediate response to questions about its stock decline.

"If there's a sustained decline in commodity prices, that will definitely have an impact on Noble," said Bernard Aw, a Singapore-based strategist at IG Ltd.

The plunge comes on the day crude oil neared a bear market with West Texas Intermediate dropping below US$50 a barrel, gold holding near five-year lows, and Goldman Sachs saying Chinese demand growth for copper will slow to the least in two decades. In addition, Iceberg Research, an anonymous group that has criticized Noble's accounting practices since February, issued its latest report two days ago, rejecting the trading firm's moves to address its critics as inadequate.

Noble Group, which says Iceberg's criticisms are without merit, earlier hired PricewaterhouseCoopers to review how it values some of its assets.

"Investors will probably remain cautious until the PWC report is out," Aw said.

Noble recovered to trade at 62.5 cents, down 3.9 per cent, as of 12:11 p.m. local time. The local benchmark Straits Times Index benchmark was up 0.4 per cent at the same time.