Singapore shares ease on profit taking

SINGAPORE - The local market gave up some of its recent gains after hitting a new 52-week high a day earlier.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed 4.94 points or 0.14 per cent down at 3,460.68. This followed a marginal 0.03 per cent drop at Wall Street overnight.

"Overall activities on the blue chips was quiet, due partly to the money flowing to Shanghai and Hong Kong, so there's not enough push for STI after Tuesday's high," remisier Desmond Leong said.

Shanghai rose 0.84 per cent to hit another new seven-year high, while Hong Kong was up 3.8 per cent - its biggest gain in over three years.

Small and mid cap plays were at the centre of investor attention, Mr Leong added.

The FTSE Catalist Index had risen by 9.85 per cent to 723.99 yesterday since hitting its 52-week low on March 19, while the FTSE Small Cap Index also gained 3.78 per cent over the same period to 489.81.

The best performing mid caps yesterday were the China-related plays, including SIIC Environment, which went up 10.53 per cent yesterday to close at 18.9 cents, and China Everbright, which closed 6.42 per cent higher at 99.5 cents.

On the STI, the top gainers were ComfortDelGro and Sembcorp Industries (SCI). ComfortDelGro rose five cents or 1.73 per cent to $2.94, as investors came back to the counter after it dipped to a recent low at $2.86 last week.

SCI closed six cents or 1.38 per cent up at $4.42, and another energy-related play Keppel Corp also went up seven cents or 0.77 per cent to $9.15.

Banking stocks had another good run, with OCBC Bank rising three cents or 0.28 per cent to $10.68. DBS Group Holdings gained 15 cents or 0.74 per cent to $20.47, while United Overseas Bank closed four cents or 0.17 per cent higher at $23.47.

Noble Group dipped 2.5 cents or 2.67 per cent to 91 cents. Singtel dropped four cents or 0.9 per cent to $4.38, after announcing that it will acquire a 98 per cent stake in US-based cyber security firm Trustwave.

"The drop was probably just investors selling off on the news. If structured correctly, the (acquisition of Trustwave) will create long term synergy for SingTel," Mr Leong noted.