Singapore shares lost their fizz after oil prices again fell below US$30 a barrel and profit-takers homed in on blue chips.
The double whammy left the benchmark Straits Times Index down 1.16 per cent or 30.79 points to 2,613.79.
Traders are also watching the release today of minutes of the United States Federal Reserve's meeting last month, when officials had indicated they were monitoring market turmoil, which may delay further monetary policy tightening. Oil took a hit after a deal between Saudi Arabia and Russia to hold output near record-high levels instead of cutting production failed to ease concerns over the oil price rout.
Some of the bigger losers included Singtel, which fell 2.9 per cent or 11 cents to $3.69, and UOB, down 3.4 per cent or 61 cents to $17.20 while DBS dipped 0.6 per cent or eight cents to $13.60.
RHB Research, which has a neutral call on UOB, said its oil and gas exposure is manageable, but concerns over its still rising non-performing loans and a weak revenue outlook will keep its share price rise constrained.
The STI was also weighed down by StarHub, which fell 6.3 per cent or 24 cents to $3.56. OCBC Investment Research, which downgraded its call to hold from buy, said the telco has "done very well in the run-up to its full year results, reducing total return to less than 9 per cent based on the current price".
Meanwhile, Sembcorp Marine, which gained 3.2 per cent or five cents to $1.62, faces a Singapore Exchange query on "unusual price movements".
Among the most actively traded counters are WE Holdings, which jumped 25 per cent or 0.1 cent to 0.5 cent, with 100.3 million shares traded. Noble Group was flat at 33.5 cents, with 71 million shares traded. Oil-related play Ezra Holdings sank 5.8 per cent or 0.3 cent to 4.9 cents, with 25.4 million shares traded.
Dapai International Holdings, which resumed trading yesterday after a three-day halt, surged nearly 56 per cent or 0.5 cent to 1.4 cents, with 25.3 million shares traded.
It came after the backpack maker announced plans to place $1.6 million of new shares to transfer its Singapore listing from the mainboard to the Catalist board and to acquire a Thai smart card business by issuing additional shares.
Meanwhile, Genting Singapore's full-year earnings due after market close today are also on investors' radar. The stock rose 2.2 per cent or 1.5 cents to 70.5 cents, with 65.3 million shares traded.
"We expect Genting to report a weaker fourth quarter VIP segment performance... In addition, with Genting implementing a more conservative provisioning policy, bad debts should remain elevated until at least the first half of this year, (and) in the mass space, it may have also experienced a more challenging fourth quarter," DBS Vickers Securities said.