Singapore shares missed out on region wide rally

SINGAPORE - Local shares remained on a bumpy road and ended lower on Friday after a strong rebound on Thursday. This came as regional markets continued their rally amid the calmer sentiments around the timing of Federal Reserve's rate hike.

Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index was down 1.92 points or 0.07 per cent to 2,917.91, while ending the volatile week with a 0.27 per cent decline.

Singapore was the only major Asian markets that failed to rally. Shanghai rose 0.37 per cent, Hong Kong was up 1.13 per cent, Kuala Lumpur gained 0.11 per cent, and Tokyo closed up 0.1 per cent. Investors were still cheering the very strong hint by the Fed this week that rate hike will start next month.

But the lull at home reflected the still uncertain mood among local investors. On the STI, only 10 counters gained, with Hutchison Port Holdings Trust rising one US cent or 1.9 per cent to 53.5 US cents.

StarHub was up five cents or 1.4 per cent at $3.63, and its competitor SingTel put on two cents or 0.52 per cent to close at $3.89.

The market highlight, however, remained Spackman Entertainment outside the STI. The film company was the top active counter yesterday with 58 million shares changing hands. It rose for the third straight day, gaining another 0.6 cents or 4.05 per cent to 15.4 cents.

"I think investors are still giddy over the box office results of its film The Priests. The film has broken even and the street expectations are that Spackman is getting pure profit on ticket sales now," remisier Desmond Leong said.

Back on the STI, Noble was the top losing counter, down one cent or 2.35 per cent to 41.5 cents, while Sembcorp Marine pared five cents or 2.28 per cent to $2.14.

Noble's share prices have continued to weaken in the weeks that followed its third quarter results briefing, despite its announcement of a positive cash flow and reduced debt level.

In a statement on Friday, rating agency Fitch Ratings said Noble has sufficient liquidity to cover its short-term commitments in the next 12 months, including the repayment of the US$458 million senior notes due within the first half of next year. This supports Noble's BBB- rating, which is still at investment grade.