Singapore shares end lower on disappointing global economic data

SINGAPORE - A late bout of selling caused the local market to close below the psychological support level of 3,400 on Thursday.

The Straits Times Index (STI) dropped 20.3 points or 0.6 per cent to 3,395.3.

Turnover in the market stood at $934 million with 1.2 billion shares traded, below the daily average of some $1.2 billion seen earlier this week.

Shares were in negative territory for most of the trading session, but were limited in their declines until the final minutes of trade where the benchmark index ended at the intra-day low.

A combination of downbeat global economic developments and disappointing corporate earnings led to the fall.

China announced at the start of its annual National People's Congress on Thursday that it would lower its aspirational growth target to 7 per cent, down from 7.5 per cent previously.

Jobs data released on Wednesday from payrolls company ADP showed 212,000 private jobs were added in the United States last month, below expectations for a rise of 220,000.

"It was really the macroeconomic factors that weighed down the market, which was already weaker initially because of the US jobs figures," said remisier Alvin Yong.

"There was also disappointment over the China announcement for a slower economy, so it seems to be a case of the market moving two steps forward and one step back recently."

The 30 STI constituent stocks remained unchanged following a quarterly review, said the Singapore Press Holdings, the Singapore Exchange and the FTSE Group.

And it was the usual suspects that impacted the STI, with large swings from the Jardine group of companies and the banks.

Jardine Matheson was the top loser, down 98 US cents to US$64.66 while Jardine Strategic was next in line as it lost 42 US cents to US$35.11.

Both companies reported their earnings after markets closed.

Jardine Strategic's full-year underlying profit was unchanged from a year ago at US$1.6 billion while Jardine Matheson's full-year underlying profit rose by just 2 per cent to US$1.5 billion.