Singapore shares ended lower, in line with most of Asia, with most investors sidelined ahead of the United States' September payrolls data out this morning and the second US presidential debate on Monday.
The Straits Times Index closed 0.35 per cent or 9.98 points lower at 2,875.24, but was up 0.2 per cent for the week. Singtel dragged on the bourse, losing 1.7 per cent or seven cents to $3.95; HongKong Land slipped 1.3 per cent or nine cents to $6.87; Singapore Press Holdings shed 1.3 per cent or five cents to $3.82, and ComfortDelGro dipped 1.1 per cent or three cents to $2.79.
Bucking the trend, DBS Group Holdings gained three cents or 0.2 per cent to $15.42.
OCBC Investment Research, which has a buy call on DBS, said it believes most of the negatives have been priced in with the recent correction in banking counters. So far this year, DBS has shed 7.7 per cent, while United Overseas Bank is down 3.9 per cent and OCBC has slipped 1.1 per cent. The brokerage said: "Loans growth is likely to be in the low single-digit level for this year and GDP growth is likely to come in below 2 per cent. Together with the local banks' exposure to the oil and gas, commodity, property, Chinese and European loans, this has weakened the outlook for the local banks... With the Singapore economy heading to slower growth, coupled with slow loans growth and low interest rates, banking stocks have underperformed the STI."
The market is also watching the responses of four Federal Reserve officials, including vice-chair Stanley Fischer, following the release of the jobs report. Oanda senior market analyst Craig Erlam said: "Their response to the report could have a big impact on whether the markets are still buying into a rate hike this year, or whether expectations once again get pushed back to 2017."
Noble Group remained the most actively traded stock, gaining 0.5 per cent or 0.1 cent to 19.2 cents with 355.5 million shares traded. Ezra Holdings dipped 3.2 per cent or 0.2 cent to six cents, with 86.7 million shares traded. Ying Li International jumped 14.5 per cent or 2.2 cents to 17.4 cents, with nearly 49 million shares traded.
OCBC Investment Research, which has a neutral call on the oil and gas sector, said news of Opec's move about agreeing on the outline of a deal in Algiers was encouraging, but it is still unclear how the agreement may be implemented.
Still, this could help deter short-selling in oil, offering some support and alleviating downward pressure on oil and gas stocks.
"There could be some oil price volatility, should there be signs that certain members are starting to get cold feet," the brokerage warned.
Ezion Holdings gained 1.47 per cent or 0.5 cent to 34.5 cents, with 71 million shares traded; Keppel Corp edged up 0.2 per cent or one cent to $5.46, while Sembcorp Marine dipped 0.4 per cent or 0.5 cent to $1.32.