Singapore shares slip marginally over unease at US economy

SINGAPORE - The local stock market closed marginally lower, as investors reacted to the fresh worrying signs pointing to a slowing recovery in the United States.

The benchmark Straits Times Index (STI) closed 0.84 point or 0.02 per cent down at 3,452.91, after a choppy day during which the index went as high as 3,457.97.

The drop came after the US reported last Friday that only 126,000 jobs were created in March. The figure significantly undershot the 12-month average of 269,000 jobs, casting shadow over the economic outlook for the nation.

Today's top STI gainers included Jardine Strategic Holdings, which closed 56 US cents or 1.6 per cent up at US$35.51, and Golden Agri-Resources, which went up half cent or 1.16 per cent to close at 43.50 cents as sentiments over the commodity firm was partly lifted by the weaker US dollar.

Offshore and energy blue chip Sembcorp Marine notched a two cents or 0.69 per cent increase, closing at $2.92. Keppel Corp also closed two cents or 0.22 per cent up at $8.97 per cent.

The sector's gain came after crude oil futures gained around 3 per cent overnight, as Saudi Arabia announced price raise for sales to Asia, indicating improvement in demand.

On the other end of the benchmark, Ascendas Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) lost the most, closing four cents or 1.54 per cent lower at $2.56. Profit taking might be behind the drop, as investors cashed out on the counter's full-year high at $2.60 last week.

Hongkong Land also closed nine cents or 1.17 per cent down at US$7.59, and Genting Singapore had another poor outing today, dropping one cent or 1.05 per cent to 94 cents.

Property plays including Wing Tai and Ho Bee rose strongly yesterday on market expectations that they might be privatised soon. Wing Tai closed 18.5 cents or 9.61 per cent higher at $2.11, while Ho Bee gained 10 cents or 4.63 per cent to close at $2.26.