Impending ECB stimulus, Fed rate rise sideline investors, STI closes flat

SINGAPORE - Singapore shares were stuck in a sideways gait, with investors sidelined ahead of the much-awaited European Central Bank (ECB) decision on further stimulus measures. The market is also digesting Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen's comments, which hinted that the United States economy was ready for a lift-off this month.

The Straits Times Index closed flat, up 0.01 per cent or 0.25 points to 2,883.89.

"One objective of the ECB's €1.1 trillion asset purchase programme (APP) is to keep the Euro-zone's safe haven assets at relatively low rates in order to push portfolio investors into risk assets and other currencies, thereby boosting growth," IG market strategist Bernard Aw said.

Penny plays continued to rule the roost. Alliance Mineral Assets got hit with a trading query over unusual volume movements in its shares yesterday. The stock gained 3.4 per cent or 0.5 cents to 15.2 cents, with 75.5 million shares traded.

Sunmoon Food got hit with a trade with caution after it said it was not aware of reasons to explain the substantial increase in its traded volume on Thursday. The stock skyrocketed 42 per cent or 2.5 cents to 8.4 cents, with 63.7 million shares traded.

Sincap Group was another punters' favourite. The stock soared 21 per cent or 1.3 cents to 7.4 cents, with 56.1 million shares traded. This after it announced last Friday that terms of a settlement over irregularities relating to certain loan transactions undertaken by Australian unit SCL Murray are being finalised.

The settlement is expected to be signed today.Rowsley jumped nearly 7 per cent or 1.2 cents to 18.4 cents, with 53.9 million shares traded after a management and board shakeup. The moves announced Monday come as Singapore tycoon Peter Lim sought to speed up transformation of the firm into a major real estate player.

Mr Ng Ser Miang was succeeding Mr Chiang Chie Foo, the chairman and non-executive non-independent director. Mr Chiang will take on the role of adviser at Mr Lim's investment company Meriton, which owns Valencia Football Club.

Medical and agricultural investor Trendlines jumped 11.8 per cent or 4 cents to 38 cents, with 30.9 million shares traded. The Catalist's 100th listing debuted Nov 26 with an offer price of 33 cents.

gleong@sph.com.sg