Light trading ahead of US Fed rate decision, STI closes half a point up

SINGAPORE - Local shares see-sawed in light trading ahead of the decision on United States interest rates Thursday morning.

The benchmark Straits Times Index closed Tuesday a smidgeon up 0.02 per cent or 0.48 points to 2,815.52, with just 851.8 million shares worth S$780.1 million changing hands.

Singtel weighed down on the index, falling 0.8 per cent or three cents to S$3.76.

Meanwhile, UOB fell 0.37 per cent or seven cents to S$19.09.

Gainers include City Development gained nearly 3 per cent or 21 cents to S$7.24, while Wilmar, which jumped 2.15 per cent or six cents to S$2.85.

DBS Group Research, which spotlighted Wilmar as its top pick in the sector, said a possible drop in palm oil output and a potential boost in US biodiesel demand may support palm oil prices.

Penny stocks continued to hog the limelight, with MMP Resources, formerly Sino Construction, surging more than 18 per cent or 0.2 cents to 1.3 cents, with 28.1 million shares traded.

The renewables energy player announced it has significantly reduced its debt following a restructuring that began in February.

The company also said it plans to transfer to the Catalist board.

"Shifting to Catalist means they don't have to comply with SGX's 20 cent minimum trading price rule," remisier Alvin Yong said.

Other actively traded pennies include Attilan Group, formerly known as Asiasons Capital, which plunged 20 per cent or 0.1 cents to 0.4 cents, with 14.3 million shares traded.

A slight rebound in crude prices helped boost oil-related plays, with Rex International rising 2.4 per cent or 0.2 cents to 8.7 cents and Ezion climbing 2.7 per cent or 1.5 cents to 57 cents.

DBS Group Research, which reiterated a buy call on Ezion, cited a recovery in earnings with the resumption of service rigs under repair/upgrades next year, liftboat deliveries and a more diversified customer base to win new charter contracts.

gleong@sph.com.sg