Singapore shares finished lower on the last trading day of the month and quarter, on worries over Deutsche Bank's financial health and after 10 hedge funds cut their exposure to Germany's largest bank.
The Straits Times Index ended 0.56 per cent or 16.24 points lower at 2,869.47, but added 0.4 per cent for the week. The bourse was dragged down primarily by Singtel, which dipped 1.2 per cent or five cents to $3.97. DBS Group Holdings dipped 0.6 per cent or nine cents to $15.39, United Overseas Bank lost 0.7 per cent or 13 cents to $18.83 and OCBC shed 0.3 per cent or three cents to $8.65.
"There was no month-end window dressing as investors took the opportunity to de-risk and move into safer assets," a dealer said.
News that 10 hedge funds are withdrawing from Deutsche Bank sparked questions on whether the financial giant will need a bailout.
Investors are also fretting over whether the bank will be able to afford a looming fine of up to US$14 billion (S$19 billion) imposed by the United States Department of Justice, for trading in toxic mortgages a decade ago. Deutsche has already shelled out billions of dollars for manipulating global interest rates and rigging foreign exchange markets.
With SMRT Corp soon to be delisted, ComfortDelGro, one of two listed public transport companies left, dropped 1.7 per cent or five cents to $2.81. RHB, which has a buy call on ComfortDelGro, cited its "potential to generate strong operating cash flow and deliver steady earnings growth despite a weak environment in Singapore, thanks to its profitable public transport businesses in the UK and Australia".
SMRT rose 2.5 cents or 1.5 per cent to $1.68 after shareholders voted in favour of Temasek Holdings' buyout at that same level - $1.68 a share. RHB, which has a neutral call on the rail operator, said its train business would "struggle to make strong profits in the near term amid rising operations cost". The brokerage added: "SMRT will have limited headroom to grow revenue as fares continue to be determined by Public Transport Council."
Pennies continued to rule the roost. The most actively traded was Noble Group, which lost 5 per cent or 0.8 cent to 15.2 cents, with 170.9 million shares changing hands. Alliance Mineral Assets jumped 12.2 per cent or 1.3 cents to 12 cents, with 118.1 million shares traded. AsiaMedic fell nearly 15 per cent or 1.3 cents to 7.4 cents, with 77.1 million shares traded.
Energy-related plays eased on profit-taking as oil pulled back after rising about 6 per cent on Opec's surprise consensus on its first output cut in eight years.
Keppel Corp lost 0.6 per cent or three cents to $5.39, Ezra shed 8.1 per cent or 0.5 cent to 5.7 cents, with 79.1 million shares traded, Ezion dipped 3.5 per cent or one cent to 27.5 cents, Ausgroup was flat at 5.2 cents with 31.6 million shares traded and Sembcorp Marine eased 1.9 per cent or 2.5 cents to $1.305.