Singapore shares ease only marginally despite big drop on Wall Street

SINGAPORE - The benchmark Straits Times Index closed 7.11 points or 0.21 per cent lower to 3,318.70, after gaining for two straight days. The modest fall followed a 1.51 per cent drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average the previous day, which has been attributed to the relentless fall in oil prices.

With Saudi Arabia's petroleum minister Ali Al-Naimi yesterday refusing to cut oil production, sentiments over energy and related plays in Singapore were again shaken.

Ezion closed three cents lower at $1.08, SembCorp Marine lost two cents to close at $2.90, while Keppel Corp went down 13 cents to $8.21.

Further weakness is likely, NRA Capital cautioned in a report: "Though many consider the selling to be overdone, the lack of support and buying interest will likely exaggerate the falls."

Offshore marine equipment and service provider Beng Kuang Marine closed flat at 20 cents. This followed a 13.1 per cent drop that drew a trade with caution warning from the Singapore Exchange.

Responding to SGX queries, the company said it is unaware of what caused the unusual price movement.

Meanwhile, Popular saw its shares drop one cent cents to 23 cents, as investors reacted to its announcement on Oct 10 of an 8 per cent on-year fall in revenue for its second quarter ended Oct 31.

The book retailer and property group is expecting difficulties in moving its property units amid the government cooling measures.

Also in the spotlight was internet-based investment platform iFAST Corporation, which made its mainboard debut with a 1.5 cent gain to close at $1.01.