Bulls And Bears

Shares see-saw as Fed decision time nears

STI weighed down by Singtel; penny stocks continue to hog the limelight

Local shares see-sawed in light trading ahead of the decision on United States interest rates tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed a smidgeon up 0.02 per cent or 0.48 point to 2,815.52, with just 851.8 million shares worth $780.1 million changing hands.

Singtel weighed down on the index, falling 0.8 per cent or three cents to $3.76.

Meanwhile, UOB fell 0.37 per cent or seven cents to $19.09.

Gainers included City Developments, which jumped nearly 3 per cent or 21 cents to $7.24, and Wilmar, which moved up 2.15 per cent or six cents to $2.85.

DBS Group Research, which spotlighted Wilmar as its top pick in the sector, said a possible drop in palm oil output and a potential boost in US biodiesel demand may support palm oil prices.

Penny stocks continued to hog the limelight, with MMP Resources, formerly Sino Construction, surging more than 18 per cent or 0.2 cent to 1.3 cents, with 28.1 million shares traded.

The renewable energy player announced it has significantly reduced its debt following a restructuring that began in February.

The company also said it plans to transfer to the Catalist board.

"Shifting to Catalist means they don't have to comply with SGX's 20 cent minimum trading price rule," remisier Alvin Yong said.

Other actively traded pennies included Attilan Group, formerly known as Asiasons Capital, which plunged 20 per cent or 0.1 cent to 0.4 cent, with 14.3 million shares traded.

A slight rebound in crude prices helped boost oil-related plays, with Rex International rising 2.4 per cent or 0.2 cent to 8.7 cents and Ezion climbing 2.7 per cent or 1.5 cents to 57 cents.

DBS Group Research, which reiterated a buy call on Ezion, cited a recovery in earnings with the resumption of service rigs under repair/upgrades next year, liftboat deliveries and a more diversified customer base to win new charter contracts.

But Ezra slipped 1 per cent or 0.1 cent to 9.5 cents with 30.7 million shares traded.

Cosco, the shipbuilding arm of China's China Ocean Shipping Group, extended declines yesterday after the company said it will post a "significant net loss" in the fourth quarter. It fell 6.6 per cent or two cents to 28.5 cents, with 11.2 million shares traded.

Cosco resumed trading on Monday after a four-month halt as its parent had been in talks to merge with China Shipping Group.

The planned combination was announced on Friday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 16, 2015, with the headline 'Shares see-saw as Fed decision time nears'. Print Edition | Subscribe