Bulls And Bears

S'pore shares drift lower as oil prices slip

Local stocks stuck in range-bound trade amid worries that Opec could raise output further

Singapore shares drifted downwards yesterday as oil prices eased ahead of a policy meeting today of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec).

The Straits Times Index fell 0.02 per cent or 0.52 point to 2,790.54, weighed down by OCBC, which lost 0.58 per cent or five cents to $8.57.

Keppel Corp fell 1.7 per cent or nine cents to $5.29; ST Engineering lost 2.2 per cent or seven cents to $3.16 and Singapore Exchange shed 1.4 per cent or 11 cents to $7.64.

Local stocks were stuck in range-bound trade after oil prices slipped on concerns China's slowdown may crimp demand and that Opec could keep raising output.

Analysts said Opec could continue to focus on defending market share instead of curbing output after a recent rebound in oil prices.

"May is one of the quieter months," remisier Desmond Leong said. "The market is stuck in a wait and see mode, waiting for the outcome of the Opec meeting."

Lower oil prices dragged down oil and offshore marine counters. Among the most actively traded were Ezra Holdings, which slipped 1.5 per cent or 0.1 cent to 6.4 cents, with 40.6 million shares traded. Sembcorp Marine lost nearly 1 per cent or 1.5 cents to $1.54 and Sembcorp Industries dipped 0.7 per cent or two cents to $2.77.

Penny stocks were again in play, with Cedar Strategic plunging 33.3 per cent or 0.1 cent to 0.2 cent, on 291.6 million shares traded. Noble Group fell 3.4 per cent or one cent to 28.5 cents, on 41.7 million shares traded; and Ipco International dived 20 per cent or 0.1 cent to 0.4 cent, with 38.9 million shares traded.

Unusual price movements in the shares of Yeo Hiap Seng drew a trading query from the Singapore Exchange. The food and beverage company jumped 13.4 per cent or 17.5 cents to $1.485.

Meanwhile, offshore support services firm Technics Oil & Gas has asked for a trading suspension after the firm and its unit Technics Offshore Engineering said they had applied to the High Court to place the firms under judicial management.

"This could be quite demoralising for those who bought on contra on May 27 because they now have to pay for the stock they bought. And they are stuck holding the stock because it is suspended," Mr Leong said. Contra trading refers to the buying and selling of shares without upfront cash.

Jumbo Group rose two cents or 3.7 per cent to 55.5 cents, after DBS Group Research initiated coverage of the seafood restaurant operator with a buy call. "Jumbo is growing quickly in Singapore and China... generating decent cash flows, is in net cash, and will reel in stronger growth if it secures a master franchisee for its brands in China outside Shanghai," DBS said. "New stores are planned for Riverside Jumbo Seafood, Jumbo Seafood and Bak Kut Teh outlets... Longer-term growth opportunities include mergers and acquisitions with other F&B food service chains regionally."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore shares drift lower as oil prices slip'. Print Edition | Subscribe