SINGAPORE - THE Singapore market retreated on Thursday, in line with a late sell-off in the Chinese markets.
Chinese equities failed to shake off lingering concerns about the mainland market, which saw the Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index fall 2.2 per cent.
The index on Monday had suffered its heaviest one-day loss in more than eight years. These fears spilled over into Hong Kong, where the Hang Seng Index, in turn, dipped 0.49 per cent. The Straits Times Index slid 34.48 points, or 1.05 per cent, to 3,249.52, reversing the previous day's gain.
"Singapore equities have more or less moved in line with Chinese markets since October last year, but the correlation seemed stronger in July," noted IG market strategist Bernard Aw, adding that many traders here have exposure to Chinese equities.
The losses were led by commodities blue chip Noble Group, which tumbled seven cents or 11.86 per cent to 52 Singapore cents - its lowest since late 2008.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) fell 54 cents or 4.73 per cent to S$10.88, even as it turned in a 162 per cent surge in net profit for the first-quarter on the day before.
Net profit for the three months to June 30 was up year-on-year to S$91 million.
A CIMB report maintained an "add" call on the stock, as it expects SIA to post better results in the second half of the year, "after it uses up most of its expensive legacy fuel hedges" in the first.
Telco giant Singtel, which announced before trading that it has sold its 30 per cent stake in travel service marketing and distribution firm Abacus Travel Systems for US$3 million (S$4.1 million), also dropped 16 cents or 3.75 per cent to S$4.11.
The stock was traded ex-dividend, which means that buyers will not get the next dividend payout.
On the other hand, agri-businesses Olam International and Wilmar International were among the few gainers for the day, in spite of the ongoing commodities rout.
Olam climbed 2.5 cents or 1.4 per cent to S$1.815, while Wilmar added four cents or 1.25 per cent to S$3.23.
Singapore Post continued to gain after posting good first-quarter results on Tuesday, rising two cents or 1.3 per cent to S$1.945.
Airport solutions provider Stratech Group was again the most actively traded stock of the day, with 172 million shares changing hands. The counter rose 0.2 cents or 3.57 per cent to 5.8 cents.
On the whole, some 2.09 billion shares worth S$1.08 bilion were traded.
Elsewhere, Japan rose 1.08 per cent, riding on confidence from strong corporate earnings and the United States Federal Reserve's upbeat assessment of the US economy.
The Fed took a rain check on the interest rate hike as the Federal Open Market Committee meeting concluded, saying that it will raise interest rates once it sees a sustained recovery.
This lifted sentiment at Wall Street and sent the Dow Jones Industrial Index up 0.69 per cent.