Singapore shares 0.3% lower at midday; Keppel Corp ends 7 days of falls

REUTERS - Shares of Singapore's Keppel Corporation snapped a seven-day losing streak after the world's top jack-up rig builder announced a contract win that boosted hopes the rig ordering cycle would continue, outstripping a slight fall in Singapore's benchmark index.

Keppel shares rose as much as 1.2 per cent to $10.49, pulling away from a near one-month low of $10.30 hit on Tuesday.

The Straits Times Index edged down 0.3 per cent, in line with the MSCI's broadest index of shares outside Japan, which was down 0.1 per cent.

The company won an order for two jack-up drilling rigs, worth US$440 million (S$552 million), from an affiliate of Clearwater Capital Partners, pushing the total year-to-date order wins to $4.8 billion.

"Clearwater's US$440 million order of jack-up rigs for Keppel shows that the current upcycle has yet to hit its climax as asset owners typically lead the trend of newbuild orders," said CIMB analyst Lim Siew Khee in a research note, upholding the"buy" call on the stock and the target price of $12.10.

Noble Group was among the top three performers on the index. Its share price rose 2.2 per cent, its strongest daily gain in two weeks, after the company inked a zinc supply deal with Nyrstar, the world's biggest zinc smelter, and agreed to take a 1 per cent stake in the Belgian company.

The Nyrstar deal came a day after Noble announced its plan to invest US$500 million in a new mining venture led by former executives of miner Xstrata, together with private equity group TPG.