Local shares inched down yesterday after late bargain-hunting helped offset an earlier sell-off on news that North Korea had fired three missiles into Japan's exclusive economic zone.
The Straits Times Index fell 0.83 point to 3,121.51, weighed down by Wilmar International, which dipped 1.1 per cent or four cents to $3.60, and Genting Singapore, off 1 per cent or one cent to 97 cents.
StarHub was another laggard, dipping 0.7 per cent or two cents to $2.86, despite a buy call from UOB KayHian, which said the telco's fourth-quarter results were below expectations due to "higher handset subsidies and a one-off provision for restructuring".
DBS rose 0.3 per cent or five cents to $19.06, while OCBC dipped 0.1 per cent or one cent to $9.48, after UOB KayHian said their fourth-quarter results were slightly below forecasts due to higher provisions for oil and gas loans.
Continued buying interest in Chinese shipbuilder Yangzijiang, UOL Group and Thai Beverage helped the market.
Yangzijiang gained 2.8 per cent or three cents to $1.12 and UOL rose 1.2 per cent or eight cents to $6.60.
Thai Beverage climbed 1.1 per cent or one cent to 94.5 cents, after OCBC Investment Research issued a buy call on the counter, citing its improving market share of its core brands in carbonated soft drinks, ready-to-drink green tea and drinking water in Thailand.
ISR Capital, which has been linked to alleged share price manipulations by John Soh Chee Wen, who is accused of masterminding the penny stock crash, plunged nearly 69 per cent after resuming trade yesterday following its suspension on Nov 24.
"The stigma of the stock being linked to Soh Chee Wen could be the cause of the capitulation, if not, just trust the share price," a trader said.
Privatisation fever continued, with Kingboard Copper Foil soaring 20.6 per cent after its parent offered to buy out the company at 40 cents a share in cash with an intent to delist from the Singapore Exchange.
The stock jumped seven cents to 41 cents yesterday with some traders hoping the management would revise the price higher.
Other actively traded counters included Noble Group, which lost 2.2 per cent or 0.5 cent to 22 cents, with 142.9 million shares traded, while Indonesian coal mining firm BlackGold Natural Resources jumped 13.5 per cent or 1.3 cents to 10.9 cents, on trade of 54.3 million shares. Ezra Holdings lost more ground, shedding 13.3 per cent or 0.2 cent to 1.3 cents, with 53.6 million shares traded.
GSS Energy continued its ascent, jumping 15.8 per cent or 2.4 cents to 17.6 cents, with 64.7 million shares traded after the company said chief executive Sydney Yeung Kin Bond raised his stake by four million shares on March 1. Its latest results show a return to profitability from its precision engineering business.