Singapore shares ease after benchmark index hits 52-week high

SINGAPORE - A lull has settled in on the local market, missing out on a potential lift by Wall Street which performed strongly overnight.

The benchmark Straits Times Index closed 7.25 points or 0.21 per cent down at 3,447.01, snapping the six day gain since March 23 that pushed the index to a new full-year high at 3,454.26 on Monday this week.

This is a contrast to the Dow in the United States, which overnight posted its biggest daily gain since Feb 3.

Investors are selling off on the recent high, remisier Desmond Leong told the Straits Times.

"The 3,460 level is also the previous highs so there's a resistance level and it's normal to see people taking profit now. The market in the next few days will remain similarly quiet."

All three banks were hit by profit-taking. UOB closed 23 cents or 0.99 per cent down at $23, while OCBC dropped eight cents or 0.75 per cent to $10.57. DBS also closed two cents or 0.1 per cent down at $20.36.

On the other end of STI, Hongkong Land was the blue chip that rose the most, closing 13 US cents or 1.75 per cent up at US$7.55.

Starhub also closed six cents or 1.4 per cent up at $4.35, while Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust (Reit) rose three cents or 1.17 per cent to close at $2.59, following announcement that it has acquired a multi-tenanted building in Singapore Science Park II for $112 million.

Beyond the STI, the small and mid-cap stocks have staged a mini rally over the past week, with FTSE Catalist Index rising by 6.13 per cent to 699.51 today after hitting a full-year low on March 19.

The best performer of the lot of Sino Construction, which shot up 1.2 cent or 34.29 per cent to 4.7 cents. The company announced on March 30 a share placement that would raise $6.5 million from four investors.

Overseas markets were a mixed bag. Shanghai dropped 1.02 per cent as investors exited for profit after the Chinese benchmark hit its highest since March 2008 earlier this week. Hong Kong rose 0.18 per cent while Tokyo lost 1.05 per cent.