Singapore shares ended lower yesterday, weighed down by weak oil prices and a sell-off in banks on uncertainty over the interest rate hike outlook after mixed messages from two Fed presidents.
The Straits Times Index lost 0.52 per cent or 16.76 points to 3,230.42, weighed down by Jardine Matheson Holdings (JMH), Hongkong Land, the banks and Thai Beverage.
JMH slipped 1.8 per cent or US$1.16 to US$64.10; Hongkong Land fell 2.2 per cent or 17 US cents to US$7.41; and Thai Beverage shed 1.7 per cent or 1.5 cents to 88.5 cents.
Investors are watching for further clues to the pace of interest rate hikes following comments from New York Fed president William Dudley. He said on Monday he expects inflation to rise faster, allowing the Fed to further tighten monetary policy. But Chicago Fed president Charles Evans then gave dovish comments suggesting the Fed could wait till December before the next rate hike due to soft inflation.
Local banks fell. DBS Group Holdings shed 0.7 per cent or 15 cents to $20.45; United Overseas Bank lost 0.7 per cent or 17 cents to $23.05; and OCBC Group dipped 0.3 per cent or three cents to $10.64.
Meanwhile, investors are awaiting US index publisher MSCI's decision (due at 4.30am today, Singapore time) on whether to include China A shares in its emerging markets index. The inclusion is expected to be beneficial in terms of capital flows. This will be China's fourth attempt at MSCI inclusion.
Local oil and gas plays lost ground after oil price sank to a seven- month low, on more signs that rising output in the US, Libya and Nigeria is undercutting Opec-led efforts to support the market.
Keppel Corp dipped 0.3 per cent or two cents to $6.29; Sembcorp Industries lost 0.3 per cent or one cent to $3.09; and KrisEnergy shed 1.7 per cent or 0.2 cent to 11.4 cents.
Among the most actively traded penny stocks, Sincap jumped 12.5 per cent or 0.2 cent to 1.8 cents, with 174.6 million shares traded; Disa lost 8.7 per cent or 0.2 cent to 2.1 cents, with 124.9 million shares traded; while LifeBrandz gained 6 per cent or 0.3 cent to 5.3 cents, with 54.6 million shares traded.
Dyna-Mac Holdings gained 3.6 per cent or 0.5 cent to 14.5 cents, after it secured $30 million worth of contracts for fabrications projects from two new customers.
Noble Group gained 6.3 per cent or three cents to 50.5 cents, after it confirmed it had extended a key debt deadline and was in "constructive" talks with potential investors. But the commodity trader also pushed back payment of the coupon on a closely watched bond. Some 161.4 million shares changed hands.
Ley Choon rose 7.1 per cent or 0.3 cent to 4.5 cents, after it announced it has clinched about $51 million worth of new contracts for underground utility infrastructure and construction works. Some 91.8 million shares changed hands.