Volatile session for Singapore bourses, STI ends 2 points lower

The Straits Times Index closed down 0.06 per cent or 1.86 points on April 20, 2016.
The Straits Times Index closed down 0.06 per cent or 1.86 points on April 20, 2016.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore shares see-sawed in volatile trading on Wednesday, closing a tad lower after shaving earlier losses led by a pull-back in oil and a sell-off in Chinese equities.

The Straits Times Index closed down 0.06 per cent or 1.86 points to 2,949.95. It lost as much as 20.71 points or 0.7 per cent late afternoon, dragged down by CapitaLand, which slipped 1.6 per cent or five cents to S$3.17, and Keppel Corp, which fell 1.3 per cent or eight cents to S$5.99. Singtel dipped 0.3 per cent or one cent to S$3.95, with 31.6 million.

OCBC Investment Research, which has a buy call on CapitaLand, noted that the group posted a 35.4 per cent to S$218.3 million for the first quarter, due mainly to the divestment of a property in Beijing.

"Overall, we judge this quarter's numbers to be broadly in line with expectations. The group's Chinese home sales continued at a healthy clip with 3,377 units sold in the first quarter, up a whopping 3 times versus 1,306 units in first quarter last year, while operating performance at its Chinese mall portfolio remained steady," OCBC said.

Concerns that improving Chinese economic data may slow the government's hand at further stimulus sent Shanghai down 2.3 per cent, Shenzhen off 4.4 per cent, and weighed on bourses across Asia.

Traders say the selloff may have been triggered by one of China's top central bank economists, Ma Jun, who had told the People's Bank of China's official newspaper that monetary policymakers will rein in excessive borrowing by companies and individuals.

News that Kuwaiti oil workers ended a three-day strike sent oil prices in retreat, which in turn weighed on oil and gas-related counters.

Sembcorp Marine gained 1.9 per cent 3.5 cents to S$1.85 despite news that two drill ships under construction at Jurong Shipyard for Transocean has had their delivery deferred by 24 months to second quarter 2019 and first quarter 2020.

gleong@sph.com.sg