Bulls And Bears

Singapore stocks down on profit-taking

Shares also hit by insufficient cues from what some traders call an 'underwhelming' Budget

Singapore shares closed lower on profit-taking and insufficient cues from what some traders called an "underwhelming" Budget yesterday.

Investors are also assessing prospects for United States President Donald Trump's economic plans and the timing of interest rate hikes.

The key Straits Times Index closed down 10.96 points, or 0.35 per cent, at 3,096.69, weighed down by Jardine Matheson Holdings, which fell US$1.09, or 1.7 per cent, to US$63.86.

Other blue-chip losers - Golden Agri-Resources dipped 0.5 cent, or 1.2 per cent, to 42.5 cents; Hongkong Land sank eight US cents, or 1.2 per cent, to US$6.81 - added to woes.

Wilmar International shed four cents, or 1 per cent, to $3.90, despite posting a 70 per cent year-on-year increase in fourth-quarter net profit to US$560.8 million.

But there was one silver lining.

Construction counters were a Budget beneficiary following news that about $700 million in public-sector infrastructure projects will be brought forward in the next two years.

Construction, property and engineering company Koh Brothers Group rose one cent, or 3.6 per cent, to 29 cents; contractor Tiong Seng edged up 0.5 cent, or 2.2 per cent, to 23 cents; and infrastructure and civil engineering company OKP Holdings gained one cent, or 3.1 per cent, to 33.5 cents.

Companies and sectors grappling with cyclical downturns will get more help in the near term.

"This suggests there may be a new plan to address the needs of the oil and gas sector, but exactly what the plan is remains to be seen," said remisier Alvin Yong.

Offshore marine counters did not react to the news that foreign worker levy increases for the hard-hit marine and process sectors will be deferred for one more year.

Ezion Holdings slid three cents , or 7.9 per cent, to 35 cents after the company issued a profit warning. Due to asset impairments, the company said it would report a loss for the fourth quarter and full year.

Similarly, Charisma Energy slumped 0.2 cent, or 16.7 per cent, to one cent, with 34 millions shares traded. It expects to report a loss for the fourth quarter from an impairment of its oil and gas assets.

The most actively traded counters included DiSa Digital Safety, which was flat at 2.9 cents, with 271 million shares changing hands. DiSa clarified last month that its security technology might soon be used across Walmart stores.

Mercurius Capital Investment was queried by the Singapore Exchange for unusual volume movement, after its stock surged 1.2 cents, or 36.4 per cent, to 4.5 cents, with 70.3 million shares traded.

Meanwhile, Rowsley shed 0.5 cent, or 3.8 per cent, to 12.5 cents after it said it would report a full-year loss due to an impairment of goodwill as well as an impairment of investment value in its British hospitality assets.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 21, 2017, with the headline 'Singapore stocks down on profit-taking'. Print Edition | Subscribe