Singapore shares ended in negative territory as increasingly bellicose talk between the United States and North Korea prompted investors to take money off the table, while traders trimmed positions ahead of the weekend.
The Straits Times Index sank 1.31 per cent or 43.52 points to 3,279.72, down 1.4 per cent for the week. Singapore banks led the decline, with DBS Group shedding 2.2 per cent or 46 cents to $20.80; OCBC Bank fell 12 cents or 1.1 per cent to $11.20; United Overseas Bank Group lost 1.3 per cent or 33 cents to $24.20.
Wilmar International slipped 6.4 per cent or 22 cents to $3.20; Hongkong Land lost 2.1 per cent or 16 US cents to US$7.34.
CMC Markets analyst Margaret Yang said: "It looks like a technical correction, but if there's more bad news in the days to come, or if geopolitical tensions escalate, this short-term correction could become a major correction for stock markets here and globally.
"Year to date, the markets are sitting on huge unrealised gains, so investors are taking profit now."
City Developments fell 4.5 per cent or 53 cents to $11.14, after posting a 17.9 per cent fall in net profit for the second quarter. It announced a CEO-designate, Mr Sherman Kwek, after Mr Grant Kelley resigned yesterday. However, Mr Kelley will remain with the company until year end.
Among the most actively traded counters was Noble Group, which jumped 18.6 per cent or 6.5 cents to 41.5 cents, on trade of 45.1 million shares. This, after it posted a second-quarter loss of US$1.75 billion and US$1.2 billion of one-off charges on Thursday, and warning that it faced its steepest quarterly loss in a year-and-a-half, and would slash jobs and sell assets to cut debt.
"There was no new ground-breaking fear factor that was revealed," said Mr Nicholas Teo, trading strategist at KGI Securities. "Most of the bad news is already in the price."
Said a dealer: "Sell the rumour and buy the news. After all, the company had warned about this loss in June. It's noteworthy that many brokers have zero lending value on stock, meaning you cannot purchase the stock on leverage."
ST Engineering eased 12 cents or 3.1 per cent at $3.70 after it reported a 12 per cent decline in net profit for the second quarter, due to losses in the marine division.
But it wasn't all doom and gloom, as some counters bucked the downtrend. SBS Transit jumped 2.7 per cent or seven cents to $2.66. This comes after it posted a 75.3 per cent jump in second-quarter net profit to $12.7 million, fuelled by better margins from the bus contracting model and higher rail ridership.
Venture Corp continued its meteoric ascent, gaining 1.3 per cent or 20 cents to $15.80, after a final reading of Singapore's gross domestic product yesterday showed the economy grew at a faster pace than expected in the second quarter as manufacturing grew at a robust rate.