Upbeat export data was not enough to stave off a marginal slide in Singapore shares yesterday as investors turned cautious amid the wait for more corporate results.
The Straits Times Index (STI) slipped 0.76 point or 0.02 per cent to close at 3,137.54, in a somewhat slow session with only $972.5 million worth of shares traded across the market.
On Monday, data showed Singapore's non-oil domestic exports surged 16.5 per cent year on year last month after February's 21.5 per cent expansion.
Even though the data indicated a steadily recovering economy, there is still cynicism among investors who do not see support for better corporate earnings, said KGI Securities Singapore trading strategist Nicholas Teo.
In China, which this week reported 6.9 per cent first-quarter economic growth, investor sentiment was also lukewarm. Shanghai fell 0.79 per cent as Hong Kong slid 1.39 per cent.
Tokyo, however, added 0.35 per cent, and Kuala Lumpur put on 0.38 per cent, after the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.9 per cent.
Back in the local market, Keppel Telecommunications & Transportation was among the companies reporting their latest results yesterday.
Its 13 per cent drop in net profit for the three months to March 31 did little to improve investor confidence, and the shares pared half a cent or 0.28 per cent to $1.755.
But Keppel Infrastructure Trust tabled a distribution per unit of 0.93 cent for the first quarter, in line with expectations. The counter slipped half a cent or 0.94 per cent to 52.5 cents.
"Current gearing levels are not very aggressive for a utility asset owner, with net debt-to-equity ratio of around 1.3 times," DBS analyst Suvro Sarkar said, giving it a buy call and a 56-cent target price.
On the benchmark STI, 13 stocks closed in the black. ComfortDelGro gained five cents or 1.92 per cent to $2.66, and ST Engineering put on five cents or 1.35 per cent to $3.75. Genting Singapore closed up one cent or 0.93 per cent to $1.09 on 16.5 million shares traded. Nine STI stocks fell, with Singtel the top loser after dropping four cents or 1.07 per cent to $3.71. Its competitor StarHub ended flat at $2.83 while M1, outside the STI, eased two cents or 0.93 per cent to $2.12.
Keppel Corp, which will report its results tomorrow, dropped three cents or 0.44 per cent to $6.82.
Noble remained hotly traded. It lost 1.1 cents or 6.11 per cent to 16.9 cents with 204.5 million shares changing hands.
Spackman Entertainment was also among the top actives, with 22.2 million shares traded. It pared 0.7 cent or 4.35 per cent to close at 15.4 cents.