Singapore stocks reversed course to end slightly lower yesterday despite a bright opening following a strong Wall Street finish last Friday.
The Straits Times Index (STI) fell 4.73 points or 0.1 per cent to close at 3,204.71, dragged down mainly by Jardine Matheson, which lost 1.4 per cent to US$64.03.
Gainers outnumbered losers 208 to 191, with about 1.28 billion shares worth $859.1 million in total changing hands.
The most actively traded counter was Thai Beverage, which rose 0.8 per cent or 0.5 cent to 65 cents, with 44.5 million shares traded.
Both OCBC Investment Research and DBS Group Research issued "buy" calls on the stock with a target price of 89 cents and 94 cents, respectively. Though the group posted weak third-quarter results last week with a 61 per cent fall in net profit to 5.99 billion baht (S$248.5 million), DBS Group Research said it was "hopeful of sequential recovery on signs of farm income uptick", but noted the group's share price could remain volatile.
Phillip Securities downgraded its rating on Thai Bev to "reduce" with a target price of 62 cents from $1.05 previously. It said demand for the group's spirits had been hurt by weak rural incomes in Thailand.
Other active stocks included AEM Holdings, which rose 14.5 per cent to 99 cents. The semiconductor equipment maker recently undertook several share buybacks. On Aug 6, non-executive and independent director Loh Kin Wah acquired 200,000 shares of AEM for $136,000, raising his direct stake to about 0.2 per cent. The company also bought back 200,000 shares for $131,336 from Aug 10 to 16.
Noble rose 2.6 per cent or 0.3 cent to 11.8 cents on the back of news that its founder Richard Elman will not take on the post of executive director after restructuring.
Elsewhere, Asian markets had a broadly positive start to the week, as investors cheered planned trade talks between the US and China.
Hong Kong shares rebounded to close up 1.4 per cent at 27,598.02, the highest since Aug 7. Similarly, the Shanghai Composite rose 1.1 per cent to 2,698.47, after falling as much as 0.6 per cent to 2,653.11.
But IG market strategist Pan Jingyi noted that lingering concerns about trade and Turkey's situation are likely to ebb into the coming week and will mix with developments surrounding the US Federal Reserve. "While US markets continue to power ahead, the greenback will be one to watch this week and the corresponding impact upon Asia markets," noted Ms Pan.